A common view of creative people is that they possess a unique view of the world that upsets their mental equilibrium. Now, researchers think there is more than a grain of truth to this observation.
A Swedish study shows that people in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, and there may be a significant link between being a writer and enduring schizophrenia.
The researchers at the Karolinska Institutet found that people who work in the arts and sciences are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse. They are also more likely to commit suicide.
Still, the researchers question whether creative people need to have all of their mental turmoil blunted if those disturbances further their creativity.
“If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patients illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment,” says researcher Simon Kyaga. “In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost. In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavor to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid.”