Folk wisdom has held that gifted people are prone to mental breakdowns. And in fact, there's a long list of artists, musicians, mathematicians and others who had well-known episodes of mental illness. For example, van Gogh had periods of mania and depression; he committed suicide at age 37. Andreasen's study of people attending the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop found that many had a history of depression or bipolar disorder. Andreasen says mental illness is, on the whole, a handicap to the creative process.Google led me to this:
Jamison's article continues to cite evidence for the strong correlation between bipolar affective psychoses and creativity. She mentions a study done by Nancy Andreasen in which the researcher systematically evaluated a sample of creative writers at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. One of her conclusions held that writers had a substantially higher rate of mental illness with a tendency toward the bipolar subtype because 80 percent of writers, taken out of a pool of 30, had affective disorders. Forty-three percent of those had bipolar disorder, whereas only 30 percent of the control group had affective disorders, with only 10 percent of those being specifically bipolar. Added to the argument is that a higher prevalence of affective disorder and creativity was found in the writers' first-degree relatives. What Jamison omits from her article, however, is a conclusion made by Andreasen. She apparently found that there were nonsignificant differences in IQ between the writers and the control group. This led her to believe that intelligence and creativity were two independent mental abilities (Andreasen 1987).That 'splains a lot 'bout the folks I got to know -- and me, too, I reckon. Anyone know anyone who was in this study? Her book is called The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius.