4 out of 5 workshoppers mentally ill

Anyone else encountering this kind of story anywhere in the MSM? The choice paragraph from the USA Today article:
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.


T-bone said...

Uh-oh...what is the outcome for workshopper offspring? I guess if you are raised by two workshoppers and have their genes, neither nature or nurture can save you.

I remember hearing about the study when I first came here, but I don't think I ever heard the details.

El Gordo de Amore said...

When I thought I was losing it a couple of years ago, this study actually made me feel pretty good about the whole experience -- and for that I am very thankful -- I used to buck myself up by saying, "Hey, if I can't leave my apartment, I must be a genius, whether any agent, publisher, magazine, or Playboy bunny recognizes it or not!"

Then I would lay back down on the floor in the fetal position for another few hours.

Antoine said...

This is the first I've heard of it. I'd like to see the fiction v poets statistics.

According to my "sampling," poets are way more fun and better at softball, whereas fiction writers--someone explain this to me--socialize only in the context of barbeques and/or "poker night."

Someone needs to study this!