Warning: the writer of this post may be nuts!

October 17, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

“The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.” — Salvador Dali (credit: Wikipedia)

Well, this might explain some of my wackier blog posts.

People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, especially writers, according to researchers at Karolinska Institute, whose large-scale Swedish registry study is the most comprehensive ever in its field.

Either that, or Swedes are crazier. Hey, I’m kidding!

Last year, researchers showed that artists and scientists were more common among families where bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is present, compared to the population at large.

They later expanded this to many more psychiatric diagnoses — such as schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety syndrome, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa and suicide — and to include people in outpatient care rather than exclusively hospital patients.

Now they’ve tracked almost 1.2 million patients and their relatives, identified down to second-cousin level. Since all were matched with healthy controls, the study incorporated much of the Swedish population from the most recent decades.

Like their previous study, they found that bipolar disorder is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors. Authors specifically also were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse) and were almost 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

CureCelebrate your madness!

The researchers also observed that creative professions were more common in the relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, and, to some extent, autism. But according to Simon Kyaga, consultant in psychiatry and doctoral student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, we should reconsider approaches to mental illness.

“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,” he says. “In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost.”

“Twisted” by Joni Mitchell | lyrics


“Genius” by Pitchshifter | lyrics

Amara D. Angelica is Editor of KurzweilAI