Evidence Linking Mania and Hypomania to Creativity:

Throughout history a number of studies have linked creativity and affective disorder.  Many artist, musicians, and writers have been diagnosed with bipolar or some other affective disorder during or after life:  F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, George Fredrick Handel, Robert Schumann, Peter Tchaikovsky, Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Lord Byron, Emily Dickenson, John Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Vincent van Gogh.   Other famous people like Patty Duke, Kitty Dukakas,  Ted Turner and Robin Williams are currently living with bipolar disorder.


    Kreaplin (1921) hypothesized that mania might bring about changes in thought processes that would result in increased creativity of thinking; and his study suggest that mania can produce qualitative changes in thinking (ideas produced) (Weisberg, 1994).
    Andreason (1970) completed the first study of mania and creativity using structured interview, matched control groups and strict diagnostic criteria.  She found a high occurrence of mood disorder in the thirty creative writers she examined.  Eighty percent had experienced at least one episode of major depression, mania or hypomania, and forty-three percent had a history of hypo manic or manic episodes.  First degree relatives of the writers generally performed more creative work and often had mood disorders  (Jamison, 1987, Fodor, 1999, Ghadirian et al., 2000).


    Holzman (1986) obtained evidence that mania is characterized by thought processes likely to result in creativity included combinatory thinking (merge of ideas and precepts in an incongruous fashion) and irrelevant intrusions (excessive loosely tied together ideas that intrude from a different stream of thought) (Fodor, 1999).
    Andreason (1987) investigated frequencies of psychopathology in family history and the study showed a higher rate of affective disorder in writers than in control groups, a positive relationship between creativity and psychopathology.  She conveys this relationship as a positive influence of affective disorder (Weisberg, 1884).
    Isen et al (1987) found a possible clue as to what causes the connection between manic depression and creativity.  They theorize that positive affect enhances creativity by increasing access to a broad range and amount of info stored in memory (Fodor, 1999).
    Richards et al (1988) studied the level of creativity in manic depression by assessing the degree of original thinking required to perform creative tasks.  After rating creativity, they found that compared with individuals having no personal or family history of psychiatric diagnosis ,manic depressive and cyclothymic patients showed greater creativity (Jamison, 1995).  The highest level of creativity was found in relatives of patients diagnosed with manic depression, with manic depressed patients scoring lower (Weisberg, 1994).  Data from this study suggest that enhanced creativity may be a positive characteristic associated with an inherited liability for manic depression (Bower, 1988).
    Coryell et al. (1989) reported, from their study, that bipolar depressives showed greater creativity and success (Ghadirian et al., 2001).
    Jamison (1989) found that creative individuals, especially poets, reported that their psychological and physiological states during periods of great creative productivity were similar to those during a manic period (Weisberg, 1994).  In a study of British writers, thirty-eight percent of these writers and artist had an affective disorder.  She reported a direct relation between creativity and psychopathology (Ghadirian et al., 2000, Jamison, 1995).


    Richards and Kinney (1990) studied the relationship between mood disorder and creativity and found that fifty percent of bipolar groups experience greatest creativity when in mildly high mood states (Richards and Kinney, 1990).
    Ludwig (1992) conducted an extensive biographical survey of 1,005 famous twentieth century artist, writers, and other professionals.  Artist and writers experience and estimated three times the rate of psychosis, suicide attempts, mood disorders, and substance abuse than did comparably successful people in business, science, and public life.  Poets were thirty times more likely to have had manic depressive illness than were their contemporaries and five times more likely to have taken their own life (Jamison, 1995).
    Fodor (1998) found that students with high bipolar scores wrote about a peak performance obtained especially high Remote Associates Test scores in comparison with students in other conditions.  The findings support the view that manic depressive inclination has a special benefit, namely higher creativity potential than what exist within the general population (Fodor, 1998).
    Shapiro and Weisberg (1999) found the association between creativity and bipolar disorder is similar behavior symptoms .  Scores were higher in those experiencing hypomania with no depression.  Common behaviors found: cognitive abilities, lack of sleep, energy, impulsivity, bold attitudes, and depth of emotion (Shapiro and Weisberg, 1999).

2000- Present

    Ghadirian, Gregoire and Kosmidis (2000) explored changes in creativity in relation to the type and degree of psychopathology in two groups of patients (20 manic depressives, 24 other psychopathologies).   The study did not confirm the hypothesis  of higher creativity in manic patients than other psychopathologies.  Creativity was found to have been highest among patients who were moderately ill (Ghadirian et al., 2000).
    Strong and Ketter (2001) conducted a study to gain knowledge on whether bipolar patients were as creative as patients with depression.  The outcome of this study showed higher levels of creativity relative to those without mental illness.  Creative persons seem to share more personality traits with the mentally ill than the common people.  The creativity among treated bipolar patients matched that seen in the graduate students pursuing creative degrees and they shared several personality traits: more open, neurotic, and moody (Reuters 2002).

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