How Creativity is linked to Psychotic Disorders?

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Who ever said you were crazy for being a little more on the creative side? Don’t get defensive. As Billy Joel said it – They may be right. You may be crazy!

But alas, do not fear – who’s to say we are the crazy ones after all… It is merely science defining the dimension of our personalities.

For centuries, scientists and scholars have linked psychotic disorders to creativity. Take some of the greats – Vincent Van Goh and Charles Dickens. More recently you may call to mind our favorite comedian – Robin Williams suffered from depression and mental illnesses his entire life. What a creative guy though. Furthermore, I won’t argue that Dickens was out of his mind. However, still, how does this assertion pass as a scientific theory?

Biology Connection between Creativity and Psychotic Disorders

Recent reports indicate a newfound link between creativity and psychotic disorders is that here is Biology in this. Hans Eysenck, a leading author on topics related to psychoticism, reports that people with higher amounts of creativity available also tend to have higher levels of psychoticism scores, especially when compared to those without a large amount of creativity available. This is based on physiological research. Physiological relating to both the psychological and physical aspect of our being.

Biology Connection between Creativity and Psychotic Disorders

Absorbing this from this level of perspective is quite the new concept. As recently as this year new articles are surfacing in the scientific communities relating to the dimension of our personalities that suggests when there may be susceptibility to psychotic behavior. This becomes a broader known topic of psychoticism; rather than breaking down those types of disorders such as Bi-Polar and Schizophrenia. These labels are merely a distinction in trait behaviors.

Bipolar Patients Symptoms

Bipolar patients are found to be suffering from Anxiety patients are likely to withdraw from social situation

  • Mood Swings – You will notice a change in mood behavior
  • Distracted – This with Bipolar disorder typically have a hard time concentrating
  • Depression – Patients suffer from debilitating sadness and loneliness
  • Irritability – Otherwise known as mixed mania, watch for mood changes here
  • Rapid Speech – Ever tried to listen to someone that talk so fast they barely get the words out?
  • Alcohol or drug abuse – Notice these factors while patients suffering are usually looking for a way to drown out the rest of the world. This is partly due to the loneliness factor.
  • Erratic behavior – Decision making is fogged by manic thoughts
  • Trouble Sleeping – Erratic sleeping habits are a definitive sign of manic behavior

Schizophrenia Patients Symptoms

Schizophrenia symptoms are more likely to show signs of

  • Hallucinations – people with schizophrenia often think they see things that are not there
  • Delusions – this is in reference to thought patterns and actions
  • Disorganized Speech – Watch for speech that seems forced or otherwise out of order
  • Disorganized Behavior – Flat or Latent symptoms such as emotional instability

There is a cognitive connection correlating to the creativity in a person with psychosis. It’s called Latent Inhibition. Or rather a lack of it. In a report from the Scientific American – Latent Inhibition is described as a filtering mechanism that we share with other animals. It is tied to the neurotransmitter dopamine. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our bodies that regulate physical AND emotional processes. Dopamine is our happy hormone). A reduced* inhibition allows people to treat* something as novel, no matter how many times they have seen it before and tagged it as irrelevant. In other words, we, the crazy ones, have a limited ability to see things as anything other than creative. Our minds’ capacity is more receptive. We don’t actually have latent inhibition. Evidently, it’s one of the earliest detectable stages of schizophrenia.

Role of Society

This is a fascinating topic really. The distinction between psychotic disorders and creativity is also linked to the way society performs as a whole. It is noted that a mere one percent of the population of the ‘mentally ill’ pose a dangerous threat to society. Broken down a little further, notice that 3 in 100 people are diagnosed with mental illness.

This would make sense then when the scientific evidence presents us the variation in ability and inability relating to psychosis. Science Daily reports a biological discovery stating that latent inhibition may be identified as one of the bases for creativity, henceforth also a basis for diagnosing mental illness. It may be noted that those with psychotic disorders are more likely to be given diagnoses of ADD or ADHD and the like at early stages, especially in childhood. These diagnoses are not always corrected. This makes for more struggles throughout adulthood and it is more likely that symptoms will escalate causing more difficulty in proper diagnosis.

Creative people are more likely to be mentally ill. This is not meant to be a societal judgment though it has become. Yet more lately there has become more of an awareness that is necessary for society to understand these diseases.

Creative Individuals vs. Normal Folks

Creative Individuals vs. Normal Folks

Since the turn of the century, more and more evidence is surfacing to suggest that the adage of the ‘mad scientist’ is true. The irony is in the science, however, stating that psychosis is more likely the cause for creativity rather the reverse*. According to one psychology professor, Jordan Peterson “This means that creative individuals remain in contact with the extra information constantly streaming from the environment.” While those with Latent Inhibition, or otherwise normal folks, see an object and forget about it, the ‘crazies’ in the world are more likely to capture an event or an object and connect with it, identify with it, cognitively. As if it was a living thing.

According to one study, it is stated that creativity and madness are linked together and this is by and large supported by existing research. This is quite a bold statement. It is further noted that an estimated 20-35% of the population known as ‘fantasy-prone’ exhibits maladjustment, psychopathology and even deviant ideation. Reports also claim* that individuals diagnosed with these kind of disorders usually have a great deal of creativity available at all times. They also use the available creativity in many different ways, especially when compared to individuals who have not been diagnosed with any of these disorders. These statistics do not represent the entire population of mentally ill, rather this is a slice of the population that is known to be fanatical in some form or another.

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So, HOW is creativity linked to psychotic disorders such as Bi-Polar, for example. It is now known that Bi-Polar, formerly recognized as manic depression, is a mood disorder. Whereas something like schizophrenia is categorized in the same class of psychoses issues, the definitive breakdown of the disease is far more complex.

Folks with these types of disorders are more likely to have experienced something traumatic in their childhoods. Perhaps it was teen abuse or some other form of brutality. People with mental illness have experienced social rejection, physical disabilities or mental and emotional instability. It could calculate to something as simple as genetics, however.

How One Get Labeled As Psychotic Person – Is It Heredity?

Perhaps the deeper question here is relative to how one becomes labeled as psychotic in the first place. The answer very well may be linked to the creativity expressed in these individuals.

Genetics plays a process in this link though, don’t forget. It is said that people with mental illnesses are less* likely to reproduce. This research also finds that patients that experience such disorders are coming from a family that hereditarily produces* them. It’s in our DNA.

Furthermore, indications show that not all family members related to a mentally ill individual will carry the same genetic codes. New DNA research suggests that genetic factors raise the risk for psychotic disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and are found more often in people with creative professions. On average, these results produce* statistics that state these people are 25% more likely to carry the gene variants than those in professions that scientists deemed to be less* creative.

From Scientific American, we see results of test subjects in a 40-year study indicating that first-degree relatives showed significant overexpression in areas of creativity. This in conjunction with some of Hans Eysenck’s theories that state high levels of creativity have been found in descendants of psychotic parents.

How to Treat* a Creative or Psychotic Person?

How to Treat* a Creative or Psychotic Person?

Expression in itself is an art form. Likely, before an individual is formally diagnosed, there will be ‘episodes’ in which this person has found a way to enlighten a crowd or draw a picture with no formal artistic training. Perhaps you have a poet in your family that seems just a little ‘off’. Be considerate of their emotions.

People with mental disorders do not usually enjoy being diagnosed. We like to think that we are merely excessively ‘creative’ or severely independent in our endeavors. While researchers agree that mental illness is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity, those with mental illness are generally terrified that medications and other therapy will take away this natural born characteristic. It is important for us to express our creative edge in order for our voice to be heard in the world. While everybody feels the need to be heard, it can be an outlet for those that feel they have no voice at all.

Consider latent inhibition again. Remember all those thoughts streaming through the mind of the psychotic, all at once. It is imperative for the creative mind to express itself. Otherwise, all these ideas get cramped up and this is what causes psychotic episodes. When it all becomes too much. Creativity is a relief* from pressures and triggers.

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The secret is in the brain. We may study and research and try to understand the mind of the psychotic, but what it really boils down to is allowing the mentally ill to be creative. Creativity is a form of therapy for us and we must be able to express ourselves in such a fashion that statistics do not become our characteristics. It is imperative for us all to learn the minds of our mentally ill and perhaps learn how to recognize their colorful personalities.

You may be right, we may be crazy… and it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for – look no further than your local cafe. Tip the guy playing his guitar. He may need health insurance.

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Author

Expert Author : April Renee (Consumer Health Digest)

April Renee is a Freelance Writer and Enthusiast. She currently studies English and Humanities with a focus in Writing Communications. Her dedication to writing spans many years across topics of many interests. She is niched in Travel, Environmental and Agricultural/Gardening Fare, Health and Fitness, Arts/Humanities, Philosophies, Pets and Mortgage/Real Estate/Banking. April has a culturally diverse technique related to promotional marketing and consumer product sales/reviews, including website content and maintenance. She also has relative experience in advertising and website design pertaining to entrepreneurial startups. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. You can also view her work on scarletnathaniel.com