Simon Kyaga on Genius and Madness

Kyaga and colleagues previously saw that patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and their relatives are overrepresented in creative occupations. Nevertheless, recent findings by the same researchers show that except for bipolar disorder, individuals with overall creative professions – here defined as scientific or artistic professions – were not more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than controls. The investigated conditions were schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa and completed suicide.

However, they found that being an author is associated with an increased likelihood of a number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicide. The authors also found an association between creative professions and first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, and for siblings of patients with autism.

Reference: Kyaga S et al (2012). Mental illness, suicide and creativity: 40-Year prospective total population study. J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Oct 9. pii: S0022-3956(12)00280-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.09.010. [Epub ahead of print]

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