More evidence of a link between creativity and mental illness: "Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown for the first time that a sample of children who either have or are at high risk for bipolar disorder score higher on a creativity index than healthy children."
I've written about this kind of thing before. It fascinates me because my personal experience has been that there's sometimes a fine line between creativity and mood states that most professionals would call disordered. The line can be so fine that it's down to whether the expressions are positive or negative -- if positive, call it creativity; if negative, call it personality disorder. Although there are also positive and negative manifestations of creativity traits.
There has long been a link between bipolar and creativity -- the manic stage of bipolar can result in binges of creativity (positive) instead of binges of shopping or sex (negative, depending on budget and marital status/choice of partner[s]!). This is the first study that has shown a link between creativity and children whose parents are bipolar (who are thus themselves at risk of becoming bipolar, which has a genetic component).
Study co-author Terence Ketter, MD, said he believes "bipolar patients’ creativity stems from their mobilizing energy that results from negative emotion to initiate some sort of solution to their problems. 'In this case, discontent is the mother of invention,' he said."
The researchers also found a link between the length of a bipolar child’s illness and creativity: the longer a child was sick or manic, the lower the creativity score. It makes sense, said Kiki Chang, MD, a study coauthor, that this illness could, over time, erode one’s creativity. 'After awhile you aren’t able to function and you can’t access your creativity,' he explained.
Creativity scores on the study's test instrument, the Barron-Welsh Art Scale, tend to decrease with age even in healthy individuals, so more research is needed, Ketter said.
A couple of years ago I posted on a study that said people whose brains are more open to stimuli from the outside environment will either be:
1. Creative, because their openness to new possibilities and stimuli gives them more, and more various, information with which to make connections and have new ideas, or
2. Psychotic, because their openness to new possibilities and stimuli leads to overload and mental illness.
It's not possible to correlate these two studies scientifically, given the little information I have about each (and the fact that I'm not a scientist). Still, I wonder if some of the same positive/negative correlation might be happening here? And if children who have been bipolar for a longer period of time aren't as creative, perhaps that signals that the longer they live with the condition of being more open to outside stimuli, the more difficult it becomes for them to handle it.
I also wonder if specific training in creativity skills might help bipolar people whose symptoms don't currently manifest themselves as the more positive creative traits. Perhaps if they knew what to do with their innate creativity, these folks would be able to live more on the positive than the negative side of creativity.