Creativity and the mentally ill

March 28, 2014 by Bill Hathaway
Creativity and the mentally ill
Credit: Shutterstock

Mental illness and creativity have long been linked, yet how inspiration drives creative thinking has remained a mystery.

A new study by researchers at Yale and the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom explored how different types of relate to one form of , .

The researchers did this by developing a new measure identifying different types of inspiration. For instance, they determined whether the inspirationis derived from the outside environment or within the individual, and also whether the inspiration is driven by social connections versus more personal achievements.

Those at risk for bipolar disorder were more likely both to endorse inspiration that was internally generated and to cite personal achievements, and less likely to cite social concerns for what inspires them. 

"This more self-focused form of inspiration can be highly motivating; yet if experienced too intensely may make it difficult to socially connect with and accomplish goals," said Yale's June Gruber, a co-author of the study. Gruber hopes researchers will use more nuanced measures of inspiration to continue to study links with creativity and psychological health.  The study can be accessed here.

Explore further: Can feeling too good be bad? Positive emotions in bipolar disorder

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5 comments

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Nik_2213
5 / 5 (2) Mar 28, 2014
Having watched the effect of 'Bipolar' on kin, there seems a further effect than 'just' mood swings. Because 'Bipolars' tend to 'weave' through life rather than following a steady course, they get a wider perspective than usual. Some cannot handle a world seen 'in the round', while others notice curious and/or wondrous connections which stimulate innovation...

Even so, Bipolar's swings are often a cruel price to pay for this modest talent. Worse, essential Lithium maintenance meds have a narrow therapeutic range between 'ineffective' and unpleasant side effects...
russell_russell
5 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2014
No one "reaching for the stars" falls short. Simply visioning the unattainable reduces the distance to all 'lesser' goals.
eric_in_chicago
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2014
The wild dreamers are not the problem with this world.

Those who expect the comfort of merely trundling along chained by yesterday's limited, stale expectations and achievements enslave us all to their myopia.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Mar 30, 2014
" wild dreamers" ?

Sorry, this is 'Bipolar' we're talking about. Although there is a spectrum of variations, at one extreme, they cannot do even ordinary stuff. At the other, they may do wonders. Unfortunately, as their mood tips down, they may continue striving unto chaos...

Think of a foolish gambler, whose run of luck has evaporated, doubling and redoubling his stake, confident that success is still within reach.
Viccimn
not rated yet Mar 31, 2014

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