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Children of Bipolar People Score Higher in CreativityI

Mar 26, 2009 - 5 comments

This is pretty obvious to me but it's good to see that science backs it up. So, good news about our shared condition for a change!

Children Of Bipolar Parents Score Higher On Creativity Test, Stanford Study Finds  
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ScienceDaily: 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. The findings add to existing evidence that a link exists between mood disorders and creativity.

The small study, published in the November issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research, compared creativity test scores of children of healthy parents with the scores of children of bipolar parents. Children with the bipolar parents - even those who were not bipolar themselves - scored higher than the healthy children.

"I think it's fascinating," said Kiki Chang, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-author of the paper. "There is a reason that many people who have bipolar disorder become very successful, and these findings address the positive aspects of having this illness."

Many scientists believe that a relationship exists between creativity and bipolar disorder, which was formerly called manic-depressive illness and is marked by dramatic shifts in a person's mood, energy and ability to function. Numerous studies have examined this link; several have shown that artists and writers may have two to three times more incidences of psychosis, mood disorders or suicide when compared with people in less creative professions.

Terence Ketter, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a study co-author, said he became interested in the link between mental illness and creativity after noticing that patients who came through the bipolar clinic, despite having problems, were extraordinarily bright, motivated people who "tended to lead interesting lives." He began a scholarly pursuit of this link and in 2002 published a study that showed healthy artists were more similar in personality to individuals with bipolar disorder (the majority of whom were on medication) than to healthy people in the general population.

Some researchers believe that bipolar disorder or mania, a defining symptom of the disease, causes creative activity. Ketter said he believes that 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 point out that creativity and bipolar may have important genetic components that are transmitted together inter-generationally. There have only been limited studies investigating this; the Stanford study is the first to specifically examine creativity in the offspring of bipolar parents.

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by LetaB, Mar 27, 2009
Doesn't anyone else here find this information satisfying or interesting?

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by ILADVOCATE, Mar 27, 2009
Yes that is interesting. I fall into this category as regards inheritance with bipolar and I do have creative interests though I don't know how far they've gone. Truthfully, the best area of education I had was the fact that my mother was an English teacher and made writing poetry (and any writing in fact) an interesting idea for me so it wasn't just genetics. There was direct positive interaction. There is a whole history of bipolar in my family and I guess my interest in advocacy goes along with that. I must be honest. People who have an urge to change society in some way usually have a manic streak. Throughout history if you think about it. I do remember speaking to someone who was a consumer activist who said "I've been trying to figure out what to do with manic energy". He was a bit too radical in his activism and may not have been on treatment. But if someone is on treatment so the urge can be regulated it would be of interest that it goes along with creativity. People have often said it and its interesting they are finding out there is some backing to the concept.

Avatar universal
by lagatta, Mar 27, 2009
I've often heard of the connection between creativity and bipolar. Many artists/celebrities are bipolar.  I used to always get "A's''" in English not because I had great grammar and spelling but because my teachers found my essays and stories original and compelling.  For better or worse I do have imagination!

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by boogieman, Apr 11, 2009
hi there. thanks for posting this. there is no doubt from my experience that there is a direct correlation between psych conditions and enhanced creativity, and it is interesting to learn more of the scientific support for this. it seems that when certain neurological functions become compromised, others will compensate. somewhat like the intensification of hearing in those who are blind. take care,  gm

Avatar universal
by 6FT2, May 07, 2009
It does seem to be mare than just a coincedence.   I am abnormally talented when it comes to music.  The weird thing is, I can't read sheet-music but I can reproduce a song on the keyboard/piano but just listening to it.

Also, my sister has been confirmed as highly intelligent (I might be either too scatter-brained and/or modist to admit it about my self) and there is theories about people with Marfan's having a higher degree of what an autistic child does.

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