Genes Linked to Creativity Could Increase Risk of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia

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Credit to flickr.com user John Morgan. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Genes linked to creativity could increase the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to new research done by scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.

 

Creativity and mental illnesses have long been suspected to go hand in hand, with several famous artists suffering from psychiatric illnesses–such as Vincent Van Gogh. Prior studies have shown that bipolar disorder in particular is often found in families with many members who are part of creative professions. But it wasn’t until the IoPPN study that scientists were able to definitively say genetics played a part, as opposed to environmental factors.

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder both affect thought patterns and emotions, which includes creativity. Creativity is difficult to define in a scientific context, but the IoPPN study looked at 86,292 individuals from Iceland, pinpointing the trait in the artists, dancers, and song writers, and linking their genes to the risk mental illnesses.

The findings suggest that creative individuals are predisposed to thinking differently, which may contribute to psychiatric disorders. By understanding the thought processes behind healthy behaviors, such as creativity, and how that trait links to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, scientists hope that they can understand how the brain goes wrong.

This should lead to better treatments for mentally ill people, always good news!

Author: Cassandra Stout

Freelance writer Cassandra Stout blogs weekly at the award-winning Bipolar Parent, a comprehensive resource for parents with mental illnesses. She also blogs monthly at the International Bipolar Foundation website (IPBF.org). Her work has been published in the anthology, How the Light Gets In. Cassandra holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has been a judge for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association literary contest for nine years, where her memoir, Committed, recently placed as a finalist. She balances her literary work with raising her children, feeding her cat, and managing her bipolar disorder.

4 thoughts on “Genes Linked to Creativity Could Increase Risk of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia”

  1. Good, too, that those of us who are both creative and live with mental illness can be properly medicated while maintaining our unique perspectives and creativity. I’m creative while stabilized on medication, but at times medications have interfered with my cognitive abilities.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Kitt! I appreciate your perspective. Medications are a blessing–most of the time. Sometimes they’re just plain awful. I’m glad you’ve found a cocktail that works for you! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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