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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness' | Michelle Roberts, BBC News-

OK, I can't resist any longer. Too many headlines are appearing (at least in news alerts I'm getting) on this topic. So what's behind it?

In this article, Roberts writes that according to a study of more than a million people by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute:
Creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers particularly susceptible. ... Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse. ... They were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves.
Yikes. Writers? Like me?

Well, Roberts writes:
As a group, those in the creative professions [writers, dancers and photographers, I assume] were no more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders than other people.
Good. But, uh, the Journal of Psychiatric Research reported:
[T]hey were were more likely to have a close relative with a disorder, including anorexia and, to some extent, autism.
Huh? So our creativity somehow causes mental disorders in our relatives? Guess our superiority hurts their self-image ... or something. Right?

Oh, wait, it's the other way around. The mental disorders among relatives of creative people cause the creative people to be creative ... or more creative, I suppose.

And that's apparently good news, according to lead researcher Dr. Simon Kyaga.

Kyaga said:
In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost.
My question: Uh, who's the patient here?
  • The person with the mental disorder? 
  • The relative whose creativity benefits from the mental disorder of his or her relative? 
  • The doctor who must tell his or her mentally disordered patient that the mental disorder is OK because it benefits his or her relative?  
Says Beth Murphy, head of information at Mind [Mind? I haven't heard of that firm. Better Google it]:
We know that one in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem this year and that these individuals will come from a range of different backgrounds, professions and walks of live. Our main concern is that they get the information and support that they need and deserve.
Yes! Please make sure those folks hang around their relatives so their relatives can become more creative! Maybe I can benefit from that.

To reduce costs, though, I'm gonna kick out the "middle man" (the psychologists) and start inviting trios of my relatives to come over more often for dinner. At least one of 'em will likely have a mental disorder that will help me become more creative.

Cool. It'll be like trying to catch something that's contagious! But, er, can they be blood relatives, or must I also invite the in-laws?
This article (and other like it) are appearing in my daily online newspaper  Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

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