There's long been a question about whether creative people are disproportionately likely to suffer from mental illness. A recent large study has claimed that people in creative professions, including musicians, writers, painters and dancers, may indeed be more likely to have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to the researchers, creative people are at 25 percent higher risk of developing the disorders than people with less creative jobs, including manual laborers and sales representatives.
According to the lead researcher Kari Stefansson, the findings of the study point to a link between the mental disorders and creativity. “To be creative, you have to think differently,” said Stefansson, in an interview with The Guardian. “And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.”
During the study, the team of researchers looked at the genetic information for almost 86,000 people in Iceland. The intention was to find the genetic variant among the sample population that doubles the risk of schizophrenia and triples the risk of bipolar disorder in the people who possess it.
The researchers found that the genetic variation was 17 percent more common among the members of the national arts society, as compared to non-members. The researchers then went on to search the medical databases maintained in Sweden and the Netherlands.
The researchers found that out of the records of 35,000 people searched, nearly 25 percent of the people who were deemed creative were at a greater risk of carrying the variant for the mental disorders.
According to the team, the genetic variant in such people may alter the way they think and the variant does not seem to pose any harm to the people. However, genetic factors and life experiences may result in mental illness and certain other problems in nearly one percent of the population.
The complete study findings have been developed in the journal Nature Neuroscience.