They say us creative types can tend to be a little mad now and then… Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome/Highly Functioning Autistics and Depressives tend to also have a creative side; not all, but many. In a recent Special Time Magazine edition called, “Secrets of Genius” (incredibly fascinating) many geniuses were featured throughout the magazine. A special article entitled “Mind over Madness” intrigued me”. This is a small excerpt from the article…
“For a while now, researchers have noticed some links between the highest ranks of creatiity and both bipoloar disorder and schizophrenia. A survey of the lives of great musicians, writers, and artists, for example, reveals elevated rates of bipolar disorder and sometimes schizophrenia or autistic traits…Only recently have large studies revealed the same correlation in the population at large. “We validated the idea of a connection between mental illness and creativity,” says Simon Kyaga, of Sweden’s Karolinski Institute. His team’s 40-year study included roughly 1.2 million people-Sweden’s extensive medical and professional record-keeping made such far-reaching data-crunching possible-and found that those with bipolar disorder were 8% more likely to have pursued a creative or scientific profession. Conversely, people who had been treated for a variety of other mental conditions, such as depression, autism, addictions, ADHD or schizophrenia were actually LESS likely to have landed in creative fields. Authors seemed particularly affected, suffering from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder at twice the rate of the general population. They had a higher risk of depression, anxiety disorders, addictions and suicides as well…Aside from writers, however, the connection between mental illness and creativity is actually far stronger in relatives of the afflicted than in the afflicted themselves. family members of the mentally ill often have some similar tendencies, although typically at levels that don’t merit a diagnosis. Those tendencies may be sufficient, though, to ramp up creativity: people whose parents has schizophrenia were 51% more likely to be in a creative profession than those whose parents were unaffected, and those whose parents were bipolar were 33% more likely to be in the arts or sciences…Kyaga’s research uncovered a similar relationship between autism and creativity. Specifically, who had an autistic sibling were 48% more likely to be scientists and 30% more likely to work in creative fields. Authors once again broke from the pack, twice as likely as others to have had an autsitic parent. This developmental disorder has several other strong ties to creativity. First, about 10% of autistic people have “savant skills” that is, exceedingly advanced abilities in calculation, memory, music or art…”The autistic talent is a form of information processing” says Scott Barry kaufman, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University. “It’s an ability for conscious pattern detection and an interest in making sense of complex data, simplifying it to have control over the environment…”
I have had episodes of both mania and depression, anxiety and extreme creativity for my entire life. I was diagnosed as “hyperactive” as a child and now that I am a mother, I have a child on the autism spectrum. Is it coincidence that I am a fashion designer and writer and enjoy other creative arts like music, singing, theater, film, poetry, and photography? I think not. Is it a coincidence that I’ve given life to a creative genius of my own? My Asperger’s Syndrome (highly functioning autistic) daughter has many savant skills~especially with couponing and figuring out amazing deals to get us awesome ways to get free or severely reduced priced food and personal care items? I don’t think so. Is it any coincidence that my 2 of my children’s biological cousins are severely autistic and also afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome? Nope… don’t think so.
It’s all about how you look at it in my opinion though, are you afflicted… or blessed? I’d consider myself at times a creative genius. (NOT tooting my own horn) but in the way that when I get ideas they don’t stop coming, I can’t turn my brain off sometimes. I have on countless nights, stayed up all night without sleep to finish a project I’m working on~ whether it’s photo editing, or creating graphics for my blog/website, or designing a costume, headpieces or such. I’m not ashamed of this at all. I embrace it when it comes… It isn’t around all the time, sometimes I do have depressive tendencies but I tend to have them less and less and they seem to be inflicted around certain specific happenings, life losses or experiences. I think many of my friends I’ve met in the creative world “suffer” with bipolar, ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression and addictions as well. The more we talk about it, the less of a stigma there is attached to it. The more we look at it for what it is, (and I feel it’s truly a gift in my case) and embrace the positives that can come out of it, the better. (Of course, I’m not referring to violent, or untreated breaks with reality that cause us harm or problems in our lives). I am fearfully and wonderfully made, God doesn’t make mistakes, and I think I (and my daughters and my nephews) are exactly as God intended us to be.