Get help now
  • Pages 9
  • Words 2048
  • Views 14
  • Download


    Verified writer
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • rating star
    • 4.9/5
    Delivery result 5 hours
    Customers reviews 612
    Hire Writer
    +123 relevant experts are online

    Do Creativity and Mental Illness Share Common Grounds?

    Academic anxiety?

    Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task

    Get help now

    124 experts online

    “Is there a link between creativity and mental illness?” This question has spurred lot of debates across the field of science and art. Previous studies made blind correlations between mental illness and creativity and third factors is either controlled or removed. The recent studies are discarding the bidirectional connection of mental illness and creativity and have started accounting for the third variable. Present study will look at the evidences in genetics and types of mental illness associated with creativity and will evaluate the shared vulnerability connection made by ‘the shared model of vulnerability’.

    The connection between creativity and mental illness tends to be highly questionable among the field of science like psychology and psychiatry as well as artistic fields. Some of the researchers quite agree to the idea that there are potential links between creativity and mental illness whereas some researchers don’t. However, this conflict occurs because both creativity and mental illness are broad and wide concepts. Creativity is often associated with originality and functionality  and some may include elements of surprise or high quality. Creativity tends to differ in seven different domains and mildly be domain specific. There are many dimensions of creativity, such as divergent thinking, reduction in latent inhibition, remote association and many more.

    In addition to that, there are four levels of creative achievements i.e. mini-c, little-c, pro-c and big-c. Focusing on mental illness, it can be understood as a person’s experience of a mental disorder. There are many types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and so on. Again, these types of mental illness can be further sub divided and the symptoms will vary in occurrence and severity. To understand the connection between creativity and mental illness, previous studies have often counted on a historoimetry i.e. facts from past of a personal nature conditioned on statistical analysis by using objective method to find links between creativity and mental illness. Despite of enjoying face validity, these methods are often correlational and don’t account for the effect of third variable. The family case study approach also fails to assess the causal links between creativity and mental illness.

    However, there has been paradigm shift in accounting the effect of third variable instead of controlling it so as to understand the interconnection of creativity and mental illness on biological/genetic evidence. This will certainly change the course understanding the bidirectional relationship of creativity and mental illness. Current paper will attempt to investigate the question by reviewing the recent studies on finding potential evidences on linkage of the broad spectrum of creativity and mental illness on basis of genetics and types of mental illness associated which will further lead to evaluate model that has linked creativity and mental illness ‘the shared model of vulnerability’ Genetic polymorphism Large scaled studies provided an empirical evidence of linking creativity and mental Illness as a result of genetic factors. They found that probability of being in creative profession was dependent on descending a genetic risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

    Higher the genetic risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, higher the probability of being in a creative profession. But these studies couldn’t imply which specific genetic variants or functions that are associated with risk of mentally ill and having a creative profession. One of the possible ways to establish firm links between creativity and mental illness could be looking at genetic polymorphism (existence of multiple form of a gene). Kéri (2009) claims that genetic polymorphism might have a positive effect on psychological processes. Studies claim that multiple genes together contribute in developing a probable risk for mental illness which can be linked with existence of several genes when it comes to creativity. Dopamine Some researchers have started investigating the dopamine’s relation with creativity and mental illness.

    Dopamine receptor genes are associated to brain’s dopaminergic functioning in prefrontal for memory and attention and thalamic regions for divergent thinking. However abnormal dopaminergic functioning in these brain regions can lead to psychosis. D2 receptor sensitivity is associated with psychosis which is also linked to decreased latent inhibition and a specific allele (possible forms of a gene) of D2 is associated with verbal creativity. Other studies have also demonstrated that the transporter gene of dopamine with 9 repeated allele which is often found in ADHD patients tends to increase divergent thinking. Serotonin Serotonin is also known to be associated with creativity and mental illness. Evidence of gene that regulates the synaptic levels of serotonin (5-HTT) has a polymorphism (5HTTLPR) whose shorter allele has shown more scores on creativity (verbal & figural creativity) than the longer allele.

    However, the shorter allele is more likely to develop depression in stress. Other evidences showed that tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) gene has a polymorphism A779C that influences an enzyme that regulate levels of 5-HTT is linked to suicide and schizophrenia. It was also found that ‘C’ allele of A779C had less figural & mathematical creativity compared to ‘A’ allele in university students. Neuregulin 1 Apart from Dopamine and serotonin, it was noted that neuregulin 1 was often associated with psychosis, but in current findings, functional promoter of this gene was found to be highly linked with creativity.

    Spectrum of Mental Illness linked with Creativity Schizotypal personality Previous studies have evidence of linkage between individual suffering from schizophrenia and creativity but findings of recent large scale study suggest otherwise. They have found first relatives of individual suffering schizophrenia were more likely to be in creative profession. These relatives are likely to have schziotypal personality (or schziotypy). Schziotypy can occur in two forms i.e. ‘Negative schziotypy’ which include dimensions of social anhedonia & cognitive disorganization and are considered to be negative signs of schizophrenia whereas ‘Positive schziotypy’ which includes unusual perceptual experience and magical thinking, and are considered to be positive signs of schizophrenia.

    Quite a lot of studies indicate that science related field mathematics and scientist were likely to have negative schizotypy , on the other side, arts related filed were likely to have high levels of positive schizotypy. It was intriguing to notice that one of the studies found that individuals who were low achievers in creative writing, music and art field obtained high positive scores compared to high achievers in scientific field. It can be noted that schziotypy tends to be domain specific and heritable. Alcohol Addiction It is frequently believed that alcohol will increase creativity as it tends to remove mental blocks which in turns helps to reduce latent inhibition.

    However, it might also have a negative impact if had excessively. One of the studies found that majority of the participants who were heavy drinkers in fields of art believed that their creativity increased due to alcohol in their early career phase whereas most of the participants agree that it had a detrimental effect in their late career phase. It was also observed that means of alcohol abusers was elevated among creative professions than the means of general population. It can be inferred that addiction might lead to development of mental illness and hamper careers in long run however this area needs more recent research in order to establish any further links. Mood Disorder Many renowned creative people such as Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf have suffered from extreme mood disorders.

    The mood disorders can vary in the range of fullblown mania to psychotic depression. A study noted that creativity could only flourish if there was elevation in mood as positive mood leads to more creative thoughts. A large sample size study  found higher rates of bipolar disorder were found in creative profession rather than non-creative profession. It can also be inferred from the study that first degree of relatives of bipolar are also likely to be in creative profession. Shared Vulnerability Model: Connecting the evidences Shelley Carson  proposed ‘shared vulnerability model’ and defined it as “psychopathology & creativity may share genetic components that are expressed as either pathological or creativity depending upon presence or absence of other moderating factors.”

    This model claims to explain potential links between mental illness and creativity using shared vulnerability factors and also attempts to answer why highly creative people don’t suffer from mental illness using protective factors. Shared vulnerability factors Carson has described three shared vulnerability factor i.e. attenuated latent inhibition, novelty seeking and neural hyper connectivity as common factors between creativity and psychopathology below consciousness level. Attenuated latent inhibition is a form of cognitive inhibition which is often found related with psychosis and schizophrenia Studies found that there is a correlation between ‘openness to experience’ and reduced LI, and it is also a characteristic of high achiever in creativity. It has also be found that neuregulin tends to reduce LI which may enhance creativity. High novelty seeking individuals are awarded internally by dopaminergic reward system. This provides them constant motivation to respond to new ideas.  However, it is also associated with addiction towards alcohol and mania phase of bipolar disorder.

    Taking the genetic approach, many researchers have found receptors and transporter genes of dopamine to be associated with addiction, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and novelty seeking  Neural hyperconnectivity is usually found in the condition of synaesthesia. This condition is more likely to be present in creative people than in general population. Serotonin transporter gene is also associated with schziotypy and synesthesia Protective factors Carson has stated that protective factors i.e. high IQ, enhanced working capacity and cognitive flexibility can keep an individual creative as well as stable. High IQ is been said to shield one from various mental ailments. A study found that combination of reduced LI and high IQ predicted minimal variance in creative achievement scores.

    Usually connected with high IQ is enhanced working memory capacity. Another study found that combination of reduced LI and working memory predicted less variance in creative achievement scores. Cognitive flexibility can help to keep an individual stable giving them the ability to shift their attention from one stimulus to other instead of fixating on it.  This is not the case with people suffering from schizophrenia as they don’t have the ability to shift their focus and they are stuck on one kind of focus. Cognitive flexibility depends on dopamine availability and the pathway it relies on is also related to reduced LI and psychosis. Conclusion & Limitations Recent findings and new evidences in the field of genetics and psychology has led to investigate if there’s a connection between creativity and mental illness. These researches have been indicating in the direction that creativity and mental illness are somehow intertwined. By analysing the findings of genetic evidences, there is a significant relation between creativity and mental illness in relation to dopamine, serotonin and neurgulin1. The findings in dopamine are more dominant than serotonin and neuregulin.

    Gene components of serotonin and neuregulin require more understanding for developing firm links between mental illness and creativity. Focusing towards the mental illness spectrum associated with creativity. It was found that schziotypy, mood disorder and alcohol dependency are most commonly linked with creativity. Also to be noted that data base for schziotypy and mood disorder is huge whereas it is not the same case with alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence needs large sampling and recent evidences in order to establish a connection. The shared model of vulnerability focuses neurocognitive mechanisms and emphasizes on genetic studies as well as niche spectrum of mental illness. It actually provides an answer to the question. The three shared vulnerabilities i.e. reduced latent inhibition, novelty seeking and neural hyperconnectivity are the common ground for mental illness as well as creativity.

    However the drawback of this model is that it is yet to be developed further and there is no inclusion of social or culture context. Nonetheless, it can be concluded that present study finds that there are common grounds between creativity and mental illness. The genetic evidences are more reliable findings and can be used as a strong backup. It can also be noted that not all types of mental illness are linked to creativity and hereditary studies helps to build connections between these two factors. This final leads to shared vulnerabilities given by Carson. These traits are backed up with empirical and genetic studies. This further helps to resolve the paradox of relation of creativity to mental illness.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

    Need custom essay sample written special for your assignment?

    Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

    Order custom paper Without paying upfront

    Do Creativity and Mental Illness Share Common Grounds?. (2022, Nov 26). Retrieved from

    We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

    Hi, my name is Amy 👋

    In case you can't find a relevant example, our professional writers are ready to help you write a unique paper. Just talk to our smart assistant Amy and she'll connect you with the best match.

    Get help with your paper