Scientific fact: The strong relationship between artistic Creativity &mental illness


Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
I think one caveat here is that any creativity isn't a product of the mental illness, i.e., the artists are more productive when they aren't in the midst of episodes.
This is 100% true.
One does not produce because of illness, but in spite of it.
Dec 2016
As an engineer I always feel that, these people (related to arts and social sciences) are somehow often not 100% normal.
As a non-fiction technical writer who is passionate about the study of social / cultural history (hence, I am sort of the artist and history buff you infer, but also one foot in engineering), I am in a good position to both understand your PoV while correcting it slightly.

Folks related to arts and social sciences are seldom 100% "normal" in the conventional sense.
Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
There are many kinds of art and psychological conditions; e.g. some forms of visual art, such as realism require intense discipline, concentration, and knowledge of optics, anatomy, color theory, the behavior of light, excellent draughtsmanship, time management, knowledge of the materials and supports and paint film and knowledge of the processes and materials to creating work that will last. Even artists who aspire to realism may never attain the ability after endless practice and study, and there are even those who suggest that painting a good portrait is more difficult that brain surgery. So, some artists are as organized and disciplined as anyone in any other field, and as normal. Some other forms of art --visionary, naive, outsider, may perhaps stem from a need to communicate some internal state or experience, without the years of study, etc. And it shows, but it can still be "good" art.

Certain conditions such as manic-depressive illness, may cause the artist to be extremely frantically prolific when in a "high" state, but production might cease during the "low" depressed periods. Other conditions might have other patterns associated with them, but it's not always a constant. I think that anyone who spends their allowance of time, energy and attention trying to accomplish a specific goal, might have certain behaviors "normals" might find odd, but perhaps it's worth it --to be an outlier. Iirc, the ability to draw realistically is one of the least common savant abilities; perhaps because so much is learned.


Forum Staff
Mar 2008
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Folks related to arts and social sciences are seldom 100% "normal" in the conventional sense.
I agree but.... I quibble with the word normal. Normal is where some thing falls on the bell curve; a statistical abstraction. And like most abstractions it is nothing more than a verbal shorthand to substitute for putting forth the energy to find better words and/or means of expression. The common expression "Nobody is perfect" means the same as no one is normal. When it come to discussing works of art I am repelled when the word normal is on the same page.
Sep 2013
SouthWest USA
From Wikiquote (from the famous ancient Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca 4 BCE to 62 CE).

In Latin, nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit (There is no great genius without some touch of madness). This passage by Seneca is the source most often cited in crediting Aristotle with this thought, but in Problemata xxx. 1, Aristotle says: 'Why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholic?' The quote by Plato is from the Dialogue Phaedrus


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
There's a difference between illness and disorders, especially personality disorders. The latter are not diseases. There're not something that attacks a person, but something which might managed but not be cured. I think we are talking more about the latter. Creative people may be more likely to have personality disorders or bipolarity. On the the other hand, clinical depression is a disabling disease. Anyone might experience it. The same is true for schizophrenia. It's quite possible that certain disorders may predispose one to disease, but they are still two different things.

I think we are talking about creative people having certain types of personalities that make them different. In some cases this might predispose them to illness, especially depression. I think its more of a stretch to say they are more prone to schizophrenia generally. I'd like to see some evidence.
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