Some comments by Aaron Wiegmann, MD
The hypothesis that bipolar individuals are more creative than the general public is longstanding, however not supported by a wealth of data. Limited studies have shown some evidence supporting this hypothesis.
A Swedish case-control study showed that bipolar patients were more likely to have worked in creative professions than controls, and that their siblings were also more likely to have worked in creative professions than controls.5
Other population-based studies found that the genetic risk for bipolar disorder was greater among creative individuals (such as actors, dancers, and musicians) than the other individuals.6,7
This would suggest that the genetic predisposition for bipolar disorder and for creativity may overlap with each other; however, it is certain that someone with severe and untreated mood swings will struggle with any form of creativity.
- Sanchez-Moreno J, Martinez-Aran A, Vieta E. Treatment of Functional Impairment in Patients with Bipolar Disorder. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017;19(1):3. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0752-3
- Solé B, Jiménez E, Torrent C, et al. Cognitive Impairment in Bipolar Disorder: Treatment and Prevention Strategies. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017;20(8):670–680. doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyx032
- Kyaga S, Lichtenstein P, Boman M, Hultman C, Långström N, Landén M. Creativity and mental disorder: family study of 300,000 people with severe mental disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2011;199(5):373–379. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.085316
- Power RA, Steinberg S, Bjornsdottir G, et al. Polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder predict creativity. Nat Neurosci. 2015;18(7):953–955. doi:10.1038/nn.4040
- Keller MC, Visscher PM. Genetic variation links creativity to psychiatric disorders. Nat Neurosci. 2015;18(7):928–929. doi:10.1038/nn.4047