Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness'

News Brief by Jesse Starger

    The Journal of Psychiatric Research reports, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have begun to uncover the link between mental illness and creativity. Writers, being the most at risk for these mental illnesses, were almost twice as likely to kill themselves with other problems stemming from afflictions such as schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse. Famous examples include Virginia Woolf who had depression and drowned herself and Ernest Hemingway who was affected by depression and later killed himself with a shotgun.    Dr. Simon Kyaga, the lead researcher, suggests disorders be viewed in a new light so certain traits can be considered beneficial or desirable. Such as the concept of ‘originality’ proceeding from the disordered thoughts of a schizophrenic or ‘genius’ originating from the intense focus provided by autism. Dr. Kyaga states, "In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavor to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid." Yet, “If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient's illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment.” Although, Beth Murphy, the head of information at Mind warns, "It is important that we do not romanticize people with mental health problems, who are too often portrayed as struggling creative geniuses.”

Reference:Roberts, Michelle. "Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness'." BBC World News. BBC, 17 2012. Web. 24 Oct 2012. .
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