Is there a link between artistic creativity and mental illness? Numerous studies suggest that there is indeed a strong link and that writers are more likely to suffer from certain illnesses such as mood disorders, depression, and manic depression. Poets are the most emotional and introspective amongst writers with higher rates of illness than nonfiction writers who are more analytical and rational. The same studies also suggest that various mood disorders allow poets and writers to think and act more creatively. One proof positive aspect of mania is sharpened and unusually creative thinking and writing.
In the case of writers block, this creates extremely deep emotional pain which leaves writers fearful of never being able to write again. Writers become deeply depressed when their mood blocks usually crisp thought patterns that prevent creativity.
Writers, as well as artists and musicians, are typically solitary creatures and when depression strikes, they do not have the encouragement or support from others to help fight their illness as any other employee may have available to them in a 9 to 5 job. In the typical job environment, changes in behavior and certain unexplained mood swings are generally noticed by others, who will more often than not reach out to their co-worker and offer a helping hand. Whereas the writer and other creative people will suffer alone.
Does mental illness and brilliance walk with hands held tight? Take into consideration the following people, all famous and at some point in time have struggled with mental illness:
Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Drew Carey, Vincent Van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Nixon, and Michelangelo have all battled depression, suicidal tendencies, Obsessive Compulsive Behavior, or Multiple Personality Disorder, respectively.
Certain studies have concluded that writers are especially prone to severe mental illness at an average close to 72%. Creativity is an amazing gift, but it can also be a huge burden upon an individual. Sometimes it is even a curse.