A new study has connected genes responsible for mental illness and creativity. It’s not the first study to find that link, but it was one of the largest. 85,000 people were examined and those at risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also had genetic markers making them more likely to be artists, dancers, actors and writers.
“Although creativity is difficult to define for scientific purposes, researchers consider a creative person to be someone who takes novel approaches requiring cognitive processes that are different from prevailing modes of thought or expression,” study authors wrote. “Researchers found that genetic risk scores for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were significantly higher in those defined as creative individuals, approximately halfway between the general population and those with the disorders themselves.”
Most psychiatric disorders are still fairly misunderstood. Studies like these often leave more questions behind than they find answers for.
“An idea that has gained credibility is that these disorders reflect extremes of the normal spectrum of human behaviour, rather than a distinct psychiatric illness,
says Power. “Our findings suggest that creative people may have a genetic predisposition towards thinking differently which, when combined with other harmful biological or environmental factors, could lead to mental illness.”