The Bipolar Brain and the Creative Mind

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The Bipolar Brain and the Creative Mind "Our hospital was famous and had housed many great poets and singers. Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers, or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness? ... What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?" (1) The link between madness and creativity is one that has been hotly debated in both medical and literary circles for a long time. The two most common types of mental illness theorized to be an influence on creative people such as writers, artists, and poets were schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (2). However, various studies comparing the characteristics of schizophrenics, bipolars, and writers have concluded that schizophrenics do not share a common thought process with writers (2). In comparison, a study conducted at the University of Iowa declared that while both bipolar patients and writers tended to "sort in large groups... arbitrarily change starting points, or use vague distantly related concepts as categorizing principles" (p 107), the two differed in their abilities to control their thoughts (2). Where the exactly this line of control is located – or indeed if there is a line at all – is the debate in question. Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is a complex and often cruel illness that takes sufferers on a rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and deep depressions. During the mania period, either euphoria or irritability manifest themselves, and sometimes a combination of the two, called "mixed mania"(3). A person in a manic phase can also exhibit symptoms known to physicians as the DIGFAST symptoms: distractibility is heightened; insomnia is present due to increased energy; grandiosity occurs in delus... ... middle of paper ... ..., 1993. 3)Medscape article, facts on bipolar disorder http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/151096 4)An article on the Pendulum website, about the possible links between bipolar disorder and creative personalities http://www.pendulum.org/articles/creativity_troubled.htm 5)A website to support those with bipolar illness, with a list of famous manic-depressives http://users.frii.com/parrot/dead.html 6)The Serendip webpage, an article entitled "Creativity and Psychopathology" http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/serendipia/Serendipia-Preti.html 7)A website to support those with bipolar disorder, with an essay by a teenage girl about her bipolar illness http://www.pendulum.org/writings/label_maker.htm 8)An article posted from the Science News, about the relationship between creativity and bipolar illness http://users.lycaeum.org/~martins/M2/creativ2.html

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