Creativity and Bipolar Disorder
Almost since the beginning of time, human beings have recognized the connection between intelligence or creativity and mental illness. Consider the way these individuals are portrayed in movies and books, for instance – the mad scientist working day and night in his laboratory, the hallucinating artist who doesn’t even take time out from his creative work to eat.
Researchers have noted that an unusually high number of creative geniuses suffered from bipolar disorder. The reason Bipolar may bring about this increase in creative abilities is linked to the nature of the disease. One symptom of mania is an increase in creative, mental and physical energy. This might explain why these people were able create such works of genius, and why they were able to devote such concentrated periods of time to their work.
These creative geniuses included novelist Virginia Woolf, who brought us numerous first rate novels. Poet Sylvia Plath also suffered from the mood swings associated with Bipolar disorder. Musician and composer Ludwig van Beethoven is also believed to have suffered from Bipolar Disorder.
Perhaps best known for her role as the Southern belle Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, actress Vivien Leigh was also plagued with Bipolar Disorder. Despite the disease and the shock therapy she was given as the treatment in those days.
Painter Vincent Van Gogh is also said to have suffered from Bipolar disorder. His most loved painting Starry Night was painted while Van Gogh was in a mental asylum for treatment of his erratic moods.
While every person with bipolar disorder may not create lasting works of art or literature, there is a higher percentage of artists and writers who are bipolar. So does the emotional instability of bipolar disorder bring about genius? We may one day know the answer for sure.