Creativity Closely Related to Mental Illness

November 16, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. link (n.) 
[lingk] – connection, something that connects one thing to another
Example: The scientist found a link between humans and apes.

2. prevalent (adj.) [prev-uh-luhnt] – common in a large area or among large number of people
Example: The common cold is a prevalent disease among children.

3. likely (adv.) [lahyk-lee] – has a good chance of happening
Example: People in stress are more likely to get sick.

4. perspective (n.) [per-spek-tiv] – way of thinking or looking at things
Example: People have different perspectives on beauty because what is beautiful to one may not be beautiful to another. 

5. original (adj.) [uh-rij-uh-nl] – new and unlike all the others
Example: Vincent Van Gogh’s art was so original that people in his time could not appreciate it.

Read the text below.

A study of over a million people in Sweden shows a link between creativity and mental illness. More specifically, the study found that some kinds of mental illnesses are prevalent among people working in creative professions.

Writers were more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders like schizophrenia (messy thinking; hearing voices or seeing things that are not there), anxiety (extreme worry and fear), and drug abuse. They were also 50% more likely to commit suicide compared to the general population. Dancers and photographers were more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder (sudden changes in mood).

Additionally, compared to other groups, creative professionals more likely have a close relative suffering from some sort of mental disorder such as anorexia (extreme dieting and weight loss due to fear of getting fat) or autism (difficulty in communicating with others; repeating behaviors).

Dr. Simon Kyaga, the study’s lead researcher, says the study brings a new perspective on mental illness and on how doctors can treat patients. Instead of viewing mental illness as something completely negative, people can view some aspects of mental illness as beneficial.

For example, a person who is schizophrenic may produce more original works of art. People with autism or bipolar disorder may have the strong focus needed to complete creative tasks.

Beth Murphy, from the mental health charity “Mind,” says people with mental illness may be more attracted to creative jobs because of their unusual skills. But she warns that people with mental illness still need to be given the right medical help and should not just be thought of as creative geniuses.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that there is a relationship between mental illness and creativity? Why or why not?
·         What do you think helps a person become creative? How can a person be more creative?

Discussion B

·         Have you ever met or learned about someone with a mental illness? How did you feel after meeting or learning about them?
·         What are some ways for people to help or support those with mental illnesses?


November 16, 2012