Is there a link between genius, creativity and bipolar disorder?

It must be tough having a mental health problem but does it come with some advantages? Its hard to think of any until I came across this paper in Molecular Psychiatry. It suggests that bipolar disorder is probably more common in clever people. The authors studied records of > 1 million Swedish men to test the hypothesis that creativity is associated with profound mood swings. Indeed the study found that those blessed with a high IQ are probably prone to pure bipolar disorder.

By LaurMG - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15293668
By LaurMG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15293668

But is there a real link between genius and bipolar disorder. Indeed a recent suggested a common genetic linkage between genius and bipolar disorderThe Guardian gives a comprehensive analysis of this study which is worth a read.

By Christoph Bock (Max Planck Institute for Informatics) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
By Christoph Bock (Max Planck Institute for Informatics)Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Does any creative person with bipolar disorder come to mind? Perhaps. A quick look at PubMed brought up a paper that suggested that Virginia Woolf’s creativity is linked to her bipolar disorder.

"George Charles Beresford - Virginia Woolf in 1902" by George Charles Beresford - https://bfox.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/virginia-woolf/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
George Charles Beresford – Virginia Woolf in 1902” by George Charles Beresfordhttps://bfox.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/virginia-woolf/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

How many geniuses have we cocooned in psychiatric wards I wonder. Or is Virginia Woolf in good company, roaming free and creating? This Wikipedia list of famous people with bipolar disorder would suggest so.

By United States National Institutes of Health - http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-tr-15-3679/tr-15-3679_152248.pdf, Public Domain, Link
By United States National Institutes of Health – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-tr-15-3679/tr-15-3679_152248.pdf, Public Domain, Link

You may also check my other blog post on this subject titled Autism and creativity.

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