People studying artistic subjects like painting, music or drama are 90% more likely to be hospitalised for schizophrenia later in life, new research reveals.
The epidemiological study adds weight to the argument that creativity is linked to madness.
Among almost 4.5 million Swedish people, those studying creative subjects were also 62% more likely to be hospitalised for bipolar disorder.
Similarly, they were 39% more likely to be hospitalised for depression.
Hospitalisations were most likely to occur when the person reached their 30s.
Those in the visual arts — like painters, designers, photographers and so on — had the strongest link to mental illness.
The authors write:
“…the association with mental illness was strongest for core creative subjects, especially for visual arts.
It is notable that, in the visual arts, most if not all practitioners are engaged in the creative process, whereas performing arts place more emphasis on interpretation.
Hence, the core creative subjects, particularly visual arts, may capture the concept of creativity most closely, supporting the idea that mental disorder is associated with creativity per se.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the The British Journal of Psychiatry (MacCabe et al., 2018).