this is not my beautiful house!
Psychiatrist Nancy C. Andreasen of the University of Iowa College of Medicine is the first investigator to have used modern psychiatric diagnostic criteria to explore the relationship between mental illness and creativity. In the early 1970s, Andreasen completed a study of 15 topflight American writers at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and compared them with others matched for age, education and sex. Ten of the writers had histories of mood disorders, compared with only two from the comparison group. Two of the 10 were diagnosed as manic-depressive, and almost all reported mood swings, including manic or hypomanic (mildly manic) states.
Andreasen has continued the study during the past 15 years, expanding the sample of writers to 30. According to a recent report, the proportion of writers treated for mood disorders has increased to 80 percent, compared to 30 percent of the comparison group. Forty- three percent of the writers had some degree of manic-depressive illness, as compared with 10 percent of the others. Alcoholism, which is very high among sufferers of manic-depression, afflicted 30 percent of the writers and 7 percent of the comparison group. Two of the 30 committed suicide during the 15 years of the study. "Issues of statistical significance pale before the clinical implications of this fact," Andreasen says.
"Topflight?" Ha ha! Ha! I am one of the unmedicated, uncounseled 20 percent, but only out of stubbornness. (Unless they mean that percentage to include past history as well.)
Someone has already responded to this article, and others like it, by pointing out that correlation is not causation. True. Ask any of the Topflight Writers who have gotten on psychiatric medication within the last year (i.e., the majority of us): your work gets steadier and more emotionally broad once you receive treatment. Suprisingly, you are no longer compelled to write about death & suicide all the time if you're not suicidal yourself. Also there are problems with trying to maintain a consistent artistic output while suffering from a syndrome that causes you to spend hours lying on the couch with a mind as blank as the overcast Iowa sky.
But I wonder if they're still doing these studies at the Medicine College. I wonder if they pay.