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Can Mood Swings Enhance Our Creativity?

Posted Mar 22 2012 11:17pm

“To assume, then, that such diseases usually promote artistic talent wrongly reinforces simplistic notions of the ‘mad genius.’” Kay Redfield Jamison

In an interview for NPR radio, science writer Jonah Lehrer commented, “One of the surprising things that’s emerged from the study of moods…is that putting [people] in a bad mood — making them a little bit sad or melancholy — comes with some cognitive benefits.

“So sadness, although it is not fun and is not pleasant, it does sharpen the mind a little bit… people suffering from various kinds of depression [may have increased] creative output.”

Kay Redfield Jamison, MD notes in her book “Touched with Fire” that the majority of people suffering from mood disorder do not possess extraordinary imagination, and most accomplished artists do not suffer from recurring mood swings.

But, she adds, “All the same, recent studies indicate that a high number of established artists – far more than could be expected by chance – meet the diagnostic criteria for manic-depression or major depression…”

Not everyone agrees with the kinds of statements that Jamison and others make about a correlation between creativity and mood disorders.

Continued: Can Mood Swings Enhance Our Creativity?


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