There’s A Genetic Link Between Creativity And Mental Illness

By: Agata Blaszczak-Boxe
Published: June 08, 2015 11:02am ET on LiveScience.

There may be an overlap between the genetic components of creativity and those of some psychiatric disorders, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers looked at genetic material from more than 86,000 people in Iceland and identified genetic variants that were linked with an increased risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The investigators then looked for these variants in a group of more than 1,000 people who were members of national societies of artists, including visual artists, writers, actors, dancers and musicians in Iceland.

The study revealed that the people in these artistic societies were 17 percent more likely to carry those variants linked with the mental health conditions than were people in the general population, who were not members of these societies.

“The results of this study should not have come as a surprise, because to be creative, you have to think differently from the crowd,” study author Kari Stefansson, the founder and CEO of deCODE, a genomic analysis company, said in a statement. “And we had previously shown that carriers of genetic factors that predispose to schizophrenia do so.” [5 Controversial Mental Health Treatments]

The investigators also looked at the link between creativity and psychiatric disorders using a different data set, from four studies previously conducted in the Netherlands and Sweden, which involved about 35,000 people. This group included people who worked in the fields of visual arts, music, dance, writing and theater, as well as those who worked in other professions. This study showed that the people who worked in the creative professions were almost 25 percent more likely to carry the genetic variants related to the psychiatric disorders than were people who worked in other occupations.

In a previous study, published in —> Read More