For years, people have generically pointed out that to be great at something, or to be incredibly creative – there had to be something different about them. Perhaps they were a little more sensitive to something, or perhaps they had a slightly more steady hand if they did something related to their hands. However, a recent study makes a connection like no other ever has. Lord Bryon, one of the most prolific poets the world ever saw perhaps put it in the simplest way. He said of those who had an incredible skill with words that, “We of the craft are all crazy.”

A new study points out that he might have been on to something. The findings were published in the science journal Nature Neuroscience and suggest that there is, in fact, a genetic connection to be made. Kari Stefansson, the founder and CEO of deCODE, pointed out “To be creative, you have to think differently, and when we are different, we have a tendency to be labeled strange, crazy and even insane.”

The study found that after evaluating 86,000 subjects from Iceland that there was a net increase of 17% in terms of likelihood to be diagnosed with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and a select group of others. While the research team found varying levels of increase from illness to illness, the team did establish a pattern – and that was what this study was aiming to determine.


He went on to point out that, “Often when people are creating something new, they end up straddling between sanity and insanity.” He expanded on that theory pointing out that, “I think these results support the old concept of the mad genius. Creativity is a quality that has given us Mozart, Bach, Van Gogh. It’s a quality that is very important for our society. But it comes at a risk to the individual, and 1% of the population pays the price for it.”

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None of this though is anything that people could debate. By and large, people have largely had this perception about those who are creative anyway. However, this simply gives some weight to the factual end of the argument. A 2013 study pointed out a similar trend, as it found that those who were writers were more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Dr. Alan Manevitz who is a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City pointed out that while the study “is partially confirming long-held beliefs about commonalities between creativity and psychosis.” He also pointed out that the study doesn’t go into great detail describing what professions and what illnesses are most likely to be developed. He closed by pointing out that, “Creative thinking occurs in rational, conscious frames of mind, not altered or transformed states,” which came to the defense of those who share some of those creative genes.