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Do You Think There's A Connection Between Creativity And Mental Illness?

It seems like nearly everyone who has any interest at all in mental health issues and artists (be they writers, musicians, singers, or actors) also has an opinion about the connection between creativity and mental illness.

Some people might think there’s some kind of connection between the presence of mental illness and a person’s level of creativity and cling to the studies The New York Times‘ Tara Parker-Pope nods to, the ones that “suggest that creative people often share more personality traits with the mentally ill than ‘normal’ people in less creative pursuits.”

Others, like The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Toby Zinman, who asked whether there was a “cheesier, more self-serving assumption than the link between mental illness and creativity”, don’t buy it.

So popular is this ongoing debate that you can even find Creativity and Mental Illness on Wikipedia.

Not that that’s a big deal. You can also find Muffin Top, Toilet Humour, and Unusually Shaped Vegetable.


With so many famous artists throughout history having dealt with (or, still dealing with, in the case of the living) mental illness, it’s really no surprise that, at some point, someone stopped to wonder about whether creativity and mental illness are connected. I only covered a very few during May’s Mental Health Month Spotlight; the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists several more – and still, those two lists barely scratch the surface of the list of famous artists with mental illness, much less the list of nonfamous ones.

What’s your opinion on the connection between mental illness and creativity.

Do you think there’s a connection? Maybe that people with mental illness are more prone to be creative, or that creative people are more prone to mental illness?

Or, do you think there is no connection between the two? That creative people are just as likely as noncreative people to have a mental illness as they are to have diabetes or heart disease?

Do You Think There's A Connection Between Creativity And Mental Illness?

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2009). Do You Think There's A Connection Between Creativity And Mental Illness?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Jun 2009
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