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Creative People With Schizophrenia – Part 2

Mercury by David Marsh

Elyn Saks (photo at right in Part 1) is a law professor at USC; an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope; and is a recipient of a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

An article notes “She kept her schizophrenia hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University.”

She wrote of her experiences in her memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”

See more in post: Elyn Saks, Schizophrenia and Creativity.

She has commented, “Ironically, the more I accepted I had a mental illness, the less the illness defined me — at which point the riptide set me free.”

From post: Creativity and madness: High ability and mental health.

The painting above is a detail from “Mercury” by David Marsh – he thinks there is a correlation between his schizophrenia and his need to paint.

“It helps me to get rid of my anger. And there are times when I don’t get proper sleep. I dream a lot and have visions.”

From Schizophrenic Artist’s Paintings ‘Out of This World’ by Samantha Gluck, HealthyPlace.

How could schizophrenic thinking help anyone be more creative?

A Guardian newspaper article reported: “Psychologists found that artists and schizophrenics scored equally high on ‘unusual cognition’, a trait which gives rise to a greater tendency to feel in between reality and a dream state, or to feel overwhelmed by one’s own thoughts.”

See more in my article: Highly creative people have brains similar to those with schizophrenia.

According to a related news article, “New research on individuals with schizotypal personalities – people characterized by odd behavior and language but who are not psychotic or schizophrenic – offers the first neurological evidence that they are more creative than either normal or fully schizophrenic individuals, and rely more heavily on the right sides of their brains than the general population to access their creativity.

“Psychologists believe that a number of famous creative luminaries, including Vincent Van Gogh, Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson and Isaac Newton, had schizotypal personalities.”

From post: Gifted and mentally ill: A link between intellectual functioning and schizophrenia.

Scott Barry Kaufman is assistant professor of psychology at New York University, and Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

He notes that schizotypy, a milder version of schizophrenia, “consists of a constellation of personality traits that are evident in some degree in everyone.”

“Research confirms a link between schizotypy and creative achievement.”

From my earlier Psych Central article: Creative Thinking and Schizophrenia.

Kaufman is author of the book “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined” – which, he notes, includes his “personal and scientific exploration of a broad range of research on the development of IQ, expertise, talent, and creativity.”

This is one of many titles on my two page listing of Books To Fuel Your Creative Mind.

For even some people with such a severe mental illness as schizophrenia – and Dr. Kaufman notes we may all experience some degree of schizotypy – our “weird” imaginings can enhance our creative thinking.


Creative People With Schizophrenia – Part 2

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Creative People With Schizophrenia – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Dec 2014
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