Bipolar may have an upside. Psychiatry experts at Stanford University determined that parents with bipolar disorder are likely to pass creativity along to their offspring.  Previously, researchers noticed that people with bipolar disorder tended to be highly creative, but by exploring familial connections, this study marks the first detection of a probable genetic link between creativity and bipolar disorder.

The study followed 40 family units that included at least one parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as well as 18 more families with clean mental health to be used as the control group.  Twenty of the families with a bipolar parent had at least one child with bipolar disorder, while the other twenty had a child diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  All participants were tested for creativity, while factors such as each subject’s age and length of time afflicted by the disorder were taken into account. When compared to the healthy participants, the parents and children with the disorders scored overwhelmingly higher on the creativity test.

For the purposes of this study, researchers used the Barron-Welsh Art Scale to measure creativity.  The BWAS utilizes a series of shapes and images; people indicating a preference for the complex and unsymmetrical pictures of the bunch are believed to exhibit deeper creativity.  Though the researchers concede that the BWAS is just one way of measuring creativity, they contend that it is an already respected psychological standard that could be easily reproduced for this particular study.

While this study makes a genetic link seems probable, questions remain. Are people creative because they have bipolar disorder or do they have bipolar disorder because they are creative?  Fortunately, the groundwork has been established to merit further investigation.  If the genes and causes are better understood, perhaps we can treat children with bipolar disorder without stifling their creative impulses.

Comments

  1. Jon says:

    This is a great post and nice to see a new name on the blog. Thanks Max!

  2. hannahkaye says:

    I have bipolar disorder and I don’t need any medication. People tried to convince me for years that I did, and they also tried to force a square peg into a round hold. I have started my own company and I’m thriving. If you have bipolar, you have to focus on your strengths and original ideas, and listen to yourself carefully. Following your intuition and feelings will get you everywhere.

  3. sue says:

    My adopted daughter, whose biological father was diagnosed with bipolar, has both bipolar and ADHD. She is extremely creative but it is hard to channel because of the ADHD. I try to encourage her creative juices. Many famous people have a history of mental illness but are very successful.

  4. sue says:

    My adopted daughter, whose biological father was diagnosed with bipolar, has both bipolar and ADHD. She is extremely creative but it is hard to channel because of the ADHD. I try to encourage her creative juices. Many famous people have a history of mental illness but are very successful.

  5. et3ths says:

    I have believed for awhile that those with bipolar disorder are not ill but have different perspectives because their minds see things differently, more deeply, perhaps with more complexity and also, have the ability to analyze beyond the ‘face’ of things by taking in all aspects of a given situation or problem and its consequences as well as outcomes to see the end result almost instinctively. This ability causes their responses to be different from most people, not bizarre. The only thing wrong with this ability is the negative responses to it from those who don’t have it. I agree with Hannahkaye…the captives of other people’s opinions need to be set free.

  6. et3ths says:

    I have believed for awhile that those with bipolar disorder are not ill but have different perspectives because their minds see things differently, more deeply, perhaps with more complexity and also, have the ability to analyze beyond the ‘face’ of things by taking in all aspects of a given situation or problem and its consequences as well as outcomes to see the end result almost instinctively. This ability causes their responses to be different from most people, not bizarre. The only thing wrong with this ability is the negative responses to it from those who don’t have it. I agree with Hannahkaye…the captives of other people’s opinions need to be set free.

  7. fixnmyhosue says:

    The diagnosis “Bipolar Disorder” covers an enormous range of different experiences. Some people with the disorder are able to cope with the mood swings and find great success in the creativity these mood swings offer them. Some people with the disorder become psychotic and hallucinate, causing them to do things that are dangerous to themselves or others, or making them unable to care for their own basic needs. One person’s very real experience with the disorder can be vastly different from another person’s experience. It is unhelpful, and can even be dangerous, for anyone to say that ALL bipolar people need or do not need medication. Medication may or may not be one part of a successful approach to living with bipolar disorder. As long as you find what works for you, that’s what counts.

  8. Gina2011 says:

    Hi , have you ever had a psychotic episode where you had to be hospitalized? I am afraid to stop taking medicine because I had one.

    I have the intuitive feelings and sporadic creativity. Reading your post and some of the others makes me feel less alone. I have had times when my intuition was so right it scared me. @hannahkaye

  9. BeautifulDisaster says:

    I always guessed my bipolar disorder is partially to thank for my incredible creativity. Am I presently hypomanic? I think so. However, I know I own a vast range of talents. Although bipolar disorder can be difficult for one’s family and friends and the “lows” are painful I am thankful I inherited my father’s bipolar disorder. I do consider it a gift. I feel I experience a more intense awareness of my own emotions as well a vigilance towards other’s emotions that those who do not have a mental diagnosis. I frown at the term “Mental Illness” or “disability”. To be able to channel deeper into my brain (which is how I feel about bipolar) and feel, understand, see, and often smell life on a different plane than others can be an amazing gift; even during the low times. For myself, during the low episodes, I just have to remind myself that it will get better. Now I state this as a bipolar woman and mother who is responsible with my mental well-being and have learned to pay close attention to my moods so that I can take care of myself the best I can. Sometimes I make mistakes and sometimes my moods are disrupting to those in my life. My oldest child was just diagnoses as bipolar which I expected….and YES, she is an amazing artist and musician. I know she will be OK. I feel sad for those with bipolar who do not have support or an understanding of their condition. I realized that speaking openly about my diagnosis and not being ashamed not only helps me but hopefully will help others have hope and for families of one with a mental diagnosis know there is support out there for them as well.

  10. hannahkaye says:

    I would never recommend anything to anyone as far as taking medication. If you know yourself, you know what you need. I was on medication during one of the darkest periods of my life, which, also, was when I was working an 8-5 in Corporate America, (more than one Fortune 500, over a period of years). I know I cannot work and thrive in that kind of environment. The work could have been performed by a robot. I get ideas in the middle of the night and execute them with passion. I work best in extremely creative environments. For anyone who is Bipolar: If you feel like you need the medication to stabilize yourself, then take it. But examine other influences in your life and see if there are anythings you can change for a better environment. The most critical thing for me is to be surrounded by positive, supportive friends and colleagues. If you’re in a negative environment that you feel is literally holding your head underwater, try to find a way out ASAP. Negative, critical people as well, because having bipolar makes the criticism of others literally reverberate in your own mind. Trust yourself though, the feelings are there for your own power and intuition. 90% of the risks I have taken (where other are extremely risk-adverse) have paid off in a huge way for me. But stay away from stressful environments and negativity.

  11. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @ et3ths: Right On!!!!

  12. hannahkaye says:

    @Gina2011 It took me years to really trust my own intuition, once I did, I began to realize that having bipolar was a gift, not a disability (as I had been told).

    I was never hospitalized, but I did have a suicide attempt where I took 47 sleeping pills and was extremely sick for 4 days flushing them out of my system. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to alarm them.

    I’m not sure if you have heard of this, but my friend did start a non-profit to de-stigmatize (all) mental illnesses, there is a community on facebook you’re free to visit. It may/may not help, but there are many other people who are professionals there who know exactly what people are going through and it’s helpful to have someone to talk to who understands, if you ever should feel the need. http://www.facebook.com/BringChange2Mind

  13. Gina2011 says:

    The medication I take has stifled the creative ideas that use to wake me during the night. Reading everyone’s post on here has been the only inkling of positive traits of being bipolar. I feel less remorse and shame after having read everyone’s posts. Thank you for sharing @hannahkaye

  14. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @Gina2011 @hannahkaye I know what you mean. Thankfully I have a wonderful P-Doc who spends a lot of time actually talking to me about more that how this med or that med is working. I do often long to push myself into a smidge of mania b/c that is the only time I feel alive. Once, about 10 yrs ago I had a full blown manic episdode that ending in a psychotic episode and a hospital stay on a 302. I don’t want to go that high ever again but when I am what the community calls “stable” I am bored and dull. this is the sole reason I will not take a mood stablizing drug such as lithium. I tried tegratol once and I brought me down to an unacceptable level. Be manic, be alive, but BE RESPONSIBLE! I feel we are a different species and need to love and embarce who we are!

  15. fixnmyhouse says:

    @BeautifulDisaster @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Yes, there’s a fine line between functional mania and full blown psychosis (or dangerous depression). It takes a lot of careful management to be able to manage that line successfully, with our without medication. If you can do it, kudos to you. A lot of people end up hospitalized over and over trying to achieve that balance, and never do. Everyone’s situation is unique. Handle with care.

  16. fixnmyhouse says:

    @BeautifulDisaster @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Yes, there’s a fine line between functional mania and full blown psychosis (or dangerous depression). It takes a lot of careful management to be able to manage that line successfully, with or without medication. If you can do it, kudos to you. A lot of people end up hospitalized over and over trying to achieve that balance, and never do. Everyone’s situation is unique. Handle with care.Read more at FYI Living: http://fyiliving.com/mental-health/depression/do-parents-with-bipolar-disorder-breed-creativity/#ixzz1IOVOhpIx

  17. fixnmyhouse says:

    @BeautifulDisaster @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Yes, there’s a fine line between functional mania and full blown psychosis (or dangerous depression). It takes a lot of careful management to be able to manage that line successfully, with our without medication. If you can do it, kudos to you. A lot of people end up hospitalized over and over trying to achieve that balance, and never do. Everyone’s situation is unique. Handle with care.

  18. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @fixnmyhouse @BeautifulDisaster @Gina2011 @hannahkaye ; Agreed; I hope my posts are not taken out of context. I just want others to know that bipolar can be a gift if you respect yourself and others. I see too many suffer from the revolving door of hospitals and most eventually end up not functional. I have an excellent story to tell ya’ll about that topic. I am busy now but hopefully later tonight I can get back because I think its worth sharing and I’m also curious if anyone else share my opinion. Back to what you said, fixn, one must definitely take care and maintain a consistant relationship with his/her providers. For me, I, without fail, see my p-doc every six weeks and take my medication AS PRESCRIBED!!!!!

  19. angelrain says:

    i definitely agree. nobody should be ruining one’s creativity — especially through “treatment”….

  20. angelrain says:

    @Gina2011 @hannahkaye i told my therapist i hadn’t felt creative for multiple months and she determined that the antidepressant i was using didn’t work for me. thank God. seroquel = evil in my opinion

  21. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye I call Seroquel “Serial Killer”. At a hosptial about 2 months ago the psychiatrist put my 15 y/o, who is NOT psychotic or manic but rather dysthemic, on Seroquel to “help her sleep”!!! I freaked out when I found out. Then I learned the gave it with Abilify, she ended up with EPS, and then what they gave for the EPS shouldn’t be mixed with Seroquel and she ended up in Children’s Hosp with Anticolinergic Syndrome. Yeah, I am NOT paying that hospital the $450. bill they sent me. Seroquel needs to taken off the market!

  22. et3ths says:

    I would like to apologize for the simplicity of my reaction. I believe that, as fixmyhouse wrote, that the complexities of bipolar are vast, however, that the individual must always be recognized as one outside of the realm of most people’s reality…that there is more than one reality in our amazing lives…that ‘medicine’ has missed the mark too many times and in too many ways. Without the minds who lived outside of ‘normalcy’ as it is ‘defined’ in this world, we would have missed some very important things. My point is that every individual on this earth has a time and a place and a purpose and a way to be what they were created to be and I believe that medication can nullify the truth of what that person can be, neutralize their purpose, and destroy what was intended for them. I believe also, that the greater purpose that has been made for them can be brought to light if the whole truth in love is sought without predetermination and mindsets of medical diagnoses. I believe that what the world calls bipolar is in reality the reaction of a highly intelligent and sensitive being to the limitations of a very limited world. Godspeed everyone. I am praying for all of you in love.

  23. et3ths says:

    @hannahkaye You are an amazingly insightful person, no doubt just one of your many gifts and so very right about so many things. I also would never recommend someone not take their medication and needed to clarify this. I also believe that beyond all of the treatments and judgments of the world as it is today there is a vast and beautiful acceptance of diversity of mind that we have not yet begun to understand but will, as light continues to overcome the darkness.

    Love and godspeed.

  24. et3ths says:

    To fixmyhouse: thank you for upping my sensitivity and appreciation for those who are doing all that they can to live their lives. My deepest support to all of you who are medicating and treating with care and hopes that very soon you will be healed and your unlimited abilities fulfilled. Many prayers to you.

  25. fixnmyhouse says:

    @BeautifulDisaster @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Seraquel is an anti-psychotic. Why is it being prescribed for depression, dysthymia, or as a sleeping aid?! Same thing for Abilify – its an anti-psychotic. I can’t imagine these meds being prescribed this way. That’s just dangerous.

  26. fixnmyhouse says:

    @et3ths Thank you for your response. I did understand your point of view. I’m just always concerned for people who may read something like that and decide go off their meds without consulting their doctor. I work in inpatient psych units every day. The patients are remarkable and gifted people, each one unique and valuable. The one thing most of them have in common, however, is that they went off their meds without consulting with their doctor first. The results are often devastating. I have two grown children who have Bipolar disorder as well, so fully understand both the gifts and the struggle that come with mental “illness”. Those who are able to manage the downside and still benefit from the gift (and parts of it are indeed a gift) are some of the most amazing people around. Best wishes to all, and strive for wellness.

  27. hannahkaye says:

    @fixnmyhouse @et3ths I’ve never recommended anything to anyone about their medication. I have there ideas: 1) Follow your feelings and trust your intuition. 2) Take medication as you see fit to stabilize yourself.

    The most important thing I can contribute is to tell people with people is to examine and be very aware of their environment, and to steer clear of any negative, stressful situations, if possible, which is extremely valuable lifestyle advice for other people with bipolar like me. We are exquisitely sensitive to stimuli, and that can be controlled. Create an open, creative environment with positive, uplifting people. Cut out anyone who is negative or has too many stressors in their lives, if you can.

    If you have bipolar disorder, you inherently know whether or not you need medication. We know our lines, so to speak. Our goal is stabilization, obviously…..

  28. hannahkaye says:

    @fixnmyhouse @et3ths I’ve never recommended anything to anyone about their medication. I have there ideas: 1) Follow your feelings and trust your intuition. 2) Take medication as you see fit to stabilize yourself.

    The most important thing I can contribute is to tell people with people is to examine and be very aware of their environment, and to steer clear of any negative, stressful situations, if possible, which is extremely valuable lifestyle advice for other people with bipolar like me. We are exquisitely sensitive to stimuli, and that can be controlled. Create an open, creative environment with positive, uplifting people. Cut out anyone who is negative or has too many stressors in their lives, if you can.

    If you have bipolar disorder, you inherently know whether or not you need medication. We know our lines, so to speak. Our goal is stabilization, obviously…..

  29. et3ths says:

    @fixnmyhouse Thank you for responding and for again heightening my sensitivity. The conversations we have are enriching and beneficial and I hope we can continue to keep this going…I am certainly learning and hope to find a way to be a contributor to the solutions. You seem to be an expert professionally as well as personally, the latter perhaps being even more important. Thank you again.

  30. et3ths says:

    @fixnmyhouse @BeautifulDisaster @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye This is why I have so many reservations about medication. My personal unfortunate experiences with medication and treatments for physical problems have been almost fatal several times. As hannahkaye said, it is something that you must monitor carefully yourself. Physical responses to medication are easy to identify and correct. This is not so easy with psychological medications since responses are not always judged by (and sometimes can’t be) the patient. This is the difficulty for bipolar patients. BeautifulDisaster you are much more beautiful than you are disaster.

    Godspeed.

  31. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @fixnmyhouse @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Proof that not all doctors are competent. When I called a lawyer to learn my rights I was told that Psychiatrist are the most protected physicans under the law and have carte blance to prescribe as they wish for “off-label” uses.

  32. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @et3ths @fixnmyhouse @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye @et3ths, AWE, thanks! That is sweet to hear. But I really am a hot-mess!

  33. et3ths says:

    @BeautifulDisaster @fixnmyhouse @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Unfortunately, our lawmakers are all mixed up with our corporations and medical industry and only a righteous infusion of god fearing people is going to change it. It is a nationwide, government wide problem. In our current condition, there seem to be none accountable. We must all carefully watch out for ourselves and for those who cannot, the ones around them better be watching out for them. Love and godspeed.

  34. angelrain says:

    i also was prescribed it for a “sleeping aid”. it feels like a hangover in the morning. hope your daughter recovers quickly from the side effect even if it was given for a short time. funny how the ad for seroquel has a person with a cloud. @BeautifulDisaster @Gina2011 @hannahkaye

  35. BeautifulDisaster says:

    and then there are moments like this….when you’re counting the minutes for your children to fall asleep so you can just fall apart. So empty.

  36. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkaye Thanks, Angelrain. She seems to be over the whole medication fiasco, but emotionally she is struggling.

  37. truthbtold02 says:

    @angelrain @Gina2011 @hannahkayeSeroquel can be a wonderful medicatoin if used properly. After trying 30 different medications with my own child Seroquel plus other medications allow him to lead a healthy productive life. He has been on the medication for about 6 years and is in the 7th grade. He went from needing a one on one aid and IEP to needing no intervention and no IEP. Being bipolar myself I can tell you medication sucks and you will always feel like you don’t need it but as long as you communicate with your doctors and follow medication as prescribed you will have a much better chance of staying off the inpatient unit.

    BTW I am on the dreaded lithium I hate it but without it I wouldn’t have a career or family! Beware the advice you give labeling any medication because it may be helping one person live life to their fullest.

  38. truthbtold02 says:

    being bipolar myself and having a child with the same disorder I would request NO PITY! Having this disorder is not a death sentence! Anyone not bipolar will not understand that every emotion/mood that is felt is deeper and has more impact than any someone without may have. I realize that I will never be loved as deeply by my spouse as I love him and he will love me unconditionally where I will hate him more than anything as well. Bipolar is feeling something completely with every ounce of your being physically and emotionally.

    The comments about the specific drug Seroquel are not helpful as it has been very benificial to my own child. My child went from needing an IEP and a 1:1 aid in school to needing nothing. He has been on over 30 different medication combinations and with Seroquel and the other meds he is able to be just like the other students,. (He has been on it 6 years) Just because 1 dug didn’t work for you doesn’t make it all bad.

    I am on lithium and it is one of the most dreaded medications if you aska ny bipolar person. I am almost done with my Masters and have a wonderful family life and career. Bipolar is not a death sentence its just another way to experience life!

  39. BeautifulDisaster says:

    @truthbtold02 nice post. I am glad to hear that someone can benefit from Seroquel. For myself the ends did not justify the means to find an antipsycnotic that worked. it became too taxing suffering through the side effects for something that didn’t help. Unfortuantely Depakote was wonderful but losing my vison and ablity to walk was not acceptable. As you, I don’t consider bipolar a disabilty but rather a gift.

  40. Wurges says:

    interesting…

  41. ARIAAWESOMENESS says:

    BEING BIOPOLAR IS REALLY DEPRESSING AND LEADS TO CUTTIING YOURSELF SUICIDE.

  42. et3ths says:

    I know about ups and downs although I have never been diagnosed with bipolar and, AriaAwesomeness, I know that you must have terrible feelings about yourself sometimes but you are still here and a very precious person. The inability to have communication with others is terribly sad sometimes…especially when you are misunderstood so much of the time because others are simply unable to comprehend your thinking, but I can tell you that if you closely examine what you are thinking and know about yourself, your own heart’s feelings and goodness towards others, you can gain a perspective of yourself that is your own and when you accept it and decide to live with it and the goodness of it, your individuality will become the best thing that you’ve ever known. Godspeed and may indescribable peace fill you to overflowing.

  43. mochatexas98 says:

    Have a friend who has a child who was diagnosed with bipolar and he started giving her a kind of chocolate that could be mixed with milk…Either hot or cold…it had something in it that helps bring balance to the brain…he bought it here http://www.myganocafe.com/hollywoodjava

  44. mochatexas98 says:

    Have a friend who has a child who was diagnosed with bipolar and he started giving her a kind of chocolate that could be mixed with milk…Either hot or cold…it had something in it that helps bring balance to the brain…he bought it here http://www.myganocafe.com/hollywoodjava

  45. kelleyward says:

    Wow I’ve never heard of this before but it does make sense. Creative Kids can be a great job but they can also be a struggle at times. Here is an article on Parenting the Creative child http://kelleyward.hubpages.com/hub/Parenting-The-Creative-Child.

  46. MelissaBecerraChapparosa says:

     @BeautifulDisaster I agree & disagree re: ‘i don’t consider bipolar a disability but rather a gift’..i.e. I KNOW Bipolar Disorder CAN be VERY disabling, BUT BELIEVE (and hope in all HOPES!), that the DISABILITY CAN BE  A TEMPORARY PERIOD IN LIFE & THAT WE are ALL CAPABLE OF LIVING VERY PRODUCTIVE, ‘NORMAL’, HEALTHY & HAPPY LIVES. I read about many people as in these two posts, that have done it & are stable for the most part, and are continuing to do so now! I think that the road to REGAIN your ‘Sanity’ (for lack of better word right now), is very DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE, and alot LONGER & ‘rockier’ than others. I do not want to try to remember but it has been a good 6-8yrs since my diagnosis & just in the recent 1-2yrs, have i just began to ‘come back’ & I know that I am no where near where you or truthbtold02 are at in your lives, more importantly, where I know I CAN & WILL BE but I FINALLY HAVE HOPE & CONFIDENCE that it IS NOT a ‘Death Sentence’, largely because of posts like both of yours..(speaking of sentences, talk about a run on sentence!).. I just wanted to say thanks! Im still struggling with managing my life & recognizing ‘triggers’ & what i can do/NOT do, to safegaurd myself against myself..and even tho i feel that there may be a better combo of meds i m too scared & slowly rebuilding my life before i accepted my disorder or rx; that i’v decided to wait.. BUT WE ARE ALL ‘WIRED’ DIFFERENTLY AND THAT meds Roller-coaster can last for years, an is very frustrating and tiring-I JUST WISH PEOPLE WOULD HANG IN THERE A LITTLE LONGER..BCUZ MINE ARE STILL UNSTABLE BUT MY QUALITY OF LIFE, HOPE, GOALS, ETC..ARE IMPROVING (sometimes slower than id like)..BUT SOOO WORTH IT!! JUS UNABLE TO SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS WHEN YOUR IN IT! IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS OR ADVICE FOR ME?..I AM STILL HAVING TROUBLE WITH MANIA (MONEY) & NO SEX DRIVE AT ALL, AND EVEN DAILY ROUTINE THINGS (actually, prob is, i hav NO routine!), BUT I HAVE GOALS AND PLANS TO RETURN TO WORK & SCHOOL SOON (as i clear up these court cases & drivers lic reissued!).;  I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE ANY SUGGESTIONS AT ALL vs web searching blogs for hours! thanks again & please excuse the length of my post but if i went back to re read it, i would never finish & have yet another ‘bookmark’ on my ‘half done to do list’, LOL! =-)
     

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