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Creativity and Mental Illness

The relationship between creativity and psychopathology has been the focus of considerable interest and research in psychiatry. Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Proust, and Freud alleged a connection, as have the anecdotal accounts of many writers and visual artists. The lives of Sylvia Plath and Jackson Pollock, for instance, exemplify how thin the line can be between destruction and creation. Three questions are the focus of hundreds of studies: Do some kinds of psychopathologies enhance creative achievement? Are creatively gifted people more likely to be mentally ill? What is the nature of the connection between creative and pathological thought processes? The research has obvious implications for the development of talent, particularly in the arts.

Diagnostic analyses of the works or lives of well-known artists and writers are often ...

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