People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general population, with a significant connection between writers and schizophrenia.
So say researchers at Karolinska Institutet in their study of over one million people.
In a previous study, the team showed that artists and scientists were more common among families where bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is present, compared to the general population.
They expanded the current study to include many more psychiatric illnesses, including schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety syndrome, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, autism, ADHD, anorexia nervosa and suicide. The new study also included people in outpatient care, rather than only people who have been hospitalized.
For the study, researchers tracked almost 1.2 million patients and their relatives, identified down to second-cousin level.
The findings reveal that bipolar disorder is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors.
Authors, however, more commonly suffer from the other mental disorders — including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse — and are almost 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Creative professions were more common in the relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa and, to some extent, autism.
The findings suggest that perhaps mental disorders should be viewed in a new light.
“If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient’s illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment,” said Simon Kyaga, consultant in psychiatry and doctoral student at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
“In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost. In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavor to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as morbid.”
Source: Karolinska Institute