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Bipolar

Related: bipolar - Byronic hero - creativity - mental illness - mania - mood disorder - depression

Bipolar disorder is found in disproportionate numbers in people with creative talent such as artists, musicians, authors, poets, and scientists, and it has been speculated that the mechanisms which cause the disorder may also spur creativity. Many historical figures gifted with creative talents commonly cited as bipolar were "diagnosed" after their deaths based on letters, correspondence or other material. [Jan 2007]

Definition

Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) is a diagnostic category describing a class of mood disorders in which the person experiences states or episodes of depression and/or mania, hypomania, and/or mixed states. Left untreated, it is a severely disabling psychiatric condition. The difference between bipolar disorder and unipolar disorder (also called major depression) for the purpose of this introduction is that bipolar disorder involves "energized" or "activated" mood states in addition to depressed mood states. The duration and intensity of mood states varies widely among people with the illness. Fluctuating from one mood state to another is called "cycling" or having mood swings. Mood swings cause impairment not only in one's mood, but also in one's energy level, sleep pattern, activity level, social rhythms and thinking abilities. Many people become fully disabled for significant periods of time and during this time have great difficulty functioning. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar [Aug 2006]

Bipolar disorder and creativity

Many artists, musicians, and writers have experienced its mood swings, and some credit the condition for their creativity. Kay Redfield Jamison, who herself has bipolar disorder and is considered a leading expert on the disease, has written several books that explore this idea, including Touched with Fire. Research indicates that while mania may contribute to creativity (see Andreasen, 1988), hypomanic phases experienced in bipolar I, II and in cyclothymia appear to have the greatest contribution in creativity (see Richards, 1988). This is perhaps due to the distress and impairment associated with full-blown mania, which may be preceded by symptoms of hypomania (i.e. increased energy, confidence, activity) but soon spirals into a state much too debilitating to allow creative endeavor.

Many famous people are believed to have been affected by bipolar disorder, based on evidence in their own writings and contemporaneous accounts by those who knew them. Bipolar disorder is found in disproportionate numbers in people with creative talent such as artists, musicians, authors, poets, and scientists, and it has been speculated that the mechanisms which cause the disorder may also spur creativity. Many historical figures gifted with creative talents commonly cited as bipolar were "diagnosed" after their deaths based on letters, correspondence or other material.

Hypomanic phases of the illness allow for heightened concentration on activities and the manic phases allow for around-the-clock work with minimal need for sleep. Another theory is that the rapid thinking associated with mania generates a higher volume of ideas, and as well associations drawn between a wide range of seemingly unrelated information. The increased energy also allows for greater volume of production. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder#Bipolar_disorder_and_creativity [Aug 2006]

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