For years there has been an assumption that the overly creative may also be overtly insane – for lack of a better term. If you refer to such examples of Vincent van Gogh and his ill-fated ear or Sylvia Plath and her suicide by oven, it makes little sense to the sane why such actions would be taken.
Science Daily recently posted a release that examined new research reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. This research studied the link between psychosis and creativity.
Psychiatrist Szabolcs Kéri of Semmelweis University in Hungary began his research by focusing on neuregulin 1, the gene that generally plays a role in a variety of brain processes such as the development and strengthening of communication through neurons. A variant of this gene is associated with a greater risk of developing mental disorders.
To study this link, researchers recruited volunteers who considered themselves to be very creative and accomplished. These volunteers were asked questions and then rated according to the originality and flexibility of their answers.
The results of this survey found a clear link between neuStudyregulin 1 and creativity as volunteers with the specific variant of the gene were more likely to have higher scores on the creativity assessment. These individuals also had greater lifetime creative achievements than volunteers with a different form of the gene.
According to Kéri, the “molecular factors that are loosely associated with severe mental disorders but are present in many healthy people may have an advantage enabling us to think more creatively.”
It may be beneficial to an individual to be creative to the point of van Gogh or Plath, although their self-inflicted wounds would suggest that the impact of neuregulin 1 on the brain creates a double-edged sword.