Creativity and Bipolar Disorder: Touched by Fire or Burning with Questions?

TitleCreativity and Bipolar Disorder: Touched by Fire or Burning with Questions?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsJohnson S.L., Murray G., Hinshaw S., Fredrickson B., Bass J.M., Deckersbach T., Schooler J.W., Salloum I.
JournalClinical Psychology Review

Substantial literature has linked bipolar disorder with creative accomplishment. Much of the thinking in this area has been inspired by biographical accounts of poets, musicians, and other highly accomplished groups, which frequently document signs of bipolar disorder in these samples. A smaller literature has examined quantitative measures of creativity among people with bipolar disorder or at risk for the disorder. In this paper, we provide a critical review of such evidence. We then consider putative mechanisms related to the link of bipolar disorder with creativity, by drawing on literature outside of bipolar disorder on personality, motivational, and affective predictors of creativity. Because so little research has directly evaluated whether these factors could help explain the elevations of creativity in bipolar disorder, we conclude with an agenda for future research on the theoretically and clinically compelling topic of creativity in bipolar disorder.