Resource of the Week: Is there any evidence linking creativity and mood disorders

Mad genius screenshot

“The Romantic stereotype that creativity is enhanced by a mood disorder is dangerous, and dissolves under careful scrutiny.” from @aeonmag

As we’ve recently shared, stereotypes about who is or can be a scientist, who is or can be an artist, and how stereotypes of creativity play into these identities can be problematic.

That’s why Christa L. Taylor’s article in Aeon, critiquing “The myth of the ‘mad’ genius,” caught our attention.

This excerpt epitomizes the thought-provoking, thoroughly referenced article:

Believing that creativity is due to some underlying, uncontrollable factor reinforces the idea that few people are capable of true creativity, which prevents many from realising their own potential. It also undermines the skill and effort that creative endeavours require, if we can simply chalk it up to the consequence of a disorder. And the connection between mood disorders and creativity influences the very way we view the creative work of others: university students who were told the story of Van Gogh cutting off his ear before they examined his painting Sunflowers (1888) took a more favourable view of it than those who weren’t told the story. Similarly, students priced a piece of artwork higher when a fictitious artist’s biography briefly mentioned that he was ‘often described as very eccentric’.

Read the full article here.

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