The idea that artists must be crazy in order to produce art combines well with the idea that when the artist’s madness gets the best of him or her, psychiatry will step in with their own brand of so called “help”.
A new study has just been released which tries to show that genes found in creative artists are the same as the genes found in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients.
Kings College reported in their news section on this new research carried out by researchers from deCODE Genetics and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.
deCode used a sample of 86,292 individuals from the general population of Iceland establishing a DNA signature that pointed to a doubled risk for schizophrenia and an increase of a third for bipolar disorder.
Then, it set out to examine the genomes of people engaged in artistic work. Creative individuals were defined as those belonging to the national artistic societies – actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists and writers. A sample of more than 1,000 volunteers from Iceland’s national arts societies was prepared.
It was found that members of these organizations were 17 percent likelier than non-members to have the same genetic signature as the schizophrenia and bipolar patients. (These weren’t necessarily artists but were all members of the societies.)
Kari Stefansson, head of deCODE Genetics,a neurologist who led the study, claimed “To be creative, you have to think differently and when we are different, we have a tendency to be labeled strange, crazy and even insane.”
He then stated his agreement with the old “artists are crazy theory”.
“Often, when people are creating something new, they end up straddling between sanity and insanity. I think these results support the old concept of the mad genius. Creativity is a quality that has given us Mozart, Bach, Van Gogh. It’s a quality that is very important for our society. But it comes at a risk to the individual, and 1% of the population pays the price for it.”
The Study Debunked by His Peers
When critics of the research began to point out the thinness of the argument, Stefansson admitted that his study had found only a weak link between the genetic variants for mental illness and creativity – the genetic factors that raise the risk of mental problems explained only about 0.25% of the variation in peoples’ artistic ability.
Albert Rothenberg, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University believes that there is no good evidence for a link between mental illness and creativity. “It’s the romantic notion of the 19th century, that the artist is the struggler, aberrant from society, and wrestling with inner demons,” he said. “But take Van Gogh. He just happened to be mentally ill as well as creative. For me, the reverse is more interesting: creative people are generally not mentally ill, but they use thought processes that are of course creative and different.”
One of Van Gogh’s last letters explained whether or not he felt his mental troubles helped his art. “Oh, if I could have worked without this accursed disease – what things I might have done.”
Rothenberg wrote an entire book on this subject in 2014. “Flight of Wonder: An Investigation of Scientific Creativity”. He interviewed 45 science Nobel laureates about their creative thinking and found no evidence of mental illness in any of them.
Rothenberg said, “The problem is that the criteria for being creative are never anything very creative. Belonging to an artistic society, or working in art or literature, does not prove a person is creative. But the fact is that many people who have mental illness do try to work in jobs that have to do with art and literature, not because they are good at it, but because they’re attracted to it. And that can skew the data. Nearly all mental hospitals use art therapy, and so when patients come out, many are attracted to artistic positions and artistic pursuits.”
Another critic of the Stefansson study is David Cutler, a geneticist at Emory University in Atlanta. He gave an example to show how insignificant the gene correlation data actually was.
Together, the variants used in the study only explain about 6 percent of schizophrenia and 1 percent of bipolar disorder, according to a graph in the study. And these same variants only explain about one-quarter of 1 percent of artistic ability. That means that the same genetic variants that explain about 1/20th of schizophrenia also explain about 1/250th of artists’ ability.
“If the distance between me, the least artistic person you are going to meet, and an actual artist is one mile, these variants appear to collectively explain 13 feet of the distance. Now 13 feet is not zero, but if I want to jump across a 1-mile distance, 13 feet doesn’t get me very far.” Cutler said.
He added, “There is a link, and it is astonishingly weak in the sense that most people would care about.”
Roel Ophoff, a human geneticist at the University of California Los Angeles, agreed. “The reported correlations are tiny,” he told Genetic Expert News Service. “This means that the predictive power of the finding is limited.”
There is still another failure in this research. Psychologist Judith Schlesinger, author of The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius, argues that a definition of “creativity” is missing from the study.
“Creativity is simply defined by occupation,” Schlesinger says, and this presumes two things. The first is “that there are no creative accountants or lawyers who play music, paint, or dance wonderfully on the weekends, preferring to actually earn a living during the week.” The second is that “everyone who self-defines as a writer, artist, and joins an artistic association, automatically qualifies as unusually creative”
She calls their assumptions “scientifically hollow, but convenient for their purposes.”
“My overall impression [of this study] is of a pot filled with various types of pasta, with pieces taken out and thrown against the wall to see what sticks,” Schlesinger says.
Stefansson even admits this. “There’s absolutely no guarantee that…members of these associations are particularly creative,” he says. He then attempts to justify this flaw by saying “there is no way you can define it any differently. This is the best you can come up with in society.”
Psychiatric Treatment for Schizophrenics, Bipolar Disorder Patients & Artists
A quick glance at mental health websites tell us what psychiatry does to their schizophrenic and bipolar patients – and what they would like to do to all those artists out there who are “at risk” for developing these disorders.
The US Dept of Health and Human Services – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – whose motto is “advancing excellence in health care” offers this advice and treatment choices.
“Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder in which people may hear voices or see things that are not real. Scientists are not sure what causes schizophrenia, but the disorder may be passed down in families. A person’s brain structure or chemistry and the environment they live in may also play a role in developing schizophrenia. Out of 100 people in the United States, about 1 person has schizophrenia.”
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine®)
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin®)
- Haloperidol (Haldol®)
- Perphenazine (Trilafon®)
- Thioridazine (Mellaril®)
- Trifluoperazine (Stelazine®)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify®)
- Asenapine (Saphris®)
- Clozapine (Clozaril®, FazaClo®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel®)
- Risperidone (Risperdal®)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon®)
“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a severe brain disorder that causes intense mood swings. People with bipolar disorder go from feeling very happy and full of energy to feeling very depressed and hopeless and back again. These ups (called “mania,” pronounced MAY-nee-uh) and downs (called depression) are much more intense than the normal ups and downs that everyone feels from time to time. Scientists think bipolar disorder may be passed down in families. A person’s brain structure may also play a role in developing bipolar disorder.
Out of 100 people in the United States, less than 1 to as many as 3 have bipolar disorder.
Medicines to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers (such as lithium), antipsychotic medicines, and antidepressant medicines. Each person responds differently to different antipsychotic medicines. You may need to try several medicines or combinations of medicines before finding what works best for you
Sometimes, doctors may suggest a stay in the hospital to help people with bipolar disorder stabilize their mood.”
The popular website WebMd offers us this series of lies and misinformation:
“Bipolar Disorder and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT or electroshock therapy, is a short-term treatment for severe manic or depressive episodes, particularly when symptoms involve serious suicidal or psychotic symptoms, or when medicines seem to be ineffective. It can be effective in nearly 75% of patients.
In electroconvulsive therapy, an electric current is passed through the scalp to cause a brief seizure in the brain. ECT is one of the fastest ways to relieve symptoms in people who suffer from mania or severe depression. ECT is generally used only when medicines or other less invasive treatments prove to be unhelpful. It is also used when mood or psychotic symptoms are so severe that it may be unsafe to wait until drugs can take effect. ECT is also often thought to be the treatment of choice for severe mood episodes during pregnancy.”!
And a website devoted to advice for schizophrenics gives us this unbelievable report:
“Electroshock therapy speeds improvement in schizophrenia patients
Shock therapy, a controversial practice conjuring frightening images of behavior control, still has a place in schizophrenia treatment, a newly updated research review shows.
Although the data confirmed that antipsychotic drugs are still the first choice for schizophrenia treatment, they also showed that electroconvulsive, or shock, therapy clearly works, and combining both treatments can accelerate benefits to some patients, the review finds.
The most significant finding is that ECT combined with antipsychotics is more effective than antipsychotics alone in producing rapid clinical improvement in people with schizophrenia.”
Artists who create aesthetically across the whole range of human emotions and inspire the whole human race are considered by psychiatrists to be similar to schizophrenics and bipolar patients because those patients have emotions that swing up and down??
Now that is a pretty crazy idea.
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