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Links Between Creativity and Depression

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Wed, 30 May 2018

Sasha Robinson and Chenéy Firman

Source A – When humour hides heartache.

(Farley, K., 2014. When humour hides heartache. Sunday Tribune, p. 4.)

People with depression are said to have humorous characteristics as they often make realistic, observational jokes. Comedians and creativity are often associated with this statement. Robin Williams, a suicide victim buried his suffering behind his humour, along with many other well-known comedians/entertainers. Depression is often linked with a troubled childhood and comedy is used as a coping mechanism. Psychologist Angela Cotterell and founder of South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Zane Wilson are in the process of bringing more awareness of the mental disease, depression. ‘The media, TV shows and movies are partially responsible for the lack of understanding as they frequently misportray mental illness.’ (Cotterell, A., 2014.)

This is a reliable source as it is from the Sunday Magazine, Sunday Tribune, and is Nationally recognized and read weekly by the public, so therefore it has substantial information. Qualified physiologists have first hand experiences that are used to back up evidence of this article. It is factual, but is limited, as it is seen from one person’s perspective. We agree with this article as many people belie their happiness.

Source B – What causes depression?

(Harvard Medical School, 2014. What causes depression?. [Online] Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/what-causes-depression.htm [Accessed 7 September 2014].)

There are many causes of depression such as; traumatic experiences, medications, medical complications as well as hereditary reasons. This mental illness is thought not to be preventable, as it is related to nerve cells, connection growths and circuits, impacting the brain. The main factors contributing to depression are said to be the brain, nerve cell communication, genes and temperament and behaviour. When genes produce the wrong proteins involved in biological processes, they ‘can alter your biology in a way that results in your mood becoming unstable.’ (Harvard Medical School) Researches have concluded that a low level of neurotransmitters play a major role in the cause of depression.

This is a reliable source as it from Harvard Medical and is a health report. This is an internationally recognized and prestigious University in the United States of America. It is factual, as it contains biological terms and reasonings that prove the causes of depression. This source has no real correlation to depression linking to creativity, as it focuses mainly on a person’s DNA sequence and not their creative lifestyle. We do agree with this source in the sense that depression is an involuntary mental illness.

Source C – Creativity and Depression: Is There a Link?

(Scholten, A., 2011. Creativity and Depression: Is there a link?. [Online] Available at: http://www.beliefnet.com/healthandhealing/getcontent.aspx?cid=25574 [Accessed 27 August 2014].)

It is known that many famous poets, musicians and composers throughout history have experienced temperament disorders making one able to see a connection between creativity and people suffering mental illnesses. Though, in contradiction to this, Professor Kay Redfield Jamison states that the majority of creative people do not suffer from frequent mood swings in her book, Touched with Fire. ‘To assume that such diseases usually promote artistic talent wrongly reinforces simplistic nations of the mad genius.’ (Jamison, KR. 1993)

This is a reliable source as Amy Scholten has used a variety of books to support her article. She also addresses the issue from many different perspectives with an unbiased opinion. The limitations of this source is that the book Scholten refers to (Touched with Fire), was published 21 years ago and may lack updated information. We agree with this source, as depression is brought upon the happenings in one’s life and their way of life. The source is mainly aimed at those who are interested in finding the link between creativity and depression.

Source D – The Relationship between Creativity and Mental Illness

(Popova, M., 2014. The Realtionship Between Creativity and Mental Illness. [Online] Available at: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/07/21/creativity-and-mental-illness/ [Accessed 27 August 2014].)

Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist, Nancy Andreasen was acknowledged as a ‘genius’ in her early years. She later published a book, The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius (public library). She looks at Havelock Ellis’s findings on an assessment that shows the link between genius and psychopathology; with the two most common psychotic illnesses being schizophrenia and mania. Andreasen put her scientific knowledge together with her literary knowledge in order to design a study of Creativity and mental illness. Andresen’s hypothesis, that writers in general, would have an increased number of family members with schizophrenia, but they themselves would be psychologically healthy, wasn’t carried through. Her study showed that the ‘tortured genius’ myth was incorrect. ‘..Women and men had become successful writers not because of their torturous mental health but despite it.’ (Papova, M. 2014).

This is a reliable source as it is based upon a book written by a well-qualified (Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist) woman. It includes facts, quotes and statistics that support her throughout the article. The limitation of this source could be that it is out-dated as the book Papova refers to was published in 2006. It is an open-minded source as she accepts the general view and not only her own.

Source E – The dark side of creativity: Depression + anxiety x madness = genius?

(Adams, W. L., 2014. The dark side of creativity: Depression + anxiety x madness = genius?. [Online] Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/22/world/the-dark-side-of-creativity-vincent-van-gogh/ [Accessed 9 September 2014].)

The connection between depression and creativity has been researched for decades by highly educated Psychologists. The source mainly addresses famous artists, all of whom contained a mental illness, creative professions and inherited traits of mental illnesses. Artists live a life between talent and torment owing to their genius and madness traits. The higher the artist’s originality, the more severe case of schizophrenia they will experience as their brain is unable to ignore irrelevant information that most people can. ‘Madness may lurk where creativity lies’ (Adams, WL. 2014) Researchers established that most creative people had a high number of temperament disorders and the obsessive compulsive disorder. Researchers looked in to psychiatric patients and their relatives, finding that they revealed disorders of schizophrenia and depression to ADHD and anxiety syndromes. People in the fields of dancing, photography and writing have a greater chance of suffering mental illnesses leading to suicide. It is believed that some inherit traits that will amplify anxiety, depression and hallucinations.

This is a reliable source as CNN is a news channel that focuses in depth, about current topics worldwide. The journalist, William Lee Adams has written for many well-known sources such as TIME and Newsweek. This shows he has a broad knowledge of various topics. It is an up-to-date source, as it was published in January 2014. We agree with this source as again, it refers to the lifestyle (their profession) having an impact on their mental health.


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