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Book and Media Reviews
September 27, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(12):1528-1533. doi:10.1001/jama.296.12.1532

It is proverbial that geniuses are frequently odd and often a touch insane. As John Dryden noted, “Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide.” While the scientific study of creativity is still in its infancy, available data support the commonsense view that gifted people are different, in ways both rewarding and burdensome. Studies by Kay Redfield Jamison and Nancy Andreasen have demonstrated a robust link between literary creativity and mood disorders, particularly bipolar affective disorder. The manic intensity and looser mental associations of bipolar disorder may lend afflicted writers emotional depth and a wellspring of metaphor but at a cost of high rates of suicide, depression, and substance abuse.

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