The Bipolar Brain and the Creative Mind Essay

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The Bipolar Brain and the Creative Mind

"Our hospital was famous and had housed many great poets and singers. Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers, or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness? ... What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?" (1)

The link between madness and creativity is one that has been hotly debated in both medical and literary circles for a long time. The two most common types of mental illness theorized to be an influence on creative people such as writers, artists, and poets were schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (2). However, various studies comparing the characteristics of schizophrenics, bipolars, and writers have concluded that schizophrenics do not
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The other half of bipolar disorder is that which accounts for the great number of suicides among the ranks of bipolar patients: depression (3). Roughly 20% of bipolars committed suicide before effective treatments for the ailment became available (2). Depression is characterized by such symptoms as feelings of exhaustion, sleeping either much more or much less than usual, lowered self-worth, lowered enthusiasm for life, and contemplation of suicide (3). These depressions can last as long as six months to a year. They are frustrating and frightening to deal with, for unlike other forms of depression there is often no cause for the reversal in mood (3). Patients can cycle rapidly through depressive and manic phases, from four times a year to as often as three or four times a day (3).

Manic depression can also be associated with such behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder (3). Other problems that can appear as a result of the disease are addiction to drugs and alcohol as an attempt to "self-medicate," using depressants like alcohol to slow down the manic thought process or using stimulants such as cocaine to attempt to prolong the sense of euphoria also associated with a manic phase (2). Most frightening of all, the disease has been found to be genetic; if one identical twin is bipolar, the other is 80% likely to suffer from it, whether the two are raised together or