A genetic link has been found between creativity and mental illness

Salvador Dali. Portrait of Pablo Picasso in the Twenty-first Century, 1947. Quim Llenas/Cover/Getty Images

Psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia share genetic roots with creativity, according to a study in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Previous studies show that relatives of those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are over-represented in creative professions.

However, it’s not clear whether this association is a result of shared genetics or common environmental influences.

Kari Stefansson of deCODE Genetics/Amgen in Iceland and colleagues used genetic data from large studies involving more than 150,000 people.

The authors found the same genes which predicted an increased risk in having the mental disorders could also tell whether someone had an artistic profession or was part of an artistic society.

The link couldn’t be explained by IQ differences or being related to someone with psychosis.

Creative people, for the purpose of the study, were defined as those belonging to national artistic societies or having an artistic profession.

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