November 22, 2006

Poets and Artists Have as Many "Unusual Experiences" as People with Schizophrenia

The British Psychological Society this week, posted an entry in their BPS blog on a new research report that suggests that poets and artists have as many "unusual experiences" as people with schizophrenia. The blog entry noted:

The idea that creative geniuses might not be entirely sane isn't exactly new. But just how much do creative types have in common with people suffering from psychosis? Well, according to Daniel Nettle at the University of Newcastle, serious poets and artists have just as many ‘unusual experiences’ as people diagnosed with schizophrenia. What saves them from the disabling effects of schizophrenia is that they don’t suffer from the lack of emotion and motivation – known as "introvertive anhedonia" – also associated with the illness.

Read the full blog entry here: BPS on "unusual experiences"

Related Reading: Creative Genius - Syd Barrett, Founder of Pink Floyd band, Sufferer of Schizophrenia, Passed Away this Week


I'm a woman schizoaffective mathematician. When I was an undergraduate, I knew a man with schizophrenia who was also studying mathematics with whom I used to study. Now that I live in my hometown again, this fellow a couple years older than me from my high school with an engineer's degree and a strong love of mathematics who I particularly looked up to back when I was a high school student, also has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is by no means rare among math people!!!

Posted by: Someone at November 23, 2006 05:37 PM

To call the positive symptoms of schizophrenia "unusual experiences" is trivializing the severity of those symptoms. To say of the poets and artists "What saves them from the disabling effects of schizophrenia is that they don’t suffer from the lack of emotion and motivation – known as ‘introvertive anhedonia’ – also associated with the illness" is to say all the disabling aspects of schizophrenia are the negative symptoms.
Not only does this not take into account the cognitive aspects, but the fact that people with schizoaffective disorder, who typically also do not suffer from lack of affect and motivation, are severely disabled by their illness, thus proving false the supposition that it is this aspect in poets and artists that separate themselves from those with schizophrenia.

Posted by: njw at November 24, 2006 12:12 PM

there are, however, a great many studies that make a distinct difference between the nature of the unusual experiences.

the study tries to suggest that artists are schizophrenic, or that schizophrenics are artistic? it's a concept that i thought had died a peaceful death when i was a college student, it's certainly not one backed up by scientific inquiry.

i think individuals are artists, and that it doesn't have anything to do with schizophrenia. artists who become schizophrenic, find it very difficult to battle the disease and remain productive as an artist.

Posted by: slc2 at November 28, 2006 01:01 PM

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