Best Differential Diagnosis Book

The artistic drive in many historical figures has been characterized as an inner madness driving them to create.

The artistic drive in many historical figures has been characterized as an inner madness driving them to create.

It was the type of madness that haunted Edgar Allen Poe, the way the heartbeat emerged through the floorboards in The Telltale Heart. Ernest Hemingway, the man who wrote standing up, said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

That type of passion and raw desire to slather a page in emotion can be seen as a crazy devotion. It could also be seen as a type of mania. Both of these men suffered from what is known as bipolar disorder.

People with bipolar disorder can appear to be disorganized, unpredictable, or unsteady as they shift between depression and mania.

A Means to Channel

Dr. Michael Brodsky, medical director of Bridges to Recovery, a residential treatment center with locations in southern California, deals with bipolar disorder on a regular basis and said people with the disorder often possess numerous enigmatic personal qualities that make them capable of many great things, including being a fantastic significant other. 

“If these get channeled in the right way, there’s great benefit in dating a charismatic, energetic, and inspirational person,” Dr. Brodsky said. “It’s a pleasant thing to be around such creative people.” 

Bipolar & the Arts

In fact, the creativity of various bipolar minds has and continues to alter the landscape of modern art, literature, and science. They create the lasting characters, play them in films, and decorate the halls of museums with canvases of vivid imagery.

They not only create art, but they challenge the institutions of their medium while exploring the depths of expression. Some of the more notable known bipolar artists, writers, and thinkers include:

  • Stephen Fry: This beloved British author, actor, and funnyman openly speaks about his bipolar disorder and documented others’ cases as well.
  • Daniel Johnston: This musician’s struggle with bipolar disorder was well documented in the filmThe Devil and Daniel Johnson.
  • Jack London: Author of White Fang, Call of the Wild, and more, experts speculate this American author suffered from bipolar disorder due to his heavy drinking and often-unpredictable behavior.
  • Edvard Munch: The painter who painted the famous The Scream also suffered from a condition “verging on madness” that included heavy drinking and brawling, which is cause for some to believe his inner torment was caused by bipolar disorder.
  • Florence Nightingale: Experts believe the mother of modern nursing suffered from bipolar disorder, which contributed to her tireless devotion to her cause.
  • Edgar Allan Poe: Some speculate the demons that haunted this influential (and dark) poet could have been bipolar disorder.
  • Jackson Pollock: This famous abstract painter would retreat during times of depression, while other times working furiously for 24 hours a day when inspiration hit, two key signs of bipolar disorder.
  • Vincent Van Gogh: The troubles and turmoil of Van Gogh’s life—including infamously cutting off his own ear and sending it to his love—also provided inspiration for beautiful art that continues to inspire many. There is debate about what specifically he suffered from, one of those educated guesses being bipolar disorder.
  • Virginia Woolf: Like other authors, Woolf suffered from a “madness” that caused mood swings, but also allowed for her to create many famous works.
  • Ernest Hemingway: Diagnosed in his later years, Hemingway’s bipolar disorder was only made worse by his alcoholism, but none of it could take away from his contributions to literature. He won both the Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer,

Comments on: "Creativity: The Upside of Bipolar Disorder" (7)

  1. Agreed! Great post! 🙂

    I believe there is one glaring omission, however:

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Can’t forget about “The Master”

    Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  2. no “like” button… 🙂 why I am not surprised? very nice article. I totally agree. thank you for visiting my blog.

  3. rudyoldeschulte said:

    Marvelous post….Are you familiar with the work of Kay Redfield Jamison? You may enjoy her work – both about herself and her illness, but about the artists and their difficulties. She is one of the top researchers in the country on bipolar, and has helped many understand their illness- and its strengths.

  4. Thank you for liking my Appalachian Trail post and following my blog. Your own blog is even better, and serves a great purpose. I’ve known bipolar people. There is a definite link between this disease and artistic productivity. I wish you all the best!!

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