I could not resist re-posting this Discover Magazine blog post.  Enjoy!

Is there a relationship between poetry and psychosis?

The idea that ‘genius’ is just one step removed from ‘mamentaldness’ is a venerable one, and psychiatrists and psychologists have spent a great (perhaps an inordinate) amount of time looking for correlations between mental illness and creativity.

Now a new British study has examined whether poets exhibit more traits of psychosis than other people. One of the authors is a published poet, Helen Mort.

The researchers recruited 294 poets in an anonymous online survey; 92% of them had published their work. On the O-LIFE questionnaire, a self-report measure of psychotic symptoms, the poets scored above average on the “Unusual Experiences”, “Cognitive Disorganization” and “Impulsive Nonconformity” traits.

Furthermore, poets who described their work as ‘avant-garde’ scored even higher on “Unusual Experiences” and on a questionnaire of mood disorder symptoms.

Rates of self-reported mental illnesses were also high.

two poets (0.7%) reported schizophrenia, 15 reported bipolar disorder (5.1%), 152 reported depression (51.7%) and 80 reported anxiety disorder (27.2%).

Although actually these percentages are not that much higher than we see in the general population.

So it seems as though poets are more prone to psychosis – or at least, they think that they are [emphasis mine]. All of the traits were self-reported. Could it be that poets, having internalized the ‘mad genius’ archetype, are more prone to describe themselves in those terms?

Read the entire post at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2014/12/11/poetry-psychosis-linked/#more-5761

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