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'Mad genius' no more: the genetic link between creativity and psychosis is pretty weak

Leave Schumann alone

The creative mind is often baffling. Why are some people so much more imaginative than the rest of us? How do they come up with their ideas? And where does their talent come from?

For some, the mystery that surrounds creativity is at least partially rooted in the concept of the "mad genius," a theory that links creativity with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Take painter Vincent Van Gogh and composer Robert Schumann; some scholars think they both had bipolar disorder, and many have used that as a justification for their unique artistic abilities.

The genetic overlap between creativity and schizophrenia is very small

But here's the thing: the connection between creativity and psychosis isn't nearly as strong as some have suggested — even when you take human genetics into account. The overlap between genetic variants that can be used to predict both creativity and schizophrenia, or creativity and bipolar disorder is actually very small. And the method that most researchers use to define creativity is sorely lacking.

To demystify the idea of the "mad genius," we made a video that dives headfirst into the latest genetic study to link creativity with psychosis. You can also check out the full report we published on the subject right here.