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Ludwig van Beethoven, widely considered one of the greatest composers in human history, may have been bipolar. The concept of a link between creativity and mental illness has been extensively discussed and studied by psychologists and other researchers for centuries. For many years, the creative arts have been used in therapy for those recovering from mental illness or addiction. Another study found creativity to be greater in schizotypal than in either normal or schizophrenic individuals. Three recent studies by Mark Batey and Adrian Furnham have demonstrated the relationships between schizotypal and hypomanic personality and several different measures of creativity. A study looking at 300,000 persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or unipolar depression, and their relatives, found overrepresentation in creative professions for those with bipolar disorder as well as for undiagnosed siblings of those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
There was no overall overrepresentation, but overrepresentation for artistic occupations, among those diagnosed with schizophrenia. There was no association for those with unipolar depression or their relatives. A study involving more than one million people, conducted by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute, reported a number of correlations between creative occupations and mental illnesses. Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, and were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves. However, as a group, those in the creative professions were no more likely to experience psychiatric disorders than other people, although they were more likely to have a close relative with a disorder, including anorexia and, to some extent, autism, the Journal of Psychiatric Research reports. Research in this area is usually constrained to cross-section data-sets.