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Medicine Science

Creativity Potentially Linked To Schizophrenia 215

mcgrew writes "New Scientist is reporting that creativity may be linked to schizophrenia via a common gene. Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, carried a study of creative people. 'Kéri examined a gene involved in brain development called neuregulin 1, which previous studies have linked to a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia. Moreover, a single DNA letter mutation that affects how much of the neuregulin 1 protein is made in the brain has been linked to psychosis, poor memory and sensitivity to criticism. About 50 per cent of healthy Europeans have one copy of this mutation, while 15 per cent possess two copies. People with two copies of the neuregulin 1 mutation — about 12 per cent of the study participants — tended to score notably higher on these measures of creativity, compared with other volunteers with one or no copy of the mutation. Those with one copy were also judged to be more creative, on average, than volunteers without the mutation.' They hypothesize that people with this gene with high IQs are creative, while those with lower IQs are simply prone to the hallucinations that characterize the disease."
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Creativity Potentially Linked To Schizophrenia

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  • by otopico ( 32364 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:05PM (#28735577)

    Smart people can tell the voices in their head are their own thoughts, while the less intelligent think they are hearing disembodied voices, not their own?

  • Re:Crazy Chef Sato (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eli Gottlieb ( 917758 ) <eligottlieb AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:16PM (#28735663) Homepage Journal

    And here's today's fortune-cookie quote:

    The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

  • Crap soup (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:19PM (#28735695)

    IQ, schizophrenia, creativity, all vague concepts linked together with "hard numbers" of primitive statistics.

    Interesting information, to be sure, but let's not push that and turn it into another psychobabble.

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    But the barbed adjectives didn't match the muted performance on display before the Judiciary Committee. Like the president who picked her, Sotomayor has been a model of professorial rationality. Besides, it's delicious watching Republicans go after Democrats for being too emotional and irrational given the G.O.P. shame spiral.

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:30PM (#28735809)
    To be fair, schizophrenia does come from the Greek for "split mind". The fact that it's used to label a disorder characterized by a distorted perception of reality rather than dissociative identity disorder (which may or may not be a real disorder anyway), is rather unhelpful in trying to emphasize the difference.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:35PM (#28735859)

    They made that story up to fool us. Don't you see? They want us to link Schizophrenia to creativity because they know that it will cause us to support them. And what's wrong with that? It's because the they're not real people. Real people don't behave that way. What you call "schizophrenia" is really the result of behavioral differences among the class of people who we've come to differentiate as the Nordic type, as opposed to greys, hairies and the other classes. They can live nominally among us as they appear generall to be caucasian. Some counter that they can't be the Nordics, and this isn't entirely untrue because they are just as often offspring between Nordics and humans. Also, time dilation effects from the trasnport mechanisms used to transport them back and forth from Earth to their home worlds cause them to be smaller. Thus, they really are the Nordics and would be tall, blonde and attractive to you; but appear differently due to an effect akin to Doppler shift in their frame of reference. So when you see one of these Nordics on the street you just think they're crazy, but those are actually the social conventions in their culture and I have to go becaue I've already said too much. Just don't believe them becauese if you believe them then things can happen like when I started believing them and then you will believe them too and it will all happen. Now do you see? It's already happening and it's happening because it's too late and it's possibly even later than you think because there is a frame of reference between these Nordic types and the Grays and what you call schizophrenics.

  • by thms ( 1339227 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:40PM (#28735899)
    Yes, evolution does not care about the individual, just the result. I dare say all personality disorders - hell, all diseases of young age! - that have a genetic cause and have a prevalence of more than >1% increase the overall fitness of the species either directly or because the poor suckers that get the two copies of it don't outweigh the advantage for the others.

    I even expect the cancer rate to be fine tuned between making a species too static in an ever changing world and killing too many individuals. Some species, IIRC crocodiles, practically never get cancer, so it probably is not a limitation of the eukaryotic cell.
    Another example is of course homosexuality, understanding went from "It can't be natural - it is the end of the line for the individual's genes!", to finding more and more animal species enjoying it to actually being able to explain that it (male h.) benefits the female line. Dawkin's The Selfish Gene comes to mind again.
  • by not_surt ( 1293182 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:48PM (#28735991)
    I seems to me that you are confusing schizophrenia with psychopathy.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:05PM (#28736137)
    I think I've known more phychotic people than sane ones. An easy place to spot it is to look at people with their pets. The vast majority of them have anthropomorphized them to the point that they have lost the distinction between human and dog (or cat).
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:10PM (#28736193) Homepage Journal

    History and my personal experience are full of manic-depressive artists. No substitute for statistics, of course.

    Maybe the connection is just that society drives creative people crazy.

  • Re:Crazy Chef Sato (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:13PM (#28736225) Homepage Journal

    Maybe. But having met people who really did have schizophrenia, I'm a little dubious of this theory (which I've heard before). To use a computer analogy, my perception of their experience was not just that their brains started producing/storing inaccurate data, but that the program code was also not working as intended. One of the most striking examples was their speech patterns, where in certain cases they would say things that had the timbre and cadence of normal English speech, but if you actually paid attention it didn't make any sense - it was just nonsensical syllables strung together in a pattern that superficially sounded like English.
    If random corruption of "data" and "program code" in the brain is the root of creativity, then it seems to me that creativity is a very inefficient, brute-force method, which is only practical in people without schizophrenia because our brains have the processing power to discard (at some subconscious layer) the huge number of results that aren't worth pursuing. That's sort of along the lines of random mutation and natural selection, but the timescales are vastly different, so I at least hope that there is something more efficient at work in our brains.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:38PM (#28736483)

    Have you not witnessed the volume of creative yet at times contradicting posts all from me?

    Creatively Schizoid Anonymous Coward

  • by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:29PM (#28736915)
    Truly spoken like someone who shouldn't own pets.

    Answer the following:

    Which one produces the more fulfilling relationship, the person who "buys a dog and owns it" or the person who "adopts a dog and cares for him"?

    Who has a more loving happily-trained pet? The person who treats their dog or cat like one of the family, or the person who treats their pet like something separate from their family?

    We haven't lost the distinction. We've accepted the best metaphor for a mutually fulfilling relationship. My dog thinks I'm the leader of his pack. I'm happy thinking of my dog as my 3rd child, the one with all the fur. We both get to act naturally for the most part while those roles mesh perfectly. We both benefit.

    If you don't understand that then please please do NOT become a pet owner. Your pet will feel lousy, act out, mope, resent you, and be a "bad pet".
    In reality there are no bad pets, just bad owners.**

    **Being a good owner starts with the decision of IF and then WHAT EXACTLY to buy. If for instance you buy a pet based solely on appearances, you're most likely to end up with a great looking pet that does not fit with your lifestyle at all. You're screwed before you even get it home. *Adopt* a pet that can become a valued member of your family, or else stay away please. Or maybe a goldfish or hermit crab would be your best choice.
  • Re:Crazy Chef Sato (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:52PM (#28737095) Homepage Journal

    If random corruption of "data" and "program code" in the brain is the root of creativity, then it seems to me that creativity is a very inefficient, brute-force method, which is only practical in people without schizophrenia because our brains have the processing power to discard (at some subconscious layer) the huge number of results that aren't worth pursuing.

    I think that creativity is the ability to make associations/connections in unusual or unexpected ways. This can be good - applying, say, buddhist philosophy to electrical engineering has given us such advances as Fuzzy Logic, but when one's brain can only make inchoate connections, madness is the result.

    I've always thought creativity, genius, and madness were closely related, and I'm by no means the only one. But this study may be evidence for it. Or it may not - psych studies are notorious for being filled with meaningless bullshit dressed up in a gown of hard statistics.

  • by sacremon ( 244448 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:32PM (#28737377)

    "There is no great genius without a mixture of madness" - Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

  • by snaz555 ( 903274 ) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @12:27AM (#28738275)

    Perhaps the ability to distinguish between crazy-thoughts and intelligent-thoughts can be considered a special kind of intelligence, and the ability to entertain crazy-thoughts without taking them too seriously is what's needed for creative genius

    I suspect it's more that intelligent people are able to abstractly consider themselves and their own behavior, and accept they have a neurological disability. People who are purely reactive to their environment and don't proactively "push their own cart" so to speak are less likely to reason around their own behavior or ask themselves why they do what they do. The cause of schizophrenia (i.e. the inability to distinguish fantasy and their own speculative thoughts from reality) likely has nothing to do with this; it's just that sufficiently intelligent people don't let it become a problem when they're aware of their own tendencies. Also, once you start hallucinating - hearing voices, seeing things - your case is probably so severe it can't be self managed and requires anti-psychotics. If you don't take anti-psychotic medication and continue experiencing hallucinations your brain will soon adapt and wire itself to respond to them as part of your environment. This makes gaining insight into your own condition progressively more difficult, and as time proceeds the condition gets more and more difficult to treat, since medications can't unwire long-term adaptation.

  • Re:Crazy Chef Sato (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OrigamiMarie ( 1501451 ) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @01:52AM (#28738533)
    Dreams! I have heard that one compelling theory for what's going on in dreams is random associations between the day's events and the existing memories. Today's events find places to live and connections to the rest of your reality kind of randomly, by brute-forcing lots of stuff while you sleep. This is why people go into random-association mode when they are highly sleep deprived; the brain is trying to just do the same work while you walk because it needs to every so often. We are good at making semi-random connections. And dreams (and dream-like states -- hellllooooo drugged writer/artist/seer) are a classic source of creativity.

    This overall story makes me think this: Creative people have to get the spark from somewhere. The ideas are being generated, and appear for the inspection of and improvement by the person who gets them. This model suggests that in the same person, there is an actor that is creating ideas, and one that is "receiving" them -- and that sounds awfully schizo to me. Perhaps people who are crazy are those creative people who just can't deal with the incoming ideas from the idea generator. Or the idea generator is tuned wrong. And actually that makes a lot of sense, the same idea generator will not work for all time. There has to be a lot of variation because we need to invent new ideas all the time. Some people are ahead of the curve, some people behind, others at just the right spot right now. The really amazing ones are those who can see inventions that won't arrive for another century or more, and write out diagrams for how they should work. The trouble is, people who aren't tuned for the here-and-now, or at least near-future, are likely to go crazy from it.
  • by El Jynx ( 548908 ) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:55AM (#28739011)

    Creativity is hard to categorise. However, it also isn't completely random. When I'm working on a project, I can get myself into "daydream" mode and gently steer my creativity to find answers to the question or problem at hand, so I would guess that even if it is random firing of neurons, it is random firing of the neurons active at that moment. This means that it certainly is NOT random, because you can choose what to think about, and hence, steer that random firing to get a result. Evolution likes that.

    With e.g. schitzophrenia, I think that people who have a double copy of the gene and have a high(er) IQ are more likely to find a way around the problem and deal with it. I would guess I'm one of the lucky guys with a double expression of the gene, but also with a good IQ. A lot of what was said was very recogniseable - I've fought with depression, burnout and more, and also had an immense war between myself and my own mind, and have seriously questioned my sanity, before I finally learned to detach from my thoughts and emotions, and stand behind them as it were instead of being dragged along with them on a very rough rollercoaster ride. Meditation, sports, the forced responsibility of having to run my own company and lots of research saved my sanity. Now my creativity is a tool, a part of my mind which can be accessed at will instead of a scary the-voices-say-the-universe-hates-you personal enemy you can carry everywhere you go. I am the eye of the storm, as it were, and it is no longer easy to rip me loose - I would guess that only a long, sustained depression combined with stress over a period of years could do that (because it means that slowly but surely your belief in yourself and your self-imposed structure will be eroded by the negative emotional flood from the amygdala).

    I think the problem is compounded once you get depressed. It seems to me that creativity is rampant throughout the brain. When I was depressed, it seemed that my "logical" brain was less active and my "emotional" brain ran the show - all my reactions were negative and emo. This might be because the amygdala seems to "shout louder" at certain times than others, or maybe the rest of the brain is more overwhelmed by its "voice" during depression because it is less active, I don't know. At any rate, it means you are completely at the mercy of emotional reasoning and the torrent of feelings because you don't have your "logical net" to tell you "nah, I'm dramatizing again" and you simply shrug them off as an itch.

    At any rate, I know a few others like myself and their stories are similar: mental override, take control, avoid pitfalls of deep feelings (unless they're positive, and even then keep an eye on them), and view the world as a statistical game instead of a personal interaction. The latter is probably the most important, because once you start trying to ascribe a (negative) personal meaning to the events that influence you - for example: "God made me lose my job because I'm bad / worthless / whatever", then you open Pandora's Box on your own mind. That's also one of my warning signs that I may be stressed out or in a downward spiral, and that I need to take more breaks and relax more: if I find my mind trying to reason like that, I know I'm in the danger zone, so I adjust for it. Not doing so probably means you'll end up creating another religion based on frustrated depression.

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