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Creativity in bipolar disorder: a systematic review

Abstract

Introduction

Based on studies of the biographies of artists and on research in which modern diagnostic criteria were applied, it has been suggested that there is a relationship between bipolar disorder (BD) and creativity. Objective: To investigate the relationship between BD and creativity and whether creative capacity varies depending on mood state.

Method

We conducted a systematic search of the scientific literature indexed on the PubMed, ISI Web of Science, PsycINFO, and SciELO databases using the terms “bipolar” OR “bipolar disorder” OR “mania” OR “manic” AND “creativ*”. Original studies were selected that investigated samples of at least ten patients with BD using at least one psychometric instrument to assess creativity.

Results

Twelve articles met the selection criteria. The results of comparisons of BD patients with control groups without BD were heterogeneous. BD was not associated with higher levels of creativity than other mental disorders. When comparing BD phases, depression was associated with worse performance on creativity tests and patients in mania (or hypomania) were not distinguished from euthymia patients.

Conclusion

It was not possible to corroborate the hypothesis that individuals with BD are more creative than individuals without psychiatric diagnoses or than patients suffering from other mental disorders, which may be related to the cross-sectional rather than longitudinal designs of virtually all of the clinical studies.

Bipolar disorder; creativity; systematic review

Introduction

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious, chronic, and disabling mental disorder characterized by the occurrence of hypomanic or manic episodes and depressive episodes. 11. Miller JN, Black DW. Bipolar Disorder and Suicide: a Review. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2020;22 After the first episode of the disease, almost 90% of individuals experience at least one further episode throughout their lives. 22. Pallaskorpi S, Suominen K, Ketokivi M, Mantere O, Arvilommi P. Five-year outcome of bipolar I and II disorders: findings of the Jorvi Bipolar Study. Bipolar Disord. 2015;17:363-74. Many individuals have progressive cognitive impairment. 33. Van Rheenen TE, Lewandowski KE, Bauer IE, Kapczinski F, Miskowiak K, Burdick KE, et al. Current understandings of the trajectory and emerging correlates of cognitive impairment in bipolar disorder: An overview of evidence. Bipolar Disord. 2020;22:13-27. Between 30 and 60% of BD patients have low psychosocial functioning. 44. MacQueen GM, Trevor Young L, Joffe RT. A review of psychosocial outcome in patients with bipolar disorder. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2001;103:163-70. Compared to the general population, BD patients have higher unemployment rates and lower income and, when employed, spend more time on sick leave. 55. Carlborg A, Ferntoft L, Thuresson M, Bodegard J. Population study of disease burden, management, and treatment of bipolar disorder in Sweden: A retrospective observational registry study. Bipolar Disord. 2015;17:76-85. BD is the mental disorder most associated with suicide. Approximately 40% of patients attempt suicide at least once in their lives. 66. Plans L, Barrot C, Nieto E, Rios J, Schulze TG, Papiol S, et al. Association between completed suicide and bipolar disorder: A systematic review of the literature. J Affect Disord 2019;242:111-22. The rate of completed suicides can be up to 58 times higher in BD patients than in the general population and these suicides are violent in more than 90% of cases. 77. Plans L, Nieto E, Benabarre A, Vieta E. Journal of Affective Disorders Completed suicide in bipolar disorder patients : A cohort study after first hospitalization. J Affect Disord. 2019;257:340-44.

Despite the severity of BD, many authors suggest that there are positive aspects to the disease. Authors such as psychologist Kay R. Jamison and psychiatrists Nancy Andreasen and Arnold K. Ludwig believe that there is a relationship between BD and creativity, based on studies they have conducted of the biographies of eminently creative artists and writers. 88. Andreasen NC: Creativity and mental illness: prevalence rates in writers and their first-degree relatives. Am J Psychiatry 1987; 144: 1288-1292.

9. Jamison KR. Mood Disorders and Patterns of Creativity in British Writers and Artists. Psychiatry 1989;52:125-34.

10. Jamison KR. Touched with fire: manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. New York: The Free Press; 1993.
- 1111. Ludwig AM. The price of greatness: resolving the creativity and madness controversy. New York: Guilford Press; 1995. Moreover, studies using modern diagnostic criteria have found higher prevalence of depressive and manic episodes in artists and writers, compared to the general population. 1212. Kinney DK, Richards R. Creativity as “compensatory advantage”: Bipolar and schizophrenic liability, the inverted-U hypothesis, and practical implications. In J. Kaufman, Creativity and Mental Illness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2014. p. 295-318.

There are many definitions of creativity, but none are universally accepted. 1313. Johnson SL, Murray G, Fredrickson B, Youngstrom EA, Hinshaw S, Malbrancq J, et al. Creativity and bipolar disorder: Touched by fire or burning with questions?. Clinical psychology review. 2011;32:1-12. Based on the “Handbook of Creativity,” 1414. Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2010. the most mentioned publication on the topic, creativity is the ability to combine talent, process, and environment to produce something that is perceived as original and, at the same time, useful in the context. 1515. Plucker JA, Beghetto RA, Dow GT. Why Isn’t Creativity More Important to Educational Psychologists? Potentials, Pitfalls, and Future Directions in Creativity Research. Educ Psychol 2004;39:83-96. Creativity is a multidimensional skill demonstrated by a person, through a process, which creates a product, in response to the environment in which it operates. 1616. Runco, Mark A.; Kim D. The Four Ps of Creativity: Person, Product, Process, and Press. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker, S R, editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 2:534-537.

17. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73.
- 1818. El-Murad J, West DC. The definition and measurement of creativity: What do we know? J Advert Res. 2004;44:188-201.

Studies of the creative person seek to evaluate individual characteristics that favor creativity, such as intrinsic motivation, openness to experience, variety of interests, and autonomy. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. Creative people stand out for their perception of problems, fluency of ideas, mental flexibility, divergent thinking, ability to redefine familiar objects and concepts, positive mood, complex temperament, and self-confidence. 1919. Rhodes M. Analysis of Creativity Can it be taught? Phi Delta Kappan. 1961;42:305-10. Creativity can be assessed using personality scales, derived from the study of common characteristics of people already considered creative, or by researching previous behaviors that may reflect creative potential and accomplishments. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. The following instruments, respectively, are examples of these two possibilities: the Adjective Check List Creative Personality Scale (ACL-CPS) 2020. Gough HG. A creative personality scale for the Adjective Check List. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1979;37:1398-1405. and the Creativity Achievement Questionnaires (CAQ). 2121. Shelley H. Carson JBP& DMH, To. Reliability, Validity, and Factor Structure of the Creative Achievement Questionnaire. Creat Res J 2011;23:207-10. People can also be assessed for creativity in a specific field of activity, such as in the fields of linguistics, logic, arts, or sciences. 2222. Baer J. Domains of Creativity. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker, S R, editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 1:404-408. The specific area most investigated is that of artistic creativity, most commonly using the Barron-Welsh Art Scale (BWAS). 2323. Barron F, Welsh GS. Artistic Perception as a Possible Factor in Personality Style: Its Measurement By a Figure Preference Test. J Psychol Interdiscip Appl. 1952;33:199-203. , 2424. Barron F. Barron-Welsh Art Scale, A Portion of the Welsh Figure Preference Test. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1963. This scale comprises figures of different degrees of complexity and varying levels of symmetry. Subjects indicate whether they like or dislike each image. Preference for high complexity and asymmetry is considered an indicator of creativity. 2525. Cropley AJ. Recognizing Creative Potential: An Evaluation of the Usefulness of Creativity Tests. High Abil Stud. 1996;7:203-19.

Studies of the creative process seek to understand the mental mechanism involved when an individual performs a creative activity. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. This aspect of creativity can be evaluated based on the results of tests of divergent thinking and remote association. These tests use criteria based on originality, usefulness, and rarity of responses. Divergent thinking tests are more widely used and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) is considered the gold standard. 2626. Clapham M. Testing/Measurement/Assessment. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker RS, editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 2:458-464.

Creative product reviews focus on something a person does or expresses, such as poems, music, drawings, or answers to an open question. Just as a person can be evaluated in a specific field of activity, their creative product can also be classified in the same way. 2727. Kaufman, J. C., Plucker, J. A., Baer, J. Essentials of psychological assessment series. Essentials of creativity assessment. John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2008. This aspect is usually analyzed according to the opinion of experts, evaluation of teachers and peers, eminence, and self-reported creative activities and achievements. 1818. El-Murad J, West DC. The definition and measurement of creativity: What do we know? J Advert Res. 2004;44:188-201. The Lifetime Creativity Scales (LCS) 2828. Richards R, Kinney DK, Benet M, Merzel AP. Assessing everyday creativity: Characteristics of the Lifetime Creativity Scales and validation with three large samples. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988;54:476-85. is an example of an instrument that evaluates the creative product, measuring the quantity and quality of a person’s involvement in creative activities throughout adult life, both in free time, and at work. Finally, assessments of the creative environment seek to find characteristics that induce or inhibit creativity. The environment is rarely considered during evaluation of individual creativity. 2727. Kaufman, J. C., Plucker, J. A., Baer, J. Essentials of psychological assessment series. Essentials of creativity assessment. John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2008. The Virtual Team Creative Climate Measure (VTCC) 2929. Nemiro, J. E. Assessing the climate for creativity in virtual teams. Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams 2000;7:59-84. is an example of such an instrument, evaluating items such as acceptance of ideas, collaboration, commitment, and clarity of objectives, among others. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73.

Research on creativity can result in many controversies, mainly because of weaknesses in the methodologies used. 2727. Kaufman, J. C., Plucker, J. A., Baer, J. Essentials of psychological assessment series. Essentials of creativity assessment. John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2008. The first problem resides in the concept of creativity. Few definitions are widely accepted and researchers often avoid using a definition. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. The second problem is the proper choice of instruments for the research objectives. It is essential to distinguish between creative potential and creative achievements. An instrument capable of predicting creative potential is very different from another that measures current levels of performance. 2626. Clapham M. Testing/Measurement/Assessment. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker RS, editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 2:458-464. The format of studies constitutes a third problem. Although more difficult to accomplish, the most reliable form of research is longitudinal. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. Longitudinal studies can evaluate the creative capacity of individuals who, for a variety of reasons, may not yet have achieved exceptional results. 3030. Arnold, K.D.; Subotnik, R.F.; Ross M. Longitudinal Studies. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker S., editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 2:62-67. Finally, the fourth problem is the tendency to investigate only one aspect of the concept of creativity, which is multidimensional. Psychometric instruments generally only assess one of the four aspects of creativity – person, process, product, or environment – in isolation. 1717. Plucker JA, Markel CM. Assessment of Creativity. In: Kaufman, James C.; Sternberg RJ, editor. The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 48-73. Since each instrument has its limitations, it is highly recommended to select a combination of instruments. 2626. Clapham M. Testing/Measurement/Assessment. In: Runco, Mark A.; Pritzker RS, editor. Encyclopedia of Creativity. 2nd ed. London, UK: Academic Press; 2011. p. 2:458-464.

At least two systematic reviews 3131. Thys E, Sabbe B, De Hert M. Creativity and psychopathology: A systematic review. Psychopathology. 2014;47:141-7. , 3232. Taylor CL. Creativity and Mood Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017;12:1040-76. have studied the relationship between psychopathology and creativity. Thys et al. 3131. Thys E, Sabbe B, De Hert M. Creativity and psychopathology: A systematic review. Psychopathology. 2014;47:141-7. found an association between suffering from a mental disorder, especially a mood disorder or a psychotic disorder, and being creative. However, the studies included in this review were highly heterogeneous and most of them had important methodological limitations. In addition, their conclusions are based on a mere count of the number of articles that presented positive or negative results on whether a certain mental disorder was related to creativity. In contrast, Taylor 3232. Taylor CL. Creativity and Mood Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017;12:1040-76. carried out a meta-analysis and was more rigorous in its selection of the original studies. According to her results, there were more cases of mood disorders among individuals considered to be creative than among non-creative individuals. On the other hand, when individuals with mood disorders were compared with others without this diagnosis, no significant differences were found regarding the level of creativity. Neither of these two systematic reviews specifically addressed BD.

We conducted a systematic review of clinical studies that objectively assessed creativity in patients with BD in order to investigate the relationship between this mental disorder and creativity and whether creative capacity varies depending on BD mood state, i.e., mania, depression, or euthymia.

Method

We sought studies in which patients with BD were compared in terms of creative ability with healthy controls or with patients with other mental disorders. We also sought studies with samples of patients with BD in which the different states of the disease – mania, depression, mixed state, and euthymia – were compared.

Up to January of 2021, we carried out a systematic search of the scientific literature indexed on the PubMed, ISI Web of Science, PsycINFO, and SciELO databases using the terms “bipolar” OR “bipolar disorder” OR “mania” OR “manic” AND “creativ*”. There was no restriction on the date of publication. Articles that met the following criteria were selected: original studies, published in Portuguese or English, with samples of at least 10 BD patients, and using at least one psychometric instrument to assess creativity. The diagnosis of BD should be made using operational criteria. Letters, editorials, review articles, case studies, and biographical studies were excluded. Two of the authors carried out each step of this search independently, compared their results and reached a consensus. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) flowchart to illustrate the search strategy adopted to select the articles. 3333. Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gøtzsche PC, Ioannidis JPA, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. Journal of clinical epidemiology. 2009;62:1-34.

Results

We found 165 results in the PubMed database, 179 in ISI Web of Science, 222 in PsycINFO, and only five in SciELO, making a total of 571 articles. After removing the duplicates, 271 articles remained, 224 of which were excluded during reading of titles and abstracts. After reading the remaining 47 articles in full, some were excluded: nine because the subjects were not diagnosed with BD; nine in which there was no objective evaluation of creativity; six because they were letters or editorials; six that were case studies or biographical studies; three in which the authors evaluated aspects related to creativity, but not creativity itself; and one review article. We were unable to access one article, even after trying to contact the authors directly. Thus, 12 articles were selected according to our criteria. 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91.

35. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24.

36. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7.

37. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33.

38. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27.

39. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33.

40. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6.

41. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302.

42. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9.

43. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31.

44. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33.
- 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. Our systematic search method is illustrated as a flowchart in Figure 1 .

Figure 1
Systematic search according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement

Considering the 12 studies selected, the samples were quite heterogeneous. Five studies evaluated only type I BD 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27.

39. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33.
- 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. and the others used mixed samples of type I, type II, and unspecified BD. Two studies analyzed patients who were not using medication, 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. two studies included both medicated and non-medicated subjects, 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. and the others used samples in which all patients were using medication. The groups involved men and women with ages ranging from 8 to 67 years old. Sample sizes for BD patients ranged between 17 and 397. Most studies tested at least 60 patients. None of the studies carried out a comparison between BD I and BD II.

In the 12 studies selected, BD was diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria, 4646. . American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—(DSM-IV-TR), 4th edition. American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C. 1994. or by application of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Diagnosis (SCID), 4747. First, M.B., Spitzer, R.L, Gibbon, M., & Williams JBW. Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV-TR axis I disorders, research version, patient edition. (SCID-I/P). Biometrics Research, editor. New York: New York State Psychiatric Institute; 2002. except for one study 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. that used the DSM-II and DSM-III criteria, 4848. American Psychiatric Association. DSM-II: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1968. , 4949. American Psychiatric Association. DSM-III: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1980. based on data from patients’ medical records. Ten studies used clinical mania rating scales: the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) 5050. Young RC, Biggs JT, Ziegler VE, Meyer DA. A Rating Scale for Mania. Br J Psychiatry. 1978;133:429-35. in eight studies and the Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale (ASRM) 5151. Altman EG, Hedeker D, Peterson JL, Davis JM. The altman self-rating Mania scale. Biol Psychiatry. 1997;42:948-55. in two. 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. The Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) 5252. Montgomery SA, Asberg M. A new depression scale designed to be sensitive to change. Br J Psychiatry. 1979;134:382-9. was used to evaluate depression in three studies 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. ; the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17) 5353. Hamilton M. Scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiat. 1960;23:56-63. was used in three 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. ; the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) 5454. Beck, A.T, Rial, W.Y & Rickels T. Short form of Depression Inventory: Cross-validation. Psychol Rep. 1974;34:1184-6. was used in two 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. ; the Modified Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (MHRSD) 5555. Miller IW, Bishop S, Norman WH, Maddever H. The modified Hamilton rating scale for depression: Reliability and validity. Psychiatry Res. 1985;14:131-42. ; the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) 5656. Lovibond, S.H, Lovibond P. Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales. 2nd. ed. Sydney: Psychology Foundation; 1995. ; the Children’s Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) 5757. Poznanski, E.O, Mokros H. Childrens Depression Rating Scale, Revised (CDRS-R). Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services; 1995. ; the 10-Item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD-10) 5858. Andresen EM, Malmgren JA, Carter WB, Patrick DL. Screening for depression in well older adults: Evaluation of a short form of the CES-D. Am J Prev Med. 1994;10:77-84. ; and the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSS) 5959. Treynor W, Gonzalez R, Nolen-hoeksema S. Rumination Reconsidered : A Psychometric Analysis. Cognit Ther Res. 2003;27:247-59. were each used in one study. 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. , 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. , 4444. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33.

The 12 studies selected researched different aspects of creativity, so they used different methods. In total, 15 instruments were used. The number varied from one to four instruments per study. Five studies only used instruments to assess characteristics of the creative person, 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. three studies only evaluated the creative process, 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 4444. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33. three used instruments to assess both personal characteristics and the creative process, 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. , 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. and only one study evaluated the creative product. 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. All studies, except one, 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. had cross-sectional designs.

The scale most used to investigate the characteristics of the creative person was the BWAS, 2323. Barron F, Welsh GS. Artistic Perception as a Possible Factor in Personality Style: Its Measurement By a Figure Preference Test. J Psychol Interdiscip Appl. 1952;33:199-203. , 2424. Barron F. Barron-Welsh Art Scale, A Portion of the Welsh Figure Preference Test. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1963. which was applied in five 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. , 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. of the 12 studies and was the only instrument in four studies. 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. One study 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. used a reduced version of the BWAS, the Revised Art Scale (RAS). 6060. Welsh, George S., Gough, H.B, Hall, W.B, Bradley P. Manual for the Barron-Welsh Art Scale. Mind Garden; 2005. The other instruments used to evaluate people’s characteristics, each used in only one study, were the ACL-CPS, 2020. Gough HG. A creative personality scale for the Adjective Check List. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1979;37:1398-1405. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. the Creative Achievement Questionnaire (CAQ), 2121. Shelley H. Carson JBP& DMH, To. Reliability, Validity, and Factor Structure of the Creative Achievement Questionnaire. Creat Res J 2011;23:207-10. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. and the Creativity Domain Questionnaire-Revised (CDQ-R). 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 6161. Kaufman JC, Waterstreet MA, Ailabouni HS, Whitcomb HJ, Roe AK, Riggs M. Personality and Self-Perceptions of Creativity across Domains. Imagin Cogn Pers. 2010;29:193-209. The creative process was evaluated using the Alternate Uses Test (AuT), 6262. Beaty RE, Benedek M, Wilkins RW, Jauk E, Fink A, Silvia PJ, et al. Creativity and the default network: A functional connectivity analysis of the creative brain at rest. Neuropsychologia. 2014;64:92-8. the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults (ATTA), 6363. Goff, K, Torrance E. Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults, Scholastic Testing Services. Inc., Bensenville, IL. Bensenville, IL: Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.; 2002. the Remote Associates Test (RAT), 6464. Mednick SA. The Remote Associates Test. J Creat Behav. 1968;2:213-4 and the Chinese Word Remote Associates Test (CWRAT - the Chinese version of the RAT), 6565. Huang, Po-Sheng, Chen, H.C, Liu C. The development of Chinese word remote associates test for college students. Psychological Testing. Psychol Test. 2012;59:581-607. each used in two studies, 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. while the Unusual Uses Test (UUT), 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. , 6666. Guilford JP. The nature of human intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1967. the inventiveness battery of the Berlin Intelligence Structure Test (BIS), 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. , 6767. Jäger, A.O, Süss, H.M, Beauducel A. Berliner Intelligenzstruktur-Test: Form 4. Göttingen: Hogrefe; 1997. the TTCT-Figural (TTCT-F) and TTCT-Verbal (TTCT-V) versions, 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. , 6868. Torrance E. Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Bensenville, IL: Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.; 1990. and the Creative Thinking Task – designed specifically for the study, 4444. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33. were each used in only one study. Only one study evaluated the creative product, 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. using the LCS. 2828. Richards R, Kinney DK, Benet M, Merzel AP. Assessing everyday creativity: Characteristics of the Lifetime Creativity Scales and validation with three large samples. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988;54:476-85. The creative environment was not evaluated in any studies.

Ten of the 12 studies compared BD patients with healthy individuals, with individuals with other mental disorders, or with both 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27.

39. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33.

40. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6.

41. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302.

42. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9.

43. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31.

44. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33.
- 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. ( Tables 1 and 2 ). Four of these 10 studies only selected euthymic patients, 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. while the others included subjects in different mood states.

Table 1
Studies comparing BD patients with healthy controls
Table 2
Studies comparing BD patients with individuals with other mental disorders

Eight of these 10 studies conducted comparisons with healthy individuals and one study included two groups of healthy controls, 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. one group comprising individuals considered creative, that is, students of the creative writing, fine arts, and product design courses at Stanford University. The results of the comparisons between BD patients and healthy controls were quite heterogeneous. The highest levels of creativity were observed in BD patients in two studies 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. and in healthy controls in two others. 3434. Alici YH, Özgüven HD, Kale E, Yenİhayat I, Baskak B. Prefrontal Activity Measured by Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy During Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Bipolar Disorder. Arch Neuropsychiatry 2019;56:86−91. , 3939. Soeiro-de-Souza MG, Post R, Machado-Vieira R, do Prado CM, Moreno RA, Akiskal H, et al. Association study between COMT 158 Met and creativity scores in bipolar disorder and healthy controls. Rev Psiquiatr Clin. 2014;41:29-33. There was no difference between the two groups in two studies. 3535. Tu PC, Kuan YH, Li CT, Su TP. Structural correlates of creative thinking in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy controls—a voxel-based morphometry study. J Affect Disord. 2017;215:218-24. , 3838. Johnson SL, Tharp JA, Kathleen Holmes M. Understanding creativity in bipolar I disorder. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2015;9:319-27. In the remaining two studies, 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. , 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. depending on the instrument used, BD patients were considered more creative or there was a tie. In the study in which the group of so-called “creative controls” was included, depending on the instrument used, these individuals were more creative than BD patients or there was a tie. 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9.

Four of the 10 studies performed comparisons with individuals who suffered from other mental disorders: major depressive disorder (MDD), 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. cyclothymia, 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8. and various mental disorders (anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychoses, and substance use disorders). 4444. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33. In the study with ADHD, both ADHD patients and those with BD had parents who suffered from BD. That study examined creativity in children of bipolar parents in order to clarify possible intergenerational transmission. Bipolar parents and their children with BD or ADHD were compared to healthy parents and their healthy children. There was no significant difference in the overall results between bipolar adults and healthy adults. However, children with BD and children with ADHD were significantly more creative than healthy children. Finally, in the study with cyclothymia, the group of patients with this diagnosis also included their family members. There were no differences in performance in the creativity tests when patients with BD were compared to the group of patients with MDD, 4242. Santosa CM, Strong CM, Nowakowska C, Wang PW, Rennicke CM, Ketter TA. Enhanced creativity in bipolar disorder patients: A controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2007;100:31-9. to patients with various mental disorders, 4444. Forgeard M, Corcoran E, Beard C, Björgvinsson T. Relationships between depression, self-reflection, brooding, and creative thinking in a psychiatric sample. Psychol Aesthetics, Creat Arts. 2020;14:325-33. or to patients with ADHD. 4343. Simeonova DI, Chang KD, Strong C, Ketter TA. Creativity in familial bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2005;39:623-31. However, the performance of patients with BD was inferior to a group consisting of patients with cyclothymia and their families. 4545. Richards R, Kinney DK, Lunde I, Benet M, Merzel APC. Creativity in Manic-Depressives, Cyclothymes, Their Normal Relatives, and Control Subjects. J Abnorm Psychol. 1988;97:281-8.

Four of the 12 studies compared different mood states with each other 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. ( Table 3 ). All four of these included a group of patients in mania and a group of patients in depression; two also included a group of patients in mixed states, 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. and one had a group of patients in euthymia. 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. The severity of affective symptoms was assessed, but only to identify mood states, that is, mania, depression, or euthymia. None of the four studies investigated a possible correlation between the severity of symptoms and the level of creativity.

Table 3
Studies comparing bipolar patients in different states of the disease

In these four studies, patients in bipolar depression performed worse on assessments of creativity than patients in mania. 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. , 4040. Soeiro-De-Souza MG, Post RM, De Sousa ML, Missio G, Do Prado CM, Gattaz WF, et al. Does BDNF genotype influence creative output in bipolar manic patients? J Affect Disord. 2012;139:181-6. , 4141. Rybakowski JK, Klonowska P. Bipolar Mood Disorder, Creativity and Schizotypy: An Experimental Study. Psychopathology 2011;44:296-302. In one of these four studies, patients in bipolar depression also had lower results in the comparisons with patients in euthymic and mixed states. 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. Patients in mania (or hypomania) were more creative than patients in mixed states in two studies. 3636. Soeiro-de-souza MG, Videira V, Soares D, Post RM, Moreno RA. Creativity and executive function across manic, mixed and depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder. J Affect Disord. 2011;135:292-7. , 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33. Finally, in one study, patients in mania (or hypomania) were not distinguished from euthymia patients. 3737. Miller N, Perich T, Meade T. Depression, mania and self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2019;276:129-33.

Discussion

The objectives of this systematic review were to investigate the relationship between BD and creativity and whether creative capacity varies depending on mood state. According to the results found, it is not possible to say that BD patients are more creative than healthy controls or than patients with other mental disorders. In the comparisons between the different stages of BD, we observed that patients in depression or in mixed states had the worst performances, however patients in mania did not perform better than patients in euthymia.

The conflicting results reflect the methodological weaknesses often found in research on creativity. 2727. Kaufman, J. C., Plucker, J. A., Baer, J. Essentials of psychological assessment series. Essentials of creativity assessment. John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2008. Most studies did not define the concept of creativity and none of them considered multidimensionality. Although they were investigating a multidimensional concept, no study evaluated more than two aspects of creativity, and the majority evaluated only one. The most studied aspects were the process and the person. Since the results were heterogeneous, it is not possible to say that BD patients are more creative in any of these aspects.

Humor and motivation are important elements for creativity. In the depressive phase of BD, most mental activity is inhibited. Patients often complain of slowness of thought, confusion, and an inability to concentrate. They feel inadequate and useless. 6969. Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. 2nd ed. USA: Oxford University Press; 2007. Thus, it is to be expected that there would be a decrease in productivity and creativity. On the other hand, in hypomania, the increased speed of thoughts can contribute to creative production, increasing the number of thoughts and producing unique ideas and associations. 7070. McCraw S, Parker G, Fletcher K, Friend P. Self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder: Prevalence, types and associated outcomes in mania versus hypomania. J Affect Disord. 2013;151:831-6. Due to the attenuated symptoms, it can be assumed that it is during hypomania that people with BD would obtain the greatest benefits from their creativity. In contrast, in mania, it is very common for patients to produce with reduced quality or to give up their creative tasks before completing them. 7070. McCraw S, Parker G, Fletcher K, Friend P. Self-reported creativity in bipolar disorder: Prevalence, types and associated outcomes in mania versus hypomania. J Affect Disord. 2013;151:831-6. In this mood state, people with BD can easily be distracted by any stimuli and their thoughts can be accelerated, becoming disconnected and inconsistent with reality. 6969. Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. 2nd ed. USA: Oxford University Press; 2007.

The results of the studies we found went against some of our expectations. One explanation for this may be the fact that none of the studies included a sample of BD patients made up solely of individuals with hypomania. Moreover, creativity was assessed cross-sectionally in practically all of the studies, even though it would only be with all patients in the hypomania mood state that BD would be associated with better performance than healthy controls and patients with other mental disorders. In view of this, the results of the study in which individuals with cyclothymia were more creative than those with BD are not surprising. Since cyclothymia is an “attenuated” BD, it could count on some of the advantages of BD, such as creativity, without the most serious negative consequences. When the different mood states of BD were compared, patients in depression were less creative, as expected, but because none of the studies separated patients in mania from those in hypomania, it was not possible to confirm whether the latter mood state is in fact associated with an increase in creativity.

Many creative individuals who suffer from BD consider emotional turbulence essential to their identities and worry that psychiatric treatment compromises their ability to create. 6969. Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. 2nd ed. USA: Oxford University Press; 2007. There are various ways in which the medications used to treat BD can alter characteristics important for creativity, such as motivation to achieve goals, disinhibition, novelty seeking, and the ability to associate ideas. 7171. Flaherty AW. Brain illness and creativity: Mechanisms and treatment risks. Can J Psychiatry 2011;56:132-43. There is evidence that treatment of people with BD with lithium can decrease associative productivity 7272. Shaw ED, Stokes, E, Mann, J.; Manevitz A. Effects of lithium carbonate on associative productivity and idiosyncrasy in bipolar outpatients. Am J Psychiatry. 1986;143:1166-9. , 7373. Kocsis, James H; Shaw E. Neuropsychologic effects of lithium discontinuation. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1993;13:268-75. and artistic creativity. 7474. Schou M. Artistic productivity and lithium prophylaxis in manic-depressive illness. Br J Psychiatry. 1979;135:97-103. Measures of memory and motor performance significantly improve when lithium is withdrawn and decrease when treatment is restarted. 7373. Kocsis, James H; Shaw E. Neuropsychologic effects of lithium discontinuation. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1993;13:268-75. Even if the patient is not an artist or an academic, creativity should be taken into account by clinicians. 7171. Flaherty AW. Brain illness and creativity: Mechanisms and treatment risks. Can J Psychiatry 2011;56:132-43. Doctors should be aware of the side effects of medications on the creative process and, whenever possible, reduce doses. 6969. Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. 2nd ed. USA: Oxford University Press; 2007.

Creativity depends on a set of mental operations applied to existing knowledge, through cognition. 7575. Ward TB. Cognition, creativity, and entrepreneurship. J Bus Ventur. 2004;19:173-88. Creative people stand out for their greater ability to organize their ideas effectively, selecting those that are useful and discarding the others. 7676. Reddy IR, Ukrani J, Indla V U V. Creativity and psychopathology: Two sides of the same coin? Indian J Psychiatry. 2018;60:168-74. To achieve this goal, the main cognitive skills involved in the creative process are attention, memory, and executive functions. It is the combination of these processes that makes a person able to maintain and manipulate information in working memory, suppress irrelevant information, and change strategies as needed. 7777. Lima, Isabela M.M., Peckham, Andrew D., Johnson SL. Cognitive deficits in bipolar disorders: Implications for emotion. Clin Psychol Rev. 2018;59:126-36. People with BD can present widespread and diffuse cognitive impairment in all mood states, including euthymia. 6969. Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression. 2nd ed. USA: Oxford University Press; 2007. The most prominent deficits involve executive function, attention, verbal memory, and non-verbal memory, 7777. Lima, Isabela M.M., Peckham, Andrew D., Johnson SL. Cognitive deficits in bipolar disorders: Implications for emotion. Clin Psychol Rev. 2018;59:126-36. which are precisely the skills essential to the creative process. Thus, in theory, people with BD can only develop their creativity if they do not have severe cognitive impairment. None of the articles selected investigated the relationship between cognition and creativity in BD. This could be an important research topic for future studies.

Given the results we found, it would be interesting to find studies on creativity in other mental disorders. Like BD, schizophrenia is often associated with creativity. 7878. Degmeþcic D. Schizophrenia and creativity. Psychiatr Danub. 2018;30:S224-7. Considering that originality is one of the criteria for defining this construct, people with schizophrenia could really be called creative, since their thoughts are more likely to be different, new, or original. 7676. Reddy IR, Ukrani J, Indla V U V. Creativity and psychopathology: Two sides of the same coin? Indian J Psychiatry. 2018;60:168-74. However, although this mental disorder can facilitate production of original responses, it does not favor production of appropriate responses. 7979. Abraham A, Windmann S, Daum I, Güntürkün O. Conceptual expansion and creative imagery as a function of psychoticism. Conscious Cogn. 2005;14:520-34. A meta-analysis 8080. Acar S, Chen X, Cayirdag N. Schizophrenia and creativity: A meta-analytic review. Schizophr Res. 2018;195:23-31. indicates that mild expression of schizophrenia symptoms can be positive for creativity, but that the complete presentation of the disorder impairs this ability. Similarly, a meta-analysis on autism 8181. Paola P, Laura G, Giusy M, Michela C. Autism, autistic traits and creativity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Processing. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2020. clarifies that patients with this diagnosis, compared to healthy controls, demonstrate a greater ability to offer original responses and responses rich in details, but offer smaller quantities of responses and are less able to produce semantically different ideas. The authors conclude that there are fewer creative individuals among people with autism than in the general population. 8181. Paola P, Laura G, Giusy M, Michela C. Autism, autistic traits and creativity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Processing. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2020. Although BD patients also have cognitive impairment, the positive effects could contribute to creativity. On the other hand, it is possible that the emotional dullness found in both schizophrenia and autism represents yet another difficulty in exercising this ability.

Some limitations related to our study must be mentioned We only found 12 studies eligible for our review. The samples in these studies were small and comprised clinical patients, therefore, severe patients. Thus, the results may not reflect the average experience of a person with BD. Patients with BD I, II, and unspecified BD were combined in the same groups. There were no groups with only hypomanic patients. There was also no uniform concept of creativity. The use of different instruments made it difficult to evaluate the results. Future research would benefit from definition of the concept of creativity and investigation of all four aspects of the concept. The environment – the only concept not investigated in any of the studies – can offer important information for understanding the relationship between creativity and BD.

Unlike other systematic reviews, we only selected studies that employed operational criteria for diagnosis of BD and used objective instruments for assessment of creativity. On the other hand, in clinical practice, we often hear reports from patients who have been involved in many activities and have been productive during periods of hypomania and mania. A phase of increased creativity may be indicative of a new episode of the disease. In relation to depression, the reasoning would be the other way around. In this mood state, patients are less creative and productive. Therefore, reduced activity may indicate a new depressive episode. If the association between creativity and BD is confirmed, this characteristic could become more valued and contribute to reducing stigma against patients.

Conclusion

The idea of a relationship between BD and creativity is based on the study of biographies of successful artists and on the high prevalence rates of this mental disorder among living artists when modern diagnostic criteria are applied. For the time being, few clinical studies have been conducted that compared, in terms of creative capacity, patients suffering from BD with healthy controls or with patients with other psychiatric diagnoses. Even rarer were studies that compared the different mood states in terms of creativity. The results of these clinical studies indicate that, in BD, depression is associated with worse performance in creativity tests. However, it was not possible to prove that the hypomanic phase progresses with an increase in creativity, which is probably due to the fact that all of the studies that included patients with hypomania mixed them with patients in mania. In addition, it was not possible to corroborate the idea that individuals with BD are more creative than individuals without psychiatric diagnoses or than patients suffering from other mental disorders, which may be related to the choice of cross-sectional rather than longitudinal designs in virtually all of the clinical studies.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    04 Nov 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    14 Jan 2021
  • Accepted
    15 June 2021
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