Argumentative Essay on Mental Instability and Creativity

Argumentative Essay on Mental Instability and Creativity


The connection between creativity and mental health has long been a subject of speculation. Common questions arise, such as whether creativity requires a state of “being sick” or if one can lead a tranquil life while still fostering innovation. Does creativity necessitate experiencing abnormal extremes? The essay highlights that while much attention has been directed toward exploring the creativity of individuals with dysfunctional mental states, there is a notable lack of representation for mentally healthy creative individuals in the literature. Therefore, the paper seeks to illustrate that examining the lives of creatively inclined individuals with less dramatic histories may be worthwhile because such individuals can serve as positive role models for others to emulate, providing valuable insights beyond the focus on mentally unstable prominent figures.

The Arguments Supporting the Impact of Mental Instability on Creativity

However, only a few methodologically rigorous studies have been conducted to unequivocally establish the connection between creativity and mental health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the psychiatric morbidity stress profile, coping skills, and personality profile in creative populations compared to non-creative populations. The sample consisted of 40 writers, 40 musicians, and 40 controls, randomly selected based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The writers exhibited significant differences from the other two groups in the religious and faith domain of coping skills. Both creative groups shared similar personality characteristics and scored significantly higher on all dimensions compared to the non-creative group (Pavitra et al., 2007).

In conclusion, biographical studies provide compelling indications that distinguished writers, as a collective, experience more challenges than other eminent creators or the general population. Despite the robustness of the statistics, they should be approached with caution. Diagnoses are often made posthumously using vague and inconsistent criteria. The validity of a diagnosis of mental illness, alcoholism, or suicide is frequently unverifiable. Furthermore, precise statistical evidence regarding the prevalence of mental illness, alcoholism, and suicide in the general population remains elusive. Lastly, it is conceivable that creatively inclined individuals with dramatic lives and premature deaths are more likely to attain eminence and have biographies written about them (Pavitra et al., 2007).

The Arguments Demonstrating the Significance of a Different Approach to the Issue

The nature of Van Gogh’s ailment has been a subject of ongoing debate, with various diagnoses proposed, including absinthe poisoning, schizophrenia, syphilis, and borderline personality disorder. Presently, the prevailing belief is that he had bipolar disorder, characterized by profound mood swings, energy fluctuations, varying activity levels, and concentration shifts. These symptoms often correlated with seasonal changes. During late summer, Van Gogh worked vigorously, described by an art student as “in spasmodic fury,” as noted by Whybrow. However, his manic phases tended to wane in winter, accompanied by depression that left him scarcely able to lift a brush to the canvas (Waddell, 2002). Whybrow suggests that mental illness enhanced Van Gogh’s creativity, adding nuances, using a painterly metaphor. However, he emphasizes that attributing his artistic brilliance solely to mental illness is inaccurate; while it shaped some of his work, it doesn’t fully explain his brilliance as an artist.


Art serves as a “path to the sacred and spiritual, even in a profane and fragmented world.” It is crucial to foster creativity and support creative individuals within our communities. Additionally, there is a pressing need to develop more effective methods for preventing, treating, and destigmatizing all forms of mental illnesses. A harmonious integration of both quality art and sound science is essential. Despite the risk of trivialization, it is imperative not to romanticize the connections between science, art, creativity, and mental illness, as this could inadvertently harm those dealing with either creativity or mental health issues. According to Bilder, pondering whether genius is linked to mental illness may be misguided. Instead, the focus should be on understanding the nature of the relationship between creativity and emotional or psychological adjustment and well-being, recognizing that both aspects exist on a spectrum.


Pavitra, K. S., Chandrashekar, C. R., & Choudhury, P. (2007). Creativity and mental health: A profile of writers and musicians. Indian journal of psychiatry49(1), 34–43.

Waddell, C. (2002). Creativity and mental illness: Is there a link? The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 43(2):166-172. doi:10.1177/070674379804300206

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