From Manic Depression and Creativity – A Book Review, by Paul Bloch, Serendip blog.
Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is a mental disorder, which is characterized by a cyclic shift in moods between mania and depression.
Manic symptoms include hyperactivity, inflated self-esteem, high risk activity, decrease need for sleep, distractibility, and flight of ideas (a rapid, uncontrolled flow of thoughts).
Depression is characterized by dysphoria, loss of interest or pleasure in usual pastimes, decreased energy, decrease appetite, and suicidal thoughts.
It is hard to imagine how one would be able to function regularly with such debilitating symptoms.
Hence, I was surprised when I discovered that my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, suffered from manic depression. I was equally as surprised to learn that my favorite guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, also suffered from manic depression.
To my astonishment, many accomplished men and women throughout history had suffered from some form of bipolar disorder.
This has caused many to wonder whether there is an association between bipolar disorder and creativity or whether it is a coincidence that so many geniuses had suffered from the mental disorder.
Hershman and Lieb seek to answer this question.. and they do a great job. They explain how both sides of manic depression (mania and depression) both enhance and inhibit creativity.
Book: Manic Depression and Creativity by D. Jablow Hershman, Julian Lieb M.D.