Health & Fitness

Creativity and mental disorder often linked

The king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. He
The king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. He died of a drug overdose, with depression being a possible cause.  

I am in the creative industry and was recently surprised that one of the most outstanding workers also suffers from bipolar disorder. Are there any surprises in store from people with such disorders?

The link between mental illness and creativity is legendary and contains a great deal of fact and myth. It is true that there are thousands of important creative men and women who suffered from all manner of mental disorders.

The great artist Van Gogh is reported to have cut off his ear in a state of severe melancholy. There remains little doubt that with respect to fine art, he has no equal.

The great musician Mozart is also thought to have had episodes of severe of depression as did the famous wartime Prime Minister of Britain Sir Winston Churchill.

The king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley died of a possible drug overdose, and even those who admired him the most admit that the King had a drug problem.


Depression is a possible cause. Maradona, the legendary football star continues to struggle with alcoholism as do many creative stars in Hollywood today.

The list is endless. A quick Google search of famous people with mental illness reveals a long list of the most unlikely historical and current big names.

A few examples will suffice. Isaac Newton the greatest mathematician of all time had bipolar disorder, while Beethoven is reported to have produced his great works of music during manic phases.

One of the greatest presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln suffered severe episodes of clinical depression as did many other actors, writers, poets and comedians.

A search of famous people with Bipolar Disorder will leave you wondering why your name is not there if indeed you are a creative person. Everybody else seems to be there.

The list of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) makes for very interesting reading and includes famous names such as Leornado Da Vinci, Christopher Columbus, and includes Bill Gates, President Bush and many others.

If asked to do my own list of famous Kenyan men(and women) with ADHD. I would not have a shortage from the arts, academics, politics and in particular the entertainment world.

Creativity and mental disorder often occur together.

There is little doubt that some people have mental illness and are also creative but there are some creative people who develop mental illness as a result of the pressure of being famous.

Successful musicians, athletes and other public figures are constantly under the spotlight and do not have time to be themselves. In the glare of public attention, some seek refuge in drugs and alcohol which in turn leads to all manner of mental disorders.

At the end of the day, the main surprise for those in the creative industry is the number of them with all types of mental afflictions, as well as the fact that these conditions do not in themselves stop the majority from achieving their lifetime ambitions. Many great people have had mental disorders.

In the real world, many creative people with mental conditions are doing a great job of nation building and at the same time undergoing treatment. Ask me!