Research Topic

Madness and Creativity: Yes, No or Maybe?

About this Research Topic

The pervasive idea that madness and creativity are intricately linked is one that holds tremendous fascination for both scientists and the general public alike. Although this view was, at first, largely driven by anecdotal evidence showcasing the manifestation of mental illness in individuals who exhibited ...

The pervasive idea that madness and creativity are intricately linked is one that holds tremendous fascination for both scientists and the general public alike. Although this view was, at first, largely driven by anecdotal evidence showcasing the manifestation of mental illness in individuals who exhibited extraordinary levels of creativity in various spheres of life, it initiated a strong impetus to empirically investigate the association between madness and creativity.

Several approaches (and combinations of approaches) have been adopted to address this association including clinical, personality, psychometric, behavioral, cognitive, historiometric, neuroscientific, and so on. Despite the ever accumulating body of evidence over the past 5-6 decades to investigate the link, what is lacking is a comprehensive integration of the disparate findings from the different approaches that will enable us to answer the ultimate question of whether there is an empirically founded relationship between creativity and mental illness. And if so, what is the nature of this association?

The purpose of this Research Topic is to motivate theorists and researchers to answer this question (or at least attempt to do so) given the available evidence thus far. The questions and topic of interests within this theme include (but are not limited to):

(a) Which mental disorders are positively associated with creativity?

(b) Which mental disorders are negatively associated with creativity?

(c) The dynamics of information processing biases (positive biases versus negative biases) associated with psychiatric and high-risk populations

(d) Theories regarding the madness-creativity link

(e) Personality-based studies on creativity

(f) Creativity, mental illness and the brain

(g) Genes and creativity

(h) Can studies on neurological populations inform this debate?

(i) What are the areas of impact with regard to real world applications and practice?

(j) Historical timeline of this question

(k) Evolutionary perspectives on the madness-creativity link

(l) Methodological problems associated with this field

(m) Philosophical issues to bear in mind when investigating this field

(n) The usefulness of the “troubled genius” concept


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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