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There IS a link between creative genius and madness - with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder frequent in highly creative and intelligent people. The idea was investigated by a panel of scientists who had all suffered some form of mental disorder. Kay Redfield Jamison of John Hopkins school of Medicine, who suffers from bipolar disorder, said that intelligence tests on Swedish 16-year-olds had shown that highly intelligent children were most likely to go on to develop the disorder.
Painter Van Gogh and author Jack Kerouac were both hailed as geniuses but displayed self-destructive behaviour. What's less clear is why human beings might have evolved this trait. 'The notion of a ‘tortured genius’ or ‘mad scientist’ may be more than a romantic aberration,' says the World Science Fair.
Research shows that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia correlate with high creativity and intelligence, raising tantalizing questions: What role does environment play in the path to mental illness?