Opinion: A warning for writers

POSTED: 10/17/12 5:22 PM

Oh oh. This is really alarming, not for readers, but for the writer of this piece. The Karolinska University in Sweden says it discovered a link between creative professions and mental illness. People who work in creative professions are ore often treated for mental illness than the average citizen, there is especially a link between writing and schizophrenia, the researchers reported.

Unfortunately for us writers, the researchers did not pull their findings out of thin air. They did an extensive study that includes the data of 1.2 million patients and their family members.

We’re not schizo yet, but if each patients has at least two family members, the researchers plough through information about 3.6 million people. The result of the study is that certain mental disorders occur more often among people with artistic and scientific professions like dancers, researchers (ha!), photographers and authors.

Especially authors relatively often suffer from psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, fear-syndromes, and addiction. Writers commit suicide 50 percent more often than the average citizen. (By now we get the feeling it’s time to find another job).

The researchers discovered that family members of patients with schizophrenia, anorexia and sometimes autism, often also have creative professions.

Researcher Simon Kyaga says that the study’s results are reason for a different approach of mental illnesses. Maybe it is also reason for career consultants to give young people a heads up on what’s waiting for them if they decide to become a writer, a dancer, a researcher or a photographer.

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