The Creative Advantages of Schizophrenia
Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (10/2020)
“The Creative Advantages of Schizophrenia,” by Paul Kiritsis, is a work of non-fiction that studies the connection between schizophrenia (and other mental health diagnoses) and creativity.
It’s widely held that some people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia display great capacity and drive for creativity, but why? What does science, research, and observation have to say about it? Schizophrenia is a serious mental health diagnosis, yet some who live with it are, in a way, gifted with phenomenal talent. Kiritsis examines this relationship in a way that is compelling and enlightening. It’s documented that some of history’s greatest creatives struggled with schizophrenia and other disorders, but it lent to if not shaped the artist and his/her works. Leonardo da Vinci, and Joan of Arc are just two notables that the author talks about.
Can it be proven that psychopathy is responsible for some artists’ creativity? What evidence could suggest or support that theory? Kiritsis takes a closer look at how creativity can be exploited in those having schizophrenia. Mental health professionals, artists of all kinds, and the average reader will find this a fascinating plunge into the scientific, neurological aspects of the connection, but is there more to it than we can understand or explain? Are there parts of the schizophrenic mind that open the floodgates of creativity?
Kiritsis has an engaging style that makes it easy to understand complex data and ideas, and the illustrations are enlightening. I also like how he involves his cousin’s struggle with mental health issues, and I appreciate the background on the nature and historical treatment of schizophrenia, as well as how he factors in substance use, trauma, and other social influences. The author makes it clear that he doesn’t have the definitive answers, and there is much more study to be done. If you’re looking for a more clinical approach to the connection between mental health diagnoses and creativity, and a fascinating foray into “the tortured artist.”
“The Creative Advantages of Schizophrenia”, by Paul Kiritsis, should be at the top of your reading list.