Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I may be right. You may be crazy.

The Swedes are at it again—studying who’s nuts and who’s not. According to research done by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, creative people are treated more often for mental illness than others.

Well, brilliant deduction, Sven et al.

It only took a study of 1.2 million people to figure that out, did it? I could have named that tune in two notes. … Literally, just give me two notes written by a creative person, and I could have told you they’re generally bonkers. I wouldn’t even have had to read them.  

First of all, creative professions are not something rational people pursue. They historically pay a pittance. And anecdotally, everyone says they can do the job better. What normal person would do that to himself or herself? Whether you paint, draw, dance, act, write, or trip the light scientific, everyone is a critic. (Some people even think they can do a better job at studying the correlation of mental illness and creative professionals. Jeesh. The nerve. )

You want to be an artist? You must be nuts.

Second of all, what profession isn’t creative? With tax codes the way they are, accounting may be the most creative job out there. Politicians and customer service representatives make things up all the time. Detectives recreate crime scenes. Bus drivers think they can send their wives to the moon with a single punch. Even ditch diggers are creative. After all, they’re creating ditches. 

The syllogism is easy. If everyone is creative and creative people are more prone to mental illness, everyone is a little nutty.

It’s nice to belong to a big common social group, isn’t it?

I would argue that it’s not just people. Animals are crackers, too. For instance, I recently gave my cat some flea powder. Now she can magically play all Red Hot Chili Pepper songs on the bass. That’s pretty creative. Moreover, it’s downright insane.

My cat plays bass. But she prefers slapping a salmon. 

So I don’t mind the Karloninska Institutet—whose sports teams are, by the way, the Fighting Turnips (Go, Nips!)—saying that creative people have issues. We all have issues.

But the study goes further and says there's “a particularly salient connection between writing and schizophrenia.”

I’ve been arguing myself over this one.

In a nutshell, the argument goes as follows: I’m the sanest person I know. And that’s hard to take given this study. Surely, my sanity hinders my creativity. So that’s depressing.

But depression is a mental illness, right? So maybe there’s hope for me after all.