William A Frosch   Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry

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Creativity and manic depressive disease

Traditionally, creativity has been linked with the "melancholic temperament". There are now an accumulating series of studies which strongly suggest a link between the genetic loading for manic depressive disease and creativity, particularly literary creativity. The nature of this relationship remains unclear. There is also suggestive evidence of a relationship between manic depressive disease and creativity in plastic arts, painting and sculpture. There are few studies of a putative link between manic depressive disease and musical creativity. The aim of my work is to investigate whether or not such a linkage exists, and if it does, what is the nature of the relationship between the two.

Ongoing projects include: 1) a scholarly review of the historical data, and 2) a questionnaire epidemiologic approach with promising young composers and performers.

If this latter study is at all suggestive, it is anticipated that future work will include direct diagnostic interviews of established and recognized composers.


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  • wafrosc@med.cornell.edu