Schizophrenia & Creativity: I am trying to figure it out!

Hi everyone,
I am really nervous about starting this thread because I don’t want to come across as selfish or insensitive. I am from Delhi, but just came to the US to do my PhD in psychology. I wanted to understand whether schizophrenia and creativity are somehow related, and if they are, then how? The reason i developed interest was that my best friend since school was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and since his family was not around, I was the only point of contact he had for 10 years. He is also a brilliant guy, a poet, a programmer, a writer, and a national debater. He still struggles with his psychosis every day, and I have never underestimated the pain, terror, and sheer misery that this ailment brings with it. But since he always felt that his psychosis, however awful, helped him in developing programs or writing stories, I began to wonder if we have too narrow an outlook of psychosis.

I would feel privileged if some of you who like to do anything creative (dance, write, sing, program, work, charity, talk…anything) would get back to me. I am working with 2-3 page narratives of what you think or feel about your experience with schizophrenia and if and how it has helped/hindered/led to you being more creative. Again, I apologize if I come across as an annoying researcher trying to figure stuff out; you can totally ignore me in that case! My mail id is (I know it’s strange, but it’s a childhood email id).

All I can say is that having been on the borderline of some of these states and having a creative bent I don’t see any reason why SZ causes creativity but to me it seems more like having the creative drive might encourage SZ. There are plenty of very creative persons out there who are quite stable at least as far as I know. Striesand, Dylan, McCartney. And some that aren’t.

The Nibbler come a knockin in the nightest hour.
On nipple knuckle knee, bits o flesh to devour.

See him kneelin neath the garden wall where no one else can see.
Or peerin through your window and you meet him in a dream.

See him dancin neath the diamond sky.
a comin down your lane.

The Nibbler sings a little tune and brings a little pain.

by me

I am very creative, but the meds dampen my creativity

My theory is that we’re all creative… but because of my illness and my head circus… it’s much more important for me to get what’s in my head out of my head. I’m much more adamant about writing or painting because if I don’t get it out of my head somehow it’s going to amp up my voices and make my life hard.

My kid sis is also very creative, but she’s not Sz and she’s not as driven to paint or write. She’s more relaxed about her painting or writing… where as I’m more driven and OCD about it. If I don’t do it, if I don’t express it… it’ will only get worse.

Maybe it’s not that Sz makes one creative, but it forces one to express it more often. Just my idea.


I draw and paint. But not now becase I’m depressed. When I get psychotic I draw a lot. They are strange pictures looking at them when I’m ok. but I draw what is in my head. It wants out. Drawing lessens anxiety.

Psychosis sometimes makes it easier to access creativity. I painted the best when I was manic or psychotic because everything was bright colorful and intense. That was one reason I didn’t want to take medication. i wanted to utilize the creativity but I also realize you can’t always do that or be creative. If I don’t take medication, I’m more gullible and prone to getting carried away in my beliefs.

That’s why I turned to writing and abstract art: mixing the surreal with the objective. :slight_smile:

I have actually read a little work on what you are saying, that is, having a creative drive might make one more susceptible to SZ, but they are all theories and that’s why I was more interested to understand the experience than develop an explanation. Let me know if you want to write something up for me about the way you see it. I would be grateful. :smile:

That is what my friend used to say too, and it makes me wonder about the relation between psychosis and creativity. But I didn’t want to start with a preconceived notion about things.

@SurprisedJ I never thoughts about it like that. Hmmm… Also I am not creative at all, so it’s difficult for me to understand where and how the process begins!

You guys all seem to know what I am talking about a little better than I do. Do let me know if any of you are interested in saying more and I will get back to you.

As far as I have worked till now, creativity and psychosis, for some people, seem to go hand in hand – even emerged from similar difficult life experiences, almost together!

There have been times when people have collected schizophrenic art. I started being more creative in 1998 with all kinds of new ideas. My aunt who died in 2007 was sz and she painted a lot. I have known some people from India in the past, great that you do research in this field. Personally I like to write poems, although I have never studied any poetry. I also painted although I have not studied any painting. My background was in the international business in the 1990s.

I also created a new strategic game. It took years to develop it. I call it as the game of the God.

years of mental and in my case also physical pain makes you try any philosophy existed on earth to find a relief but without any success, at least this is what I think makes us more creative although not having a clear mind such as others and also years of battle with this illness gives us courage to say what we think( sth others gain hardly in their life) so we are not really more creative but maybe having more time and courage.


I believe that the randomness and the odd things that pop into my mind help me be creative.

You can’t really be logical and creative at the same time, that’s why computers can’t be creative. So it makes sense that an illness that abhors logic will reenforce creativity.

Try an experiment yourself. Randomly select words in the dictionary and use them in a way to tell a story on the fly. In that example, randomness + pattern recognition = originality and creativity.

i create (sz), then i burn it (depression).
take care

I am (was) a Fine Artist…have had solo galllery shows and sold a ton of work. HOwever now that my meds are jacked all the way up I have little creative drive. I also write - some fiction but usually nonfiction. Currently have a memoir written which I am trying to get published. I write poetry – but usually do that best when psychotic. If it were up to me, I would lower or be rid of my meds so I could create again…but my husband would kick me out of the house if I did that.

I was never creative, maybe as a child but it was never encouraged…so that didn’t turn out too well. At this point, every time I see someone write something beautiful, sing, or dance; it takes my breath away. All I am left with is an ability to form connections and develop patterns – which really is not much. My friend had stopped his meds after 5 years because he complained of similar reasons. He still does not take them, it’s difficult for him, but I know he never will after the last time. Interestingly, his creativity soared in some ways when he was on meds, and in different way when he went off them.