Creative achievement and psychopathology: comparison among professions

Am J Psychother. 1992 Jul;46(3):330-56. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1992.46.3.330.


This study was designed to determine (1) whether members of the 8 "creative arts" professions (i.e., architects, artists, musicians, composers, actors/directors, essayists, fiction writers, and poets) display greater rates of psychopathology than members of other professions, and (2) whether a significant relationship exists between creative achievement and mental disturbance. The final study sample (n = 1,005), constituting 18 separate professions, consisted of all appropriate individuals whose biographies were reviewed in the New York Times Book Review over a 30-year period (1960 to 1990). The results, in their entirety, suggest (a) that different patterns of psychopathology, if any, tend to be associated with different professions and at different periods in individuals' lives, (b) that different professions are associated with different levels of creative achievement, and (c) that certain types of psychopathology are associated with creative achievement across all professions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Creativity*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence