Creativity and the schizophrenia spectrum unveiled : the similarities and the differences
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This study examined the commonalities and the differences between creativity and the schizophrenia spectrum. The variables measured as potential commonalities and differences were creativity, schizotypy, cognitive inhibition, spatial ability, balancing skills, positive and negative presence, absorption, mystical experiences, childhood abuse, and neuroticism. Three community groups were recruited, consisting of 31 artists, 10 people with schizophrenia, and 31 comparisons matched for gender and age with the artists. A larger student group consisting of 102 students was also recruited in order to examine the correlations among the same variables within a larger, more normative, group. The largest commonality between the artist and the schizophrenic groups, who represented the extreme end of the schizophrenia spectrum, was the propensity to mystical experiences. The greatest differences between the artist and the schizophrenic groups were that the artists were higher in creativity, performed better on spatial abilities, had better balance, had more positive states of presence, and were lower in neuroticism than the schizophrenic group. In the student group, creativity was correlated with spatial ability, positive presence, absorption, and mystical experiences. In addition, creativity was significantly related to two facets of schizotypy, unusual experiences and impulsive nonconformity. In other words, students high in certain facets of schizotypy, who may share certain characteristics with those who have schizophrenia, are higher in creativity, but people who are on the extreme end of the schizophrenia spectrum, who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, are not. The differences between the artist and schizophrenic groups on spatial ability, balance, sense of presence, and neuroticism may help to determine whether mystical experiences help to integrate creative work or destabilize and disorganize the sense of self. It may be that mystical experiences can be used more positively by the creative individuals than people with schizophrenia, in that artists and people high in creativity were higher in positive traits such as positive presence and lower on negative variables such as neuroticism, and introvertive anhedonia.