According to a study conducted by psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, poets are thirty times more likely to develop some form of depressive illness than the rest of the population, and in addition are also twenty times more likely to be committed to an asylum.
Recent studies have revealed similarities in the brain patterns of both artists and individuals with schizophrenia and others have found that graduates of creative subjects share far more personality traits with individuals who have bipolar than graduates of more academic subjects.
Speaking of the ‘link’ between creativity and mental illness, psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon told the BBC earlier this year that much of creativity is certainly not about being constrained by rules or accepting the restrictions placed on us by society, and the more people break the rules, the more likely they are to be perceived as mentally ill.
BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast an interested show which saw Irish poet Matthew Sweeny choose a selection of poetry influenced by depressive illness. If you are interested in listening, the show is still available on iPlayer here.