Creativity in offspring of schizophrenic and control parents: An adoption study

  • Kinney D
  • Richards R
  • Lowing P
 et al. 
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Previous studies (Heston & Denney, 1968; Karlsson, 1970; Kauffman, Grunebaum, Cohler, & Gamer, 1979) have reported that psychologically healthier biological relatives of persons with schizophrenia had unusually creative jobs and hobbies. These studies, however, examined only eminent levels of creativity in a few professions, involved serendipitous post hoc findings, assessed creativity, or both, while aware of diagnosis. We studied 36 index adult adoptees of biological parents with schizophrenia and 36 demographically matched control adoptees with no biological family history of psychiatric hospitalization. Adoptees were diagnosed with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1980) criteria by investigators blind to creativity assessments. Adoptees’ real-life creativity was rated by other investigators blind to personal and family psychopathology with scales of demonstrated reliability and validity applied to descriptions of vocational and avocational activities obtained from interviews. It was hypothesized that adoptees with genetic liability for schizophrenia (and thus potentially unconventional modes of thinking and perceiving)—although not schizophrenia itself— would be more creative. In fact, nonschizophrenics with either schizotypal or schizoid personality disorder or multiple schizotypal signs (which other research has linked with genetic liability for schizophrenia) had significantly higher creativity than other participants. Interestingly, some control adoptees also fit these criteria and were included in analyses. Results have implications for relations of creativity to personal symptoms and familial risk for schizophrenia.

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  • Dennis K. Kinney

  • Ruth Richards

  • Patricia A. Lowing

  • Deborah LeBlanc

  • Morris E. Zimbalist

  • Patricia Harlan

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