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Psychopathology and Creative Cognition

A. G. Alias, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984;41(7):721. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1984.01790180091013.
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To the Editor.—  Dr Rothenberg1 reported on a comparison of the cognitive styles of 12 Nobel laureates in science with those of 18 patients hospitalized for widely varying psychiatric diagnoses. He also compared the Nobel laureates with two groups of Yale University students, one (N = 63) selected for high creativity and the other (N = 50) for low creativity. He administered timed word-association tests to the four groups. From the results, Dr Rothenberg inferred that while there was a connection between janusian thinking (simultaneously conceiving the opposites) and creativity, there was a distinction between creative and psychopathologic cognitive modes. The association between genius and insanity, or creativity and psychopathology, however vague that correlation might be, has a long and continuing2,3 history.Dr Rothenberg is to be commended for accomplishing his "Mission: Impossible" task of obtaining 12 Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, and physiology/medicine as experimental subjects within a comfortable


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