[Dixielandjazz] Creativity and Mental Illness -

macjazz macjazz at comcast.net
Thu Nov 22 09:14:05 PST 2007

I'll throw in my bit as a Ph.D. with a degree working with "gifted" (High
IQ) kids as well as a strong music background.

There is lots of discussion on the relationships between mental illness and
both creativity and high intelligence.  While there are some studies showing
a relationship with mental illness, there are just as many that show no
relationship and certainly no causal relationship (just because you are one,
you don't have to be the other.)

One highly accepted theory is based on the idea that high ability (either in
intelligence or creativity) BY DEFINITION places a kid outside the norm.  If
you are familiar with the normal bell curve from statistics, the you
understand the idea that BY DEFINITION these individuals are way out on the
fringe in the top 2 or 3% (at best) of the population.

They may have a hard time fitting in, particularly in the schools which
(with only a few exceptions) aren't set up to meet their needs.  Since they
are out on the fringe they also have difficulty finding and fitting with
peers. Even if they meet other kids who are out there, they are not very apt
to have the same interests or even characteristics other than being

Band is often their refuge as a place where they can achieve (with or
without "talent" whatever that is) and can almost always exist without
hassles, so many do go into music.  (I have a nationally published article
on that issue. McKay, M.D.  Is music a trap for the academically gifted?
The Music Educators Journal, 68(8), April, 1983, 32-33., if you are
interested.  It isn't real recent but very little has changed.)

So anyway, by definition they are "out of the norm" and often assume out of
the norm behaviors.  It is an important fact to consider.

Martin D. McKay, Designated Listener
(Also Ph.D.)


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