The creative genius may share more personality traits with those who suffer from bipolar disorder than with the average person.

If this is true, then, perhaps both the creative individual and the one afflicted with bipolar disorder share some of the same genetic underpinnings as well. This is the hypothesis of Connie M. Strong, Stanford University in California.

'Both bipolar disorder and creativity probably are genetically driven,' she says, adding that it 'may be related to the same set of genetic predispositions.'

These statements follow a study Dr. Strong and her co-author, Dr. Terence A. Ketter performed recently. The pair measured creativity and personality traits in 48 individuals with bipolar disorder, 25 individuals with depression only, 32 graduate students pursuing degrees in creative disciplines and 47 healthy people who are pursuing a relatively uncreative path.

Drs. Strong and Ketter discovered that the creative students and those individuals afflicted with bipolar disorder shared several personality traits. People in both of these groups were more open as well as being moodier and more neurotic than others in the study.

They said that people with neuroticism also tend to suffer more from anxiety, possess lower self-esteem and have a lower tolerance level for stress than noncreative people. Also the very creative and those with bipolar disorder may also feel alienated, victimized and resentful.

While the trait of being open may appear unrelated to bipolar disorder or creativity, it really isn't, Dr. Strong said. Openness is a trait that is routinely found in those who are willing to embrace new experiences. Moreover, those individuals who are described as open are usually more imaginative than the average person, as well as more curious about the world and approach life from an unconventional perspective. These are not only the traits of a creative individual, but also someone suffering from bipolar disorder.

This is what leads these researchers to believe that bipolar disorder and creativity may be genetically connected. Dr. Strong noted that those with bipolar disorder might have creative tendencies due to the fact that they view the world from two separate perspectives. Depending on whether they are experiencing a manic or a depressive phase of bipolar disorder, they are able to see the exact same surroundings completely differently.

This perspective alone, Dr. Strong explained, could be the reason that individuals with bipolar disorder are open to various options that very often others never consider. Dr. Strong also noted that individuals with bipolar disorder are creative even while they are on their medications. Many individuals fear taking their prescriptions to treat the bipolar disorder because they don't want to decrease their creative states.