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Artistic creativity and risk for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and unipolar depression: a Swedish population-based case–control study and sib-pair analysis

  • J. H. MacCabe (a1), A. Sariaslan (a2), C. Almqvist (a3), P. Lichtenstein (a4), H. Larsson (a5) and S. Kyaga (a6)...

Many studies have addressed the question of whether mental disorder is associated with creativity, but high-quality epidemiological evidence has been lacking.


To test for an association between studying a creative subject at high school or university and later mental disorder.


In a case–control study using linked population-based registries in Sweden (N = 4 454 763), we tested for associations between tertiary education in an artistic field and hospital admission with schizophrenia (N = 20 333), bipolar disorder (N = 28 293) or unipolar depression (N = 148 365).


Compared with the general population, individuals with an artistic education had increased odds of developing schizophrenia (odds ratio = 1.90, 95% CI = [1.69; 2.12]) bipolar disorder (odds ratio = 1.62 [1.50; 1.75]) and unipolar depression (odds ratio = 1.39 [1.34; 1.44]. The results remained after adjustment for IQ and other potential confounders.


Students of artistic subjects at university are at increased risk of developing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and unipolar depression in adulthood.

Declaration of interest


Corresponding author
Correspondence: James H. MacCabe, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. Email:
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Artistic creativity and risk for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and unipolar depression: a Swedish population-based case–control study and sib-pair analysis

  • J. H. MacCabe (a1), A. Sariaslan (a2), C. Almqvist (a3), P. Lichtenstein (a4), H. Larsson (a5) and S. Kyaga (a6)...
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