The works of David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide September 12, are famous for their obsessively observed detail and emotional nuance.
Certain characteristics of his prose -- hypersensitivity and constant rumination, or persistent contemplation -- reflect a pattern of temperament that some psychology researchers say connects mental illness, especially bipolar disorder and depression, with creativity.
There have been more than 20 studies that suggest an increased rate of bipolar and depressive illnesses in highly creative people, says Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and author of the "An Unquiet Mind," a memoir of living with bipolar disorder.
Experts say mental illness does not necessarily cause creativity, nor does creativity necessarily contribute to mental illness, but a certain ruminating personality type may contribute to both mental health issues and art.
"Unquestionably, I think a major link is to the underlying temperaments of both bipolar illness and depression, of reflectiveness and so forth," Jamison said. Read full article »