The discussion generated by her statement is both in praise of the way she is taking responsibility as depression is hereditary- people with a parent or sibling who suffer from it are more susceptible to be sufferers themselves- and also critical, as the genes responsible for depression are also linked to creativity.
Genetic gambling or just optimism?
The point, writes Maia Szalavitz, is that the “the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent. Indeed, some research suggests that the same exact genetics that might lead to depression can also lead to mental superhealth, depending on whether a person endured high stress in early childhood or had a calmer, more nurturing environment.”
She argues that research has shown that while the environment in which someone is raised may affect the emergence of either depression or creativity, depending on whether the person is nurtured or neglected, although sometimes even a negative environment may result in the emergence of creative extremes.
Your future baby could be a genius!
Studies have been cited which link the presence of mood disorders and mental instability to creativity. For example, Szalavitz refers to a study of 300,000 Swedish families affected by psychiatric disorders found that people with bipolar disorder are overrepresented in creative professions. That same study showed that healthy relatives of people with schizophrenia are more likely to have creative careers.
So while it may be responsible of people who have such extreme mental illness that they are unable to function not to reproduce, if we attempt to avoid passing on these genes by not reproducing, we could also be depriving the world of possible creative genius.
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Which is better? Taking responsibility for not reproducing genes which result in depression, or taking the risk in the hopes that you will produce a special, gifted child?