The Enigma of a Great Musician: Creativity and Bipolar Disorder?
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
Giannouli, V. (2018). The enigma of a great musician: Creativity and bipolar disorder? Journal of Genius and Eminence, 3(1), 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.18536/jge.2018.04.3.1.07
The intersection between bipolarity and creativity has been investigated in famous artists in painting, writing, music and other forms of art. One of the major achievements of Nikos Skalkottas is his imaginative approach to the twelve-note composition, which added another dimension to the early stages of the twelve-note method by making it as accessible as possible to the listener through the frequent harmonic and thematic repetition. Much has been written about Skalkottas’ atonal musical idiom, but less emphasis has been given on his psychopathology. In addition to a descriptive analysis of such data, a formal diagnosis exercise is attempted, and more specifically avoidant personality disorder and bipolar patterns of behavior are exam- ined through a review and discussion of biographies and personal correspondence. Significant evidence exists to support the existence of avoidant personality disorder and bipolar disorder II. The proposed origin of the overall bipolar pattern is attributed to several stressful environmental factors in the form of interpersonal problems regarding the expressed emotion, life events, and paucity of stress-management skills. Skalkottas’ psychopathology was pivotal in shaping the quantity and quality of his music compositions, but the existence of unpublished and/or destroyed autobiographical evidence (letters, compositions) can’t be excluded. Undiscovered evidence may further assist in order to come closer to a posthumous diagnosis. The insight gained from this case study can be used to support that bipolar psychopathological patterns influence directly music composing activity.