This might make you think twice before laughing at another Louis CK joke. In new research published Thursday in the British Journal of Psychiatry, it appears comedians and psychotic patients share personality traits. For the study, 523 British, American and Australian comedians were asked to complete a survey, which was designed to evaluated psychotic traits — symptoms often exhibited by sufferers of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — in people that hadn't been diagnosed with mental illnesses. The findings go some way to support the notion that madness and creativity are linked.
404 male and 119 female comedians took part in the study, and answereed questions from the charmingly named Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE), which measures bipolar and schizophrenic characteristics. The comedians were judged on four types of psychotic character traits: "unusual experiences" like believing telepathy and paranormal events; "cognitive disorganization," or difficultly organizing thoughts; "introvertive anhedonia," a lessened ability to feel social or physical pleasure, and "impulsive non-conformity," or a higher rate of anti-social behavior.
When the results of the comedians were compared to those from actors and people in non-creative roles, the comedians ended up showing "significantly higher" results in all four types of psychotic traits. While the actors scored higher than the non-creatives on three of the traits, the comedians showed an increased number of introverted personalities. Funny, that.
One of the key characteristics of bipolar disorder, manic thinking, could be the key to making people laugh, the study's lead author told Reuters. "Manic thinking — which is common in people with bipolar disorder — may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections," Claridge said.
Spike Milligan, one of Britain's most beloved comedians, was used as an example in the study due to his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder. His epitaph, which brilliantly reads, "I Told You I Was Ill," is routinely voted as the U.K.'s favorite.