January 17, 2014

Comedians are psychotic?

I ran across an odd little study today. It was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. They asked 523 comedians to fill out a personality questionnaire designed to suss out the psychotics among us.

First, let's take a gander at the traits they were looking for. I find them rather odd:
The four different aspects measured by the questionnaire are: Unusual Experiences (belief in telepathy and paranormal events); Cognitive Disorganisation (distractibility and difficulty in focusing thoughts); Introvertive Anhedonia (reduced ability to feel social and physical pleasure, including an avoidance of intimacy); and Impulsive Non-Conformity (tendency towards impulsive, antisocial behaviour).
Telepathy and paranormal events? It seems strange to link this to sociopaths (another term for psychotics). I've never read anything that suggested such a link. Anyway, they report that comedians scored very high on the test. (BTW, they include bipolar disorder under the header of "psychosis". Sheesh. I love my manic moods, thank you very much. How rude!)

Here's their explanation for why comedians scored so high:
Professor Gordon Claridge, of the University of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology, said: 'The creative elements needed to produce humour are strikingly similar to those characterising the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although schizophrenic psychosis itself can be detrimental to humour, in its lesser form it can increase people's ability to associate odd or unusual things or to think "outside the box". Equally, manic thinking, which is common in people with bipolar disorder, may help people combine ideas to form new, original and humorous connections.'
Sounds like a good thing to me. I guess, as is the case with most things, psychosis "in moderation" is just dandy. Okay, I'll have to end this here because I've got to go write a funny scene. Good times!

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