Van Gogh, Beethoven and Edgar Allan Poe were luminaries in their respective fields of art, music and poetry. Their passion for their art forms kindled a creative fire of productivity that affects humanity centuries later. Yet, all of them, like many other creative artists, poets and musicians, suffered from depression or bipolar disorder. In this age of advancement in the neurosciences we have been empowered to explore the age old question that this pardox presents: Is “madness” a part and parcel of “creative genius?” In this seminar we will explore the links between mood disorders and profound creativity. We will go below the surface-level historical links and epidemiological associations and explore the neurobiology of mood disorders and that of creativity to come to an empirically-based answer. In doing so, this seminar will examine the junctions between art, medicine, neuroscience and ethics, and attempt to uncover the secrets of what moves us emotionally as humans.
Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan is an assistant professor of psychiatry at both Kuwait University and the University of Toronto, where he is cross-appointed to the divisions of Brain Therapeutics and Philosophy, Humanities and Educational Scholarship. He also serves as the Interim Chief of Psychiatry, Founding Head of Mood & Anxiety Disorders and Inaugural Director of Education at the Kuwait Center for Mental Health. He completed his psychiatry residency, mood & anxiety disorders fellowship and medical education fellowship at the University of Toronto. He also trained in mood disorders at the Stanford University bipolar clinic and the Tufts Medical Center mood clinic. He completed a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at Johns Hopkins University.