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Comedians Believed to have Psychotic Traits

28th January 2014


A recent study found that comedians often have personality types that are associated with psychosis and they tend to be either introverts or extroverts, the study was carried out by Oxford University researchers.

It is believed that the necessary attributes required to be a comedian are similar to those seen in people who suffer from psychosis. As part of a study carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, a large group of comedians participated in an online questionnaire as did other groups of people with different professions, including actors. The outcome was that comedians scored much higher on the four types of psychotic personality traits that the other groups.

In an attempt to explain the link between comedians and people with psychosis, Professor Gordon Claridge from Oxford University stated;

‘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’.

Dr James MacCabe of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, London believed that the results of this study showed more about the differences between comedians and actors than the link between comedians and psychosis. Paul Jenkins is the CEO of the charity ‘Rethink Mental Illness’ and stated that ‘these were interesting findings, but we must guard against the "mad creative genius stereotype"’.

A few comedians have been known to suffer from depression and this could be due to their different personality traits, which include being introverted. Keynote speaker and comedian, Ruby Wax is an advocate for mental illness and has suffered from depression herself as has famous comedy actor Jim Carey.

We wonder if comedians will agree with the research that has been done and whether they think that you have to be a little bit mad to be funny.  

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