Gender Differences in Psychopathology

Eysenck (1995) suggested that the "dispositional trait underlying schizophrenia" is an important ingredient of creativity and noted that the incidence of schizophrenia is higher in men than women. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) stated, however, that although men tend to be institutionalized at a greater rate, community-based studies have suggested an equal gender ratio between the men and women who have schizophrenia. As I mention in the chapter on neurotransmitters (chapter 8), enhanced creativity appears to be associated with affective disorders. According to the dSm-IV, bipolar disorders are also equally distributed between men and women. Major depressive disorders, however, are reported more frequently with women. Although the higher incidence of depression in women might be related to an ascertainment-reporting bias (e.g., men are less likely to go for professional help), the incidence of mood disorders cannot account for the observation that men are more likely to be more creative than women. The incidence of anxiety disorders is also much higher in women than men. Although the preponderance of anxiety disorders in women might also be related to an ascertainment bias, as I discuss in the neuropharmacology section, anxiety is associated with high levels of norepinephrine, and high levels of this cate-cholamine might reduce or restrict the size of neuronal networks and bias of the brain toward processing external stimuli versus the activation and manipulation of stored representations. Thus, the bias toward external input that occurs with high norepinephrine level may prevent asking "what if" questions of the networks that store cognitive representations. The suppression of intrinsic excitatory potentials induced by high levels of norepinephrine might also prevent many of the association neurons that do not receive direct afferent input from achieving firing threshold, and the reduced activity of association neurons may lead to relatively sparse, constricted, nonoverlapping associative network conceptual representations. Highly distributed representations allow one to perform inference and generalization, processes that are critical to creativity, and thus anxiety would reduce creative innovation. I discuss the role of norepinephrine and arousal in more detail in chapter 8, which deals with neurotransmitters and creativity.

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

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