Magicians may have a unique advantage when it comes to mental health, according to a study conducted by Aberystwyth University. Published in the journal BJPsych Open, the research compared the psychological traits of magicians with individuals from the general population and other creative groups. The findings revealed that magicians were less likely to experience symptoms of psychosis, hallucinations, or cognitive disorganization compared to artists, musicians, and comedians.
The study examined 195 magicians and 233 individuals from the general population, as well as data from other creative professionals. It found that magicians stood out from other artists due to the precision and difficulty of their magic tricks. The intricate nature of their performances requires a high level of precision, leaving little room for error. This attention to detail is believed to contribute to their lower likelihood of experiencing mental health struggles.
Unlike other creative professionals who create works to be consumed or performed by others, magicians have the unique distinction of both creating and performing their own magic tricks. This distinction sets them apart from poets, writers, composers, and choreographers. The study suggests that this hands-on involvement in the creation and performance process may contribute to their lower rates of mental health symptoms.
In addition to the precision required by their craft, magicians also scored low on impulsive nonconformity, a trait associated with anti-social behavior and lower self-control. This trait is often valued in creative groups that challenge conventional wisdom. However, in the case of magicians, their lower levels of impulsive nonconformity may contribute to their overall mental well-being.
The study challenges the widely held belief that there is a direct association between creativity and psychopathology. It suggests that the relationship between creativity and mental health is more complex than previously thought, with different creative pursuits being associated with varying degrees of mental health traits.
The findings of this study shed light on the unique psychological profile of magicians and highlight the importance of considering different creative pursuits when examining mental health. Understanding the factors that contribute to the mental well-being of artists can help inform interventions and support systems to promote the mental health of creative individuals.