Re: Greetings..

Michael Lorrey (
Sun, 13 Dec 1998 14:50:03 -0500

Natasha Vita-More wrote:

> Paul Hughes wrote:
> >>I think the difference between an institutionalized "insane"
> >> person and a functioning genius is much thinner than we want to admit.
> 'gene:
> > I think brilliant cranks are a yet another urban legend.
> Yes, I'd go for the crank over crankiness.
> I am amazed when learning of case studies where a person once thought of as
> being a genius, later in life is institutionalized as being insane. Such
> as with William Sidis who could read and spell at 2, invented new table of
> logarithms at 8, spoke six languages at 10, and at the age of 11 was
> enrolled at Harvard and graduated at 16. Later in his 20s, he became
> cranky, obsessive and somewhat autistic in his behavior.

Also, take Nikola Tesla, the inventor of AC power, the AC motor and generator, and is arguably the inventor of radio. He invented an extremely efficient hydraulic motor, as well as a method of transmitting power through the air. He has said his flashes of insight were like holy visions, where he would be struck by flashes of light inside his mind, and an invention would appear to him in his mind, and he would have a complete understanding of it instantly. He gradually became extremely obsessive/compulsive. Living in the Waldorf in NYC, he would eat in the hotel restaurant, and would clean by hand all dishes and utensils he was going to use in the meal, beleiving that he could see the bacteria infesting them.

> In response to xebec's post in this thread,
> >>If we cannot determine what are NORMAL levels or what we can change
> >> to change our emotions, then theoretically, the
> >> more intelligent someone is, the more trouble they can run into when
> >> something goes wrong.
> Anders commented:
> >Personally I disagree with the view that more intelligen people have
> >higher ups and downs - it smacks of the romantic notion of the
> >tormented genius.

Well, most geniuses will admit that they only have their flashes of insight occasionally. You only need to have one incredible insight at the right time and place to be considered a genius. Given this, a person who is manic depressive may seem normal most of the time, but has highs of intelligence at the manic peaks. Having worked with people in the past who were manic depressive, I can say that they will display noticable swings in cognitive capability, being fast on the draw one day, and pretty dumb the next.

> (Recently an article in LA Times re close proximity of genius and insanity
> and the romantic notion of same, commented that tormented genius icon van
> Gogh was probably *mad* because of an enzyme imbalance.)
> Regarding ups and downs and affability, no matter how bring a person is,
> there is little excuse for hostility, rudeness and adolescent behavior
> other than a psychological chemical imbalance or the effects of poor or
> insufficient training as a child in controlling emotions and outbursts. We
> often excuse a person who is exceptionally bright for being bratty as if in
> awe that this person might carry the mad-tormented-genius-gene. How
> romantic? How insufferable.
> There are numerous ways a person (bright or not) can overcome psychological
> handicaps, and it is a sure sign of intelligence if a person who suffers
> from emotional imbalance recognizes it, and deals
with it.

Considering how all of our accepted methods of raising and educating children are tailored for the average, just as IQ tests are believed to be not useful in measuring high genius, I would postulate that these methods of raising and educating geniuses as if they were average is not very useful. Additionally, I would also say that the torment many geniuses go through as children at the hands of their mundane peers must generate some sort of Traumatic Stress Disorder. I can attest to that personally.

Mike Lorrey