-A window ajar is a prelude in building to the joy of being limitless! That uneasiness of being familiar somehow, sometime, somewhere.......

Monday, November 08, 2004

How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir?

After all the customary chasing, finally laid my hands on this interesting article in a journal regarding psychopathology in world famous men. The study investigated 291 famous men in the fields of art, science, philosophy, literature, politics and music- based on their biographies-looking into family background, physical health, personality, psycho-sexuality, addictions and mental health. Given the nature of the venture the discrepancies are predictable. But what was surprising was that it concluded heavily against the creative individuals-painters, musicians and especially the writers.Subjects were classified into groups of No/Mild/Marked/Severe psychopathology. The women were not included-(probably strictly by the dictum that no one can figure out the women folks!!).
As Im not very acquainted with the personal lives of some musicians and scientists, I cannot comment much on them and moreover it feels stupid to type 291 proper nouns, however famous they are!

So, some reflects and ricochets,

  • Most of the scientists were given a clean chit while Boltzmann Bohr, Mendel Metchnikoff, Galton to quote a few were classified as severe. Surprisingly Schrödinger escaped into the marked group along with Darwin and guess who Pasteur. Osler, Maxwell were amongst those deemed healthy.
  • The Musicians I know were placed almost appropriately Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Schumann, Elgar (all severe), Stravinsky, Rossini, Chopin etal (marked) Gershwin, Bizet etc (mild).
  • As regarding thinkers- well, expectedly most of the thinkers thought themselves into severe madness. E.g. Comte, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Ruskin James, Russell, Toynbee. If James is suspected as severe then Wittgenstein, Jung, (of all), Whitehead, Schopenhauer (all in marked) should also share the honours with him. Seems the benevolence of Schweitzer makes him sane.
  • Artists not surprisingly were titrated against their creative potentials. Cezanne, Rivera, Kokoschka, Van Gogh (Psychiatry has exploited this chap!) are branded severely ill while Derain, Sargent, Pissarro Corot are amongst the other end of spectrum.·
  • Coming to the politicians, well, probably the most decent classification barring one very big paradox, Gandhi is sane while Nehru is regarded as markedly eccentric.Thats ridiculous(read hilarious) considering, Gandhi publicly threatened to self harm himself on numerous occasions!!!!
  • Now the writers-Faulkner,Conrad,Kipling, Gide, Proust,Fitzgerald, Lawrence,Wells, Googol, Waugh, Hesse, Joyce( my all time fav), Kafka, Hemingway, Wilde, Tolstoy-that’s most of my beloved writers and many years of my life. All of them labelled as loonies of extreme degree. Was not unexpected but felt sad somehow. Most of us owe a lot to these guys who have helped us to understand the world we live in better. Evidently not without a price!!

Having said that, I must add that psychiatry has to deal not with equations, codes or diagnoses but with life which by definition is a bias. So……….

While about here, I am reminded of this story about James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald-it seems Fitzgerald worshipped Joyce to an extent that he was reluctant to approach him; On being introduced to Joyce by Sylvia bleach in a party, it seems Fitzgerald knelt down on one knee before Joyce and asked "How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir that I could weep...

Probably the most appropriate reply would be…. ‘Quite crazy son, quite crazy....’’

No surprise both of them went to the severely ill box, Ah! Life is never fair on passion….

So long…

James Joyce

PS: Personal reflect/ Conflict of interest -none declared!!!


betty B said...

interesting...if those men are crazy, how do we define sain?

Vijayalaxmi said...

Genius is a little mad. And why not? If you are totally sane, you are any other person.

SeaSwallowMe said...

great blog, yoss-man :-))

.... "Seems the benevolence of Schweitzer makes him sane." ..... that line had me in splits !!!!

Ubermensch said...

betty b.... he he... that is the question:-
vj tx for droppin by..
seaswa.. thx for comment glad u like it

Rainbow said...

great post. also liked the last one (i have faced such ordeals without even managing to own a mobile)
So all your Fav guys are loonies. Almost all my fav guys are Gay or are thought to be that way.
Oscar Wilde
Alan Turing
George Micheal
examples from different fields.
What are the conclusions to be drawn from that now?

Ubermensch said...

rainbow thanks for stoppin
he he now if ur fav people are gay..okay..? question waat abt u ? ...... kiddin
now wilde is severe as mentioned
turing marked,
george michael ... sorry but we think not worth a bother

Anonymous said...

any news on desi philosophers?

Swapna Bolleboina said...

You really spent some time compliling the stuff. Good job!
Well, it is ironical that all the geniuses were assumed to be eccentric or mentally ill. Some of them were even labelled learning disabled.
However, I believe that the most common characteristic of all these geniuses were they being socially isolated. Most of them spent their time in recluse, concentrating on what they cherished and thus were able to produce masterpieces.

And as you had mentioned, I feel their condition was more of a social construct,a bias than anything else.

Very interesting blog:)

Une Femme Folle said...

hmmm.. interesting, to say the least.. hey, how about digging out such stuff on some more desi celebrities?

and once you fulfil this wish of mine, how about getting a doodleboard for this blog too? :)

Ubermensch said...

hey sapna,
howdy? hmmm that LD angle to spoke is very inviting....i am not suggesting, LD per se , but take for example....asperger's...now that going to blur it more.....but ill say i know a lot people who r looking from that perspective.

ill get a dooodle , only when u promise to find a nice loving husband and not letting him go!!!:))

Anonymous said...

hey dropped in after seeing ur curious comment "uff" on my blog!:)

Nice blog you have!

divya (http://nimbupani.com)

T said...

i quite enjoyed that, can't wait to see what you'll write next. must say, however, that as long as i shall read these pages, will never forgive that bit about Joyce being your all time fave...p-shaw. low spot that was in an, otherwise, field of delight that held my interest all the way through...which doesn't often happen. come by to see us sometime...


Ubermensch said...

hi divya,
thanks for the visit;glad u like the blog.

thanks for the words;really appreciate it.
as far as joyce is concerned ; i can only say-

And I am not afraid to make a mistake even a great , a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.

guess who said that?? joyce's himself....and
if you do not forgive me, i take it as a compliment;i as a human being reserve the right not be forgiven!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your email ubermensch; I hope that all is well with you and I enjoy reading your profound thoughts as well. Wagner I agree with; Schumann, he was just depressed. Give the guy a break! :)

Ubermensch said...

i am aware madam i quite a softie on schumann...and do you call them profound, oh!no, no its so dunce ... just warming up....letting the heat out of the system!

. : A : . said...

True genius borders on the edge of madness.


pits said...

Waiting for you to get famous enuf for me to put the question. You can rest assured, though that I will NOT be falling down at your feet and all.
BUt do consider throwing stainless steel utensils to the walls of your house. I am sure, it will titillate your creativity well enuf to hit something big. I am told, many of the rural semi-backward to upwardly mobile, Indian housewives use this!!

Ubermensch said...

:A:thanks, my view is-- a genius is one who feels so deeply that he thinks something new about it!!

the messiah of stainless steel revolution, and lite bearer of upwardly mobile rural indian women,
ill keep that in mind.:))

Havokinthemind said...

hmm.. with several of my favs in the "loony" category, makes one wonder...but hey, from the margins, the centre "sane" people would appear deviant too :)

Ubermensch said...

agree with u.thnks

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