By S. Kyaga
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Extra info for Creativity and Mental Illness: The Mad Genius in Question
Soon a large number of psychiatrists and other scholars committed to their own studies of geniuses (Galton, 1869; Lange-Eichbaum and Paul, 1931; Lombroso, 1891; Maudsley, 1908), and within a century there was a large literature on genius and in particular genius and madness. Most of the authors of this literature argued for the genius as pathological, a view especially held by the burgeoning psychiatric field, while those challenging the mad genius stand were more often psychologists stressing that physical and emotional stability rather than illness was associated with genius (Becker, 1978).
Claiming that, ‘I feel convinced that no man can achieve a very high reputation without being gifted with very high abilities’ (p. 49). He then argued that the distribution of mental ability is similarly distributed as physical traits are, such as height and weight. 1), ‘the range of mental power between … the greatest and least of English intellects is enormous. There is a continuity of natural ability reaching from one knows not what height, and descending to one can hardly say what depth’ (p.
However, it does not seem that creative individuals are characterized by a rigid focus on a single problem, rather they demonstrate endurance over a long period of time, even a lifetime, with considerable more flexibility and variation in behaviour for specific means and goals (Runco, 2007a). In a study on creative architects compared to less creative colleagues, MacKinnon suggests that, ‘the more creative architects, more often than the less creative, point turning to another activity when seriously blocked at a task and returning later to it when refreshed, whereas less creative architects more often report working stubbornly at a problem when blocked in their attempts at solutions’ (MacKinnon, 1965 quoted in Runco, 2007a).