Is Genius Mad?
One of the long-standing debates in discussions relating to psychopathology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and creativity surrounds the relationship between mental illness and creativity. Indeed, there is some connection but to what extent are they related? Is there a typical psychological makeup or certain diagnoses to which this link is most prominent? Which comes first: madness or genius? Does one cause the other? One individual that has forged ahead in examining these issues over the decades is creativity researcher and luminary Dean Keith Simonton. In his review of two documentary films that offer some insight on these issues, Between Madness and Art: The Prinzhorn Collection and Hidden Gifts: The Mystery of Angus MacPhee, Simonton begins the exploration with some questions of his own: "First, is genius born or made? Second, does a high IQ a genius make? And third, is genius mad?"
How would you respond to these questions? What research supports your perspective? Do you have any clinical case examples that support your views?
By Dean Keith Simonton
PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(26)