Maddness or Genius???

AuthorTopic: Maddness or Genius???
Apprentice
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Have you ever thought about the close relationship insanity and brilliance? I mean so many people which have been called mad were pure geniuses. Take Beethoven for example. The way he had to write his music and the way he lived was completely and totally barbaric for most people of his time period; but who would have thought of breaking the legs off of a piano to hear the vibrations? And his so called mad methods enabled him to write some of the most famous classical pieces of all time. And Van Gough. He cut off his ear as a declaration of love. Even I think that was a little weird but he painted amazing works of art. Is it just me or do maddness and genius seem to often coexist within certain single individuals? What is your take on this?
Posts: 11 | Registered: Saturday, July 7 2007 07:00
Veteran*
Member # 5
Profile #1
Maybe there's just only so much your brain can handle.

I hear that Thuryl's method of bathing is similar to that of a cat.

*shrug*
Posts: 455 | Registered: Tuesday, May 17 2005 07:00
Agent
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Profile #2
Unique perspectives are the foundation of innovation. This will sound clichè, but sanity is based entirely on perspective. Who are you to say what is sane and what isn't?

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"Rain drops keep fallin' on my head, but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red. Crying's not for me, no, cuz' I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining."
Posts: 1233 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Apprentice
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Profile #3
That is an excellent point. I wasn't saying that insanity comes with genius. What i was saying is that whenever you have a brilliant person it always seems that they do something that warrants someone labeling them as mad. The real question is If enough people decide that someting is maddness does that make it so? I mean if someone slits their wrists in a suicide attempt virtually everyone would say that it was a crazy thing to do. But you do have a very valid point.
Posts: 11 | Registered: Saturday, July 7 2007 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #4
Maddness.

But that is okay, since it is only that which is out of the ordinary that is appreciated and lauded by the ordinary.

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Synergy - "I don't get it."

Dikiyoba - "Dang. I'm one firecracker short from getting a gourd potion today."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #5
quote:
Originally written by Andy Warhol:

You've got to do things that most people don't understand, because those are the only good things.


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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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Why does that jerk copy everything I say?

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Synergy - "I don't get it."

Dikiyoba - "Dang. I'm one firecracker short from getting a gourd potion today."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Infiltrator
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I've concluded that geniuses of all sorts are wackos to varying degrees. What separates them from ordinary lunatics is that they have enough brain-power to deal with their hallucinations. Sometimes barely, but still.

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Life is a neverending carneval where everyone has multiple costumes. I just hope mine are pleasing to the eye.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
Lifecrafter
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Profile #8
Well..as they say..there's a fine line between being insane and being a genius..

For the record..it is said in Reader's Digest (Edition forgotten) that eccentric people live longer than normal people..

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Posts: 732 | Registered: Saturday, June 24 2006 07:00
Infiltrator
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That depends on the quality of their eccentrism...

As a nice fact, genes that can expose to scithzophrenia (however that word is spelled) have stayed among human population because they come with some nice resistances towards diseases.

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Life is a neverending carneval where everyone has multiple costumes. I just hope mine are pleasing to the eye.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #10
There does seem to be a connection between unusual mental ability and mental health problems. I don't remember the list, but it seems that a lot of famous people had some sort of mental health problem ranging from clinical insanity like the one described in the movie "A Beautiful Mind" to depression leading to suicide (Alan Turing) to messed up personal life (Einstein). Van Gough is just another example of this. According to a biography I've read, he didn't just randomly cut off his ear, but he showed all symptoms of insanity that got progressively worse (seeing things that weren't there, etc.)

There might even be some types of metal problems common for certain types of great people. For example, a large proportion of famous poets were so depressed that they killed themselves. Many political leaders are paranoid, etc.

I am not sure why there is this correlation between genius and insanity. Perhaps it takes a broken mind to come up with something that is far enough out of the ordinary to be considered "genius".

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Infiltrator
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I know one possible explanation for the correlation between insanity and insanity. According to a theory I've heard, two big aspects of human intellect are mental chaos and information processing capability. The latter means raw power to analyze the data that floods into the conscious mind, and should be pretty obvious, so I'll concentrate on the former. You see, the brain to varying degrees filters the raw data the senses collect and only lets a certain amount to the conscious mind. High mental chaos means that the conscious mind is constantly filled with new ideas and observations, where as low mental chaos means the brain filter data efficiently and nothing "excess" is let to the conscious mind.

Now, a person with high processing ability but low mental chaos will be a quick learner (as someone is pointing things to him) and efficient in doing whatever he concentrates on, but in the same time he isn't very observing and is poor at coming up with ideas of his own. A person who has low mental chaos and also low processing capability is going to be very singleminded, a slow learner and generally a bit dull. In turn, a person with high mental chaos and low processing capability will, obviously, become insane, as his mind will be flooded with new ideas and connections but he doesn't have the ability to tell which ideas are sensible and which conncetions are real.

A genius is a person who has high mental chaos... and also the capability to process it. They will observe things normal people do not and they will see connections other people do not, but they can also tell which of their ideas are worthwile. However, as past geniusses have proven, the balance is delicate; it doens't take much to slip from brilliant to paranoid.

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Life is a neverending carneval where everyone has multiple costumes. I just hope mine are pleasing to the eye.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
Guardian
Member # 6670
Profile Homepage #12
I think the fact that no one understands you would be enough to drive most people to depression. That, and opposition in the academic/artistic community.

By Frozen Feet:
quote:
I know one possible explanation for the correlation between insanity and insanity.
Extensive studies have shown that the correlation between the two is virtually one. :P

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- Lady Bracknell
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Councilor
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As an alternate idea, perhaps there is no correlation between geniuses and madness. Perhaps there are just a lot more people out there with mental health problems than commonly realized and we are just more likely to know about the problems of geniuses than we are of average people because geniuses get so much more exposure than average people.

Dikiyoba.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #14
quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:

As an alternate idea, perhaps there is no correlation between geniuses and madness. Perhaps there are just a lot more people out there with mental health problems than commonly realized and we are just more likely to know about the problems of geniuses than we are of average people because geniuses get so much more exposure than average people.
I don't remember the exact list of insane famous people, but most of the mental problems in it weren't the kinds of things that could be easily missed in an average person. It's true that some mental problems might be more common than expected, but there might also be a connection between genius and madness. I've also heard bits of a radio show about it, and they've mentioned some artists who couldn't write any songs while they were on anti-depressants, but had severe problems when they stopped taking medication, to the point of one of them killing himself. So at least in that case the creativity seemed to be directly related to insanity.

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Councilor
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Originally by Zeviz:

quote:
I don't remember the exact list of insane famous people, but most of the mental problems in it weren't the kinds of things that could be easily missed in an average person.
I'm not saying that they are undiagnosed. I'm saying that a genius is more likely to have news articles and biographies about them than your average person. That means everyone knows about Van Gogh's insanity while the only people who know about Joe Shmoe's insanity are the people who know him directly. Therefore, everyone knows plenty of mad geniuses but only one or two mad average people. That makes the connection between genius and insanity seem stronger than it really is.

Dikiyoba does believe there is some correlation between genius and insanity. Dikiyoba just isn't convinced that it is as strong as it is often made out to be.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Lifecrafter
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I read somewhere that Beethoven was a looney tune. Went deaf with age, and thought whenever someone was talking that they were talking about him.

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Posts: 794 | Registered: Thursday, July 27 2006 07:00
Warrior
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Profile #17
I am not deaf and that applies to me..

Also, from the few examples I have seen, and my extremely limited expieriences, over-analyzing life in general is something that causes depression and insanity.
Posts: 51 | Registered: Tuesday, June 26 2007 07:00
Agent
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I theorize that for at least some geniuses, the problem is that their minds simply process too much information all the time. I believe this in part because I notice that when my mind is at its sharpest, a period of abnormal mental state often follows. Of course, my symptoms were mild, but they did have a noticeable impact on my life for the few days that they existed. For example, when I had symptoms of manic hyperactivity, I voluntarily slept only 5 hours per day during a week of vacation.

I extrapolate that a genius mind may experience these problems on a constant basis, and I personally find it horrifying. During my episodes of mental unrest, I often found that I get rid of my anxiety by fully fixating my mind on something and continually trying to make progress with whatever issue that happened to be. In this situation, a brilliant scientist could probably decide to tackle some revolutionary research to preoccupy his mind, and then, wonder of all wonders, a genius discovery is made.

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Thuryl: I mean, most of us don't go around consuming our own bodily fluids, no matter how delicious they are.
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Posts: 1415 | Registered: Thursday, March 27 2003 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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The intarwebs were made by Al Gore this way. Something about blue laws in his home state, plus Tipper. Man, good for him!

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Synergy - "I don't get it."

Dikiyoba - "Dang. I'm one firecracker short from getting a gourd potion today."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #20
quote:
Originally written by Garrison:

I extrapolate that a genius mind may experience these problems on a constant basis, and I personally find it horrifying.
Pretty much. There's a near-constant word salad running through my head, and it takes conscious effort to sort it out and form coherent sentences. There was a schizophrenic guy who used to hang around a library that I use, and he talked the way I think: constant streams of half-formed, half-connected sentences linking back to a few repetitive themes. With fewer mental filters between my brain and my mouth, I'd be just like him. It does scare me sometimes.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
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well one also has to keep in mind that brain is like alot of other organs in that pratice help improves. Now imagine that their is certain potentials that can't be exceeded. I know that when new memories are formed you are in a small way changing the structure of your brain. Just because you have mild memory or focusing problem doesn't mean their aren't small practices or techniques. One example in cases of ADHD certain clinics have used a NASA spin off technology involving an EEG,video games, and classical conditioning to help people focus. You ave certain brain waves when you are focus and certain brainwaves when you are not. The EEG is tied into the video game and handicaps the player when the EEG is not reading the brain waves associated with ability to focus. So the player through trial an error learns to focus. Last I head it was been used in a small number of clinics and has been quite succesful

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A rock has weight whether you admit it or not
Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
Infiltrator
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For the record, I keep my mental chaos in check by channeling it to create fictional characters and imaginary worlds. Nowadays I've been spitting out these creations in the form of role playing.

Welding is also fun, but I can't do that at home, so...

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Life is a neverending carneval where everyone has multiple costumes. I just hope mine are pleasing to the eye.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 9013
Profile #23
This is an interesting topic... There are a couple ways to look at it.

First off, the people who tend to make the biggest noise about their "genius" (be it real or imagined) tend to be the ones who are more or less crazy. Sometimes they really are brilliant (e.g. Nichola Tesla), other times... not so much (the Timecube guy). At any rate, such delusions of grandeur are common in several mental illnesses, and could have fueled the myth of the mad genius for a long time.

The other thing is that it could indicate that you can only scale up certain capacities of the human brain so far before certain types of errors start to appear. It could be, for lack of a better analogy, that some of the limits on our brainpower involve exception handling - and that removing some of those fail-safe mechanisms can make a brain handle certain problems better, but at the expense of causing it to screw up horribly when faced with other problems. Remember though, this is purely speculative.

There's also the possibility that people with random neurological changes that make them brilliant in certain areas are likely to have other differences from the norm as well, which can cause problems.
Posts: 43 | Registered: Tuesday, June 19 2007 07:00
Warrior
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Obsession should not be confused with "genius". Socially inept/non-functional people obsessed with one particular thing tend to be called "genius" improperly, I think.

Many of the "geniuses" I've known tend to dabble in a bit of everything, like Galileo. Their minds hunger for information of all kinds, and they do not excel at only one thing.

I think that we tend to overrate some folks who simply hyper-focus on one talent to the point that they seem prolific in a genius-like sense....but we're often assuming that they can produce what they do with the same sort of lives that the typical Joe leads. We don't imagine that they might go days without taking a bath or talking to others, for instance. Is that genius or madness? I'd say the latter.

Just my 2 cents.

[ Monday, September 03, 2007 15:07: Message edited by: Ming ]
Posts: 102 | Registered: Monday, September 3 2007 07:00