The mad genius is a favorite cultural stereotype, but despite media caricatures, popular expectations, and the extravagant claims of a few, there’s no scientific proof that creative people are crazier than anyone else. Drawing on four decades of research, psychologist Judith Schlesinger tracks the myth from its birth in ancient Greece to modern times, showing how it distorts society’s view of our most exceptional minds. Psychologists once claimed that geniuses were “stammering, pasty-faced vagabonds.” Today they are called “bipolar,” which is equally scientific. It’s high time to retire all the cartoons.
“Fascinating, insightful, and surprisingly funny.”
— Chris Brubeck, “fairly sane and highly functional” jazz musician and classical composer