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The Fine Line Between Madness and Genius

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posted on May, 13 2013 @ 03:02 PM
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I have been very interested in this subject ever since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder as a child. I like to think of myself as quite an intelligent person but, if I am going to be honest, I am quite "crazy" as well. This, the essence of being bipolar, two seemingly contradictory aspects fitting together so perfectly, has fascinated me.

There are so many examples of this conundrum, the madness of genius, that I have only chosen a few of my personal heroes to be provided in this thread.

I would like to start with John Nash, because he is one of the most well known thanks to the movie A Beautiful Mind. John Nash suffered from severe schizophrenia. He was extremely paranoid and believed that he was surrounded by communists conspiring to "get him". He hallucinated regularly and his marriage suffered dramatically because of his extreme paranoia. This man contributed to many fields with his work in mathematics including economics, artificial intelligence, accounting, and even politics. He also contributed to Singularity Theory which is something that I myself am fascinated with. A mad genius.

Sylvia Plath, one of the greatest poets of all time. She was bipolar and wrote about her own personal experiences with mutilation, suicide attempts, depression, insomnia, paranoia, and other typical results of bipolar disorder. It was not until after she succeeded in committing suicide that her work become famous. She was, more or less, a modern-day Poe. A mad genius.

Jackson Pollock suffered from bipolar disorder as well as drug addiction. He was a brilliant abstract painter and his name is well known in the art community. His relationships with friends, family, and lovers all struggled due to his disorder and his continuing substance abuse. He also struggled with fame, which pushed him more and more into his depression and addiction. Yet he made these beautiful works of art that will forever be immortal. A mad genius.

These are only three examples out of many. Is there a scientific link between mental disorders and a genius mind? What are your opinions on the matter?




posted on May, 13 2013 @ 03:49 PM
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Nice post.
I had forgotten about Jack the Dripper.
Let's not forget Hunter Thompson and the entire "27 club" of late.
I'd hazard a guess there there are just a few enzymes difference between madness and genius and that enzyme variances might trigger the Jeckyll/Hyde manifestation as genius or madness at any given point in time.
There is some evidence for genetic markers being responsible for various anti-social traits - behaviours likely to be characterized as madness.

ganjoa



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 06:33 AM
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Genius does strike a constant and delicate balance between inspired thought and flashes of delusion. But then, look at the idiocy that passes for common sense. I've always wished for genius, with the full knowledge of the dangers inherent. You don't always get to choose the genius you're granted, though. That's probably tough for some to deal with.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 06:35 AM
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Mozart was a crazy genius apparantly



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 07:25 AM
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The more you know...the more you are aware of what can go wrong.
The more you are aware of what can go wrong...the more upset/stressed/depressed you can become.
I'm not a big fan of labelling people or personalities. I find the term "idiot savant" to be extremely distasteful.
We live in a sick society...these days most people are considered to be 'depressed'. I have been labelled 'clinically depressed' in the past....looking back I realize that I was really just hugely unhappy (which is an emotion, not an illness).
If everyone is 'ill' then someone makes a lot of money from medicating them.
Don't identify with a label that someone else has tagged you with.
jacygirl


P.S. I'm not saying that some people don't benefit from medication...not saying that at all. I just find it hard to accept that a huge portion of the population are now considered depressed or mentally ill....when in reality they are likely not well adapted to this sick society.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by jacygirl
 


I have to say that I do agree with you. Medication is somewhat of a joke...Well, I can't even really call it a joke. Whenever I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder they tried me on many drugs and none of them worked but Prozac. Without the Prozac those first couple of years, I probably wouldn't be here today, because I didn't know how to handle what I was going through. But the Prozac made me feel NOTHING and that's just as bad as feeling depressed or maniacally happy. Eventually I just stopped taking the Prozac, started meditating regularly, and learned to control my own emotions without the drugs. Some days are better than none, though. You are completely right that the more you realize what's going on around you, the worse off you're going to be. Ignorance truly would be bliss, but not a bliss that I would want.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 01:12 PM
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reply to post by qualm91
 




The Fine Line Between Madness and Genius


I once knew someone who fit this description. He was very eccentric... borderline insane according to the state. But the man could write music, play nearly every musical instrument ever invented, speak multiple languages, combined several faiths (including Judaism and Catholicism) to mark his own path.

he tended to the poor by practically giving his home away, spent hours every day picking up litter from the road sides, used his own time and money to make sure a flag was flying each day in an old military cemetery... and kept the grass mowed, too.

Unfortunately, he was taken advantage of more than once, was run over once, was kidnapped once and last I heard... was still riding a bicycle around at age 88 in a small town called Thunderbolt, Georgia.

Maybe the line wasn't that fine after all... maybe it was the world that was insane, lol?

Thanks for the memories... good OP



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 01:15 PM
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reply to post by redoubt
 


Thank you.

That is a very touching description. I wish I could have met this man, he sounds like quite a wonderful person.
edit on 14-5-2013 by qualm91 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 01:40 PM
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reply to post by qualm91
 


Theres also the autistic savants.

And although the arts are splendid, I think true genius lies in invention and engineering.

The madness part I think has to do with spending so much time in ones own mind, embellishing ones imagination to the spent of envisioning complex and creative things, dismissing things like social interaction and certain unsaid behaviors and traditions, for passionate focus on a certain subject or many subjects.

But yea, it has to do with existing more in the informational realm of your mind, and abstractions, then 'in the real world'.

Oh and the real madness part comes from trying to attempt things much larger then oneself, in time, with the sloppy uncertainties of life.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 01:50 PM
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reply to post by ImaFungi
 


Very good points. But I do have to disagree in one aspect. Invention and engineering are signs of genius. But so are artistic abilities, it's just a different kind of genius. My favorite musicians of all time, Travis Meeks and Layne Staley, are proofs of this. They were both severe drug addicts who suffered extreme depression. Travis Meeks is also autistic. But Staley's lyrics and Meeks' lyrics and guitar are so unbelievably incredible that they have to counted as genius, in my opinion.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 04:27 PM
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I found this quote years ago, and then promptly lost track of it. It took me 5 years to find it again. To me, this explains the mystery of genius.


"Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer


I have it as a signature so that I won't lose it somewhere again. Genius isn't necessarily brilliance, but it is its own version of visionary. I would have to admit that when extreme vision works to profit, excite or inspire the general masses of folks in a society, it's labeled genius. When it causes disruption, revulsion or confusion to those same folks, it's labeled madness.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 04:40 PM
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Originally posted by qualm91
reply to post by ImaFungi
 


Very good points. But I do have to disagree in one aspect. Invention and engineering are signs of genius. But so are artistic abilities, it's just a different kind of genius. My favorite musicians of all time, Travis Meeks and Layne Staley, are proofs of this. They were both severe drug addicts who suffered extreme depression. Travis Meeks is also autistic. But Staley's lyrics and Meeks' lyrics and guitar are so unbelievably incredible that they have to counted as genius, in my opinion.


Oh I agree with you, artistic genius is important and real, my dream and passion is to become a musician, but all I meant was I am humbled more so then in any other area at the intellect at work of the creators of invention, engineering and science.

You can imagine why great writers may be mad, they spend their time living in and creating uber detailed fantasies.

I dont know who those musicians you mentioned are but ill check them out.

Do you think mozart could have been influential in physics, and einstein at composing?

or do you think genius is very individual and because of everyone circumstances they are equipped to be good at and follow the path they are able and passionate for?

Then there are people like Issac Newton and davinci who were severely good at many different things and knew a lot.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 04:52 PM
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Originally posted by ImaFungi
reply to post by qualm91
 


Theres also the autistic savants.

And although the arts are splendid, I think true genius lies in invention and engineering.

im glad you pointed that out, artists always get recognition, inventors only get recognition if they patent and profit from their designs. the real genius is giving designs that benifit the world to the world for free



The madness part I think has to do with spending so much time in ones own mind, embellishing ones imagination to the spent of envisioning complex and creative things, dismissing things like social interaction and certain unsaid behaviors and traditions, for passionate focus on a certain subject or many subjects.


you are looking at it from the wrong side,
if you were an autistic savant you would find that most people are not interested in the same things you are,
that means that to be "social" you would have to "hide" that part of yourself from the world, and engage people on an unfamiliar level, this can cause social anxiety or from the other side you would seem to be "eccentric"


But yea, it has to do with existing more in the informational realm of your mind, and abstractions, then 'in the real world'.

i would say its leaving the comfort of your mind for the stress of altering your behaviour to "fit in"


Oh and the real madness part comes from trying to attempt things much larger then oneself, in time, with the sloppy uncertainties of life.


some savants achieve things though imposable by others,
but in some cases the savant never knew what they were trying to achieve was considered imposable.

what does that say about the limitations we have put upon us by life or by self imposed limitations?

xploder



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 05:07 PM
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reply to post by XPLodER
 


I didnt mean for all that to be about savants... only the sentence saying; there are also autistic savants, I did not embellish as much as I should have perhaps, but I meant to say that because the term autistic implies some sort of mental disorder/difference and some of their actions may be perceived as quite mad or weird or bizarre, and yet they are capable of extraordinary intellectual achievements. So everything under that sentence, was referring to creative genius in general.

And yes inventors and engineers all the way, from the bow and arrow to the home, to the sky scraper, to the submarine, to the automobile, and the computer. With no mind prodding forward attempting to take what is on earth and turn it into something novel and useful, civilization would not exist.
edit on 14-5-2013 by ImaFungi because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 05:12 PM
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reply to post by ImaFungi
 


That's a good question and I've often wondering about it. Generally speaking most people who are considered geniuses in one area, lack in others. Like a physicist probably wouldn't be the best author, and an incredible author or musician probably couldn't invent anything substantial in science or engineering. But sometimes you see people who have a touch for everything. I think it all depends on individual brain chemistry, honestly, and what one decides to pursue.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 05:29 PM
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Originally posted by ImaFungi
reply to post by XPLodER
 


I didnt mean for all that to be about savants... only the sentence saying; there are also autistic savants, I did not embellish as much as I should have perhaps, but I meant to say that because the term autistic implies some sort of mental disorder/difference and some of their actions may be perceived as quite mad or weird or bizarre, and yet they are capable of extraordinary intellectual achievements. So everything under that sentence, was referring to creative genius in general.


my bad, i take things out of context some times



And yes inventors and engineers all the way, from the bow and arrow to the home, to the sky scraper, to the submarine, to the automobile, and the computer. With no mind prodding forward attempting to take what is on earth and turn it into something novel and useful, civilization would not exist.
edit on 14-5-2013 by ImaFungi because: (no reason given)


some of the worlds greatest inventors never get recognition, but without innovation we would still be in caves

xploder



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 05:33 PM
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There is a fine line mostly because to be a genius you by default can't be "normal". I would qualify this with saying that not all "mad" people are geniuses, but I think all geniuses are "mad".

One reason I believe this is that people with a high level of intelligence can contemplate on the dark spots in our minds and truly understand them. Most people are aware of these dark spots, but simply think of them as "crazy thoughts". However the intelligent mind recognizes that they are no more crazy than the next invention/music piece/book/math equation that they are thinking of, these dark spots/thoughts are part of us. They are the part of us that is unconstrained from most logic, fear, and conformity. It is from these thoughts that the intelligent person can pick out their genius ideas. They can realize that they are outside of our "normal", but still see the potential of them being valid.

The downside to this is that "geniuses" are so aware of these dark spots in the mind, that they can in fact start to lose grasp on what is "normal" and then their personality and behavior becomes impacted.
edit on 14-5-2013 by LiberalAlert because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 06:03 PM
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reply to post by LiberalAlert
 


Couldn't have said it better myself.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 06:11 PM
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the more you learn the less you really want to know. Intellect creates an environment of insanity, its as though the world is insane and the smarter you get the more you see it. Therefore you become isolated in your sanity giving the impression that your the abnormal one.



posted on May, 14 2013 @ 06:19 PM
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Sanity is really overrated anyway and Society's Normal is really a a disillusioned state.





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