Madness and Genius

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From Aristotle’s proclamation that ‘there is no great genius without some touch of madness’, to stories of great artists going crazy, many are still transfixed by the idea that brilliance requires a touch of insanity. But this is not so argues Psychology Professor Arne Dietrich. Such an association arises out of various biases that have penetrated and permeated throughout popuar culture. In the Darwinian calculus of evolution, there are good reasons for our cognitive biases. We do well seeing the world through our own warped force field. Cognitive biases have helped us survive in the harsh world of reality and prosper in society. But there is a tradeoff. Truth, apparently, can go hang.Take the purported link between genius and madness, the thin line separating insanity from the inspired. Given the long, long list of bone-fide and troubled creative geniuses – Newton, van Gogh, Nietzsche, Wolf, Mozart, Poe, Boltzman, Beethoven, Kafka, Strauss, Schumann, M…

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