The Phoenix

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Are Geniuses Really A Bunch of Weirdos?

Why is it we associate geniuses with eccentric behavior? Do the two go hand-in-hand? Is the image of a nutty professor with wild hair, bizarre behavior, and brilliant mind a simple stereotype...or is there some truth behind that image?

Psychiatrists Brad Folley and Sohee Park of Vanderbilt University say that these weirdos are indeed different from normal people, and even different from actual crazy people. These strange savants are called schizotypes. This research team has recently found neurological evidence to show these schizotypes truly possess this creative genius, and their findings were published just last month in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

What did their research consist of?

Experiment One: They divided people into three groups: normal, schizophrenics, and schizotypes. They showed each group a variety of household objects and asked every individual to think up of ways to utilize these everyday objects. Results - schizotypical people were more creative than schizophrenics or the normal people.

For example, all three groups would be asked to come up with uses for a needle and thread. While the normal and schizophrenic controls came up with pretty typical responses like stitching, one schizotype said that if a person was poor but wanted to get engaged, he could use the thread to make a ring and use the needle to write "I Love You," in the sand.

Experiment Two: Again they asked the three groups to come up with uses for everyday objects, but their brains were scanned using near-infrared optical spectroscopy in order to see what parts of the brain were in use. Results - schizotypical people utilized the right hemisphere more than schizophrenics or the normal people.

What does that mean? Folley and Park believe schizotypes are able to utilize BOTH hemispheres of the brain simultaneously. Also, the right hemisphere has long been associated with creativity. Schizophrenia has long been associated with creative genius, but according to Folley, Schizophrenics' thoughts are too unorganized, whereas "Schizotypes are free from the severe, debilitating symptoms surrounding schizophrenia and also have an enhanced creative ability."

Here's a quick list of my favorite schizotypes:

Emily Dickinson: She wrote over 1700 poems, and is often seen as the last of the New England Puritanism movement. She wore white almost exclusively, she wrote tons of love poems through never married, spent most of the last 20 years of her life in her room...even during her father's funeral service on the lawn of her home - she listened from her room, and she would often lower baked goodies to neighborhood children via pulley from her bedroom window.

Albert Einstein: The father of Relativity and Quantum Psychics. Some speculate Einstein had asperger's syndrome (related to autism). This guy is also the father of the nutty professor stereotype with his shaggy hair and goofy personality. He would attend social functions with dress shoes, but no socks. He would forget to put on his pants if his wife didn't remind him. Einstein would be a heartless father on one hand, and then a hopeless romantic with the ladies on the other. He also married his cousin!
Sicko and a weirdo!

Vincent Van Gogh: His 900 post-impressionist paintings are revered as one of the greatest collections of art in the world. Many say Van Gogh suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. He owned 12 cats, 5 dogs, a goat, two peacocks, and a turtle. In 1888 he slashed his left ear lobe off with a razor during one of his "episodes." At the age of 37, he shot himself in the chest and died two days later.
Suicidal weirdo!

Nikola Tesla: One of the most brilliant people in the world, this guy was known to help Einstein with his math! He accomplished WAY to much for me to list here. He's most known for his work with electric motors and generators. Tesla had a fascination and love for pigeons (like Burt), loved the dark, was obsessed with the number "3", and remained celibate. He had a terrible fear of germs and round objects - especially women's pearls.

One of his little inventions was a vibrating platform that had a strong laxative effect on people. Once, his friend, Mark Twain stood on the platform and in no time Tesla had to rush Twain off to the bathroom!

Tesla often competed with Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi. He once said, "Mr. Marconi is a donkey." He even often signed his name "G.I." for Great Inventor.
Ego maniac weirdo!

Out of all the schizotypes, my absolute most favorite weirdo-genius has to be:

Cousin Eddie

"Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!"

Sheer genius. Need I say anymore?


Blogger Chicken Little said... cousin Eddie single?

10/02/2005 8:39 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

There's lots of geniuses from Kansas. Cousin Eddie just gets all of the press...

10/02/2005 9:06 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Wait... when you say "especially women's pearls" is that a euphemism for, um, something else female? Or was he actually afraid of a strand of pearls?

10/02/2005 9:11 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Cousin Eddie is married to Katherine. sorry.

With regard to Tesla, no euphemism there at all. Literally, anything sperical like a tennis ball scared the hell out of him. For some reason, a strand of pearls would make him shriek in horror and run away.

10/03/2005 7:56 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

one schizotype said that if a person was poor but wanted to get engaged, he could use the thread to make a ring and use the needle to write "I Love You," in the sand.

Awww this is so sweet !

10/03/2005 9:20 AM  
Anonymous SciVille said...

Great list! Meh. Can't blame Tesla. Spheres are kinda creepy when you think about it long enough. LOL

10/03/2005 5:01 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

cool blog. the last three posts, anyway... i didn't look any further cuz i'm rushing.
i enjoyed this post.

10/03/2005 6:33 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

LOL -- So true true. :-)

LOL Shawna -- Oh these comments are great ha ha. :-)

10/03/2005 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Just Jack said...

So is Rainman a schizotype?

10/03/2005 10:10 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I linked to you on my blog. Great writing, hon!

10/03/2005 10:17 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

This explains a LOT about the engineers where I work. I'm pretty sure it has to be a prerequisite that if your going to be that smart, you may as well kiss social skills good bye. One engineer has quit cutting his hair. It's down to about the middle of his back. He wears it in a type of pony tail all the time with a blue leather strap around his forehead. (Like a sweatband.) He's in his 50's and has several grown children!

10/04/2005 4:43 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I think it's funny to see old guys with ponytails. They look so stupid...especially if they're balding.

10/04/2005 7:48 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

Give me a smart schitzo over a dumbass any day ;-)

10/04/2005 10:27 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

When I worked in the psych ward, I learned early on that the schizo-affective patients were not to be underestimated!

10/04/2005 2:22 PM  
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Established 2005...

Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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