Alan Turing: Exceptional Intellect and Asperger’s

By Douglas Eby

Alan Turing

British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing led a group of other brilliant codebreakers, including Joan Clarke, at Bletchley Park outside London during WWII to crack the German’s Enigma code.

One of his biographers, professor S. Barry Cooper, writes that Turing “was a strange man, who never felt at ease in any place…He randomly adopted some conventions of his class, but rejected with no regret and hesitation most of their habits and ideas.

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Creative People With Schizophrenia – Part 2

By Douglas Eby

Mercury by David Marsh

Elyn Saks (photo at right in Part 1) is a law professor at USC; an adjunct professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she does research about society’s rejection of the mentally ill and how high-functioning schizophrenics cope; and is a recipient of a “genius” grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

An article notes “She kept her schizophrenia hidden while excelling in her academic studies, receiving a philosophy degree from Oxford University and a law degree from Yale University.”

She wrote of her experiences in her memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.”

See more in post: Elyn Saks, Schizophrenia and Creativity.

She has commented, “Ironically, the more I accepted I had a mental illness, the less the illness defined me — at which point the riptide set me free.”

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Creative People With Schizophrenia

By Douglas Eby

Creative People With Schizophrenia

As devastating as schizophrenia can be, a number of people with the mental illness lead active and creative lives. Some research even indicates the type of thinking that characterizes the disorder can facilitate creativity.

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Where Do You Get Creative Inspiration? – Part 2

By Douglas Eby

[Continued from Part 1.]

brain-Human Connectome Project“Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy.”

From the book The Soul of Creativity: Insights into the Creative Process by Tona Pearce Myers.

Actor Rose McGowan relates an experience that may be common for many creative people: being inspired by seeing someone else’s artwork or other form of creative expression:

“After saving my allowance for ten years, I flew to Paris when I was 15 years old. When I visited the Musée Rodin, I was profoundly inspired by the story and the pain of Camille Claudel. Her diminutive sculptures — much smaller in stature to Rodin’s — led me to become an artist.”

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Where Do We Get Creative Inspiration?

By Douglas Eby

Kiss of the Muse by Paul CezanneWhere does creative inspiration come from? It may show up mysteriously, “out of the blue” – and for a good part of human history, it has been explained as a gift from a supernatural being, a Muse.

At least some people still embrace that idea, or at least like to use the concept.

Novelist and author Steven Pressfield writes in his book “The War of Art” about pulling in creative power when we are doing creative work:

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Fear and Courage and Creating

By Douglas Eby

Matisse quote

“The artist begins with a vision — a creative operation requiring effort. Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

What fears and anxieties are holding you back from expressing yourself more creatively? Matisse and many other artists and psychologists note creative work requires courage or dealing with our fears.

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Pushed to Excel – Part 2

By Douglas Eby
Lang Lang[Continued from Part 1]

What does creative excellence take?

In his article How to Win American Idol, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman refers to research by Rena Subotnik and Linda Jarvin, who “interviewed over 80 top students at different stages of their musical careers and identified the traits important to succeed at every stage on the way to the top.

“The three abilities that were absolutely necessary as a baseline were intrinsic motivation, charisma, and musicality.”

But for musicians at an “elite” level of talent, “technical proficiency mattered less and the following factors rose to prominence: self-promotion skills, having a good agent, capitalizing on strengths, overcoming self-doubt, exuding self-confidence, good social skills, persevering through criticisms and defeats, and taking risks.”

How does a brutal teaching style impact those factors?

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Pushed to Excel

By Douglas Eby

“I push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that is an absolute necessity.”

Whiplash-movieHow much does forceful mentoring help students achieve excellence, and when does it become abusive?

Those issues are part of the movie Whiplash, apparently named after the jazz standard by Hank Levy.

The quote above is by acclaimed teacher Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) at a music school reputed to be “one of the best in the country,” explaining his teaching approach to one of his star pupils, Andrew (Miles Teller), who idolizes jazz drummer Buddy Rich, and has aspirations to also be “one of the greats.”

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Ada Lovelace, Innovation and Imagination

By Douglas Eby

“Imagination…discovers the real.”

Ada LovelaceAugusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a daughter of poet Lord Byron, and worked with polymath Charles Babbage, who called her The Enchantress of Numbers.

The computer language ADA was named after her, in recognition of her work that helped originate software and computers.

Ada Lovelace talked about her passions for creative imagination and math:

“Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently … It is that which feels & discovers what is, the REAL which we see not, which exists not for our senses.

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Multitalented: So Many Choices

By Douglas Eby

college-majorsOne of the myths of creative and multitalented people may be that they can choose whatever personal and career paths they want.

Having many interests and abilities can make for a rich and satisfying life, but also be a source of stress, especially at crossroads like choosing college majors.

Gifted education specialist Tamara Fisher quotes Bryant (a pseudonym), a graduating senior who lists his possible future careers as “applied psychologist, scientific psychologist, college teacher, philosophy, mathematics, architect, engineer.”

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