Book: The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius

powerofdifferent111There are numerous examples of people with learning disabilities and mental health disorders doing extraordinary things: the child on the autism spectrum who is masterful at putting together incredibly intricate Lego creations, the young person with Asperger’s syndrome who knows more about presidential history than most adults, the child with dyslexia who is a master chef in the kitchen.

This is not a coincidence, according to a book that could help turn the stigma associated with these challenges on its head.

What psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz reports in her provocative book The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius is that those same brain differences that cause disorders such as dyslexia, depression and autism can lead to more creativity and artistic abilities, more empathy and an ability to visualize things in a different way.

They can lead to examples of genius, said Saltz, who interviewed over 50 experts in the fields of psychiatry, child development and education as well as individuals who have struggled with various learning disabilities and disorders but who have achieved great success.

Saltz’s interest in this topic came, in part, from her patients, many of whom were high-functioning and doing remarkable things.  Those patients were the inspiration for a series she developed for the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, which examined the relationship between brilliance and mental health disorders in some of the greatest authors, artists and figures in history, such as Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Charles Darwin.

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