Geniuses Among Us

There is a major variation from the norm in temperament that seems to be present in many, and perhaps all, creative geniuses.  This variant lies beyond the normally occurring variability of individual temperaments – a variability that, from an evolutionary standpoint, confers flexibility and resilience in the survival of the tribe as a whole.  The extreme variant of the potential geniuses originates mainly from the evolutionary pressures on the individual, and because of it, these people are self-centered and tend to be aloof and autonomous.  They are notably inner-directed, are deficient in empathy, and tend to think the world rather than feel the world.  Persons with this temperament tend to behave oddly and are often perceived as fickle, idiosyncratic, peculiar or strange.  They feel lonely and often dysphoric and are racked by doubts and mood oscillations; frequently they are captives of compulsive rituals .

It appears that an enormous component of our brain power is normally allocated for social intercourse and the  give and take of social interactions.  This component of our brain function allows the development of empathy and altruism; it enables us to discern the intentions and feelings of others.  All of this forms a part of our human nature, emanating from the evolutionary pressures on the social aspects of human experience.  In contrast, among persons with this temperamental variant often observed among geniuses, this social component of our brain function, becomes available for the creative process – for thinking in alternatives, discerning patterns and novel solutions to seemingly intractable problems, creating works of art such as  paintings, melodies and narratives of the human predicament, or developing new and comprehensively applicable  paradigms of nature’s workings.  Some of these individuals, although often pleasant and affable, nevertheless are deficient, to various degrees, in an important algorithm that helps us as social animals to perceive and comprehend the emotional gestalt and state of mind and intentions of our fellow humans.  This  particular temperamental variant may be related, in a way not yet fully known, to the autistic spectrum.

These individuals if also are endowed with intelligence, tenacity, and curiosity as well charm guile and exuberant confidence in the case of leaders of nations and religious  movements defined as Charisma, are now  able to experience fits of remarkable creativity, whether in literature, poetry, music, or the sciences, or as leaders inspiring and transforming nations.  Unfortunately, they are also probabilistically vulnerable to developing major mental disorders.  There are many examples of this throughout history:  Charles Darwin was aloof and obsessive-compulsive.  His co-discoverer and fellow genius Alfred Wallace was also aloof and a “lonely wanderer” type.  The  often mentally compromised genius Nikola Tesla, the sufferer from mood-swings; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the periodically depressed; Beethoven, the strange aristocrat Tolstoy; and the periodically outright mad super-genius Isaac Newton –  all are examples of this phenomenon.  Additional examples include Albert Einstein, who mistreated his cousin and second wife Elsa and gave away his illegitimate daughter sight unseen, and Steve Jobs, a very intense, compulsive and remote genius, who was able to recruit the creative powers of others and literally create the future in the realm of technology, and yet under oath swore impotence and sterility to avoid obligations to his illegitimate daughter.  And as to the leaders Winston Churchill with his periodic dark moods, the often melancholy and other worldly Abraham Lincoln and Alexander the Great who was often seized by demonic fits – Paraphora – to name again a few .

On the other hand in the current facilitating world wide zeitgeist, promoting easy access to education for hundreds of millions coupled with rapid dissemination of information and fostering of collaborative efforts, the millions of lesser geniuses among us -with their social aspects of their humanity blissfully almost intact- together applying diligence and tenacity in common efforts.  Resulting in producing a kind of virtual super geniuses who outproduce easily even Einstein Or Newton.  A glaring example; the Large Hadron Collider  built under the ground of two nations in a successful search for a particle. The Higgs boson which is considered the little finger of God as it were, creating matter out of energy.  But the  somewhat melancholy  conclusion remains.  Well adjusted, normal, fellow social humans as we are enjoying  the camaraderie and succor and mutuality of each other, but alas, the height of leap in imagination and novelty for us may be somewhat limited, entrained as we are in our normalcy!


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