What is genius? A gift from heaven or an anomaly and even disease? Or maybe it is he who is the norm? After all, they say that all children are brilliant
A scientist is not held in high esteem among us today. His rating is somewhere in the middle of the second ten professions. But sometimes interest in him suddenly takes off. Let's say when a film about the sexual exploits of the Nobel laureate Lev Landau appeared. And here is a new splash: now the hero is Grigory Perelman, who was awarded the Millennium Mathematical Prize for proving the Poincaré conjecture.
Although it would be more accurate to call a hero not a scientist, but a million dollars due to him. The whole world is wondering: will he refuse or not? It's time to arrange a tote and take bets.
In numerous polls, Perelman, who lives with his mother in a modest apartment in the most ordinary house on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, is already called a genius from another planet. Which is understandable. After all, each of us thinks about this story for himself: how would he act in such a situation?
The denouement of the intrigue is ahead. But this whole story once again raises the question: what is genius? Someone gave a beautiful, seemingly comprehensive answer: geniuses fall to the Earth from the sky. A gift from nature that we will never figure out. But inquisitive scientists are stubbornly trying to get to the roots. After all, if we understand, then there is a chance to repeat nature. Or maybe put geniuses on the stream. In the USSR, a special institute was created where the brains of revolutionaries, scientists, writers, etc. are kept. They have been conjured over them for many years, but they have not found anything different from the brain of an ordinary person. And Western scientists periodically extract the brains of geniuses from storage facilities, and above all Einstein, but with the same success.
“Unusual abilities are a disease,” says Svyatoslav Medvedev, director of the Institute of the Human Brain of the Russian Academy of Sciences. - And in general, a genius is a sick person, a deviation from the norm. By the way, isn't it strange that brilliant mathematicians and physicists made great discoveries before the age of 35? And then there were no insights, although there were, of course, strong works, but not breakthroughs. Why? There is a hypothesis that a "error detector" formed over the years is working in the brain, which prohibits going beyond the framework of already known concepts. Otherwise, a person would learn from his mistakes every day. And the detector, remembering the experience, allows you to automatically perform many actions. As soon as we start to go beyond the scope of our experience, to invent something new, the brain gives the command “it can't be”.
Following this logic, one can, for example, explain why they say that every child is a genius. He has no blinkers of experience. But he has no knowledge either. But when knowledge has already appeared, and the blinders have not yet formed, have not become a dogma, a person is able to make great discoveries. With age, the baggage “cannot be” only accumulates, and breakthrough ideas are no longer generated. It is known that genius people, as a rule, do not live long. The reason, according to Medvedev, is that the brain of a genius and the whole body do not work in a regular mode, as they "go" into the ban zone.
So, maybe a genius is a person whose taboo has been removed by nature itself? It is not excluded. But this "gift" has another side. After all, many geniuses were weird, and many were generally sick people. This connection was noticed a long time ago. Democritus wrote about this back in the days of Ancient Greece, and Seneca said: there was no great mind without an admixture of madness.
But that was guesswork. Where further in the 19th century went the psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso. He collected a whole gallery of "oddities" of great people in his famous book "Genius and Insanity." It caused a storm of controversy, which for several decades now subsides, then rises again. For example, in the 20s of the last century, Dr. Segalin published materials where, analyzing the family tree of the parents of geniuses, he tried to prove that along one line (say, the father) there was usually giftedness, and on the other - signs of hereditary mental illness. This was no accident, the doctor argued. In his opinion, giftedness alone is not enough for a genius to appear, since it is held back by the "normal apparatus of consciousness" (in fact, by the very "error detector"). But psychoticism "like a magic elixir" releases the gift to freedom.
Segalin investigated the trees and diseases of the ancestors of many great people - Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Lermontov, Goethe, Byron Nekrasov, Balzac, Schumann, Bach, etc. The list is impressive. But many experts are not convinced. In any case, they do not see a direct and even more rigid connection between genius and mental disorders.
But enthusiasts are looking for the key to genius not only on the edge of the psyche. For example, the famous Soviet scientist Vladimir Efroimson pointed out the connection between outstanding abilities and gout - an increased content of uric acid. He collected a very impressive collection of great gouty - Michelangelo, Rubens, Galileo, Leibniz, Kant, Darwin, Luther, Thomas More, Newton, etc.
And perhaps someone will start digging the topic of genius in a completely different place and stumble upon their own vein. Doesn't this remind of those sages who tried to understand what an elephant is? Each studied some part of the animal and gave his own answer: one said that an elephant is a trunk, the other that a huge column, etc.
However, the search for the secret of geniuses has reached a qualitatively new level. Scientists, armed with supertechnology, can already look right into the brain and see how it solves complex problems. One of the leading experts in this field is Nina Sviderskaya, Doctor of Medicine, Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology, Russian Academy of Sciences. The results are very interesting. For example, when a person does not think too much, acts automatically, the anterior areas of the left hemisphere dominate. More complex tasks force some areas of the right hemisphere to be activated. The apotheosis of creativity occurs when a person participating in the experiment enters the so-called altered state of consciousness to solve a complex problem using various techniques (for example, special breathing). At this moment, all areas of both hemispheres are included.
It is interesting that this unusual state has many options - hypnosis, autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy, psychics and shamans work in the same "field". In Sviderskaya's experiments, schizophrenics solved problems with much less stress and energy expenditure than normal people. And it's clear why. They do not need to enter an altered state of consciousness, they "live" in it.
Is this the key to the secret of genius? Sviderskaya believes that so far no conclusions can be drawn, too much is unclear. And as for the unusual abilities of some schizophrenics, they are, but to the detriment of the brain. This is his defect.
Today, all scientists are unanimous on one thing: the clue to genius is unlikely to be solved without the help of geneticists. It is necessary to understand how the brain was formed, which zones are responsible for certain genes. And research is already underway. Periodically, even sensations appear - the gene of genius has been discovered. However, serious scientists are skeptical about this. The "gift" of the sky is too complex and subtle organization, it is controlled not by one, not two, but by a whole "ensemble" of genes. And deciphering them is a daunting task, perhaps for decades …
As for Perelman, he supposedly answers annoying journalists because of the closed door: I have everything. In connection with him, I recall the story of how the philosopher Diogenes was visited by Alexander the Great. The philosopher sat basking in the sun. The king approached, talked to him, and then said: “Your mind delights me. Ask me whatever you want. " The courtiers whisper: ask for a palace, a ship, money, but Diogenes replied: "Move aside, you are blocking the Sun for me." “I would like to be Diogenes, if I were not Macedonian,” exclaimed the ruler of the world.
Doctor of Medicine, Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry:
- First of all, the very premise that a genius must necessarily have deviations in the psyche is wrong. Of course, you can name the greats who had such problems, but no less impressive is another list - geniuses without anomalies, for example, Chopin, Dumas, Rachmaninoff, Chekhov, etc. In general, many people have oddities or neuroses, but this does not mean that they are mentally ill. Some may be alarmingly suspicious, others are emotionally unstable, others are hysterical, some try to be constantly in sight, etc. These are personality traits, not mental abnormalities. But with a strong desire, such character traits can be adjusted to a predetermined scheme, glued to the great man psychoticism, which is what the followers of Lombroso do.
In my opinion, genius is the extreme manifestation of the norm. This is especially true for musicians and artists, whose emotionality is overflowing. They have "weak" spots due to the very fine organization of the psyche. And where it is weak, there it breaks. And if the breakdown begins to progress, the genius fades, the disease supplants the ability.
Each case of a combination of illness and genius is very individual, no conclusions can be drawn from it. For example, in epileptics, thinking is inhibited, and it seems that what kind of geniuses. And suddenly Dostoevsky … Before the seizure he felt an extraordinary brightness of feelings, almost ecstasy, inspiration. In such a state, a person makes brilliant breakthroughs. Science does not yet know how to explain this phenomenon of Dostoevsky, such an amazing manifestation of mental illness. A huge number of epileptics do not have anything like this, on the contrary, their consciousness is clouded.