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Crazy Genius or Just Crazy? a google search inspired title

lwacker's picture

Within the Price forward author Tobin Siebers writes that, "individuals who fail the standards are not only considered unfit for the classroom, they are suspected of being unfit for life."

I found this quote to be in opposition to the ideaology that, "mental illness, namely, its link to creative genius" is a truism upheld in film (the example given being A Beautiful Mind) presented in the Price Introduction.

Culturally, we presently cite figures such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbrod as examples of individuals who are crazy smart but didn't fit into the mold of college/university life. They left either because of burgeoning business ventures or social alienation (here I am extrapolating from The Network). These men, and surely there are female equi

It seems to me that the NORMAL thing (since I feel this will be a recurrent theme throughout class) is actually to have some sort of disability or impairment the notion of closeting here can be intereting to me. Often when one has unknown are invisible disabilities they are closeted or pusposefully hidden


Katie Randall's picture

The Exception to the Rule

I also noticed an apparent contradiction between the "link to creative genius" stereotype that Price mentions and the wider belief that mentally ill/ non-neurotypical individuals have no place in university life (and, by extension, other areas of society). But I think that the contradiction isn't a product of faulty reasoning on the part of either author, but rather part of common thought around madness, mental disability, etc.

The mad, unstable creative genius (usually male) is a stock figure of American literature, movies, and public discourse. But this character is, by definition, a rarity. He (and I think a whole other post could be written about why this figure is generally "he") isn't like the other madmen. He fits the "supercrip" storyline outlined by Eli Clare, and can be held up as a counterexample to all the other mentally disabled people out there. So "A Beautiful Mind" can be an award winning movie about exceptional John Nash, without explicitly raising questions about the general place and treatment of paranoid schizophrenics in the US today.