: Peter F. Ostwald
International Universities PressInc
: 54.84 MB
Few subjects have been more intriguing and more puzzling than that of genius, a very rare but very powerful human phenomenon: From time immemorial people have suddenly come on the scene who have incredibly superior mental capacities and the ability to see things in a totally new way, to contribute useful and original things and ideas, and to change the course of history. To be such a person, endowed with highly unusual gifts and so noticeably different from ordinary or normal people, imposes great responsibility as well as stress not only on these individuals themselves but also on those who are close to them, interested in them, or affected by them: their parents, siblings, friends, teachers, co-workers, spouses, and children. Although geniuses may have serious psychiatric problems, little has been done to study them psychologically. An interdisciplinary conference was the foundation of this work. There was a desire to explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a genius, and to bring things to a more concrete level by focusing on one particular genius, viz. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was a highly successful child prodigy, and was encouraged, taught, and controlled by his musician-father. Despite his amazing capacities as a boy, he ran into serious difficulty as an adult, partly because of his complicated and rather ambivalent relationship with his father, partly because of his unlucky marriage, and partly because of changing socioeconomic circumstances in eighteenth-century Vienna. Contributions are from psychologists, physicians, historians, musicologists, psychiatrists, and musicians and range from fairly extensive surveys (e.g.. the special characteristic of geniuses: the genius-madness controversy) to some quite specific problems (e.g. the limitations of medical practice in Vienna at Mozart's time: the psychodynamics of his family). In addition to the issues mentioned here, the volume also features a panel of outstanding performing artists who talk about their own childhood and professional experience as highly gifted and somewhat exploited people. This collection will appeal to parents, teachers, psycho-therapists, artists, musicians, scholars, and others who are curious about what it means to be a genius and what it was like to be Mozart. The book may also stimulate some thinking about how to help people who have the qualities of genius and run into subsequent difficulties as a consequence.