“Fascinating, insightful, and surprisingly funny.” — Chris Brubeck, ‘fairly sane and highly functional’ jazz musician and classical composer.
There’s a long-running and cherished expectation that the more creative a person is, the more likely s/he is to suffer from a serious psychological problem, like bipolar disorder.
This notion began with a mistranslation of Plato’s “divine madness” and ultimately led to viewing artistic inspiration as a symptom of psychopathology.
In recent decades, many books and articles have claimed to “prove,” once and for all, that creativity and madness are automatically linked. In fact, all they prove is how eager people are to believe it, since the research is seriously flawed.
But the negative stereotypes persist.
The Insanity Hoax is the first book to directly challenge the mad genius myth by exposing the pseudoscientific foundation it sits on, as well as the social and psychological reasons for its widespread popularity. The myth is far from being the universal “truth” people think it is.
Based on her thirty years of research as well as creative and therapeutic experience, psychologist Judith Schlesinger tracks the stereotype through centuries of changing history and culture, explaining why it remains powerful despite its lack of empirical support. The Insanity Hoax also reveals creatives’ own perspectives about how the artistic life can make a person crazy, all by itself.
A scholarly but entertaining read, The Insanity Hoax is a groundbreaking book that should be read by students, teachers, practitioners, admirers and critics of creativity and the arts; mental health professionals; and especially those who believe that exceptional minds should be celebrated, rather than diagnosed.
The Insanity Hoax is gaining increasing acceptance as a college and graduate school text in both psychology and music.
For professors and book clubs: a printable book description.
“At last, there is someone to tackle the Mad Genius legend. Judith Schlesinger's The Insanity Hoax picks up the mantle for unfairly stereotyped artists - and does so with passion, wit, and incisive critique. Highly recommended.”
— James C. Kaufman, PhD, President of the American Psychological Association Division for Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts
Do You Have to be Crazy to be Really Creative? (Hint: No!)
A presentation by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012
LIU Hudson at SUNY Purchase campus
735 Anderson Hill Road Purchase, New York
Dr. Judith Schlesinger
discusses her new book The Insanity Hoax
Thursday, June 21, 2012
6:30 - 7:30 PM
Nyack, New York
Watch Judith in a Huffington Post Live conversation: "A Beautiful Sacrifice." Hosted by Janet Varney.
Hear Judith discusss the mad genius on The New Jazz Archive, Jeff Haas's weekly, syndicated, NPR-affiliated show from Interlochen Public Radio.
"An hour with some of the world’s big thinkers who occupy the fascinating intersection of jazz and psychology. We’ll talk with . . . Dr. Judith Schlesinger, psychologist and author of a new book that’s finally putting the long-taken-for-granted link between insanity and creativity through its intellectual paces." Time of interview 6:15 - 18:51.
The Insanity Hoax is now a required text for an advanced psychology seminar on "Creativity and Psychopathology" at Temple University. It's also part of the syllabus for the Master's degree in Performance Science at the Royal College of Music in London.
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