“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 yet 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
Judith was invited to record an interview for the science and philosophy series Rationally Speaking, which “explores the borderlines between reason and nonsense.” The recording is scheduled for October 30th, 2013; watch this space for availability on iTunes and elsewhere.
Hear Judith discusss the mad genius on The New Jazz Archive, Jeff Haas's weekly, syndicated show from Interlochen Public Radio. "An hour with some of the world’s big thinkers who occupy the fascinating intersection of jazz and psychology." Time of interview 6:15 - 18:51.
Watch Judith in a Huffington Post Live conversation: "A Beautiful Sacrifice." Hosted by Janet Varney.
"Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors"—an invited article about The Insanity Hoax by its author—is the main cover story for the September/October Skeptical Inquirer: The magazine for science and reason. Watch this space for web availability.
The Insanity Hoax stimulates such lively discussion and critical thinking that it has been required reading for three consecutive classes in "Creativity and Psychopathology" at Temple University. It's also part of the Master's degree in Performance Science at the Royal College of Music in London.
Links to online reviews:
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Judith was co-executive producer of the Sean Smith Quartet's acclaimed CD Trust (2011, Smithereens Records). She is now producing Brazilian guitarist/singer Paulinho Garcia's solo CD, Beautiful Love, under her Shrinktunes Media label. Release scheduled for Valentine's Day, 2014.
Judith's new book is Running Out of Somedays: The bliss and bafflement of getting older. Also in progress, aiming for publication in 2014.