Psychologist, musician, and long-time All About Jazz contributor Dr. Judith Schlesinger has finished The Insanity Hoax; Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius. Based on thirty years of scholarly research as well as creative and therapeutic experience (but a fun read, by all reports), the book is now available at Amazon.
Creative does not equal Crazy
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.
Praise for The Insanity Hoax; Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius
Fascinating, insightful, and surprisingly funny." Chris Brubeck, 'fairly sane and highly functional' jazz musician and classical composer.
Do you have to be crazy to be creative? Nowadays, most people seem to think so, but the evidence points in the other direction. How, then, did this mistaken notion worm its way into our collective consciousness, and how much damage has it done to our understanding of art and artists? In The Insanity Hoax, Judith Schlesinger exposes the exaggerations and falsehoods of the ever-seductive myth of the mad geniusand explains why so many people prefer it to the truth. Anyone who believes that madness is the flip side of the coin of creativity needs to read this book." Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, and drama critic of the Wall Street Journal
Judith Schlesinger makes her case with wry wit, wisdom and passion that the symptoms of madness and just plain old creativity have long been joined in an inappropriate dance. There are many jazz musicians referred to in the book that have skirted both of these labels. She provides true insight into their inner creative lives." Fred Hersch, award-winning jazz pianist and composer
Judith Schlesinger's wonderful new book does a superb job of debunking popular myths about 'crazy artists' and redressing the mental health industry's practice of pathologizing creative people. This book should be required reading for creative and performing artists, their teachers, their therapists, and anyone who loves them. Not to be missed!" Eric Maisel, PhD, author of Rethinking Depression and The Van Gogh Blues
Judith Schlesinger has hit the bull's-eye with The Insanity Hoax. She passionately and completely debunks the biased, pervasive notion that artists are 'crazier' than the rest of humankind, showing us in highly engaging prose how they stare human frailties squarely in the face for the benefit of all. Thank you, Judith." Shelton G. Berg, Dean and Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music, Frost School of Music, University of Miami
About the Author
Dr. Judith Schlesinger is a psychologist, author, educator, jazz critic, and musician. Trained in cognitive-behavioral and family therapy, her hats have included college professor and administrator, school psychologist and psychotherapist, book and CD reviewer, award-winning gardener, music producer, and chick singer/leader of the JS Fourtet. She has also been a supermarket cashier, but not recently.
Judith's writing has appeared in both the popular and professional press, but you won't find her on Facebook or Twitter. Her Shrinktunes column, about the intersection of psychology and music, has been published on allaboutjazz.com since 2002.