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October 21, 1950

GENIUS AND PSYCHOSIS

JAMA. 1950;144(8):692. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02920080094016
Abstract

Russell Brain, neurologist, poet and philosopher, contributes a searching article to a recent issue of the British Medical Journal1 in which he stresses that the neuroses and psychoses of men of genius interest the doctor precisely because of the part they play in the mental life of a genius. He would regard the deviations exhibited by these "abnormals" as an integral part of their particular personality, possibly even a key to their creative genius.

The relation between mental instability and great literature is well known. One might even ask whether normality and creative genius are at all compatible. Dr. Brain believes that more than one process which the psychiatrist calls pathological may be an essential element in the virtues of a genius and perhaps in all others. Dr. Brain presents several illuminating case analyses, such as that of John Donne, whose preoccupation with the subject of death was "morbid

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