Despite some dense prose, this work offers a stimulating investigation into an important scientific topic.

THE CREATIVE ADVANTAGES OF SCHIZOPHRENIA

THE MUSE AND THE MAD HATTER

A scholarly analysis explores the link between psychopathology—in particular, positive schizotypy—and creativity.

As debut author Kiritsis observes, creativity has long been associated with “divine madness” and the inspired artist with tortured insanity. He aims to make the case that there is, in fact, a “connection between the schizospectrum, bipolar, and substance abuse disorders and creativity.” More specifically, the author investigates the possibility that psychosis and creativity “share polygenetic roots” and that “the inner mental processes experienced as delusional beliefs and hallucinations by the inwardly disordered may also be the fountainhead and raw underpinning of creative thought.” Kiritsis focuses on positive schizotypy, which characterizes “highly imaginative” and “internally preoccupied” people who tend to hold beliefs about the world that are unconventionally drawn to the mystical and supernatural. The author furnishes a rigorously synoptic history of schizophrenia and its treatment, including an edifying discussion of the modern tendency to overinterpret it as a “brain disease” and handle it accordingly by pharmaceutical means. He raises provocative questions about the peculiar evolutionary resilience of schizophrenia, which, he argues, suggests that creativity is among its “compensatory advantages.” As Kiritsis points out, his study has “profound clinical and social implications,” not just for the understanding of psychopathology and its treatment, but also as a potential means to disabuse the “profusion of ignorance around mental illness” so common today. Furthermore, the work also points the way to a less idolatrous embrace of “the hegemony of the Western-mind sciences,” which, as a consequence of an unbridled materialism, immediately classifies spiritual experiences as aberrant hallucinations. The book is brimming with haunting images by debut illustrator Christos Stamboulakis, the author’s cousin, and others, many of which depict the struggle with psychosis. Kiritsis’ study is painstakingly argued—he furnishes a model of experimental meticulousness. In addition, the analysis is not just scientifically exacting, but reasonable as well—he draws on both his work as a “burgeoning clinician” and his experiences as an “untutored eyewitness.” The subject matter is drawn from Kiritsis’ doctoral dissertation and often reads precisely like that: long, crashing sentences brimming with gratuitously technical jargon turbidly conveyed. But beneath the topsoil of academic-speak, there is a genuinely intriguing exploration of creativity.

Despite some dense prose, this work offers a stimulating investigation into an important scientific topic. 

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5275-3165-9

Page Count: 133

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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