Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel

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From head trauma to scientific wonder—a “deeply absorbing . . . fascinating” true story of acquired savant syndrome (Entertainment Weekly).

Twelve years ago, Jason Padgett had never made it past pre-algebra. But a violent mugging forever altered the way his brain worked. It turned an ordinary math-averse student into an extraordinary young man with a unique gift to see the world as no one else does: water pours from the faucet in crystalline patterns, numbers call to mind distinct geometric shapes, and intricate fractal patterns emerge from the movement of tree branches, revealing the intrinsic mathematical designs hidden in the objects around us.
 
As his ability to understand physics skyrocketed, the “accidental genius” developed the astonishing ability to draw the complex geometric shapes he saw everywhere. Overcoming huge setbacks and embracing his new mind, Padgett “gained a vision of the world that is as beautiful as it is challenging.” Along the way he fell in love, found joy in numbers, and spent plenty of time having his head examined (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Illustrated with Jason’s stunning, mathematically precise artwork, his singular story reveals the wondrous potential of the human brain, and “an incredible phenomenon which points toward dormant potential—a little Rain Man perhaps—within us all” (Darold A. Treffert, MD, author of Islands of Genius: The Bountiful Mind of the Autistic, Acquired, and Sudden Savant).
 
“A tale worthy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! . . . This memoir sends a hopeful message to families touched by brain injury, autism, or neurological damage from strokes.” —Booklist
 
“How extraordinary it is to contemplate the bizarre gifts that might lie within all of us.” —People
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About the author

Jason Padgett is an aspiring number theorist and mathematician with acquired savant syndrome and synesthesia. His art, drawings of the grids and fractals he sees synesthetically, won Best International Newcomer at the Artoconecto A-B(o)MB show at the Bakehouse Art Complex in 2008. Struck by Genius is his first book.
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3.9
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Apr 22, 2014
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780544045644
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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* Gold Medal Winner in the Psychology / Mental Health Category of the 2011 IPPY Awards *

* Silver Medal Winner in the 2010 BOTYA Awards Psychology Category *

Savant syndrome is a rare condition in which individuals with developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance - "islands of genius" - that exist in contrast with their overall limitations. In this fascinating book, Dr. Darold Treffert looks at what we know about this remarkable condition, and at new discoveries that raise interesting questions about the hidden brain potential within us all.

Dr. Treffert explores the phenomena of genetic memory - instances in which individuals somehow "know" things they never learned - and sudden genius or "acquired savantism" - where a neuro-typical person unexpectedly and spectacularly develops savant-like abilities following a head injury or stroke. Showing that these phenomena point convincingly towards a reservoir of untapped potential - an inner savant capacity - within us all, he looks both at how savant skills can be nurtured, and how they can help the person who has them, particularly if that person is on the autism spectrum. A central colour section contains the extraordinary artwork of some of the savants who are mentioned in the book.

Islands of Genius will intrigue anyone who has ever wondered what makes the mind of a savant tick, as well as clinicians, parents, teachers, therapists, and others who care for, and about, individuals with savant syndrome.

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When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists. Pollan sifts the historical record to separate the truth about these mysterious drugs from the myths that have surrounded them since the 1960s, when a handful of psychedelic evangelists inadvertently catalyzed a powerful backlash against what was then a promising field of research.

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