Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness

Overview

A SCIENTIST LOOKS AT ECCENTRICS-AND THE ODDITIES THAT KEEP THEM SANE

After years of research, a practicing psychotherapist has proof that eccentrics are usually healthier than the rest of us-as well as more creative, more idealistic, more opinionated, and much more fun to read about. Dr. David Weeks fills his hook with fascinating case studies, including Joshua Abraham Norton, who once proclaimed himself Emperor of America and even convinced many people to consider themselves ...

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Overview

A SCIENTIST LOOKS AT ECCENTRICS-AND THE ODDITIES THAT KEEP THEM SANE

After years of research, a practicing psychotherapist has proof that eccentrics are usually healthier than the rest of us-as well as more creative, more idealistic, more opinionated, and much more fun to read about. Dr. David Weeks fills his hook with fascinating case studies, including Joshua Abraham Norton, who once proclaimed himself Emperor of America and even convinced many people to consider themselves his subjects: Dr. Patch Adams, founder of the Gesundheit Institute and a physician who believes that humor fosters healing and dresses as a clown to treat his patients; and Florence Foster Jenkins, a would-be diva whose love of music was exceeded only by her lack of talent, but whose wealth enabled her to stage a recital at Carnegie Hall, Entertaining, funny, and thought provoking, Eccentrics introduces a series of extraordinary men and women-and encourages us to enjoy our own healthy eccentricities as well.

From 1859 to 1880, Joshua Abraham Norton thought he was Emperor of the United States. Ann Atkin keeps 7,500 garden gnomes in her backyard. Brooklyn artist Peter McGough dresses and acts as if it were 1895. These are just a few of the eccentrics discussed by Dr. Weeks, the world's foremost expert on the subject.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this entertaining, if insubstantial, book, Weeks, a neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and freelance writer James set out to examine the lives of those who, while not mentally ill, nevertheless veer significantly from conventional behavior. Weeks discusses the well-known eccentricities of figures such as the poet William Blake and pianist Glenn Gould, as well as eccentrics who, though famous or notorious in their own time, are largely forgotten in ours, such as Ignatius T.T. Donnelly, whose 19th-century book arguing that the Lost Continent of Atlantis was the source of all civilization was a bestseller. Weeks also presents a wide range of contemporary eccentrics, who seem to relish the opportunity to talk about themselves. While the book's anecdotes are charming, Weeks tends to generalize, and his attempt to present an argument that eccentrics are fundamentally happier and healthier than ``normal'' people is too weakly supported to be convincing. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Neuropsychologist Weeks and writer James (The Music of the Spheres, LJ 4/1/93) are not normal researchers: They have managed to infuse humor and entertainment into the traditionally barren landscape of social scientific research. In this unique exploration into the lives of eccentrics, the authors introduce a delightful cast of characters who have chosen to step to the beat of entirely different drummers. From Johnny Appleseed to Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Looney Party, Weeks and James plumb the essence of eccentric personalities using lighthearted anecdotes and penetrating insight. At their core, by inventing themselves into anything they wish, eccentrics take the basic human prerogative of free choice and force it to the limit. Thus, research reveals that eccentrics are healthier, happier, and more creative than most conformists. This work is a successful example of the marriage that is possible between scholarly research and entertaining prose-a rare thing. Highly recommended for all libraries.-David R. Johnson, Arnold LeDoux Lib., Louisiana State Univ., Eunice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765595591
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Series: Kadansha Globe Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 277

Meet the Author

DR. DAVID WEEKS has been a clinical neuropsychologist and psychotherapist at Scotland's Royal Edinburgh Hospital. JAMIE JAMES, the author of The Music of the Spheres, writes about music, science, and art for a variety of magazines.

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