The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy

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Exploring the lives and achievements of over 1,000 extraordinary men and women, this book offers answers to the age-old questions about the relationship between mental illness and greatness, and also reveals factors that predict creative achievement. The book is filled with colorful stories about many of the most eminent artists, scientists, social activists, politicians, soldiers, and business people of our time. Moving beyond anecdotal accounts, The Price of Greatness is based on over 10 years of original ...
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Overview

Exploring the lives and achievements of over 1,000 extraordinary men and women, this book offers answers to the age-old questions about the relationship between mental illness and greatness, and also reveals factors that predict creative achievement. The book is filled with colorful stories about many of the most eminent artists, scientists, social activists, politicians, soldiers, and business people of our time. Moving beyond anecdotal accounts, The Price of Greatness is based on over 10 years of original scientific research on major 20th-century figures. Delving into many of humankind's greatest achievements and the special attributes and backgrounds of those who accomplished them, this illuminating work will interest anyone who wants to know why some people achieve fame - and what price they may pay in the process.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Peter B. Zeldow, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book presents a detailed summary of the psychiatrist-author's 10-year investigation of the relationship between mental illness and exceptional creative achievement.
Purpose: The purpose is to bring empirical evidence to bear on a variety of questions related to this issue. What, for example, is the prevalence of various mental disorders among the eminent? What are the effects of birth order, early parental loss, social status, education, and sexual preference (to cite but a few variables) on creativity?
Audience: The book is written for an intelligent lay audience as well as for the author's peers in the scientific and mental health communities. Technical and scholarly details and much of the statistical information is relegated to extensive chapter notes and appendixes at the end of the book for ease of reading.
Features: The book has its fair share of figures and tables to illustrate, to take two examples, the suicide rate and the lifetime prevalence rate of mental illness among eminent artists, entertainers, scientists, and business and public figures. Such material has been judiciously divided between the text and the appendixes.
Assessment: This is a useful and enjoyable book that will take its place on the required reading list for people with an interest in its subject matter. Researchers may not always agree with Ludwig's methods or conclusions, but they will have to contend with him.
From The Critics
Reviewer: Peter B. Zeldow, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book presents a detailed summary of the psychiatrist-author's 10-year investigation of the relationship between mental illness and exceptional creative achievement.
Purpose: The purpose is to bring empirical evidence to bear on a variety of questions related to this issue. What, for example, is the prevalence of various mental disorders among the eminent? What are the effects of birth order, early parental loss, social status, education, and sexual preference (to cite but a few variables) on creativity?
Audience: The book is written for an intelligent lay audience as well as for the author's peers in the scientific and mental health communities. Technical and scholarly details and much of the statistical information is relegated to extensive chapter notes and appendixes at the end of the book for ease of reading.
Features: The book has its fair share of figures and tables to illustrate, to take two examples, the suicide rate and the lifetime prevalence rate of mental illness among eminent artists, entertainers, scientists, and business and public figures. Such material has been judiciously divided between the text and the appendixes.
Assessment: This is a useful and enjoyable book that will take its place on the required reading list for people with an interest in its subject matter. Researchers may not always agree with Ludwig's methods or conclusions, but they will have to contend with him.
Peter B. Zeldow
This book presents a detailed summary of the psychiatrist-author's 10-year investigation of the relationship between mental illness and exceptional creative achievement. The purpose is to bring empirical evidence to bear on a variety of questions related to this issue. What, for example, is the prevalence of various mental disorders among the eminent? What are the effects of birth order, early parental loss, social status, education, and sexual preference (to cite but a few variables) on creativity? The book is written for an intelligent lay audience as well as for the author's peers in the scientific and mental health communities. Technical and scholarly details and much of the statistical information is relegated to extensive chapter notes and appendixes at the end of the book for ease of reading. The book has its fair share of figures and tables to illustrate, to take two examples, the suicide rate and the lifetime prevalence rate of mental illness among eminent artists, entertainers, scientists, and business and public figures. Such material has been judiciously divided between the text and the appendixes. This is a useful and enjoyable book that will take its place on the required reading list for people with an interest in its subject matter. Researchers may not always agree with Ludwig's methods or conclusions, but they will have to contend with him.
Booknews
Explores the lives of over 1,000 extraordinary achievers through statistical analysis and illuminating stories. Topics include paths to fame and greatness; the impact of factors such as early parental death and education; why some professions are more likely to have members with emotional problems; and the toll of exceptional achievements on those from socially disadvantaged groups. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

"This is an excellent research report that should, once and for all, resolve senseless controversies about the correlation of creativity with psychopathology." --John Gedo, M.D. in The Review of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

"... thought-provoking, informative, well-researched, and interesting... instructs like a textbook..., reads like a novel." --Margaret Chaplin, M.D.

"Rare, creative individuals are the spark of any culture. In The Price of Greatness, Professor Arnold Ludwig has compiled an unexampled statistical ensemble of life histories, taken from published biographies reviewed in the N.Y. Times Book Review. He applies his humane and experienced insight into human personality to the controversial relationship of psychopathology to creativity. There can be no doubt that severe pathology is crippling; and we know of too many tragic consequences of untreated or poorly managed disease. Creativity is likely to be multidimensional; and I am not sure there is so much commonality between the traits that define a rock star, a novelist, a prime minister, a general, or a scientist. Yet, perhaps in all of these fields, the greatest acclaim will entail an unceasing battle between Dionysius and Apollo, of imaginative iconoclasm with rigorous logical discipline and self-management. Ambition for that acclaim may also be impelled by, as well as perhaps lead to, a touch of the daft. There will be no further discussion of the psychology of creativity that would not be well-informed by Professor Ludwig's work." --Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D., M.D. (hon. c.), Nobel Laureate and past President, Rockefeller University

"The Price of Greatness is a fascinating book, a vast study of those things that go into the making of great artists, scientists, and leaders of society. The 'touch of madness' that affects so many great writers seems far less likely to be present in great scientists. Dr. Ludwig describes the possible reasons for this intriguing finding in a lucid and informed manner. The book is both enjoyable and important." --Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, author of Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament

"How many of us have fantasized about attaining fame and fortune? Who hasn't at one time or another dreamed of winning a Nobel Prize, an Olympic Gold Medal, or some other prestigious honor? Well, glory has its price, as Dr. Ludwig reveals in his monumental study of over a thousand eminent personalities of the current century. After reading this volume, the obscure and unrecognized among us may count their blessings."

"Is genius mad? Are creativity and insanity intertwined? Is stability a sign of mediocrity? These are ancient questions that have provoked controversy to the present day. In this impressive study of the lives of more than a thousand eminent personalities, Dr. Ludwig comes closer than anyone else to resolving this recurrent issue. Anyone who wants to know whether happiness is an enemy of greatness simply must read this book." --Dean Keith Simonton, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Author of Greatness: Who Makes History and Why

"If ever a book was true to its title this one is. It is a masterful exploration of an age old controversy, which has bedeviled Western thinkers and social scientists for centuries as well as been the basis of unfounded bias and fear. Dr. Ludwig has taken the simple, and simplistic, belief that creativity and madness are invariably joined, and by unwinding its many strands of assumption, given us one of the few hard looks at the relationship. Judiciously applying up-to-date methodology and statistical analyses he has separated a number of broad popular ideas about creativity and creative persons into testable hypotheses. In doing this, what might seem to some as ironical, he has infused more 'honest' real life in to the creative process and creative persons, while he offers the reader a much realistic and cogent model of the achievement of eminence and the high levels of creative efforts behind it.

One closes this book with far more understanding and appreciation of those men and women who make their mark and enrich our lives. In the process, by reviewing in detail many studies of creativity and eminence based on less comprehensive samples of subjects and narrative analysis, and comparing them to his own sample of over 1,000 subjects of highly creative men and women, Arnold Ludwig has demonstrated the power and validity of two long standing scientific 'truths': First, the man and woman with facts almost always wins and settles the argument, and secondly, that science makes its greatest progress when a significant problem is investigated with powerful and appropriate empirical tools.

This is a rare and welcomed book. It is safe to say that laypersons, educators, clinicians, and professional researchers will be in Ludwig's debt for years to come." --Robert S. Albert, Ph.D., Past President of The Division, Psychology and the Arts, American Psychological Association, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Pitzer College

"Finally a book of great enough scope to address the relationship between creativity and mental illness analytically instead of anecdotally, and to place the subject within the broader contexts of family, education, personality, and profession. Full of insights and surprises, and based on the most rigorous scholarship, this book is certain to become the standard work in the field for decades to come." --Robert S. Root-Bernstein, Ph.D., Michigan State University, Author of Discovering, MacArthur Prize Fellow (1981-1986)

"The Price of Greatness takes a large step toward understanding the relationships among creativity, exceptional achievement, and mental health. Ludwig draws from what may be the most extensive study yet completed and can offer very convincing conclusions about mood disorders, suicide, alcoholism, and the general health of exceptionally creative persons. I am not exaggerating when I say that this book is required reading for anyone interested in the nature of creativity and greatness." --Mark A. Runco, Ph.D., Editor, Creativity Research Journal, Curator, Milken Creativity Museum Project
 


3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898628395
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author


Arnold M. Ludwig is the E.A. Edwards Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. He is the former winner of the prestigious Hofheimer Prize Award given by the American Psychiatric Association for his research on alcoholism and LSD. He is the author of seven books and over 100 articles or book chapters, covering such topics as altered states of consciousness, schizophrenia, hysteria, cravings, disability, sensory overload, and the nature of the self. His investigations over the past ten years have focused on the relationship of mental illness to creative achievement, as well as the nature of greatness.
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Table of Contents


1. A Touch of Madness?
2. Determining Greatness
3. The Early Years
4. The Adult Years
5. Impediments to Eminence
6. The Measurement of Achievement
7. Mental Illness in the Professions
8. Mental Symptoms and Creativity
9. Predicting "True" Greatness
Notes
Appendices
Method and Statistics
Index
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    Great book that the author poured heart and soul into through ten years of research. He states in the Preface that he spent this time investigating the link between mental illness and exceptional creative achievement. However, it's also about the characteristics--life histories, personality traits, etc--of people who achieve historical eminence in general. What are the characteristics of those who achieve the highest level of eminence? I'll name just two of them and not spoil the rest of it for you: the personality trait of contrariness, and the tendency to be a loner. What's most impressive about this book is the sheer volume of biographical information that the author read through in order to write this. He read extensively on about 1000 eminent people who lived in the 20th century, and then summarized the information in a concise and highly readable fashion. Overall, a great read for anyone remotely interested in the subjects of creativity, mental illness, and high achievement, as well as their relationship to one another.

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