The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy Paperback – Oct 1 1996
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"... 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
From the Back Cover
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The truth of the matter is that, despite the title and subtitle of this book, which imply that the age-old question has been resolved, Ludwig himself admits, very early on, that "mental illness is not essential for artistic success" (p. 7).
What he's done here is gather together 1004 New York Times biographies of eminent people in numerous incompatible fields - music, politics, writing, magic, business, aviation, athletics, etc.- a method which not only puts tremendous trust in the complete objectivity of each biographer, but assumes that each of these people share common characteristics, despite the disparity in their pursuits. Moreover, it makes it seem that the same crucial characteristics can be harvested from every single biography.
The result is that Winston Churchill and Harry Houdini are folded into the mix with Amelia Earhart and Marvin Gaye, as if their successes are interchangeable.
Ludwig invents a number of theoretical factors that supposedly contribute to everyone's eminence, and then provides 55 pages of impressive-looking graphs and tables that gives the whole enterprise a feel of science. Yet a closer look reveals that his variables include such head-scratching elements as "anger at mother" and "oddness in childhood" (how he identifies and measures such things from the biographies is left unclear.
My guess is that most people are snookered by the title and subtitle into assuming the controversy has been "resolved," and reassured by those 55 pages of data. And so the citation gets passed along, although I doubt that many have actually *read* the book for themselves. If they did, they would understand that it actually resolves nothing at all.
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