The Savants "Idiots or Genius....??"

The Savants "Idiots or Genius....??"

We humans are those creatures who are always ruled by one strange devil which is known as “Insatiability”. As put forward by renowned psychologist, Alfred Adler, humans strives for superiority but there are several examples where people who are considered as below average shows exemplary talents in specific areas, usually called as “savants” as they are found to be suffering from a psychological disorder called “Savant Syndrome”- a scarce but spectacular condition in which person with various developmental disorders have skills or talent that substitute in markedly incongruous contrast to overall limitations. The condition may be genetic or acquired later in childhood, or perhaps in adulthood.
The savant skills superimposed upon or co-exist with various disabilities like autistic disorder, mental retardation or brain injury or disease that occurs pre-natal or postnatal, or even in childhood or adulthood. (Treffert ,2009).

There are usually five main areas of expertise of savants— Art, Music, Mathematical skills or Lightning calculating, Calendar calculating (also called as “Calendar Savants”) and Spatial/ Mechanical skills. Typically, particularly one of these skills occurs predominantly in savants however, in some cases multiple skills can occur in the same person.
As put forward by Eva Gyarmathy (2018), the relationship between talent and the savant syndrome indicates that the savant syndrome might be a special form of talent, like any other congenital potential or a neurological predisposition arising or as a function of environmental influences in the form of different-from-usual-normal behavior.
Thus, despite being considered as below normal savants are those individuals which shows some outstanding exemplary talents missing in so-called normals.  Some notable personalities with Savant syndrome who had outshine the so-called-normal with their outstanding, spectacular and exemplary talents:
Kim Peek (1951 –2009) was an American autistic savant whose memory was outstanding, in his life he has memorized over 12,000 books including the Bible, and was an expert of 15 subjects in conjunction to geography, music, literature, history, and sports. Amazingly, Kim could actually read two pages simultaneously and usually take only 8 seconds to read and memorize both the pages.  The movie “Rain man” (1988) show-case his journey. Utah Film Center has started giving out “Peek Award”-named after him- to artists and media makers who tried to change our society’s perception of people with disabilities. Kim Peek died of heart attack in 2009.Leslie Lemke (born January 31, 1952) is an American blind autistic savant who is known for his outstanding work as a musician. Lemke who was born prematurely with several disabilities like brain damage, cerebral palsy, and  his eyes were surgically removed due to glaucoma, but then also without having any musical training, he began to play all styles of music from ragtime to classical from the age of 16. Leslie, after hearing only once, could remember and play back any musical piece of any length flawlessly. Since 1980, Leslie is regularly giving concerts in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Stephen Wiltshire (born 24 April 1974) is a British autistic savant and an exemplary architectural artist with a unique talent which got him the nickname “Human Camera”- as he can perfectly draw a city landscape from his memory, by seeing it just once. In 2005, following a short helicopter ride over Tokyo, he drew a perfect 10m landscape of the city, and same has done for the Rome too. He had received several honors and awards like Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to art in 2006. He also had opened a permanent gallery in 2006 at Royal Opera Arcade (London). Wiltshire became Honorary Fellow of the Society of Architectural Illustration (SAI) in 2011 and in 2015 was made the Honorary Fellow of The Scottish Society of Architect Artists.

Daniel Tammet (born 31 January 1979) is a British savant and a renowned essayist, novelist, poet and translator. He has exceptional mathematical skills and language abilities. Tammet can speak 11 different languages. He has written several books like Born on a Blue Day (2006); Thinking in Numbers (2012); Mishenka (2016) etc. and also has published Manti a constructed language which uses grammar and vocabulary of Finnic language. He has received several awards like in 2007 received American Library Association Booklist  magazine “Editors’ Choice Adult Books” Award  and  in 2008, received American Library Association Young Adult Library Services magazine Best Books for Young Adults” Award (2008)  for his book “Born on a Blue Day; he has been honored as the Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2012) etc for his outstanding work.

"These are just few examples of extraordinary talents of the so-called below-ordinary savants. Thus, we can say that in the case of savants the “idiots” are actually the “genius”."

About the Author

Nida Syed
Assistant Professor.

Nida Syed is a Clinical Psychologist, Counselor, Research Associate and Psychosocial volunteer. She started her career as a psychologist in London

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