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Home » Genius, Mental Illness and Everything in Between: Dr. Lamont Tang (Transcript) 

Genius, Mental Illness and Everything in Between: Dr. Lamont Tang (Transcript) 

Here is the full transcript of Dr. Lamont Tang’s talk titled “Genius, Mental Illness and Everything in Between” at TEDxHongKongED 2013 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


“No Great Mind Has Ever Existed Without a Touch of Madness”

So I’d like to first start out with a quote that no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness. This was observed from Aristotle in 300 B.C. And I think this observation probably has been noted even beforehand, before Aristotle. But to what extent do we actually know that madness and genius are related? I’ll touch a little bit on this today.

But first, I’d just like to do the flip side of this. If you’re mad, it doesn’t mean that you’re a genius. This is encapsulated in my favorite cartoon. Calvin says, “I’m a genius, but I’m a misunderstood genius.” Hobbes says, “What’s misunderstood about you?” And Calvin says, “Nobody thinks I’m a genius.” And so today I’m going to dispel some myths about mental illness.

Myths About Mental Illness

And the first three out of the long list, and I’ll only spend time today on the third point, but the first two is that mental illness, one myth is mental illness is caused by bad parenting. We know that the data suggests that most diagnosed individuals actually come from good families. The second myth is that the mentally ill are violent and dangerous. The data, again, suggests otherwise. Most mentally ill people are actually the victims, not the perpetrators.

And today I’ll spend more time on people, on the myth that people with a mental disorder are not smart, that they’re not capable of having a successful career or even a brilliant career. Again, the data suggests that people with mental disorders have average to above-average intelligence. And so I’ll just highlight just a few “geniuses”.

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