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The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy 1st Edition

3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0898628395
ISBN-10: 0898628393
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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Binding tight. Dust cover included showing minor signs of shelf wear and slight discoloration on top of front. Pages are clean with no writing or highlighting. Shrink wrapped to protect during shipping.
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Editorial Reviews


"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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About 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.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (March 24, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898628393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898628395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a recognized expert in this field, the author of "The Insanity Hoax" (2012) as well as an invited chapter in the definitive new "Creativity and Mental Illness" textbook from Cambridge University Press (2014). So I believe my comments here will be helpful.

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What is the deal here? I pre-paid for this book, and still don't have it. I really want this book and I've paid for it.
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Format: Hardcover
A very detailed book, the best I have read on the subject and one of the best books I've Ever read. It was very hard to put down. An Incredible book!
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