Why be ‘Normal’?
What is it to be a normal human, and how do those who deviate from the norm exhibit something more, something other, regarding our human nature? Several case studies of genius as well.
How can damaged brains think better than undamaged ones? Should we class brains that are congenitally different as abnormal. One distinction we keep in mind during this discussion is between the term ‘normal’ as meaning well-functioning versus ‘normal’ as merely statistically commonplace. People whose brains are differently functional my be less common, and hence, ‘abnormal’ by statistical comparison, but they may have a functionality that is far beyond the rest of us ‘normal’ folk. What role might the concept of ‘spirit’ play in this, and the link between soul and body?
Savant syndrome (pronounced /səˈvɑːnt/), sometimes referred to as savantism, is a rare condition in which people with developmental disorders have one or more areas of expertise, ability, or brilliance that are in contrast with the individual’s overall limitations. Although not a recognized medical diagnosis, researcher Darold Treffert says the condition may be either genetic or acquired.
According to Treffert, about half of all people with savant syndrome have autistic disorder, while the other half have another developmental disability, mental retardation, brain injury or disease. He says, “... not all autistic people have savant syndrome and not all people with savant syndrome have autistic disorder”. Other researchers state that autistic traits and savant skills may be linked, or have challenged some earlier conclusions about savant syndrome as “hearsay, uncorroborated by independent scrutiny”.
Though it is even more rare than the savant condition itself, some savants have no apparent abnormalities other than their unique abilities. This does not mean that these abilities weren’t triggered by a brain dysfunction of some sort but does temper the theory that all savants are disabled and that some sort of trade-off is required. (see Prodigious Savants below)