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Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvelby Jason Padgett and Maureen Ann Seaberg
Synopses & Reviews
The remarkable story of an ordinary man who was transformed when a traumatic injury left him with an extraordinary gift.
No one sees the world as Jason Padgett does. Water pours from the faucet in crystalline patterns, numbers call to mind distinct geometric shapes, and intricate fractal patterns emerge from the movement of tree branches, revealing the intrinsic mathematical designs hidden in the objects around us.
Yet Padgett wasn't born this way. Twelve years ago, he had never made it past pre-algebra. But a violent mugging forever altered the way his brain works, giving him unique gifts. His ability to understand math and physics skyrocketed, and he developed the astonishing ability to draw the complex geometric shapes he saw everywhere. His stunning, mathematically precise artwork illustrates his intuitive understanding of complex mathematics.
The first documented case of acquired savant syndrome with mathematical synesthesia, Padgett is a medical marvel. Struck by Genius recounts how he overcame huge setbacks and embraced his new mind. Along the way he fell in love, found joy in numbers, and spent plenty of time having his head examined. Like Born on a Blue Day and My Stroke of Insight, his singular story reveals the wondrous potential of the human brain.
"Padgett was, at 31, a man who seemed to care more about his biceps than his career — until a brutal mugging completely changed the floundering course of his life. What initially manifested as an altered, more intense experience of visual phenomena developed into dizzying synesthesia and a newfound, savant-level capacity for mathematics. Pi quickly replaced partying in Padgett's life. But there were physical ramifications, too: Padgett's muscles withered into a leaner frame and the former gadfly became almost dangerously prone to isolation, the outside world too stimulating for his new senses. Yet Padgett ultimately reemerges into society by attending community college, meeting his eventual wife, pursuing yoga, and continuing to learn about his condition. Psychology Today blogger Seaberg serves as witness and scribe to the events of Padgett's life, though the clear and personable tone that she and Padgett collectively strike won't fully sate readers' curiosity about the book's miracles. The arc of the story, however, upholds the notion that positive turns come from unexpected places, and the implication that we all possess an inherent type of genius, whatever its truth, is sure to garner at least a modicum of public attention. 17 b&w drawings, 8p. 4-color insert." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Padgett's heartfelt story of learning to cope with his new faculties, the onset of OCD that accompanied them, the intensive clinical testing and research that continue today, and how his experience changed his life, will appeal to fans of the films Rain Man and A Beautiful Mind, as well as the works of Oliver Sacks." Library Journal
"A tale worthy of Ripley's Believe It or Not!...This memoir sends a hopeful message to families touched by brain injury, autism, or neurological damage from strokes." Booklist
"A remarkable and wonderfully personal medical tale. It reminds us in equal measure about our possible capacities and our impoverished understanding about how to tap into them." David Eagleman, neuroscientist and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
The remarkable story of an ordinary man whose world was transformed when a violent mugging left him with an extraordinary mathematical gift.
About the Author
Jason Padgett is an aspiring number theorist and mathematician with acquired savant syndrome and synesthesia. He is currently the manager of three futon stores in Tacoma, Washington. His art, drawings of the grids and fractals he sees synesthetically, won Best International Newcomer at the Artoconecto A-B(o)MB show at the Bakehouse Art Complex in 2008. Struck by Genius is his first book.
Maureen Seaberg is an author with several forms of synesthesia and is an expert synesthesia blogger for Psychology Today. She has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, and ESPN: The Magazine. She has appeared on MSNBC, PBS, and The Lisa Oz Show on Oprah Radio. A native New Yorker, she currently resides in the city.
Table of Contents
A Note from Maureen vii
Chapter One: Jason 2.0 1
Chapter Two: Jason 1.0 13
Chapter Three: Subtraction 25
Chapter Four: Gray Matter 33
Chapter Five: Compounded Losses 43
Chapter Six: New Gifts 55
Chapter Seven: The Edge of a Circle 75
Chapter Eight: Inflection Point 91
Chapter Nine: Joe College 101
Chapter Ten: The Hermit and the Hermitage 117
Chapter Eleven: The Man from Planet Futon 135
Chapter Twelve: Contact 147
Chapter Thirteen: Savant and Yogi? 165
Chapter Fourteen: Its All Relative 181
Chapter Fifteen: Scandinavian Spring 191
Chapter Sixteen: Traveling Without Moving 203
Chapter Seventeen: Pilgrimage to Wisconsin 213
Chapter Eighteen: No Regrets 219
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