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Finding the Secret Genius in Persons with Mental Health Problems and Learning Disabilities [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 13, 2017 07:18 AM EDT
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Sir Richard Branson, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John and Steve Jobs are some famous business personalities who have achieved remarkable success. More than their fame and fortune, these people share something else: they all have learning disabilities.

In her new book, "The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius", author and psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz explores the how these mental health conditions and learning challenges can lead to more creativity and genius.

Dr. Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/WeillCornell School of Medicine, has been a private practitioner for over two decades. The doctor said her patients sparked her interest on the subject.

Dr. Saltz said most of them are high-functioning and have remarkable abilities in spite of their condition. These students also inspired the doctor to examine historical figures who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or a learning disability or both. The list included Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway and Albert Einstein.

In doing research for the book, Dr. Saltz told the CNN that she interviewed over 50 field experts in psychiatry, education and child development as well as people who have struggled with different learning disabilities but were able to achieve great success.

Dr. Saltz found that there are a number of successful entrepreneurs who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and researchers from Northwestern University may have found the reason why. ADD simply means that a person has a difficulty focusing attention and has tendencies to be impulsive.

This impulsivity can lead to a creative advantage because there is always a flow of unusual, divergent and innovative ideas.While creativity may not be the sole ticket to success, finding the right partner can bring the idea to fruition.

Dr. Saltz also noted that some patients with dyslexia may have exceptional abilities in identifying visual-spatial relations. In her book, the psychiatrist profiled Dr. Beryl Benacerraf, a clinical professor at Harvard University.

Despite her impressive achievement, Dr. Benacerraf is severely dyslexic and struggled in school as a child. It was in medical school that she realized she can learn better with charts and graphs. This exceptional visual-spatial perspective helped Dr. Benacerraf develop a genetic sonogram used to detect Down syndrome during pregnancy.

Dr. Saltz said that instead of looking at the disability as a problem to be fixed, we should also focus on strengths.

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