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Record Type: Review   ID: 505

Extraordinary People: Understanding "Idiot Savants."

Treffert, Darold A.

 Treffert, who is a psychiatrist, examines the Savant Syndrome, or those who are "idiot savants," or in Treffert's more apt phrase, one who has an "island of genius." He has tried in this book to bring together all that is known about this condition. He has collected and studied cases from around the world occurring in the past 100 years as the basis of the book. Treffert feels that the Savant Syndrome provides "a window to the brain like no other window available to us; it has the potential to explain the pathways of memory" (p. xxiv) not only in prodigies, but in all of us. He begins with a chapter of definition in which he deliberately banishes use of the word "idiot" and introduces the term "syndrome." Having met and worked with many who have the savant syndrome, he concludes that rather than eliminate the defect, the talent should be trained. The savant should not be viewed as an outlier. He concludes: "We can learn to work with the differently shaped soul--to understand, to actualize and to appreciate it--while still respecting its uniqueness" (p. 270).
Publisher Information:New York: Harper & Row, 1989. 291p. Bibl: 273-280; 7 figs; Index: 281-291
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