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Monday, September 21, 2020

Accident Geniuses And Their Stories


Most of us are familiar with the story of The Fantastic Four and how they ultimately acquired their superpowers. Some of us might have been so amazed by the story that we come to wonder, would it be possible in real life? The short answer is yes. However, these superpowers are not like having the ability to rearrange molecules in your body or being able to set your body willingly on fire. Rather, it is an inherent potential tapped from the unused regions of your brain. These individuals are accidental geniuses, and here are their stories.

Geniuses, Stroke By Genius, Jason Padgett, Story
Image: Daily Mail

Accidental genius is a phenomenon wherein a person acquires or unlocks an untapped ability after experiencing severe head trauma or an induced blow in the cranium. These injuries are irreparable and irreversible. Thus, the chances of having it are infinitesimal. In cases that do, a person shall have a prodigious ability akin to an innate savant. However, as is the natural order of things, there are drawbacks and trade-offs.



A former futon salesman from Alaska by the name of Jason Padgett gained the ability to see geometric shapes and patterns normally unseen by the naked eyes after being involved in a brutal mugging in 2002 that left him with a punctured kidney and severe concussion from an extreme blow in the head. The very next day after his misfortune, he developed an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and a deterrent to stepping outside his house. The shapes and patterns he observes at even the most minuscule task are evocative of Mathematics and channeling it brings him focus.

Geniuses, Anthony Cicoria, Lightning, Story
Image: Thinking Musically

Anthony Cicoria, an orthopedic surgeon from upstate New York gained the ability to write exquisite musical compositions after an insatiable urge to listen to classical music. His prodigious ability was the result of a lightning bolt that struck a phone booth he was calling from at a park in 1994. The drawback was a temporary memory loss. Another man named Orlando Serrell can calculate the date from any given day, week, month, or year without any reference calendar and to some extent, recall the weather. His peculiar ability was the result of a CNS injury after being struck by a baseball. He endured a long headache.



Although the cases cited exhibited intermittent and manageable after-injuries, the one experienced by Alonzo Clemons was far more extreme. As a child, he could not function normally and seemed lethargic after falling which resulted in a severe head injury. His proficiency in sculpting and modeling 2D objects, however, is palpable and after a short exposure to the zoo, he became adept in making 3D sculptures of animals.

Geniuses, Stroke By Genius, Jason Padgett, Story
Image: Great Big Story

Several theories try to explain the phenomena experienced by guys like Jason Padgett, Anthony Cicoria, Orlando Serrell, and Alonzo Clements. The most famous ones are from Darold Treffert and Berit Broggard. Treffert’s theory claims that any damage in one hemisphere of the brain that results in its impairment is compensated by the other hemisphere wherein it performs the functions of the other while new abilities are unleashed. Broggard’s theory, on the other hand, claims that there is a rewiring of neural links after brain damage, causing new abilities to arise.

The main takeaway from both theories is that all human beings may have innate geniuses waiting to be stimulated. It also brings new meaning to the evolutionary concept of nurture vs nature. Accidental genius might be an implication of an evolutionary lottery to a selected few.

However, no matter how captivating it is to calculate math problems rapidly or make music out of thin air, it is always important to practice safety, and inflicting pain in your own doing would not serve anybody. After all, the term accidental genius is no accident.
 
Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books 

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