Segments in this Video

Mental Disorder and Creativity (05:22)


A movement disorder, Tourette's begins in childhood and can affect every part of the human body. Nick van Bloss talks about his condition and how the piano gave him a sense of power and control and a way to channel his erratic energy.

Creativity in Normal and Abnormal Brains (03:01)

Studies of the normal brain during creative and uncreative processes reveal changes in certain areas of the brain. In an abnormal brain, the subject is unable to shut off the creative flow of energy.

Tourette's Syndrome and Musical Genius (02:08)

A musical genius with Tourette's travels throughout Europe as a pianist, his disease and his creativity working in perfect partnership. In a competition, however, his tics return and he does not perform as a pianist in public again.

Autism and Creative Genius (04:37)

A young boy with autism, Matt Savage is a jazz genius who writes and plays his own music. Difficulties with empathy interfere with Matt's ability to relate well to other people.

Musical Improvisation and Autism (01:39)

Emotional and creative barriers could be the "other side" of a jazz musician's autism. Even during musical improvisation, autistics follow systematic patterns of rules about a musical genre, and may not be motivated by emotional passion.

Creativity and Brain Chemistry (02:49)

This segment introduces Alice, a neurologist with hypergraphia, a manic state of writing without stopping. She discovers the relationship between dopamine and her urge to write.

Parkinson's Disease, Brain Chemistry, and Creativity (03:55)

Greg, suffering from Parkinson's, lacks sufficient dopamine and finds physical movement difficult. In the midst of his treatment, he develops an insatiable drive to write music because his body cannot balance the dopamine he takes for his illness.

Chemical Imbalance and Creativity (01:55)

The brain chemical dopamine plays a significant role in both Tourette's and Parkinson's disease.

Tourette's Syndrome and Over-Stimulation (03:53)

Nick, a lifelong Tourette's sufferer, describes what goes on inside his head and how he experiences the world. He is bombarded by stimuli around him that most people are able to filter out.

Link Between Madness and Creativity (04:01)

Many famous artists suffered from over-stimulation of their senses, a condition called "low latent inhibition" or LLI. People with schizophrenia also have LLI, and a condition called "loose association." Mental patients discuss their creativity.

Brain Chemical: Dopamine (02:04)

Dopamine, a neurochemical, links Tourette's and schizophrenia, and potentially creative behavior. A creative artist in residence at a psychiatric hospital, a mental patient discusses his condition and his art.

Tourette's and Musical Ability (03:19)

Tourette's sufferers, two musicians discuss their conditions and their unconventional driving styles.

Tourette's: Childhood and Music (02:51)

Tourette's sufferers compare notes on their childhoods and their passion for music. Professor Oliver Sacks discusses the links between Tourette's, obsessive behavior, and musical talent.

Tourette's and Musical Performance (03:25)

A Tourette's sufferer, Nick, prepares to play the piano for Dr. Oliver Sacks, and also deals with his fear of performing in public. Dr. Oliver Sacks shares his thoughts on the link between Tourette's and musical expression.

Tourette's: Driving Energy Behind Musical Passion (01:39)

Nick, a Tourette's sufferer and a brilliant musician, is convinced that the disease is the "fire within" him, a burning energy that drives him to be creative.

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Touched by Genius: A Neurological Look at Creativity

DVD Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



Nick van Bloss possesses astonishing musical talent. He is also afflicted with Tourette Syndrome. As this program illustrates, the two are often linked, leading those born with the disorder to view it as both a curse and a gift. Nick’s journey—taking him from the humiliating loss of his career as a concert pianist toward a more self-assured acceptance of his condition—is not only inspiring; it is also a highly informative look into the diagnosis, treatment, and day-to-day realities of Tourette, Parkinson’s, autism, schizophrenia, and other disorders. Among Nick’s many notable interactions are those with autistic jazz composer Matt Savage and with neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain and other books. Original BBCW broadcast title: Glad to Be Mad. (50 minutes)

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL37592

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8034-6

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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