The Fine Line Between Genius and Madness

Darryl Bachmeier
Jul 11, 2020

From Einstein to Vincent Van Gogh, throughout history, many iconic names exemplify both genius and insanity. There is no doubting the grandeur of their accomplishments. However, many of their behavioral traits lead us to wonder whether there is a fine line between genius and madness. Let us dive deeper into the discussion.

Crazy is merely a label that our society uses to cover-up psychological traits that they don’t understand. This ignorance often goes unaddressed. However, many studies have been conducted to figure out the intricate connection between genius and madness. Some scientists have even gone so far as to find genetic links between genius and madness.

The thing is that we have grown up with a certain societal and cultural set of rules that decide what’s normal and what’s disorderly. Anyone who goes off-track from the defined structure of society is labeled as crazy. But are they really?

What Makes Someone Genius?

The ability to perceive and intricate thoughts make a genius. Simply put, perceptibility.

Famous geniuses like Tesla, Pythagoras, Einstein, Da Vinci did not create new science and mathematics laws. Instead, they perceived and translated what people already knew. They were merely a medium through which the inherent truth of the world came forward. They simply figured out a way to extract the facts.

And that’s what made them geniuses.

So they inherently look at things differently and have their own ways of expressing thoughts. Otherwise, there would be nothing that separates them from an ordinary human being. Mistaken are those who believe that these geniuses were handpicked by God and sent with unique genetic codes. They are not selected-few.

They simply know how to perceive thoughts outside of conventional ways.

And this is what sets them apart from what society terms as normal. They cannot stand petty problems. Their minds are on a constant run. This often results in impatience and fidgety behavior.

Why Are Genius and Madness Connected?

Many of history’s celebrated geniuses have been labeled as crazy or somewhat weird. There have been many pieces of research conducted to understand this behavior. Why do intellectuals often turn out to be mad? Scientists are beginning to understand why.

Creativity indeed requires people to think outside the box and explore novel means, rather than conventional ways. That’s why creative geniuses often show unusual traits. They show divergent thinking, nonconformity, openness to strange experiences, and so on. The common people do not well understand such complex configurations.

But the extent to which they show such traits vary. And not all of it can be labeled as crazy. While some creative geniuses will exhibit these behavioral traits to a greater degree, others will simply keep to themselves.

Studies have shown that geniuses often suffer from bipolar disorder. This entails mood swings. That is to say, they shift from extreme happiness to severe sadness, and this can happen over a concise span. As brutal as it sounds, geniuses often go through such cycles on a regular basis.

The Misconception of Mad Genius

So does all mental disorders translate to genius?

Of course, not.

A vast field of psychology tries to find an answer to this question. Mental illness is not a rare phenomenon, unlike genius. That is to say, not all that are mentally ill are geniuses. There are so many instances of mental disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression. But we don’t see as many creative accomplishments around us.

A significant number of people around us have some sort of mental disorder. In fact, it is believed that over half of the world’s population suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. But that doesn’t make everyone a genius.

A common statistical mistake is to prioritize certain information and overlook the vast generic data. While people largely believe that creativity is linked with madness, there has been enough evidence to show that a vast majority of geniuses never showed any pathological traits. They were completely normal, as defined by society.

So to answer this ancient question in the light of modern information, we have to say that a large portion of creators and geniuses were never crazy. At least, not to a significant degree.

Should Creators Be Worried?

Concerns raised in connection to genius and madness may leave many creators worried. For individuals who suffer from higher degrees of mental disorder, treatment may be in order. However, there is nothing to worry about.

Therapeutic treatments are devised to disable mental disorders and promote emotional well-being. But they have not been known to impact anyone’s creative potential negatively. On the contrary, these treatments are designed to enhance their well-being by further boosting their potential and improving concentration.


Is there a fine line between genius and madness? We took a fresh look at this age-old question. We realize that history displays many instances where creative geniuses show disorderly behavioral traits. But it does not reflect on the entirety of the genius population around the world. A large portion of creators shows no behavioral disorders at all. We took a closer look at the fine line between genius and madness. We hope you have found the answers that you were looking for.

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