Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-ms7nj Total loading time: 0.316 Render date: 2022-08-18T14:23:10.882Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Talents and preoccupations in idiots-savants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2009

Neil O'Connor*
Affiliation:
MRC Developmental Psychology Project, Institute of Education, University of London
Beate Hermelin
Affiliation:
MRC Developmental Psychology Project, Institute of Education, University of London
*
1Address for correspondence: Dr Neil O'Connor, MRC Developmental Psychology Project, University of London, Institute of Education, 18 Woburn Square, London WC1N 0NS.

Synopsis

The question was asked whether a diagnosis of autism or a tendency to repetitive behaviour and preoccupation with a restricted area of interest, were crucial features of idiot-savant talents. Answers by caretakers to a questionnaire on these topics revealed that autistic and non-autistic savants resembled each other closely in preoccupation but differed from controls matched for IQ and diagnosis. In addition, the mentally handicapped showed fewer repetitive tendencies than did autistic controls. It is concluded that independent of diagnosis, preoccupations and repetitive behaviour appear to be closely associated with the manifestation of idiot-savant talents.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Asperger, H. (1944). Die Autistischen Psychopathen im Kindesalter. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten 117, 76136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baron-Cohen, S. (1989). Do autistic children have obsessions and compulsions? British Journal of Clinical Psychology 28, 193200.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Carlyle, T. (1870). The History of Freiderich II of Prussia, called Frederick the Great. Chapman: London.Google Scholar
Hermelin, B. & O'Connor, N. (1986). Idiot-savant calendrical calculators: rules and regularities. Psychological Medicine 16, 885893.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hermelin, B. & O'Connor, N. (1990). Art and accuracy: the drawing ability of idiots-savants. Journal Child Psychology and Psychiatry 31, 217228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hermelin, B., O'Connor, N. & Lee, S. (1987). Musical inventiveness of five idiots-savants. Psychological Medicine 17, 685694.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hill, A. L. (1977). Idiots-savants: rate of incidence. Perceptual and Motor Skills 44, 161162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
International Classification of Diseases (1989). Draft; Tenth Revision, WHO: Geneva.Google Scholar
Lewis, A. (1937). A study of cretinism in London. Lancet i, 15051509; ii, 5–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mervaud, C. (1985). Voltaire and Frederic II: line Dramaturgie des Luminières. 1736–1778. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 234. The Voltaire Foundation, Taylor Institute: Oxford.Google Scholar
O'Connor, N. & Hermelin, B. (1984). Idiot-savant calendrical calculators: maths or memory? Psychological Medicine 14, 801806.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Connor, N. & Hermelin, B. (1987). Visual and graphic abilities of the idiot-savant artist. Psychological Medicine 17, 7990.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Connor, N. & Hermelin, B. (1989). The memory structure of autistic idiot-savant mnemonists. British Journal of Psychology 80, 97111.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
O'Connor, N. & Hermelin, B. (1990). The recognition failure and graphic success of idiot-savant artists. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 31, 203215.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rapaport, J. I. (1989). Obsessive and Compulsive Disorders in Children and Adolescents. American Psychiatric Press: Washington, DC.Google Scholar
Rimland, B. (1978). Savant capabilities of autistic children and their cognitive implications. In Cognitive Defects in the Development of Mental Illness (ed. Serban, G.), pp. 4365. Brunner/Mazel: New York.Google Scholar
Slobada, H., Hermelin, B. & O'Connor, N. (1985). An exceptional musical memory. Music Perception 3, 155170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wing, L. (1981). Language, social and cognitive impairment in autism and severe mental retardation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 11, 3144.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wing, L. (1982). Schedule of Handicaps, Behaviours, and Skills, second revised edition. MRC Social Psychiatry Unit: London.Google Scholar
Wing, L. & Gould, J. (1978). Systematic recording of behaviours and skills of retarded and psychotic children. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia 8, 7997.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wing, L. & Gould, J. (1979). Severe impairments of social interaction and associated abnormalities in children: epidemiology and classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 9, 1129.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
32
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Talents and preoccupations in idiots-savants
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Talents and preoccupations in idiots-savants
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Talents and preoccupations in idiots-savants
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *