A genius is a person possessing the qualities of great intellectual ability, creativity and originality as well as high achievement in a specific domain of knowledge or activity. They are described as having a strong intuition about their domains, and trust in that intuition. This leads to great works of art that largely differ from contemporary works. Genius may also refer directly to these qualities. The word comes from the Latin genius, which is a patron or guardian spirit for a person, family or place in ancient Rome. The modern day meaning and usage of the word comes from a merging of genius and Ingenium, another Latin word that refers to our talents and inborn nature and traits.

In psychology, genius has been equated with high IQ scores. Lewis Terman, the developer of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, originally classified this score as “Near genius or genius”. Psychologists have stopped classifying high scores in IQ tests as genius because it is limiting to call a person a genius based on a single test score. It is believed that there is a connection between genius and mental illness, particularly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There are people who have come to be regarded as geniuses have been or were diagnosed with mental disorders, for example; painter Vincent van Gogh, writers Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, and mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr.

While there is debate on the exact definition, specific fields have come to descriptions of people that society regards as geniuses. Philosopher David Hume states that geniuses are disconnected from society due to their devotion to their work. Immanuel Kant points out the ability of geniuses to arrive independently at and understand concepts without having to be taught. Arthur Schopenhauer describes geniuses’ predominant intellect over will, resulting in creations that are outside of normal contemplation. Still another philosopher, Bertrand Russell, gives importance to the value that a genius can contribute to society, adding that many have had their genius stamped out in their youth due to maladaptive traits that accompany geniuses.

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