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Autistic? So were Newton, Einstein

world Updated: Feb 22, 2008 23:47 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
Both Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton 'had autism'

They were certainly creative geniuses. But what was the common trait between Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton? Well, both had "autism".

A leading psychiatrist at Trinity College in Dublin has claimed that both Einstein and Newton displayed signs of autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome, which were the same as those associated with creative genius.

The finding by Prof Michael Fitzgerald is expected to open up various possibilities of research in developing countries like India where, more than two million children suffer from the syndrome.

Fitzgerald said that Einstein, who is credited with developing the theory of relativity, and Newton, who discovered the laws of gravity, had those traits to varying degrees. He also cited examples of other leading figures in the fields of politics, art and literature like Charles de Gaulle, George Orwell, Beethoven, Mozart, Hans Christian Andersen and Immanuel Kant who had autism.

"We will never know for sure if the genius of past greats may have been a symptom of a form of autism. Informed speculation that Michelangelo might have had Asperger's syndrome is just that — the Renaissance artist was never diagnosed in his lifetime," he said.

He came to the conclusion after comparing the characteristics of around 1,600 people he has diagnosed with ASDs and the known biographical details of famous people.