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Dyslexic Geniuses

"It is about a difference in perception," explains Gloria Davis, a California-based teacher of dyslexics (those who have a difficulty in reading or using language). "A lot of geniuses are dyslexics who solve problems through visual imagery and have problem communicating their ideas in conventional terms."

Genius and disorders seem to go hand in hand. Da Vinci, was a dyslexic, who wrote most of his theories in reverse script. General belief says that troubled souls have heightened creative powers, which makes for great literature, music and even science. From John Lennon and Agatha Christie to Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday, Pablo Picasso and Walt Disney, dyslexics have spun images in their heads, played with them, and have created some of the most spell-binding inventions and discoveries.

In fact, a list of the better-known dyslexics reads more like a who's who among the world's greatest geniuses. Let us take a look at some of the mind-boggling minds of all times and their inner battles..

Albert Einstein

On 14 March 1879, revolutionary scientist Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. His birthday is celebrated across the globe as "Genius Day". This versatile physicist was dyslexic and could not speak till the age of three and couldn't tie his own shoelaces till he was 13. In school, his teachers hardly had anything good to say about him. He was poor at multiplication, couldn't read well and his spellings were in a sorry state. Einstein's headmaster was heard lamenting to his father that it did not matter what the boy chose, he'd never be successful in anything. Anything known perhaps, which is why he chose to change the way we looked at the universe, forever.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was a slow learner in school. He was shy and spoke with a stutter. He would pronounce the first word of a sentence with a slight stammer, especially words starting with a 'w', when confused during a conversation. He would find it difficult to phrase his thoughts unless it was a topic related to his research.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill once remarked: "We are all worms" and was quick to add, "but I do believe that I am a glow-worm". Churchill called it his "black dog" periods of depression. He was believed to have suffered from cyclothymia, a condition marked by mood swings from misery to elation. He would avoid standing on the edge of station platforms to beat a strong of a train. And when in a good mood, he had an overwhelming belief that he had been singled out for some supremely heroic task and went through manic phases of intense activity.

Lord Byron

Was popularly described by one of his former lovers as "mad, bad and dangerous to know". The poet suffered from bipolar disorder which was perhaps the cause of his wild mood swings. It may have also been the source of some of his poetic genius, as above average creativity is sometimes considered a symptom of bipolar disorder, where one suffers from bouts of both depression and mania. His disorder may also explain that other trait Byron is known for: notorious womanising, brought on by increased libido.

Vincent van Gogh

He is celebrated for his painting but van Gogh could have very well been a writer. Van Gogh suffered from hypergraphia, a condition that would make him expatiate (write continuously), a disorder commonly associated with mania and epilepsy. It is believed that the compendium of over 800 letters van Gogh wrote during his lifetime could be attributed to his overwhelming urge to write. Varying in format some were written backwards and some in different patterns. And then of course, his mental illness, marked by depression and paranoia, eventually led him to cut off part of his own ear and commit suicide.

Isaac Newton

Newton was extremely reticent, had few friends and was ill-tempered around them. He would get so engrossed in his work that he would often forget to eat. Irrespective of the presence of an audience, Newton always gave his scheduled lectures. Despite his limited but intense range of interests, Newton had problems communicating with people. He stumbled in socialising, especially in responding to others, striking a conversation or understanding. He was allegedly suffering from a nervous disorder.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven's challenge was not mental, it was physiological. And more critically, it affected what could be considered his most important sense - that of hearing. At the age of 23 Beethoven started hearing strange noises - the first signs of trouble. He told few about his problem till he could hide it no more and started to use notebooks to communicate. But his music only got better. He channelled all his energy into his compositions, which became more powerful as his deafness worsened. Beethoven composed Symphony No. 9 The Choral, considered one of the greatest musical masterpieces, when he was totally deaf!

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