Eisenman, Russell. Creativity, Mental Illness and Crime.

Author:Iglesias, Fidel
Position:Book review
 
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Eisenman, Russell. Creativity, Mental Illness and Crime. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2007. 139 pages. Paper, $33.56.

The author, a psychiatrist who has worked in both public and private settings over the years, has compiled various of his writings into a controversial volume that examines the interactions among creativity, mental illness, and crime. Based on published sources, data compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice, the author's professional experiences in a prison treatment program and private practice, and primary research, Eisenman tentatively concludes that these variables oftentimes complement each other with legally unfortunate results. This finding challenges the prevalent assumption, which, while conceding some private and community dysfunction does exist among the artistically and scientifically inclined, posits that creative personalities usually channel their gifts in socially acceptable ways.

This collection of essays is a useful contribution to a paltry literature on the influence of creativity and diseases of the mind on criminal deviance, thus expanding the analytical horizons of earlier studies into the origins of juvenile delinquency (see, for example, Mark C. Anderson and Gerald R. Stoffer, "Creative Thinking and Juvenile Delinquency: A Study of Delinquent and Nondelinquent Youth on the Tolerance Tests of Creative Thinking," Adolescence 14, no. 53 (Spring 1979):221-31). It is written from a practitioner's perspective and not, exclusively, that of an academician. Eisenman does not intend this to be a definitive academic tome on the subject. He offers the experience and intuition of someone in the criminal justice trenches, which he mixes with tantalizing preliminary research results, and then reaches plausible conclusions whose validity time will tell. As a lawyer who has worked with the legally deviant, including...

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