The Extremes of the Bell Curve: Excellent and Poor School Performance and Risk for Severe Mental Disorders

The Extremes of the Bell Curve: Excellent and Poor School Performance and Risk for Severe Mental Disorders

The Extremes of the Bell Curve: Excellent and Poor School Performance and Risk for Severe Mental Disorders

The Extremes of the Bell Curve: Excellent and Poor School Performance and Risk for Severe Mental Disorders

Synopsis

It has long been claimed that there is a strong association between high intelligence, or exceptional creativity, and mental illness. In this book, James MacCabe investigates this claim, using evidence from Swedish population data. He finds evidence that children who achieve either exceptionally high, or very low grades at school, are at greater risk of adult mental health disorders.

This book opens with an introduction to the epidemiology of psychosis with particular emphasis on cognitive performance and creativity. It goes on to provide a detailed description of the rationale, methods and results of a population study involving nearly a million individuals, conducted by Dr MacCabe in collaboration with colleagues in Stockholm, Sweden, and London, UK.

The Extremes of the Bell Curve will be of interest to mental health professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists and epidemiologists. It will also prove useful to those working in education.

Excerpt

This book is a detailed description of the rationale, methods and results of the Study of Premorbid School Performance in Schizophrenia and other Psychoses (SP), which I conducted between 2004 and 2007, in collaboration with colleagues in Stockholm and London. At the time of writing I believe it remains the largest study to date to investigate the association between school performance in childhood and risk for psychosis in adulthood.

The term ‘bell curve’ refers to the shape of the distribution of iq scores, or school grades, in the population. the notion of the bell curve was made famous (or infamous) by Hernstein and Murray, in their 1994 book of the same name (Herrnstein and Murray, 1994). the central finding of this research is that individuals at the highest and lowest ends of the bell-shaped distribution of school grades are at increased risk of severe mental disorders, compared with those with intermediate scores. I should make it clear that this book does not have any bearing on the controversial claims made in Herrnstein and Murray’s book, particularly about alleged ethnic iq differences.

I have tried to make the research accessible to a broader audience, such as other mental health professionals, educationalists, people suffering from psychoses, their families, or anyone else who may be interested in this work. To that end, I have tried to use as few technical terms as possible, and to define those that may be unfamiliar to non-specialists. the first three chapters are particularly aimed at this audience, and provide an introduction . . .

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