tv Tavis Smiley PBS March 14, 2017 6:30am-7:01am PDT
>>go good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. tonight first a conversation with best-selling author an psychologist dr. gail saltz. her latest book "the power of difference, the link between disorder and genius" explores how disabilities can be your greatest assets. singer and instrumentalist jacob collier joins us to discuss his grammy award winning album "in my room," and he will be joined by take six for a special performance. all of that and more coming up in just a moment. ♪ ♪ and by the robert wood
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ and by the robert wood johnson foundation, working with diverse partners to build a national culture of health so that everyone in america can live productive and healthy lives. the california endowment. health happens in neighborhoods. learn more. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. ♪ thank you. ♪ for decades
psychologists have explored how some people with mental health challengers are able to become extraordinary achievers despite being labeled different. psychologist dr. gail saltz says the unique wiring of every brain can be a source of strength and productivity. in her new book, she examines the connection between creativity and minds that are wired differently. dr. saltz good to have you on the program. >> thank you for having me. >> when we say minds wired different, we mean what? >> in this book i'm addressing various mental health issues will be disabilities. i want to say to some degree all of our minds are wired differently. in fact, there is data that will be coming out soon to look at, quote, normal brains and show the tremendous variation that exists among brains. we think, oh, it is black or white, it is different or you're not. but really there's great differences. sometimes differences arise to
the point they cause suffering in life, a challenge, like a mental health diagnosis or a learning disability. >> for those who don't end up suffering in that way yet are different -- >> yes. >> -- or in some ways deficient, how do they overcome that? >> what i try to point out because this is most important, is first of all you have to acknowledge there's something going on that's causing you suffering because that's how you get an evaluation and treatment, and you want treatment because treatments work for all of these issues very well, and it helps to set you back on track. but even if you are suffering tremendously, what i also want people to understand is very hard wiring that causes you to have this difference, that causes the suffering, is often connected to a very particular
strength that is also hard wired in, that actually if you can become aware of -- and this is particularly important for, say, parents of kids struggling -- if you can become aware of that strength and play to that strength, it can often lead to tremendous success. >> why do we tend to first see then the deficiency or the weakness versus the strength? >> well, i would say because we are searching for things that are problems. that's the kind of nation we are, if you think about it. >> yeah. >> and we are focused on fixing problems, and that's understandable to some degree. but when people are struggling, we tend not to think, maybe they have something extraordinarily wonderful about them. for example, when you get a diagnosis of autism, most parents are very distraught. that's understandable. but it is not their tendency to think, what is my child doing when they maybe are lining up something or have some particular spatial relation ability or they seem to be able
to memorize that book, what might we be able to use those strength toward to help my child exceed and succeed? actually, many of these problems, mood issues, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, anxiety disorders, they are connected to things like extraordinary original thought, high creativity, pattern recognition? it depends on what we're talking about. >> yeah. we recently had a kid on this program, literally a few weeks ago named owen whose father is a great rider, their film was nominated for an academy award, and owen has memorized every script disney has ever made. >> there you go. that's not an unusual story for a child with autism. obviously this parent was tuned in, but they have to know that's tuned in, and they need to talk to educators about using that strength in school so the child can build on it. >> i hear you encouraging people to make sure they acknowledge the deficiencies, that the challenge exists. >> yes. >> yet persons oftentimes don't want to know it and they don't want it on their child's record because there's no guarantee my child will grow up to be sir richard branson who overcame his problem. if that follows you then -- >> yes, the concern is stigma,
but it is sad but true in 2017 we still stigmatize these kinds of issues. what i'm hoping to get across to people is what a mistake that is. i mean if you told me you had diabetes or you told me you had heart disease, i would not say, wow, well, you know, i don't want anything to do with you and i don't want that on my record, et cetera. the brain is an organ like any other organ, and when it has something going on that is a trouble, a problem, it is not the person's fault. it is not a moral deficiency. it is a biological issue that needs a treatment. and we have to start seeing that, not only that is the case, which is that people shouldn't be ashamed because it is not
something they caused or they did or they did to their child, but that the brain is very plastic. it keeps changing as time goes on. and when you intervene early with treatment, you make neurologic changes that can actually alleviate that person's suffering, and to some degree be protective and help them to not relapse. so the brain, unlike other organs, keeps changing which is why it is important to step in and do something about it. lastly, you might be missing the boat that you, your child, yourself or anybody you love thai have some real ability that you're not looking at, you're not getting tested for. i mean who is to say that your child won't be the next richard branson? i realize not everybody can be, but probably many more people can be succeeding if they didn't feel so stigmatized and their self-esteem weren't so torn apart by feeling that they have something they have to hide, and it is terrible and they can't seek help. >> is there a link though between disorder and genius? >> absolutely. that's what i've tried to point
out. the phenomenon is called the u-shaped curve, meaning people who are highly creative and have extraordinary ability are likely to have a little mental illness than people with no mental illness or people with severe mental illness. i'm not saying people who are very, very ill -- especially if they're unstreeted -- will be able to take whatever innate ability they have and use it. that's why i want you to get treatment. >> sure. >> i am saying if you look at all of the iconic geniuses in history, the hemingways, the van goghs, the abraham lincolns, the albert einsteins, they all had a mental health diagnosis. if you removed those people from history who had mental health issues, you would have no history. i think it is important that people understand -- and i give you the data in here to support that really having one of these issues actually may mean that you have an ability that even people who don't have these issues, you might have that ability.
>> does the overabundance of gift or skill or talent in one area automatically equate to an under -- >> so i know exactly what you're saying. >> yeah, yeah. >> it is not like, oh, you know, we short-term you here so you get to have here, but the way the brain is wired and connected it is often the case that -- for example, with dyslexia, there's something going on in the left hemisphere of the brain that makes it difficult for you to process words and therefore be able to comprehend and read them. but there seems to be something because of that connection that's also connected to the right hemisphere that is amplified and means you have better spatial relations ability perhaps than other people. for instance, i talk about a doctor in here, a dr. beryl benisrat who discovered a way to diagnose downs syndrome in utero. she could see it because things popped out to her on ultrasound and radiograph from a visual/spatial relations side that other people couldn't see. that's because she had severe dyslexia. so the wiring that is present in one part that may cause a deficit also is connected to
other areas that actually may provide a relative strength, a huge strength in some instances or, you know, you talked about richard branson. i mean having add, means you have difficulty regulating your concentration, but it also means that you have a very high flow of ideas, often divergent, unusual, creative ideas. when it comes in big bursts because you're imagining a lot, you can't concentrate on whatever, the arithmetic put in front of you, you innovate at a high level and you are impulsive. you're willing to take the risk of taking those innovative ideas and making them happen, that gets you an edge. that's why a lot of ceos or high level entrepreneurs in creative businesses actually have add. >> i always seem to note a particular humanity and sensitivity they may have even if they're wrestling with certain mental issues. i think of dr. king.
most folks don't know this, but great leader that dr. king was suffered from mania. it is that mania that researchers believe led to the radical empathy he had for other people. >> you are correct. >> does it make sense to you? >> it is actually -- not only does it make sense to me, but it is true. that is because for some of these illnesses, emotional centers of the brain are, let's say, over vigilant, on high alert. you have high empathy and you have an ability to scan the emotion of others and stand in their shoes and really read them in a certain kind of way that's very -- comes out as very intuitive, let's say. in addition to that, if you have suffered with one of these problems -- so, for instance, if you had mania, that meant you also probably had depression. so if you have suffered through that and you have part of your package as how that felt, you often have a unique ability to sympathize with others, for
others. it gives you a resilience having made it through that and an ability to tap into others suffering. >> maybe what the world needs is a little mania. >> maybe so. >> i digress. anything that brings about more empathy i'm for. the book is called "the power of different, the link between disorder and genius" by dr. gail saltz. thank you nor the work and for being on the program. >> thank you for having me. >> up next, singer jacob collier and a performance with take six. stay with us. ♪ ♪ 22-year-old jacob collier first gained notice and millions of views on youtube. he has gone on to create his own debut grammy-winning album called "in my room." leave that cover up for a second, jonathan. thank you. first of all, jacob, good to have you on the program. describe this room you are looking at in london where you make all of this magic.
>> it is almost like a circular cave and it is filled to the brim with instruments. there are way too many instruments in the room. there's guitars, pianos, percussion, strange miscellaneous things like marble also and things and all come together to create this orchestra detail. >> you design this and you know where everything is? >> i was born and bred. this house was my playground since i was born. it is the same room i had when i was two or three years old. >> you turned it into your own personal studio. >> yes, i have collected and it is magical in there. >> i have been reading about your background. it seems you didn't have a choice but to be in music given your family story.
tell me your back story. >> music was in every corner of the house. it was kind of like a second language. my mother, in particular, would play the violin to me when i was little, when i was on her lap. it was earth, wind and fire, it was stevie wonder, all of these crazy music that came together in my head, and somehow i made sense of it as a child. >> yeah. how did you, being exposed to so much, not get confused by get inspired? put it another way, how did you hear -- how were you hearing all of this and able -- and somehow were able to figure out what path you wanted to pursue? >> i'm wondering if it is something to do with the brain of a millennial potentially, but there's so much over stimulation going on we need to find a way to be hit with this information and make sense of it. so i was just like a sponge as a kid. everything went in and then something happened in my head
that meant that i could then speak that language back. but it was very jacob flavored, you know, so i wasn't afraid of variety, and everything was like a big adventure for me i guess. >> did you say jacob flavor? i love it! high five on that one, man. i like that. >> right. >> you can't sell it, ain't nobody going to buy it. jacob flavored. speaking of jacob flavored, i mentioned a moment ago some of the stuff you were listening to. tell me about what had the most pro found impact on you. >> i said stevie. stevie has to be my number one for a number of reasons. first of all, he does everything himself and i feel that. i feel that. it feels really good. second of all, besides the musical genius that he is, there's this overwhelming sense of joy he exudes all time. now days i don't hear that same joy on the radio. you know, it is like a roar, acoustic -- it is sort of infectious feely of joy that stevie -- i know no one else who gives me that feeling like stevie. for me, i was drawn to him more than other people. there's so much with stevie. there's that whole kind of ten-year genius period and you can go in and explore it. >> there's so much good music these days coming out of london, as you certainly know. >> yes, sir. >> obviously a lot of people winning grammy awards coming out
of london. >> yes. >> what did growing up in london, growing up in that environment mean for you musically? >> london is cultural mixing pot so everything can exist there. i always feel the british have a slight sense of ire ronnie whenever addressing anything not british, also including things that are british, but with regard to music, especially jazz. we took the american sense of jazz in its moan raw state and then applied things which are integral to it to britain, like folk music, classical music. those overtones exist above the popular music we have been growing up with. for me it was a world where everything coexist happily, and i was happy to be a part of that i guess and to -- to be drinking up everything that i could find. >> when i first came to know of you, and for that matter so many others around the world, you were doing that sort of brady bunch screen, the multiple screen. tell me how that idea came to be. >> well, i always layered things up in terms of sound, but i had seen -- i don't remember what it was, but someone on youtube was doing that, cutting up the
things they were doing and displaying in boxes and it made sense to me i guess. it made sense at that time to think, i can look around and see what is going on. there's the guitar, there's the bass. they're singing, and singing, all of these different heads. i thought it would be fun to try it. i never thought i would try to do this and have a career. it was more this is a challenge, and this is something that my skill set can directly apply to. you know, i love symmetry, i love organization and i love -- i'm sort of unashamed perfectionist. when it comes to organizing boxes, that's something i can do, you know. >> so i came to see you as others did, as i mention, in videos online. i came to know you and to have you on this program through our mutual friend quincy jones. i have known q a little longer than you have. >> right. >> i've been friends for years. i was thinking whether or not -- i don't want to insult you. but i was just thinking what it must mn to you, not whether you understand but how you process the fact that you are now in the pantheon of a lot of
great artists before you who quincy has introduced, who he has collaborated with. you are talking frank sinatra to michael jackson to everybody in between, quincy has done it and quincy says, tavis, you have to meet this kid, jacob collier. >> it is crazy. i still pinch myself about it. sometimes when you hang out with him, it is easier to relate to him at a human level instead of try to address the pantheon you were talking about and his kind of kingship. it is nice to spend time with quincy the man because he is outstanding, as you know. every once in a while you realize he is the guy in the studio with thriller, he pend frank sinatra's arrangement. with quincy, you get this sense of love off that guy. you know, he has such a feeling for humanity and he likes to
bring people's humanity out of the person. people don't do that. in his position, i have met people who push it back inside, you know, or sort of become a superior thing. he never -- he never cast those shadows. for me that's so inspiring to see the guy at the top of the whole industry, the king, and he's like that. that's inspiring. >> yeah. if you didn't know he were quincy jones, you wouldn't know he was quincy jones. >> right. >> he is such a humanist. >> yes. >> such a great job. tell me about the project. we know you do it in your room but now you have your grammy on your shelf, in your room. tell me about the project. >> i wanted to crystallize the room. it was my magical process of making music, as i said, since i was two or three years old and i wanted to -- i get the feeling that i will be departing this
particular workspace in a certain kind of way over the next few years. as i travel more and collaborate more, but this as my childhood playground and general wonder land, it was something i wanted to crystallize. i guess just so i could keep it for myself, you know. >> and in terms much musical content? >> it is three covers, eight original also. all three covers are important to me. one is a stevie wonder song. >> have to have a stevie song. >> yeah. the second is a brian wilson song called "in my room" which is the name of the project and then there's the flint stones for which i have no explanation. >> well, i won't ask you then. >> all right. >> if there's no explanation, no sense in asking about it. speaking of hanging out with great artists like quincy jones, there's another set of great artists in this studio right about now who are going to join jacob collier and perform "you and i" from his album "in my room." we are honored to have take six back here and it doesn't get better than those guys. >> they're great. >> i will say thank you for tuning in. good night as always. keep the faith but don't move. here comes jacob collier and take six. ♪ ♪ here we are er ♪ together it is you and i ♪ god has made us fall in love
♪ in love, you and i ♪ you and i ♪ oh, oh, you and i ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ you and i ♪ oo, oo, you and i ♪ you and i ♪ i am glad ♪ oh, i am glad ♪ at least in my life i found someone ♪ ♪ who may not be here forever to see me through ♪ ♪ here forever to see me through ♪ ♪ but i found strength in you ♪ i found strength in you ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ i only pray that i have shown
for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> i'm tavis smiley. join me next time with a conversation with cognitive scientist george lakoff about the consciousness of framing a conscious thought. that's next time. see you then. ♪ ♪ ♪ and by the robert wood johnson foundation, working with diverse partners to build a national culture of health so that everyone in america can live productive and healthy lives.
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