Choose a case study from this week’s required text readings (Chapters 6 and 9 of Contemporary Clinical Psychology). Albert Einstein Approved
Write a 1,050- to 1,400-word analysis of your selected case, in which you demonstrate an application of clinical psychology in a real-world situation. About 400 woods
Address the following items:
Use information from at least three peer-reviewed publications to support your points.
Format your analysis consistent with APA guidelines, including a reference page.
The Case of Albert Einstein
“Words or Language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.”
Albert Einstein (Cited in Calaprice, 2000, p. 301)
An accurate diagnosis is especially important when the subject is a child. A child’s developmental path can be altered with a clinical diagnosis, whether that diagnosis is correct or not. Too often parents, teachers, and even clinicians make judgments regarding children’s abilities or disabilities using incomplete data sets, and this is the issue here.
As a scientist, Albert Einstein was one of the most influential figures of modern time. His ideas were not limited to physics alone, and the influence of his theories reaches far beyond the scientific community. He was best known for his specific theory of relativity, as well as the equation describing the relationship between mass and energy (E = mc2). His interest in physics was evident as early as 16 years old, when he sent an essay to his uncle that suggested interest in the subject of luminiferous aether, an important precursor to his theory of relativity. This began a decades-long passion for science that would eventually peak in 1922 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Though this was the most prestigious public recognition for his work, his influence has continued in science, politics, and philosophy beyond his death in 1955 and will continue for the foreseeable future. For example, in 1936 he predicted that when incoming light is interrupted by a massive object such as a galaxy, space is warped and the light is bent, sometimes so markedly that it appears to form a circle around the galaxy. This is referred to as an “Einstein ring” (was he the Lord of the Rings?), but it was not until the 21st century that scientists had the technology to test the theory and have now identified at least 19 instances of Einstein rings.
But could it be that one of the world’s greatest minds was learning disabled? Many have suggested that Einstein displayed characteristics of a variety of disorders. Some have reported that he had developmental delays in speech and reading, while others have claimed that he was dyslexic. Those who believe these speculations to be true often cite his difficulties in both school and his later employment as supporting evidence.
Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany. One myth that still circulates is that he was unable to speak until the age of 4 and did not read until he was 9. Although there was some delay in speech initially, he was speaking in whole sentences between the ages of 2 and 3 (Thomas, 2000). Einstein entered school at the age of 6, and within a year his mother was quoted in a letter to his grandmother, saying, “Yesterday Albert got his grades, once again he was ranked first” (Thomas, 2000, p. 154). Given the time and place of his initial schooling, it is not hard to imagine why a boy with a rapid thought process and dislike for authority in general would be classified as a poor student (Goldsmith & Libbon, 2005). German standards in the late nineteenth century would have called for a child to sit still and endure large amounts of rote memorization, in addition to only answering the teacher’s questions, instead of the other way around. One of his teachers was quoted as saying that he was “forever adrift in his foolish dreams,” a clear indication that Einstein’s ideas were beyond the comprehension of even those who were supposed to be educating him (Thomas, 2000, p. 151).
Again, proponents of the notion that Einstein was learning disabled point to his work history as evidence to support their claim. Following college, he did go through three jobs in 2 years, but two of these were temporary positions, a detail normally left out. The third position was as a teacher in a boarding school, a job for which he was no more suited than he was suited to be a dutiful student. This information, coupled with his living the next 50 years with gainful employment, clearly contradicts the notion that he had an unstable employment history (Thomas, 2000).
Retroactive diagnosis is often problematic; however, the consequences for this type of misdiagnosis are relatively benign when compared with improper pathologizing of children who do not “fit the mold” during their schooling. Many children have subclinical difficulties that parents and teachers feel compelled to address as if they are catastrophic to the child’s future achievement potential. These children may just be different enough to cause concern but are not necessarily at risk. Still others may have perfectly legitimate diagnoses yet are more than capable of succeeding in many areas. The lesson we learn from the case of Albert Einstein (see also the case of Temple Grandin later in this chapter) is that an individual who is not a perfect student is not by definition a failure and may even become markedly productive.
“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics; I can assure you that mine are still greater.”
Albert Einstein to junior high school student, Barbara Wilson, on January 7, 1943 (Cited in Calaprice, 2000, p. 252)
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