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Case Study on Brooke Shields

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Case Study Paper
Albert Einstein once said of himself, “Words or Language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.” (as cited in Chapman, Meyer & Weaver, 2009, p. 263). Albert Einstein was born in Ulm Germany on March the 19th 1879 (Chapman, Meyer & Weaver, 2009). When Einstein was 16 years old he sent a draft essay to his uncle on the subject of luminiferous aether. This began his scientific journey that would culminate in the quantification of the relationship between energy and matter: E=mc2. Nevertheless, before Einstein was made famous by his astrophysical postulations he navigated the not-so-easy waters of Germany primary and secondary school. He showed a slight delay in speech initially and was ranked poorly by many of his primary school teachers (Chapman, Meyer & Weaver, 2009). Einstein was not diagnosed with a learning disorder (LD) during his lifetime, so any such conjectures would constitute a purely retrospective diagnosis. To that end, it is imperative to examine the biological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral components of developmental learning disorders (DLD) in order to determine the validity of a retrospective diagnosis of DLD in the case of Albert Einstein.
Biological Component
DLD affects about 3% of children in the United States and entails a delay in language acquisition and assimilation below what is normal for a specific age (Clegg et. al., 2005). One biological explanation of DLD is that, “…a developmental delay in the dominant hemisphere…’disinhibits’ the nondominant parietal lobe, unmasking talents—artistic or otherwise” (Chakravarty, 2009, p. 100). In the specific case of Albert Einstein, the post-mortem examination of his brain revealed that, “…the stem of the lateral sulcus was found to be continuous with the bottom end of the postcentral sulcus” (Chakravarty, 2009, p. 100). As a result of this difference in neuro-anatomy the areas of the brain usually associated with creativity and abstraction—inferior parietal lobules—are undivided, which is not usually the case. Furthermore, it is clear that dominant hemisphere damage, even later in life, can lead to the unmasking of artistic talent. In all, there are clear biological precursors and correlates associated with DLD—whether they are caused by innate predisposition or injury.
Emotional Component
Social, behavioral, and emotional problems can result from DLD. The most common of these problems, according to several longitudinal studies, are, “… anxiety-related symptoms, social and behavioral difficulties and attention-deficit problems” (Clegg et. al., 2005, p. 129). Also, it cannot be overlooked that DLD can affect development well into the adult years. The emotional and financial burden placed on parents, caregivers, and educations can be substantial if learning development is impeded into the adult years. Adults with DLD exhibit problems with acquiring and maintaining friendships, relationships, and acquaintances. Since independent living is not always possible with adults who suffer from DLD the burden is on the parents to support the affected adult. In the case of Einstein, one of his teacher’s described him as backward and, “…mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams” (Marlin, 2000, p. 151). However, even though some emotional turmoil visited Einstein as a result of his teacher’s criticism, his daydreaming was beyond the comprehension of those educating him (Chapman, Meyer, Weaver, 2009). Einstein has no emotional dysfunction in his adult years.
Cognitive Component
The DSM-IV-TR classifies learning disorders as, “When individuals demonstrate abilities below the level that would be expected given their age and grade level in school based upon an arbitrary gap” (BehaveNet clinical capsule, 1996-2010, n.p.). This definition however does not stipulate exactly what type of deficiencies must be present for a diagnosis of DLD. To ascertain that information the diagnostic category of Reading Disorder must be considered: “Reading achievement, as measured by individually administered standardized tests of reading accuracy or comprehension, is substantially below that expected given the person's chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education” (BehaveNet clinical capsule, 1996-2010, n.p.). This definition specifies only reading accuracy and achievement as the criteria for a diagnosis. Even though higher rates of psychiatric disorder have been observed in those suffering from DLD, no research has specifically identified cognitive difficulties, theory of mind deficits, or knowledge acquisition problems in diagnosed patients later in life (Clegg, 2005). Notwithstanding, many study groups of children suffering from a host of developmental disorders (dyslexia, math disorder, reading disorder, etc…) also show many cognitive strengths—such as advanced problem solving skills and visuospatial abilities (Chakravarty, 2009). In the case of Einstein it is clear that his abilities in the realm of visuospatial conception far outpaced his initial delay in speech and scholastic development.
Behavioral Component
The delay in speech that Einstein exhibited prompted him to use many types of behavior to compensate, such as saying sentences to himself before using the sentence in social situations (Marlin, 2000). These adaptive behaviors could have been used to offset impairments in phonological processing—specifically the phonological loop component of working memory (Clegg, 2005). According to Einstein’s sister this habit persisted until his seventh year, but then abated shortly thereafter never to return again. The fact that the behavior abated is actually evidence that Einstein did not suffer from a learning disorder, since actual DLD does not resolve itself arbitrarily.
Conclusion
In conclusion, even though it is clear that Einstein had a delay in speech, exhibited abnormal behavioral tendencies, and had several neurological anomalies, it is not clear that a retrospective diagnosis of DLD is warranted. For one, Einstein did not persist with the habit of repeating sentences to himself beyond the seventh year. Second, his other cognitive strengths so outpaced his delayed acquisition of speech that the former almost negates the latter. In all, the academic tension and delayed speech point to some type of language dysfunction, but maybe at the sub-disorder level.

References
BehaveNet clinical capsule. (1996-2010) APA diagnostic classification: DSM-IV TR. Retrieved February 23, 2010, from http://www.behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/dsm4TRclassification.htm
Chapman, K., Meyer, R.G., Weaver, C.M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal psychology. New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon.
Chakravarty, A. (2009). Taare Zameen Par and dyslexic sevants. Annals of Indian Academic Neurology, 12(2), 99-103. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from Academic Search Complete database.
Clegg, J., Hollis, C., Mawhood, L., Rutter, M. (2005). Developmental language disorders-a follow-up in later adult life. Cognitive, language, and psychosocial outcomes. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 46(2), 128-149. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from Academic Search Complete database.
Hansell, J. & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.
Marlin, T. (2000). Albert Einstein and LD: An evaluation of the evidence. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33(2), 149. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from Academic Search Complete database.

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