In “The Ecstasy and Tragedy of a Genius,” author Peter F. Oswald shares the story of a famous and successful composer and pianist, Glenn Gould. Glenn Gould was born on September 25, 1932 to his mother Florence Emma Gould and father Russell Herbert Gould. Even before Glenn was born, his mother was determined that her “[…] child would have to be a successful musician, hopefully a great pianist” (Ostwald, 1997, p.39). At the age of three, both parents realized that Glenn was talented and gifted with absolute pitch (Ostwald 1997, p.44). Despite Glenn’s success, he went through challenges during his lifetime, but he overcame these challenges in a specific way that was appropriate for him. Some of the apparent challenges in Glenn’s life evolved around anxiety and included performing in front of audiences, fearing illness, and forming relationships with others. It is important to understand how these challenges established and how certain defense mechanisms helped him overcome these challenges.
Firstly, I feel the greatest challenge Glenn faced was his fear of performing in front of large audiences and crowds that were present during his performances. Glenn being a successful pianist attracted many people to come watch him perform. As well, without performing in front of large crowds the audience would not have been able to witness the unique way in which Glenn sat at the piano including his posture, which created a ton of attraction. However, the idea of performing in front of large audiences was not something that Glenn felt comfortable with and sometimes it led him to cancel his shows. Audiences in general I feel created distrust for Glenn because the audience is focusing their attention solely on him and possibly judging him. Consid...
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American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
Hart, J., & Björgvinsson, T. (2010). Health anxiety and hypochondriasis: Description and treatment issues highlighted through a case illustration. Bulletin Of The Menninger Clinic, 74(2), 122-140. doi:10.1521/bumc.2010.74.2.122
Ostwald, Peter, F. (1997). Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius. New York: London. W.W. Norton & Company.
Vaillant, G. E. (1994). Ego mechanisms of defense and personality psychopathology. Journal Of Abnormal Psychology, 103(1), 44-50. Doi:10.1037/0021-843X.103.1.44.
Vaillant, G. E. (2000). Adaptive mental mechanisms: Their role in a positive psychology. American Psychologist, 55(1), 89-98. Doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.89.
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