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Is Gazza necessary?

Many people believe that great talent is necessarily bound up with emotional disturbance. They are probably wrong

By Oliver James   July 1998

The Gazza affair provokes a question: what is the relationship between exceptional achievement and emotional disturbance? That there is a relationship is not much in doubt. Studies of artists show higher than expected rates of manic depression, while higher than average rates of adversity are found in the childhoods of exceptional achievers. For example, one third of all prime ministers and presidents lost a parent before the age of 14 and similar rates have been found among famous entrepreneurs (Anita Roddick, Nigel Broackes) and the great novelists, poets and scientists in history.

As it happens, when Gazza was nine his…

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