Jason Padgett, 31, college drop-out from Tacoma, WA, drove red Camaro, partied his heart out, was otherwise “normal” and, before September 13, 2002, looked like this:On the night of September 13, 2002, he was mugged by two men at the neighborhood karaoke bar. They attacked him from behind and hit Jason in the back of his head. Jason lost consciousness… and woke up changed man.
Seen through his eyes, the world around him changed, too. He turned tap in the bathroom and saw ‘lines emanating out perpendicularly from the flow.’ ‘At first, I was startled and worried for myself, but it was so beautiful that I just stood in my slippers and stared,’ Padgett recalls.
Suddenly, Padgett developed interest in math and physics. He learned about fractals and started drawing fractals in extreme detail. Needless to say, Jason never showed any discernible talent for drawing, art, math or physics.
Jason’s character has changed, too — he became withdrawn and introverted, obsessed with cleanliness, washing his hands incessantly and wouldn’t his own daughter until making sure she is properly washed.
Now 43, Jason Padgett looks like this:
Padgett traveled to Finland to be studied by Dr Berit Brogaard. Padgett’s brain was studied using fMRI. After the injury, it was determined, neurotransmitters flooded the left side of Padgett’s brain and ultimately changed the structure making him hyper-specialized. Apparently, the left parietal lobe became more activated, which might explain Jason’s new-found genius that changed him and, consequently, his future.
‘I believe I am living proof that these powers lie dormant in all of us,’ Padgett writes in his memoir.
There are currently just 40 people in the world who have been diagnosed with the syndrome, becoming seemingly smarter after a brain injury.
Is it possible such dormant potential resides in all of us but might not, except for central nervous system (CNS) injury, otherwise surface? The acquired savant suggests just that. The challenge, of course, if that is so, is how to tap those hidden abilities without having endured some CNS catastrophe. (Darold A. Treffert, MD, The ‘Acquired’ Savant—’Accidental’ Genius)
“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone,” Jason Padgett says optimistically.
Perhaps. Anyone, I suppose, could become 41st acquired savant in the world… given the “right kind” of brain injury.