|Source: archivio Di Spazio|
Acquired savant syndrome (from the French word “savant”, ‘knowledgeable person’) is a syndrome in which persons suddenly develop extraordinary cognitive abilities, remarkable artistic skills (in music, drawing, painting, sculpture) or impressive calculating abilities. This new and extraordinary state emerges following a brain injury (head trauma, initial frontotemporal dementia, stroke, hemorrhage, tumor) often confined to the left hemisphere. Until 2017, less than 50 hyperskilled persons have officially been recorded, a rare biological condition still full of questions. I’ve been lucky to meet a person who represents the exception in the exception; SS, a 54-year old man, corrected left-handed, presenting with acquired savant syndrome. Here are the exceptionalities of this case: first of all, he’s a long-surviving patient, because he’s presently in clinical remission after undergoing surgery for IV-grade glioblastoma multiforme to the right temporal lobe in spring 2013. Furthermore, he has developed extraordinary calculating skills not following the ablation of the tumor (in other documented cases, lesions concern the left hemisphere and represent the starter for the development of new abilities), but after the death of a friend for the same pathology. He reports that mental calculations are for him a life-saving remedy, an effective way to set his mind free from destructive thoughts that have been tormenting him after that emotional trauma (“next time is my turn”). In his case it is clear that acquired savant syndrome is a coping strategy to cope with the effects of the traumatic experience of grief and mourning. In other words, is it possible that savant persons’ super powers hide a therapeutic function of cognitive defusion through artistic expressions or extraordinary calculating performances?