There is hardly a mental disorder that has been so hyped in Hollywood and at the same time evokes such strong sympathy from viewers as Savant Syndrome. It was for the role of Raymond Babbitt, the insane genius from the movie Rain Man, that Dustin Hoffman received one of his Oscars. Getting used to such an unusual image before filming began, the actor talked for a long time with one of the most famous savants of our time, Kim Peak. For the record, savants are people with brain damage who have phenomenal ability in one or more areas but lag behind in some others. So who is Kim Peek and what is he famous for?
Kim learned to read at the age of 16 months and read a lot and often. At the age of three, he read newspapers and used an explanatory dictionary to explain the meaning of unfamiliar words. By the age of seven he knew the Bible by heart. After reading a book in his home library, he turned it over on the shelf so as not to return to it. But at the same time, he could not dress himself, wash himself or go to the toilet. Due to the underdevelopment of the cerebellum, a disorder of coordination of movements was observed. Despite the fact that the general picture of his illness was known - the absence of the so-called corpus callosum of the brain, connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain, there were many ambiguities for the doctors - neither this nor other congenital brain abnormalities should have led to either dementia or, even more so for giftedness. Nevertheless, Kim Peek demonstrated something unprecedented - his diseased brain was like a computer. First, he developed his own reading technique, in which he read the right page with his right eye and at the same time with his left - the left. Thus, it took him about 8-10 seconds to read a spread of a standard book. At the same time, what he read forever remained in his memory with amazing accuracy, down to the smallest details. For example, Kim kept in mind the contents of thousands of books he had read. For this ability to remember a huge amount of information, Kim was even nicknamed "Kim Pewter."
In 1984, a meeting took place, which, although it did not turn Kim's life, became to some extent fateful - it was thanks to the meeting with the writer Barry Morrow that the whole world learned about the phenomenal man, the mentally disabled genius. So, Morrow met with Peak as part of the Mentally Retarded Association's program of events. However, this ‘mentally retarded’ shocked the writer so much that that meeting was embodied in the script of the famous film “Rain Man” with Dustin Hoffman. So "Kim Pewter" became the prototype of the "Oscar-winning" film, however, the plot of the film does not in any way repeat the events of the life of Kim Peek himself, and the real hero did not actually suffer from autism, which Hoffman's character turned out to be susceptible to. On the other hand, the unexpected popularity, as well as meetings with actors and directors, served the previously withdrawn and avoiding people Pik a good service - he became bolder, learned to talk about himself and gave many disabled people a chance to believe in themselves. Kim stopped being afraid of people, even began to joke, read fiction books, in particular, the books of Stephen King.
The success of the film "Rain Man" had a positive effect on the fate of Pick: he received a bunch of offers to participate in various events. This had a positive effect on Kim's self-confidence. Barry Morrow allowed Peak to take his Oscar with him to all these events. Later this statuette became known as the "Favorite Statuette of the Oscar" because it was held by more people than any other copy of this well-known film award. He made friends, traveled a lot around the world, demonstrating his abilities. According to Fran Pick, in the last 21 years of his life, Kim has flown over 3 million miles and talked to 64 million people. Moreover, immediately after gaining fame, and 20 years after the first request, Kim was presented with a certificate of education (the first time he was refused because of his diagnosis).
The real life story of Kim Peak was told by his father, Frank Peak, in his book A Real Rain Man. The book came out in 1996 and sparked a wave of interest in Savant Syndrome in general and Kim Peek in particular. It was found that in the world there are no more than 25 people suffering from a similar disease.
Since 1988, Kim has undergone regular psychological testing and brain research. His overall intelligence quotient (IQ) was around 87, but there was significant variability in the results, with some indicating an extremely high level of intelligence and others indicating dementia.
To the amazement of scientists, his abilities increased with age. Despite his physical ailment, in 2002 he learned to play the piano. He played mainly from memory, could shift the parts of various instruments to the piano. He was familiar with hundreds of classical pieces of music, he could tell where and when each of them was written and first performed, named the name of the composer and various details of his life. He could spend hours talking about the peculiarities of the musical form and tonality of the works of certain composers and guessing the authorship of works unknown to him.
Kim Peek died on December 19, 2009 in a hospital in Salt Lake City from a heart attack at the age of 58.