In a famous study
by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, entitled Cradles of Eminence, the home
backgrounds of 300 highly successful people were investigated. These 300 subjects
had made it to the top. They were men and women whose names everyone would recognize
as brilliant in their fields such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston
Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Clara Barton, Gandhi, Einstein, and Freud. The
intensive investigation into their early home lives yielded some surprising

  • Three fourths
    of the children were troubled either by poverty, by a broken home, or by rejecting,
    over possessive, or dominating parents.
  • Seventy-four
    of 85 writers of fiction or drama and 16 of the 20 poets came from homes where,
    as children, they saw tense psychological drama played out by their parents.
  • Physical handicaps
    such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs characterized over one-fourth
    of the sample.

How did these people
go on, then, to such outstanding accomplishments? Most likely by compensation.
They compensated for their weaknesses in one area by excelling in another.

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