Jason Padgett has had a pretty crazy decade. The Tacoma, Washington resident was struck in the head during a mugging back in 2002, and the resulting odyssey changed his life in ways he never would’ve imagined. His story was covered in the book Struck By Genius, released in April of 2014, and he recently sat down to update his story with Komo News.
Padgett was a self described “lady killer” before the attack, never showing much interest in topics like math or science. He hadn’t even learned higher level math ideas while in school. So when he started to focus on geometric shapes, drawing intricate designs and discussing high level math theories with customers at his family’s futon shop, people started to notice. The changes all started on a night in 2002 following a visit to a karaoke bar. From Komo News:
Padgett was mugged as he left a Tacoma Karaoke bar in 2002. Just before midnight, two guys jumped him from behind 10 feet outside the front door.
“I remember getting hit and seeing a bright flash and asking for help,” said Padgett. The female friend he was with stood still in shock.
“It’s the only time I thought I was dead for sure,” Padgett as he reenacted the moment at the same spot on the sidewalk 14 years later.
Padgett was taken to the local hospital for treatment, kicking the story into strange territory almost immediately:
At the emergency room, doctors would tell Padgett that he had suffered a “severe concussion” and had a bleeding kidney. He was given painkillers and sent on his way.
Almost immediately, Padgett started seeing the world differently, literally. He says his vision became “pixelated.” He saw everyday objects as geometric patterns.
“It’s like small pictures are laid on top of each other one layer over another,” said Padgett. “I began seeing the discreet structure of the universe and how curves do not exist.”
Like any normal person, Padgett freaked out. He tells Komo how he became a recluse in his own home and dealt with a number of problems, including PTSD and severe headaches. The beneficial side effect was an almost genius ability to tackle math subjects and concepts.
The entire tale is damn interesting and it’s worth at least reading the feature at Komo and then checking out the book. I think the most interesting part is that Padgett’s story isn’t a lone experience. There are at least 77 people across the globe who have experienced some sort of dramatic shift in intelligence following a head injury. An instant savant that can navigate science or the arts at a genius level.
For Padgett, he doesn’t mind what he’s gained from his experience:
“I don’t know if I got smarter or it’s something that I always could have done,” he said.
Despite his OCD, severe migraine headaches and other health issues, Jason says he doesn’t regret getting mugged.
“I wouldn’t change it because the good far outweighs the bad,” he said. “I hope to teach young kids the excitement of math in the terms of how I see it.”
I’m certainly not about to go start banging my head against a wall or pay a bum to beat me with a ball bat, but it is interesting to know that these sort of things are real. They do happen. It reminds me of something like the story of Phineas Gage, except it’s on the next level. Very interesting.
(Via Komo News)