Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Real Rain Man

people who are extra-ordinary

Kim Peek -

Mega Savant

A brief look at
"Peek's Peak"
...the height of genius

Kim and Fran Peek

Tell Kim Peek any address in the United States and he’ll recite the local highways and byways, area and zip codes, television stations and interesting historical events – oh, he’ll also tell you where you can go to pay your telephone bill. Ask Kim to button his shirt and he’ll return nothing more than a blank stare. Such is the genius, and disability, of the Real Rain Man.

Kim was diagnosed as severely mentally retarded at the age of nine months and the doctor, in a hurry to make a tee time, recommended Kim be institutionalized – and forgotten. Undeterred, Kim’s parents took him home and have spent the following five decades as eyewitnesses to a sometimes wonderful, and always curious, medical mystery.

Consider the frustration of Kim’s mother when he did not walk until age four. Consider her amazement when he completed memorizing the first eight volumes of the encyclopedia a scant six months later. Consider that at the age of fifty-four he is incapable of dressing himself. Consider that he can instantly recall the exact content of more than 12,000 books. Consider…

Kim reads both pages of a book simultaneously, one with the left eye and one with the right, devoting a mere ten seconds to each standard page of text. Unbowed by brevity, Kim recalls the details of his furious forays at a 98.7% accuracy rate. Consider…

Give Kim your birth date and he will tell you on which day of the week you were born, on which day your birthday will fall this year and, in anticipation of the proverbial gold-watch-moment, on which day of the week your sixty-fifth birthday will fall. Consider...

Unlike most savants, who exhibit a single area of extreme expertise, Kim is a "Mega Savant," exhibiting genius in more than a dozen areas, including History, Geography, World Leaders, Space, Sports, Math, Movies, Shakespeare and the Bible. Consider...

Kim is a complex tangle of “skills and ills” – a truly dichotomous representation of the genius to which we all aspire and the childlike simplicity from which we each evolve.

Virtually unknown prior to Dustin Hoffman's portrayal, Kim has since delighted over a million seminar attendees who have come, clutching arcane facts in eager hands, in vain attempts to take the master to task. He lives in Salt Lake City with his octogenarian father, Fran, who to this day tends to those everyday dilemmas of undone shoelaces and unbuttoned shirts that exist beyond the realm of Kim’s genius.

Says Kim of his relationship with his constant companion, caregiver and friend, “Dad and I share the same shadow.”

The Wisconsin Medical Society provides an excellent overview of Savant Syndrome, and a detailed look at Kim, at this link:


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