13 November 2009

Dr. Gene D. Cohen

Over the weekend I heard through the grapevine that Dr. Gene D. Cohen had passed away.

Colleague Brent Green knew him, and crafted a tribute:

imageIn Memoriam: Dr. Gene Cohen, A Creative, Thoughtful visionary For Boomers and All Aging Generations 
For those in business and marketing, Dr. Cohen’s research and clinical observations provide exciting new insights into aging, while creating vast opportunities for new products and services and reframing outdated societal myths.

Here’s a short piece by Dr. Cohen that touches upon much of his research:

A New Perspective on Sustaining and Increasing Learning Capacity With Age
image Postformal thought itself often results in new learning strategies, novel insights and creative problem solving. It allows us to examine in new ways information we have had or situations we have been in for some time, bringing new perspectives and understanding into our awareness. In this sense, it can promote creativity with aging -- bringing something new into existence that is valued. It can lead to new breakthroughs in thinking -- not despite aging, but because of aging.

The mainstream press wasn’t jumping all over Dr. Cohen’s passing.  I wondered why.  I’m still wondering why. But finally:

Gene D. Cohen, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Dies at 65
image His outlook was optimistic, which he conveyed in books for general audiences. As research in the 1990s began to show that the brain was less susceptible to being ravaged by age than had previously been thought …

imageThe Washington Post now has an obituary:
"The magic bullets are all blanks," he said in 1998, advising people to rely on "intellectual sweating" instead of pills and herbs for good mental health. "Make it a point to learn something new, instead of turning to hormones or ginkgo biloba."

Although the medical establishment tended to treat aging as a disease when he started his career, Dr. Cohen found that the later adult years can be a time of great creativity.

In 2006 I blogged about Dan Pink and David Galenson and what they were saying about this subject:

What Kind of Genius Are You?
A new theory suggests that creativity comes in two distinct types - quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet …

More from the NYT:

Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain

Goodbye, Dr. Cohen.  Hello, all his accomplishments.

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