If only one lesson might be drawn from this analysis of talent, it would be that high-level mathematics departs radically from its popular portrayal as a dryly rational discipline, dominated by sheer deductive power, on which emotions have no bearing. Quite the contrary; the most potent of human emotions — love, hope, pain, or despair — hold sway over the relationship these mathematicians entertain with their number friends. When there is a passion for mathematics, talent does not lag very far behind. If, conversely, a child develops math anxiety, this phobia can prevent even the simplest of mathematical concepts from falling into place.

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