Kim Peek: The Case That Inspired Rain Man

Kim Peek’s life shows that we do not know much about our own limits or potential. His existence is proof that reality is paradoxical: All human beings have limitations that can bring great benefits. 
Kim Peek: The case that inspired Rain Man

Kim Peek has a fascinating story that reminds us that all people are wonderfully different. The whole world knew him because of the famous movie Rain Man, which in part portrayed his talent and tragedy.

The “real Rain Man” Kim Peek inspired the film’s plot and script. But his real life was different from what the film shows. This film marked not only a milestone in cinema history, but also in the character’s life, which was the inspiration for the film.

Perhaps Kim Peek’s life is more fascinating than Rain Man’s story. So much so that it is estimated that more than two million people were looking for him just so they could get in touch with him. In addition, several documentaries were made about him.

In fact, even NASA wanted to know more about this sweet man so they could better understand why he was the inspiration behind one of the best films of the 20th century.

Kim Peek and his mental health

Peek was born in 1951 and was immediately diagnosed with mental retardation. He came into the world with a disability, which was the reason why all his doctors recommended that he be admitted to a specialized center. But his family did not agree. They wanted Kim to stay with them, so he did.

Kim Peek had macrocephaly, which meant that he did not develop normally. His brain was too large and lacked the area that connects the two halves of the brain called the cerebral cortex. The prognosis for his life was thus unfavorable.

But Kim’s parents realized that their son was not like everyone else – he was very special. When he was a year old, he could remember every single book that people had read to him. This ability impressed them so much that they had no idea how to handle it.

Peeks memorized over 9,000 books

Kim Peek and his wonderful brain

Kim Peek’s parents noted that their son could learn and remember large amounts of information. They only needed to read something to him once. When he himself finished reading a book, he did not have to look in it ever again. It was not necessary, for he had already memorized it all.

When he was just three years old, he learned to use dictionaries. He read the meaning of the words and learned them immediately. Someone says he managed to memorize as many as 9000 books, which is extremely impressive.

He had the ability to read one page of the book with the right eye and the other page with the left eye. It also went fast; he was able to read two whole pages in just ten seconds.

Kim was also able to perform complex, mathematical tasks in no time. He often picked up the phone book and wrote down a page of phone numbers after looking in the phone book once – this was just for fun.

That was also why, as an adult, he was able to make an entire company’s accounts without the help of a calculator or paper and pen.

Brain on a gray background

A beautiful life

Unlike Rain Man in the movie, Kim Peek was a very loving person. He enjoyed social contact and responded with understanding and care to the people who communicated with him.

Although he had an absolutely incredible memory, he could not draw conclusions from the things he read, and he could not apply his mathematical knowledge to activities other than arithmetic.

In addition, he had various motor problems. For example, he could not walk until he was four years old. He also managed to grow up without being able to button his own shirt or tie his own laces.

Barry Morrow, who was the screenwriter for Rain Man , met him by chance at an event that focused on people with special limitations and potentials. Morrow had already made a film on this subject, but when he met Kim Peek, it all changed.

This meeting prompted him to write the script for Rain Man . Dustin Hoffman, who was the actor who portrayed the character, also met Kim and expressed his admiration on several occasions. Hoffman publicly thanked Peek when he won an Oscar for his performance in this film.

The positive result

The fame also knocked on Kim Peek’s door. His father said this had a positive impact on his life as he made many friends out of it. This wonderful man came into the world to teach us something more about human paradoxes. Unfortunately, he died of cardiac arrest in 2009 at the age of 58.

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