Playing the Indian Card

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Perils of a High IQ

Multiple studies show a correlation between high intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, and depression, anxiety disorders, autism, ADHD, and autoimmune disorders like allergies and asthma:


Jackson, P. S., & Peterson, J. (2003). Depressive disorder in highly gifted adolescents. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 14, 175–186.

Wraw, C., Deary, I. J., Der, G., & Gale, C. R. (2016). Intelligence in youth and mental health at age 50. Intelligence, 58, 69–79. 005.

Manic depression (“bipolar disorder”):

Gale, C. R., Batty, G. D., McIntosh, A. M., Porteous, D. J., Deary, I. J., & Rasmussen, F. (2013). Is bipolar disorder more common in highly intelligent people? A cohort study of a million men. Molecular Psychiatry, 18(2), 190–194. mp.2012.26

MacCabe, J. H., Lambe, M. P., Cnattingius, S., Sham, P. C., David, A. S., Reichenberg, A., & Hultman, C. M. (2010). Excellent school performance at age 16 and risk of adult bipolar disorder: National cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196, 109–115.

Smith, D. J., Anderson, J., Zammit, S., Meyer, T. D., Pell, J. P., & Mackay, D. (2015). Childhood IQ and risk of bipolar disorder in adulthood: Prospective birth cohort study. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 1, 74–80. bp.115.000455.

Anxiety disorders:

Lancon, C., Martinelli, M., Michel, P., Debals, M., Auquier, P., Guedj, E., & Boyer, L. (2015). Psychiatric comorbidities and quality of life in adult individuals with high potential: Relationships with self-esteem. Presse Medicale (Paris, France: 1983), 44, 177–184.


Rommelse, N., van der Kruijs, M., Damhuis, J., Hoek, I., Smeets, S., Antshel, K. M., & Faraone, S. V. (2016). An evidenced-based perspective on the validity of attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder in the context of high intelligence. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 21–47. neubiorev.2016.08.032.

Allergies, Asthma, and Immune Disorders:

Benbow, C. P. (1985). Intellectually gifted students also suffer from immune disorders. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, 42–44. S0140525X00001059.

Benbow, C. P. (1986). Physiological correlates of extreme intellectual precocity. Neuropsychologia, 24, 719–725.


Clark, T. K., Lupton, M. K., Fernandez-Pujals, A. M., Starr, J., Davies, G., Cox, S., & McIntosh, A. M. (2016). Common polygenic risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with cognitive ability in the general population. Molecular Psychiatry, 21, 419–425.

These citations come from a recent study by Ruth I. Karpinskia, Audrey M. Kinase Kolba, Nicole A. Tetreault, and Thomas B. Borowski, “High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities,” in Elsevier (Karpinski, R.I., Intelligence (2017), The authors surveyed the membership of Mensa, the High IQ Society, and found the frequency of each of these factors among Mensans to be double or triple the rate in the general population.

“It is hardly a new notion,” they note, “that unusually high rates of adult psychopathology are displayed among some of the most eminent geniuses with the poorest in mental health being among imaginative writers such as poets, novelists, and dramatists.” And they cite:

Jamison, K. R. (1993). Touched with fire: Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. New York, NY: Free Press.

Ludwig, A. M. (1992). Creative achievement and psychopathology: Comparison among professions. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 46, 330–356.

Ludwig, A. M. (1995). The price of greatness: Resolving the creativity and madness controversy. New York, NY: Guilford Press

This is just what we would expect based on the Dymphna complex: each of these factors, depression, autism, allergies, and so forth, have also been found to correspond with childhood abuse. The exceptionally intelligent child attracts envy and resentment from the narcissistic parent, and so is more likely to be abused. Envy from siblings or the general population is also more likely.

The best test of the hypothesis would be if a similar correspondence could be found between these symptoms and unusual beauty in women. I predict a similar match, but I do not know that anyone has done the research.

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