IQ and Health: Maybe Plausible?

October 16, 2019

DarkCyber noted the Scientific American (is this an oxymoron now?) article “Bad News for the Highly Intelligent: Superior IQs Aare Associated with Mental and Physical Disorders, Research Suggests.” DarkCyber enjoys the waffling baked into to the phrase “research suggests.”

The write up states:

The survey of Mensa’s highly intelligent members found that they were more likely to suffer from a range of serious disorders.

The write up reports:

The biggest differences between the Mensa group and the general population were seen for mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

A reasonable question to pose is, “Why?” Well, there is an answer:

To explain their findings, Karpinski [the researcher] and her colleagues propose the hyper brain/hyper body theory. This theory holds that, for all of its advantages, being highly intelligent is associated with psychological and physiological “over excitabilities,” or OEs. A concept introduced by the Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski in the 1960s, an OE is an unusually intense reaction to an environmental threat or insult. This can include anything from a startling sound to confrontation with another person.

We noted this paragraph:

Psychological OEs include a heighted tendency to ruminate and worry, whereas physiological OEs arise from the body’s response to stress. According to the hyper brain/hyper body theory, these two types of OEs are more common in highly intelligent people and interact with each other in a “vicious cycle” to cause both psychological and physiological dysfunction. For example, a highly intelligent person may overanalyze a disapproving comment made by a boss, imagining negative outcomes that simply wouldn’t occur to someone less intelligent. That may trigger the body’s stress response, which may make the person even more anxious.

Interesting. Over excitabilities. A more informal way to reach a similar conclusion is to attend a hacker conference, observe the employee (not contractor) dining facility at Google Mountain View, or watch an episode or two of Sharktank. One can also dip into history: Van Gogh’s ear, Michelangelo’s aversion to clean feet, and the fierce Prioritätsstreit between Newton and Leibnitz. (Leibnitz’s notation won. Take that, you first-year students.) Do you hear a really smart person laughing?

Stephen E Arnold, October 16, 2019

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