Debate & Discussion: Does Intelligence = Depression?

  • Thread starter Laser Eyes
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

There was a thread recently on the Overclockers Australia Forums concerning this topic. I personally identified with a lot of the comments and I thought I would post some of the more interesting ones here so that we could continue the discussion on PF. The whole thread can be found here if you are interested:
http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?threadid=163606
Unfortunately there was very little said in the way of how to deal with the problem. If anyone identifies with this and has worked through the problem I would be interested in hearing about how you dealt with it or any other thoughts on the matter. I'd hate to think that the solution is to become cold and uncaring as someone suggests.
I do not believe it to be true, but as a very general, very broad statement, it does seem that intelligent people tend to be more depressed than 'other' people. Is it a case of "Ignorance is bliss"? I am (despite popular belief) quite intelligent but I am not depressed, but I do lack some social skills depending upon my company.
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smart people over think life and it causes them stress and other complications, this happens to me sometimes, and my mates who lack a higher level of thinking cruise through their lives just rolling with the punches and smiling.
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Yes - because intelligent people can see past the sugar coated world and into the corrupt truth, when you see how ugly things in the world really are, you tend to be a bit dissillusioned and depressed.
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not so much intelligence, but over thinking.
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I imagine it's not so much being intelligent, as thinking too much about things you cannot change.
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Now, whilst I think it is true, that intelligent people do seek out "the truth" and that seeing it can sometimes lend itself towards disillusionment, I think that to use this as a reason (I prefer the word excuse) for depression is wrong. If you are intelligent enough to see the truth about things, then you should be intelligent enough to do something about it, to make your world (note, I said "your" world, I'm not talking greenpeace here) better.
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I have a fair degree of intelligence (apparently my IQ indicates I am a genius, but I'd take that with a pinch of salt), I am hardly ever depressed. However, a few years ago I was often depressed / angry with almost every facet of life. Then one day I decided to stop watching the news, within a few weeks of not knowing what was going on I was a lot happier. I have since taken this one step further and actively avoid any news of any kind (when I refer to news, I mean mass media style news). So in my case ignorance is bliss.
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In terms of the more intelligent people searching for the real meaning into things (ie not taking them at face value), this combined with empathy is a killer. Nothing like knowing the world is a terrible place but then caring too much about the things in it.
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yeah, it can be depressing to know how people work, what motivates them to be utterly dumb, and what motivates people to strive, and it can be depressing to not have any power to change it.
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I don't know about depression specifically, but it is well documented throughout history that the geniuses of this world - Da Vinci, Einstein, etc suffered from psychological illnesses, including depression. It's also been documented that people of higher IQ are more prone/susceptible to these illnesses as well.
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The more you know.. the more you realise how *$%ed up everything is. And how little you can do to fix it.
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I really don’t feel as though it's the intelligence of the person that defines whether they are more prone to depression or not. I feel it’s more about that individual’s strength of mind.
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The strength of an individual’s mind has an impact on how easily they can become depressed, but does not cause the depression itself. What we are saying is that because the intellect's mind is so open to worldly things, and because they understand/interpret so much more, this makes them more susceptible to depression.
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I have way too much empathy and can feel other people's pain more than is healthy. I really do wish I could be just a little bit more cold and uncaring, as I am way too empathetic at the moment. I get angry and upset sometimes that I can't make things better for people - I gotta learn that's the way it is.
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Possibly intelligence does equal depression. However it appears that it is actually other things, such as a disappointment in others. Dissatisfaction with the world around them. And a sense of frustration at their inability to do anything about either. Not intelligence.
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I guess when you spend more time with your intelligence, you tend not to socialise and share your thoughts and feelings .. so they are kept bottled up, causing 'over-thinking', loneliness and loss of hope... which can be a cause of depression.
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sometimes I wish I was stupid and didn't know ****. Perhaps I would be happier that way. But then, I can see plenty of examples from dumb people who are depressed by all sorts of dilemmas... Hard to say who's happier/more depressed than who. Intelligent people can't try to be dumb and see if they are happier and vice versa.
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
FZ+
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I see it differently. The people we consider depressed and intelligent simply don't seek out happiness as a goal for life. They believe however in ideals to reach, which are usually unreachable.

Not to say that no intelligent person look for happiness. If they do, they are often very successful. (I don't think Bill Gates is depressed, is he? Intelligent people often end up on top, if they put their minds to it.)
 
  • #3
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Originally posted by FZ+

Not to say that no intelligent person look for happiness. If they do, they are often very successful. (I don't think Bill Gates is depressed, is he? Intelligent people often end up on top, if they put their minds to it.)
Intelligent people have every opportunity for success. However, many very intelligent people have underdeveloped social skills - due to not being surrounded by similar peers - and this sometimes counteracts the advantage bestowed by being 'smarter'.

I think that the isolation and lack of social skills have a large effect upon this depression.
 
  • #4
carla
Oh is THAT what my problem is? I'm just super-endowed with brains!

I believe that depression is more likely linked with poor self-esteem and a sense of powerlessness. When intelligence 'gets you down', it's probably a signal that you're actually being tunnel-visioned, making harsh, biased judgements about how life 'should be' and how people 'should be', including yourself. That kind of 'intelligence' seems to ironically lack in wisdom.

It's a kind of childish dummy-spit (on the inside) at not getting your own way and is cooked in the same kind of angsting fear that occured when mother left you in a room full of strangers (The *****) to fend for yourself. You didn't need to know The Theory of Relativity, you just needed to know, you were o.k and would remain o.k.

Perhaps people who are very secure in themselves are not so prone to depression.

I don't think intelligence has all that much to do with it. I think, too, that some people mistake self-indulgent arrogance with intelligence and "I think therefore I am" with "I think therefore you're a cretin".
 
  • #5
pnomad
"Could be" (not "should be")

I certainly don't want to offend someone passionate enough to post a thread or share their view. Having said that, I will go on to say that when I read a post written by someone while they were angry, I have to disregard it completely. I know that when I go back and read something I wrote during a fit of anger, I usually don't like what I read. (In other words, I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, instead of judging them. The only person with the right to judge my behavior or any part of me, is me, and that goes for everyone else, as well.)

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way... depression almost has to be linked to poor self-esteem, yes. But I do not believe that what is mostly talked about so far in the postings I am responding to (intelligence+depression) are actions or results of tunnel-vision, harsh judgements, or anything involving what "should be". I would guess that most intelligent people consider instead, what "could be". Possibilities, possible answers or reasons behind behaviors and feelings. Personally, it disgusts me when I encounter someone who is happy with things (in general) simply because that's the way they have been. Knowledge grows exponentially, but change happens at a considerably slower rate. All too often, blind faith is relied on in deciding how a person lives their life, at least in the "bible belt-cinched" midwest where I am. Tunnel vision implies a need for control, as do judgemental tendencies, which include any thinking involving "should" as a driving force. Who says anything "should" be any way except a person of limited intelligence, limited scope, and limited reasoning abilities. I really do believe that if, as a living entity of life, we as humans began viewing how things "could" be by examining possibilites, rather than limitations, the rate of change might increase. Before I'm accused of it, I'll state that I am not saying that this "should" happen, simply that it is possible, just like anything and everything.

As for knowing the Theory of Relativity, I can only say that I do not. That means I cannot reproduce it verbatim. Is it possible that I could understand it? Yes, and that is true for anyone because anything is possible until proven impossible. And for the record, when someone cannot explain something to another person, that does not mean that the explainer does not understand it, more likely that the person receiving the explanation simply cannot fathom an idea that is difficult to process or understand. It is also possible to agree with a number of things based on their general possiblities and priciples on which they are based, even if a person has never read the entire document. Challenge that. :tongue:
 
  • #6
1,250
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Here is a stages of grief breakdown on realizing that you are intelligent:

1) Pre-awareness: Everyone else is very similar to myself, their thoughts are just like mine but with slightly different subject matter.

2) Denial: I seem to be smarter then most of the people around me, but the odds are that once I go to an ivy league school I will be put in my place - not at the top.

3) Anger: Everyone around me is an idiot! They just don't care what happens, and when they make stupid mistakes they shrug and call them 'accidents'.

4) Bargaining: (optional) using drugs to fit in, 'I would give up my intelligence if only I could fit in socially'.

5) Depression: No one can help me, there is no cure.

6) Acceptance: My intelligence makes me happier being alone then some people, and I find I don't often get bored. I can deal with others, but I have a radically different set of expectations then I did in the pre-awareness stage. I deal with them on their level. Part of me is still depressed, because the fears of the world are so vivid, and I am lonely.

7) Vehemence: Forget intelligence, we all have power, I must use mine to accomplish goals. Make others feel that they too have the power and they will become alive an intelligent like myself. We are all so strong, with so much to accomplish, anyone can be brilliant.
 
  • #7
loseyourname
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I'm sure there might still be someone interested in discussing this, but this thread is from four years ago and the poster of it hasn't been here in ages.
 
  • #8
BobG
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I have a fair degree of intelligence (apparently my IQ indicates I am a genius, but I'd take that with a pinch of salt), I am hardly ever depressed. However, a few years ago I was often depressed / angry with almost every facet of life. Then one day I decided to stop watching the news, within a few weeks of not knowing what was going on I was a lot happier. I have since taken this one step further and actively avoid any news of any kind (when I refer to news, I mean mass media style news). So in my case ignorance is bliss.
That sounds like Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron".
 
  • #9
FredGarvin
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I think we have a clear cut case of an e-sniffer.
 
  • #10
hypnagogue
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There was a recent http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/...uids=17457290&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_docsum" comparing gifted vs. normal grade school students in France. In their sample they found that the gifted children had significantly higher IQ but significantly lower self-esteem and higher depression. So perhaps, on average, there is something to the purported correlation, though the degree to which the results from this single study are generalizable is questionable.

There has been some work in social psychology showing that students' views on the nature of intelligence can impact how they handle failure. Students who tend to think intelligence is more or less a fixed trait tend not to respond as well to failure because they take it to indicate an inherent shortcoming on their part. On the other hand, students who tend to think intelligence is more malleable and can be developed tend to respond better to failure. But the messages sent to more intelligent children seem to reinforce the fixed view of intelligence (eg "you're so smart" vs "you tried so hard"). So that may be a contributing mechanism in academic situations. I don't know if higher IQ is associated with greater depression on a more general level.
 
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  • #11
mithridate
I have been called intelligent quite a few times so my personal experience may apply. I find that I get depressed because i generally cannot find people to relate to. I can always talk to people but it is usually strenuous and draining. I am generally left to my own devices when problems arise.It is this lack of companionship which I can sometimes find to be depressing. It has nothing to do with the state of the world or any cold realities. For me I am simply lonely. I would say the best thing to remedy this is to talk to others over the internet, and to attempt to talk to others (intelligence rises in many odd places) I am hopeful that someone intelligent will one day reciprocate.
 
  • #12
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Intelligent people are much more likely to notice how messed up society is, and feel alone. Which leads to depression. Unfortunately, most intelligent people cling on to modern liberalism as a means to delude themselves that they are all-knowing and that things will be all right, but of course reality does not align with this position.
 
  • #13
Evo
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Well, a zero post newbie has broken the forum record for necroposting, go figure. Congratulations mithridate!!

The OP date is 6-7-03, resurrected by a zero poster in 5-07.
 
  • #14
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Random question: how can you confirm that this is the record? ^_^
 
  • #15
Evo
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Random question: how can you confirm that this is the record? ^_^
I usually see all of the necroposts, but I can't confirm it. I still say they win though. :biggrin: I've seen 6 year old threads resurrected, but never a seven year old one.
 
  • #16
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I'll take your word for it.

Another question: does "Posts: 0" mean that they were banned, or that their post simply hasn't registered/refreshed as of yet?
 
  • #17
Evo
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I'll take your word for it.

Another question: does "Posts: 0" mean that they were banned, or that their post simply hasn't registered/refreshed as of yet?
It means that they haven't posted outside of General Discussion or Politics. Most likely it's their first time posting at the forum, and a first post necropost means they probably found the thread on a search engine and have no idea what PF is about. It's just funny when you see such an old thread revived.
 
  • #18
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I see, thanks.
 
  • #19
collinsmark
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That reminds me, I wonder if we could get a sub-forum going on the topic of necrophysics. I've got a lot of thoughts about phlogiston.

But really though, there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Accepting the presence of both makes life quite pleasant.

(I'm still temporarily [necro]trolling due to present 666 post count. :devil:)
 
  • #20
Ivan Seeking
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Intelligent people are much more likely to notice how messed up society is, and feel alone. Which leads to depression. Unfortunately, most intelligent people cling on to modern liberalism as a means to delude themselves that they are all-knowing and that things will be all right, but of course reality does not align with this position.
Intelligence can also lead to extreme arrogance and an intolerable self-righteousness, and even a warped worldview, through the misperception that an overstated ego is really intellect. When the delusion of superiority is challenged, the threat to self-esteem and self-definition, result in depression.
 
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