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Medical Real, or quackery?

  1. Dec 6, 2005 #1
    Is it true that higher-intellect people tend to have higher suicide rates, mental disorders, etc. etc.?

    *fears for self* >_> lol
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  3. Dec 6, 2005 #2


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    I think that's a misconception, as the saying goes "genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration". I think it's the perspiration that's responsible for the behaviors you described. I think there are some "states of mind" that lead to more mental perspiration which don't necessary imply "higher intelligence" (depression for instance). Unless you think that all hard-working people are of a "higher-intellect". :smile:
    In my book, thinking alot doesn't necessarily put you on another level of intellect.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2005
  4. Dec 6, 2005 #3


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    I think it's a case of "give a dog a bad name". The idea that "Genius is to madness close allied" (Alexander Pope, 18th century) has an old pedigree, and every time some famous brain has problems the meme is reinforced. But if Goedel was paranoid, his chum Einstein was as sane as anyone can be, and generally speaking they don't have to put strait-jackets on Nobel Prize winners.
  5. Dec 6, 2005 #4


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    Well, of course it could be that even if high intelligence is positively correlated with increased risk for mental illness and suicide, the actual mental illness/suicide rates among the intelligent might still be rather low percentage-wise.

    The most sure-footed way to approach this question is probably to look for statistically significant correlations between rates of mental illness/suicide incidence and IQ levels.

    A couple of interesting articles along these lines (though largely conflicting and inconclusive) on the link between intelligence and suicide rate:

    Only the bright commit suicide - Times Online

    Suicidal tendencies - The Boston Globe

    And on potential links between IQ, creativity, and mental illness (again, some apparently conflicting info):

    Creativity tied to mental illness - The Harvard Gazette

    Biological Basis For Creativity Linked To Mental Illness - Science Daily (slightly different take on the same study as discussed above)

    Link between IQ and Psychosis Risk - Schizophrenia Daily News Blog

    So after taking that very brief look on google-- it looks like high IQ may be correlated with higher incidences of mental illness and suicide, but apparently there's nothing conclusive on that. Interestingly, the same seems to hold for low IQs-- it seems there may be a correlation between low IQ levels and proneness to mental illness and suicide, but perhaps nothing is quite conclusive yet (though there does seem to be more evidence for the low IQ correlations).

    It would be interesting if both trends were shown to hold, in which case the average IQ range would seem to be like a safety pocket against comparatively higher mental illness and suicide rates at either extreme of the IQ distribution.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2005
  6. Dec 7, 2005 #5
    @ Hypnagogue: O_O You research well. >_>

    Looking at sources. Inconclusive, but meh.
  7. Dec 7, 2005 #6
    Anybody see that Scientific American article claiming that a certain group of Jewish people did actually have a gene that was associated with being more intelligent? They said that it also made them carriers of Tay-Sachs, and that they made the connection by working backwards from cases where people were heterozygous for the Tay-Sachs gene, and tended to be extremely bright (and also had post-mortem evidence of unusually great neural proliferation or something).

    That seems to be at least one case of where being close to mental dysfunction gives you an edge.

    Here's an article I just nabbed from google that seems to discuss the same thing:

    edit: article seems to be pretty opinionated and low quality. but the information is still there, and it'll still work as a springboard to more credible sources.

  8. Dec 7, 2005 #7


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    That would be very interesting. It may be that people at either extreme have difficult fitting in or dealing with others in society, so are more prone to the sorts of loneliness and unhappiness that can lead to suicidal tendencies (or exacerbate those tendencies).
  9. Dec 8, 2005 #8
    I would be really surprised if there were any authentic correlation between any I.Q. level and suicide.

    As for the Genius/Madness thing, it is certainly true that some percentage of manic people can accomplish extrordinary things while they are manic. There are plenty of documented cases of this, (see the books by Kay Jameson, poster girl for the bipolar crowd), but this subset of bipolar people is something like the subset of savants is to autism.

    I've also seen arguments about creativity being linked to mental illness. Whether or not that's true, creativity is not necessarily linked to a high I.Q. I think Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, Dostoyevsky, and scads of people well known by virtue of their creativity would score unimpressively on an I.Q. test (meaning: not that high above average). Creativity is a different animal than intelligence.

    Anyway, suicide is most obviously correlated with depression, and I've never seen anyone link depression to I.Q.
  10. Dec 8, 2005 #9
    zoobyshoe, I believe the stereotype of "Smart kids are picked on, the smart kids get depressed" stuff is what causes this, thus leading to the case for possible IQ to Suicide correlation studies, and me asking the question about said possible trend.

    All because of a stereotype. >_>
  11. Dec 9, 2005 #10
    The trouble with that correlation is that smart kinds aren't the only ones who get picked on. So do ones who are too fat or too skinny, or have too much acne, or are too short, etc. Then, later in life a different set of problems kicks in that puts a different bunch of people at risk for depression: a guy with three kids gets fired, someone not paying attention rear-ends someone else at a stop light and gets sued for all their money. Your house burns down, and you have to move in with an alcoholic uncle who comes on to your wife when you're at work. Etc. I really don't think life stressors select people out by I.Q., and the more stressors anyone happens to accrue the more depressed they can get.

    At this point, though, your problem is the bullies. You'd do better studying up on ways to get that monkey off your back, rather than exploring the notion of the abstract concept of an I.Q./suicide link.
  12. Dec 11, 2005 #11


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    If your referring to giftedness, creativity has been correlated with mental illness, that is people with schizotypal tendencies have been suggested to, have lower inhibitions related to proper social conduct, and this in turn supposedly frees up the any "inner" potential (usually related to the arts). However, this does not apply to all people with schizophrenic personalities, just those that already have some type of innate potential. Executive function has been tied with intelligence, that is the full expression of creativity, but it is easily disrupted as it relies on more than one area of the brain working in relation to the frontal lobe. Without executive function, most often times, the creativity may persist, but only for so long, before complete decline in mental functioning. Executive functioning relies heavily on motivation and intelligence.

    So all in all, I don't think that an essentially inherent intelligence trait is correlated with suicide or mental illness but it may be in correlation with slightly superior IQ ranges, and maybe even in the gifted range 130-140; neuroticism may be more relevant here (I'm not too big on neuroticism, in case you noticed my quote). I believe that anyone with enough spontaneous, fluid intelligence, should be able to learn and solve problems on all levels. In this light suicide is essentially a lack of such intelligence, the issue probably has more relevance to emotional instability. Someone who is intelligent enough is essentially someone who can function long term.

    Another interpretation of such results (IQ being correlated with affluent countries and suicide) is due to the pressures associated with such countries.

    An individual who doesn't have some of the superficial desirable traits-such good looks, figure, voice etc.-may naturally have some problems with social interactions, and may become socially inadequate and subsequently emotionally inadequate, if this individual would truly have "the intellegence trait", then I would expect his/her to be dominant in the academic field . Those with decent "inherent" intelligence and the "undesirable" traitsmay have a higher incentive to be intelligent, especially those with higher egos. So what do get when you have an slightly intelligent person, who is socially and emotionally inadequate (neurotic) and for some reason egotistical? Someone who has great difficulty living with himself/herself.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2005
  13. Dec 14, 2005 #12


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    One other possibility is that people making such claims are looking at certain professions and making assumptions about the IQs of people in those professions. For example, if someone assumes that all M.D.s are very smart, thus must have high IQs, and they seem to have higher rates of suicide than trash collectors, who they assume have lower IQs, then someone could jump to the inappropriate conclusion that higher IQ is associated with higher suicide rates. However, what doesn't get factored in is the amount of responsibility people in certain professions have. A bad decision for a trash collector might mean they spend an extra 5 minutes picking trash up off the ground after spilling over a trash can instead of dumping it into the truck on the first try. A bad decision for an M.D. might mean somebody in their care has just died.
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