The stereotype of ‘crazy genius’ may have a basis in reality, after a study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at Pitzer College (USA) discovered that people with high intelligence quotient run a increased risk of developing mental illness.
The experts interviewed 3,715 members of the NGO for gifted American Mensa with an IQ exceeding 130. Mensa has 120,000 members worldwide (only 2,000 in Spain) and to belong to this international gifted association you have to be in the percentile 98 or greater, that is, obtains a score within the top 2% of the general population. To refresh the memory with the scores, obtaining between 85 and 115 IQ means having an average or normal intelligence. And the IQ is obtained through a standardized test designed to assess intelligence.
Respondents had to respond if at some point in their lives they had been diagnosed with a mental illness such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism (autism spectrum disorder), as well as whether they had problems with depression, mood swings or anxiety or if they suspected of suffering from undiagnosed mental illness, and physiological illnesses such as asthma food allergies.
After comparing these data with the national statistical average for each disease, they found overwhelming data: members of the Mensa community had significantly higher rates of various disorders compared to the national average US statistics.
Thus, while 10% of the general population was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the Mensa community increased to 20%, according to the study published in the journal Science Direct.
Their research confirms the scientific hypothesis that suggests that intellectually gifted people are more sensitive to environmental stimuli and “may predispose them to certain psychological disorders, as well as to physiological conditions involving high sensory and immunological and inflammatory responses.”
The study confirmed that because of their high levels of intelligence, those with higher intellectual ratios react more to their environment, creating a hyper-brain scenario, where they show a hyperactive central nervous system.
“The unique intensities and excitabilities (…) can be both extraordinary and incapacitating on many levels. A large part of these people suffer daily emotional and physical hypersensitivity” that causes them to be disturbed by any noise, such as falling a book to the ground or a strange sound, for example.
“They trigger a low level of chronic response to stress that then triggers a hypercorporal response,” he explains. Nicole Tetreault, co-author of the paper.
However, the study noted that a high IQ is not the cause of mental illness, but predisposes to suffering.
Table of IQ:
1 to 24: profound mental disability
25 to 39: severe mental disability
40 to 54: moderate mental disability
55 to 69: mild mental disability
70 to 84: mental disability limit
85-114: average intelligence
115 to 129: the average
130 to 144: Moderately endowed
145 to 159: Very gifted
160 to 179: Exceptionally gifted
180 onwards: Deeply gifted