IQ Scores and Physical / Mental Health

This is interesting. :thinking:

Superior IQs are associated with mental and physical disorders, research suggests

There are advantages to being smart. People who do well on standardized tests of intelligence—IQ tests—tend to be more successful in the classroom and the workplace. Although the reasons are not fully understood, they also tend to live longer, healthier lives, and are less likely to experience negative life events such as bankruptcy.

Now there’s some bad news for people in the right tail of the IQ bell curve. In a study just published in the journal Intelligence, Pitzer College researcher Ruth Karpinski and her colleagues emailed a survey with questions about psychological and physiological disorders to members of Mensa. A “high IQ society,” Mensa requires that its members have an IQ in the top 2 percent. For most intelligence tests, this corresponds to an IQ of about 132 or higher. (The average IQ of the general population is 100.) The survey of Mensa’s highly intelligent members found that they were more likely to suffer from a range of serious disorders.

The survey covered mood disorders (depression, dysthymia and bipolar), anxiety disorders (generalized, social and obsessive-compulsive), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. It also covered environmental allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders. Respondents were asked to report whether they had ever been formally diagnosed with each disorder or suspected they suffered from it. With a return rate of nearly 75 percent, Karpinski and her colleagues compared the percentage of the 3,715 respondents who reported each disorder to the national average.

Full article:

Do people ruminate because they have some high cognitive abilities or does constant rumination increase cognitive abilities? I have suspicions about the latter. (Maybe perseveration is an evolutionary response that helps repair problems in cognitive functioning or just improve it in general — it could be that the brain is frantically trying to create new connections.)

Is it possible that the people who join Mensa join because they tend to worry about things like credentials?

Also, are people with health conditions more likely to reply to surveys than people who don’t have those conditions?

I wonder if ‘contentment’ plays a large part. The kids at school with the lowest IQs * tended * to be the ones who went on to be content with their lot in life. They left school the moment they legally could and started working on their Dad’s fishing boat or became bricklayers or hairdressers (depending on gender). They married a local of their class, had 2.5 kids and 10 days on the Costa Del Cheapo a year holiday.
Mental illness, of course, can effect anyone of any intellect or class but in my experience the chances of it do seem to decrease the further one goes down the IQ scale.

I think more studies are needed. This one is just a correlative study. I would like to see a survey of people with mental health problems and their IQ scores.

One thing I admire about many people with intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome is that they are less likely to be hard on themselves for what they can’t do because of their disability. They don’t have a lot of what the disability community calls “internalized ableism”.


I think there are a lot of reasons for this really:

  • Those who take certified IQ tests, perhaps the Mensa test because it is cheaper, are more likely to have been clinically examined for a range of disorders. Pretty much the vast majority of humanity would classify positively in one or another ‘mental disorder’.
  • Someone who joins a high IQ society is more likely to view difference positively. They will more readily accept the definitions for a mental disorder. On the other hand those who see mental disorders very negatively would for example not consider themselves to have bipolar disorder even if they experience extreme mood swings.
  • People with higher IQ scores in their childhood more commonly experience exclusions and bullying which may attribute to any trauma induced mental disorders. If they join Mensa the chances are that this has happened to some extent.

I think the above is more the case rather than this directly having anything to do with IQ scores. I would strongly bet that the amount of people who have a return rate would vastly decrease if “formally diagnosed with each disorder or suspected they suffered from it” was modified to “formally diagnosed with each disorder” only.

It is kind of like how people believe an eidetic memory is nearly a photographic memory with only the lack of peripheral/detail recall, while its actual definition is something of the nature of : " is an ability to recall image from memory after only seeing it once, with high precision for a brief time after exposure, without using a mnemonic device" adding to this “eidetic memory is not limited to visual aspects of memory and includes auditory memories as well as various sensory aspects across a range of stimuli associated with a visual image” and is also defined as ‘nearly perfect’ and not absolutely so. Which is a much watered down version of what people might initially think. Similarly when someone hears disability they will likely believe it to be on a more extreme end than what it actually is.

All that said I personally don’t really believe mental illnesses are more than current connectivity differences in the brain. Those that aren’t I would classify as physical illnesses. This is both from interacting with people diagnosed as such , those that are not and even being diagnosed with some myself most of which have magically vanished off somewhere.


I think this is the same Nature vs Nurture discussion we had when we discussed IQ. I think it comes up against the same problem that we do not have the kind of data that we need to answer distinguish the two. Nor do we have a good enough theory of brain development to really know what we should be looking for in the first place.

I agree that it’s further complicated in that one almost entails the other. Learning and performing something one is good at is an enjoyable experience. From my own experience, I have a clear memory of being about 5yrs old and deciding to sit down and think about something for a while. I enjoyed doing it and did a lot of it. Not saying I was great at it but but by young adulthood, I was practiced and confident at it and went on to make a career doing that sort of thing.

I don’t understand your question about forming new pathways. Surely this is the purpose of ‘ruminating’.? What would be the use of thinking and planning if one couldn’t benefit from it in practice? Those insights and decisions are encoded as neural pathways. Nor is this confined to cognition alone, it’s useful to visualize body movements too. This is the human strategy. The brain is born largely ignorant and plastic to allow for development during childhood and throughout life. An infant is under great pressure to make up for his cognitive deficiency as quickly as possible.

This is part of the reason why I myself don’t own a TV and don’t have music on most of the time. I want the space to think my own thoughts. I wonder what people’s inner lives were like before these amenities were so commonly available. Did they do any more thinking or did they just day dream?