So, you think you’re smart, huh? I know why you clicked this article.
Odds are, you’re wondering if your problems can be concluded to the idea that your just too-smart for your own good. Yes, you may have a high IQ, but does that mean some problems may follow?
We usually think of the highly intelligent as people who are destined for success and given more opportunities than others. But what if there are some problems that are more likely to arise if you are indeed intelligent?
According to psychologists and very convincing research, there may be some problems smart people are more likely to have.
Here are six problems only smart people have.
1. They Are ‘Overexcitable’ & Can Have High Energy
Have you had an intelligent friend who always seemed to be extremely intense and excitable for what they do? Perhaps they could go long hours without sleep because they were always hyper focused or excited on their work.
In the 1960’s, Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski introduced the concept that being highly gifted or intelligent is associated with psychological and physiological “overexcitabilities,” otherwise known as OEs. Dabrowski investigated this idea in 1962 by studying 80 ‘gifted’ young children. 30 of which were labeled as intellectually gifted, and 50 of which were from drama, ballet, or art schools. All 80 of the children analyzed displayed Dabrowski’s factor of “overexcitability”, OE, “which constituted the foundation for the emergence of neurotic and psychoneurotic sets. Moreover it turned out that these children also showed sets of nervousness, neurosis, and psychoneurosis of various kinds and intensities, from light vegetative symptoms, or anxiety symptoms, to distinctly and highly intensive psychasthenic or hysterical sets” (p. 253).
While OEs can display itself in varying ways, it is most often seen with a sudden high energy towards a certain situation or topic.
Characteristics of those with a dominant psychomotor OE may include:1
- Compulsive organizing
- Compulsive talking
- Impulsive behavior
- Physical expression of emotions
- Preference for fast action and sports
- Nervous habits and tics
- Rapid speech
But these OEs can often be seen and treated as a problem by teachers or parents with children who exhibit this behavior. It is unfortunate that intelligent students and children can often be mislabeled or punished due to overexcitabilities teachers or parents are unaware of. As research from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia suggests:
“Gifted students who are frequently labelled as problematic because of their intense behaviour should be given assistance in understanding and coping with their overexcitabilities. This would help them to control and channel their intensity and sensitivity in a positive and meaningful way. Knowing the characteristics of these overexcitabilities will prepare the teachers and parents of these overexcited students to minimize the conflict among the gifted students with their peers and teacher or parents,” (Rosadah & Aliza, 2010).
2. They Overanalyze Things
Have you ever admired someone for their intelligence, but noticed they always tend to overanalyze things? Well, this urge to analyze likely has a strong link to their intelligence.
This tendency to overanalyze may be connected to the hyper brain/hyper body theory, proposed by psychologist and researcher Ruth Harpinski and her colleagues.
With its advantages and disadvantages, the hyper brain/hyper body theory states that being highly intelligent is connected to Dabrowski’s psychological and physiological “overexcitabilities,” or OEs, as explained above.
Because psychological OEs might cause an individual to constantly worry, and physiological OEs appear as a response to that stress, overanalyzing can often occur. Let’s say you receive a negative remark from someone you care about. Someone who is smart and also exhibits overexcitabilities may overanalyze the comment, causing physiological OEs in the form of the body’s stress response. Which means, more stress and anxiety.
They could be creatively imagining all the scenarios and implied meanings from this one comment, while a normal person may shrug their shoulders and move on.
3. They Often Stress
Remember Harpinski’s hyper brain/hyper body theory?
Well, it has been often suggested that smart people are some of the biggest worriers. No, not warriors. But hey, with all the stress they’ve been through, they might as well be called warriors!
Well Harpinski’s studies only add to this idea that those who have a high IQ and likely display overexcitabilities, are often suffering from stress.
With psychological OEs, people will often ruminate and stress on certain situations. Since physiological OEs appear from the body’s response to stress, when these two interact, it can cause both physiological and psychological dysfunction.
Stress, stress, stress. The truth of it all is, the more you think and ponder on an idea, the more you may think of negative scenarios or problems, and therefore stress about them.
4. They Suffer from Psychological Disorders
Harpinski also conducted a study in which all her participants were members of the American Mensa, a “high IQ society” which requires all it’s members to have IQ’s in the top 2 percent.
The participants self-reported whether or not they were diagnosed with, or suspected they had, a range of mood disorders (depression, bipolar) and anxiety disorders (OCD, social anxiety disorder). Disorders included: “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and physiological diseases that include environmental and food allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease.”
According to the study, “High statistical significance and a remarkably high relative risk ratio of diagnoses for all examined conditions were confirmed among the Mensa group 2015 data when compared to the national average statistics.
“This implicates high IQ as being a potential risk factor for affective disorders, ADHD, ASD, and for increased incidence of disease related to immune dysregulation.”
So it might be a good idea to reach out to your ‘smart friend’ and see if they need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to confide in. Because as shown so far, they may be going through a lot!
5. They Have High Expectations
Let’s think about this for a second. If you are noted as smart early on in childhood, odds are you have higher expectations of others that you intend to meet. You may even have these paramount expectations from none other than yourself.
People expect you to succeed and achieve nearly perfect scores on your tests because you displayed characteristics that deem you smart.
So, meeting these expectations may hang as a bit of a burden upon your shoulders. And we all know from the points before, those expectations can cause you some serious stress if you don’t manage them effectively.
It’s best to take it one step at a time with whatever you do. Look towards the future, but don’t be discouraged if it’s not everything you thought it to be. Odds are a year or two from now, you won’t be thinking about that A- on your geography exam. If you’re not thinking about it a year from now, it’s most likely not as important as you thought it to be in the first place.
6. They Are Night Owls (Their Schedules Are Off)
Ah, the horrid pleasures of insomnia…
-Wait, what? Oh yes,
According to the results from research from Richard D Roberts and Patrick C Kyllolen, “evening-types are more likely to have higher intelligence scores.”
While being a night owl may sound like a good thing, – and it can be! – there are some downsides to working through the night.
First, your schedule is likely messed up. Because smart people often like to work during the night. With all the overexcitabilities, or OEs, intelligent people likely exhibit, they can work long-hours through the night without getting tired. But, because of this they may stay up through the night, and have to get up early for work.
If they don’t get the necessary sleep, they may feel tired and groggy when they do have to work during the day or when they are socializing with friends.
If your sleep schedule is off, you likely won’t be feeling as alert and well-rested as your friends at 7:00am. Which means that morning picnic you all had planned? You may just feel the need to cancel. You’re too tired!
Might as well go for an afternoon of dancing instead. That you are not only sure to be excited about, but perhaps even a little overexcited as well.
Do you relate to these problems? If so, it may be a good idea to seek help and counselling to see if you can manage the stress you may be experiencing.
But remember, these problems don’t need to get the best of you! You surely have the intelligence to tackle these battles, with a little help and friends alike, head on!
And just because you’re a ‘worrier’, doesn’t mean you’re not a warrior. 😉
Written by Michal Mitchell
- Karpinski, R. I., Kolb, A. M. K., Tetreault, N. A., & Borowski, T. B. (2017, October 8). High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities. Intelligence. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616303324.
- Hambrick, D. Z. (2017, December 5). Bad News for the Highly Intelligent. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bad-news-for-the-highly-intelligent/.
- Alias, A., Rahman, S., Majid, R. A., & Yassin, S. F. M. (2013, November 28). Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities Profile among Gifted Students. Asian Social Science. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/view/32389.
- Bainbridge, C. (2020, June 11). Why Gifted Kids May Are Often Highly Sensitive or Overexcitable. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/dabrowskis-overexcitabilities-in-gifted-children-1449118.
- 10 Things That Make It Hard For a Smart Person to Be Happy. BrightSide. (2018, April 2). https://brightside.me/inspiration-psychology/10-things-that-make-it-hard-for-a-smart-person-to-be-happy-483210/.
- Wikimedia Foundation. (2020, September 26). Kazimierz Dąbrowski. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazimierz_D%C4%85browski.
- Roberts, R. D., & Kyllonen, P. C. (1999, August 11). Morningness–eveningness and intelligence: early to bed, early to rise will likely make you anything but wise! Personality and Individual Differences. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886999000549.