In an article complied from the Mensa World Journal, the results of a study by lead author Ruth Karpinski of Pitzer College were shared with the Mensa UK community in the July 2020 issue of Mensa magazine.
With findings originally published in the journal ‘Intelligence’ and on neurosciencenews.com the article reports that highly intelligent people have an increased chance of suffering from psychological issues, including anxiety disorders.
The study developed a hyper brain / hyper body theory and suggests that “individuals with high cognitive ability react with an overexcitable emotional and behavioural response to their environments. Due in part to their increased awareness of their surroundings, people with a high IQ then tend to experience an overexcitable, hyperactive central nervous system.”
So those with above-average intelligence may find that they are more sensitive to their surroundings and, as such, may benefit from a minimalist approach.
On the other hand, a disorganised, cluttered space or environments with loud noises or strong smells could be enough to evoke an anxious response.
The co-author of the original study Audrey Kinase Kolb confirms that participants with a higher intelligence experienced significantly more anxiety than average: “Just over ten per cent of the US has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, compared to 20 per cent of Mensans.”
It goes to show that being ‘gifted’ is not always the case – as Karpinski says; “Those with high IQ possess unique intensities and overexcitabilities which can be at once both remarkable and disabling on many levels.”
In an effort to minimise those disabling effects, adopting a calm lifestyle and peaceful environment with minimal distractions – sounds, smells, clutter – could be a factor in improving anxieties in high IQ individuals.
Mensa World Journal, 2020, ‘Anxious times for those with high IQ’, Mensa magazine, July 2020, pp. 28.
Karpinski, R.I., Kinase Kolb, A.M., Tetreault, N.A., and Borowski, T.B, 2017, ‘High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities’, Intelligence. Published online October 8 2017