Exploring the possible Connection between Intelligence and Insanity

I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist or a psychologist, I can only rely on what I have learned from my own experiences and studies of mental disorders. I happen to come from a family with a prevalence of mental conditions ranging from autism to schizophrenia.

I can say that each of my family members living with these various disorders are quite intelligent. Some extremely intelligent. Throughout history there have been scores of famous people who are believed to have had various mental disorders. Artists and musicians, inventors and politicians.

This is not to say however, that their intelligence is directly connected to their disorders. Mental disorders are not simply brought on by stress or emotional distress. It is true that these are stressors as they release certain chemicals and events in the brain, it just happens to be that there is a population of wonderful people whose brains are not equiped to properly accomodate these occurences.

There is a difference between a highly educated person that is overworked and feeling a bit “off” and one that is intelligent and unable to properly function in society due to a mental disorder.

In autism for example, a person may be unable to tie his shoes or communicate well with those around them, yet they are able to recite the periodic table of elements like most prople can recite their ABCs. My oldest son is autistic. We believe my grandfather was as well.

A schizophrenic may suffer from paranoia and delusions while writing great works of literature or solving complex mathematical equations. My biological father is schizophrenic.

A person suffering from bipolar disorder may swing rapidly from one mood to the next with seemingly no stability yet be able to recall entire passages from a book that was read long ago or have uncanny insight into the human psyche. My younger son is bipolar, my sister and my aunt are as well.

Often, learning disabilities and intelligence go hand in hand. My autistic son, now eighteen, cannot write without the aid of a computer, yet he can draw the most intricately detailed sketches of dragons. He cannot always remember to change his clothes, but he can recount with accuracy the authors of every book he has ever read.

My bipolar son is now in the eleventh grade, his test scores place him at about a fourth grade level yet his reading comprehension scores are at high college level.

I do not personally believe there is a ‘connection’ between intelligence and ‘insanity’. I do believe there are many highly intelligent people that just so happen to have a mental condition.