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Irrational Intimidation -- How Intellect Can Hinder You

Updated: Mar 11

The knight is standing in a terrible position.

Synopsis by Ms. Tamara Moskal:

A high IQ is a virtue but can hinder human connections. “Scary smart” people can be intimidated or even rejected by others because of their high intelligence. 
When brilliance is the reason for loneliness, it becomes an interpersonal burden. 
Without friendship or love, highly intelligent people may look for relevancy in influence, becoming accomplished workaholics. 


How High IQ Can Hinder Human Connection

Intelligence is surely a virtue to be praiseworthy. However, we need to take into consideration that even this very virtue has its own flaws, at least when we interact with other people. In such cases, high intelligence might as well be a liability.

It can be a liability when people are overly submissive to their emotions and gut feelings, especially when the information these components deliver is false. When these mental components deceive us with our consent, we express irrationality. For example, it is irrational to be intimidated by things and beings that do not pose a threat to us. And yet, if we succumb to the irrational aspects of ourselves, we can burn bridges with other people just because of a false sense of being threatened.

It's possible to detect when people are intimidated by your high intelligence, and there is even a slang called "scary smart". If you are highly intelligent, you may find that people around you might start to avoid you, act defensively when you talk to them, and yes, even reject you. I guess... it was one of the reasons I got rejected one time by someone, once.... Moving on.

When Brilliance Breeds Isolation

Highly intelligent people may find themselves more alone than others because it can be difficult for many people to relate to them. Former friends may say that they are "from different worlds" (as I was once told), and those who feel intimidated by them may disrespect them as a way to protect themselves from threats that only the intelligent person "sees."

In a sense, high intelligence can be an interpersonal burden. As such, I personally do not take pride in it. I am proud of the fact that I used my intelligence to survive post-traumatic symptoms and manage my Philoscom condition. However, as you can see, my intelligence is nothing more to me than a means to an end.

Thus, intelligence can hinder you socially, romantically and even sexually. Ironically, there is something called "too much intellect". It is "too much" merely because it can hurt your personal appeal in the eyes of others. Of course, it is also "too much" because we need connections to survive and to thrive, meaning that if people decide to disconnect with you due to your high intelligence, then it is a liability in that regard at the very least.

Intelligent people are also lonelier than otherwise. Of course, the negative impacts of constant rejection and social isolation can affect poorly on one's mental health. This is why there isn't necessarily any shame in being mentally ill -- it's not necessarily your fault.

Navigating the Complexities of Intelligence and Social Connection

In the absence of friendship and/or love in one's life, one might decide to seek their sense of collective worth elsewhere. In power and influence. In being admired by the world. In being relevant more than the average person. In the absence of these elements, one may seek respect and authority more than otherwise. It's all because we have a need to be valued.

To feel like we matter. If we do not matter, why should we even love ourselves? And if we do not love ourselves? Why should we choose to live?

Highly-intelligent people may live outside of the social world merely because of who they are. They won't necessarily be as loved or befriended as others (or initiate these actions themselves). They can be abused by those who feel intimidated by their intelligence. And as such, intelligence is not entirely a virtue. It is a virtue when it helps you and/or others in life. It's not a virtue when it stands in your way for healthy connections with the outside world.

Those who are less intelligent might not be as aware of the hardships of being highly intelligent. They can easily submit to their confirmation bias, cherry-pick the facts on the matter, out-right deny reality, or use short-term ad-hominem fallacies that have little-to-nothing to do with the general issue.

It's quite pathetic, I admit. It's pathetic only because I pity their inability to understand beyond their poor rationality. So, we can say that being less-than-rational has disadvantages of its own. Obviously, the highly-intelligent are often more rational.

So yes, being "scary smart" can arguably scare people away. If it didn't have this distinct quality, highly intelligent people would be less lonely. And perhaps I would have known the love of another, empirically by now.

When Loneliness Fuels a Obsessive Flame

So, I take solace in constantly working, and thus turn a liability into an asset once more. It's the practical thing to do, you know. I used to think that workaholism is futile. I now take it back. It's better being a workhaolic than depressed, lonely and irrelevant. And I've been alone far enough, and won't be surprised if some of you had enough of being alone, as well. It can eventually feel like the fun of being alone, overstayed its welcome. It's why I chose this work, despite being asocial.

I have no regrets regarding my accomplished, obssessive revenge.

Anyways, I don't like intimidating anyone. I like living. Since I like living, the choice to endure the loneliness is mine and mine alone. Whether or not this existential problem will be solved in my personal life is beyond my control. So, all I am left with is to work as much as I can.

Because I know for certain that intelligence is the last thing that can hinder this activity. And it is the only thing I seem to be good at. Other than being rejected for who I am by various people, of course.

It's their own prerogative. Regardless of emotion, it wouldn't make sense to confront people for exercising their prerogatives in ways that I do not desire.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

High intellect requires demonstration so people can better understand what it is and how it affects their own lives personally. People can accept demonstrations more easily than they can concepts of intelligence. Let your intelligence be demonstrated as much as possible so people have a better understanding of it. Unveil the mystery so to speak.
It should also be noted that intelligence itself is not the problem for most people. They have difficulty understanding how it is expressed. I believe anyone can get behind intelligence on a general basis. Yet, as expressions are simply the result of genetics forming different cognitive features, it can best be understood that the reason for isolation is because your brain simply works differently than other peoples.
Loneliness is a state of mind. The feeling can be changed at any time if the right context is added to your situation. Think of isolation as less separatism and more of it as unbiased thinking. Really loneliness's biggest contributor is simply not discovering the herd with which you exist.
Otherwise you will always remain a lonely horse or cow out to pasture. (or use any animal of your choosing).
Remember at the end of the day it doesn’t matter your intelligence level. We are all humans with some just being a little different.
Best advice I can give is for people to stop referring to intelligence as a scale and more like a spectrum that some people can move around on more easily than others.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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