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Why Intelligent People Tend to Be Unhappy (full version)

Why Intelligent People Tend to Be Unhappy (full version)



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Published by Bill Allin
This is the full version of the extremely popular article about highly intelligent people and their tendancy toward unhappiness. The previous version on Scribd had the second page cut off (for reasons as yet unaccounted for).
This is the full version of the extremely popular article about highly intelligent people and their tendancy toward unhappiness. The previous version on Scribd had the second page cut off (for reasons as yet unaccounted for).

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Published by: Bill Allin on Oct 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.- Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)Hemingway, who took his own life in 1961, knew his share of both intelligent people and of unhappiness. He lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, four wives and anunknown number of failed romantic relationships, none of which would help him to develophappiness if he knew how.As Hemingway's quote was based on his life experience, I will base the following speculation on both my personal and my professional experience as a sociologist. Not enough study exists toquote on this subject.Western society is not set up to nurture intelligent children and adults, the way it dotes over athletes and sports figures, especially the outstanding ones. While we have the odd notable personality such as Albert Einstein, we also have many extremely intelligent people working inoccupations that are considered among the lowliest, as may be attested by a review of themembership lists of Mensa (the club for the top two percent on intelligence scales).Education systems in countries whose primary interest is in wealth accumulation encourageheroes in movies, war and sports, but not in intellectual development. Super intelligent peoplemanage, but few reach the top of the business or social ladder.Children develop along four streams: intellectual, physical, emotional (psychological) and social.In classrooms, the smartest kids tend to be left out of more activities by other children than theyare included in. They are "odd," they are the geeks, they are social outsiders. In other words, theydo not develop socially as well as they may develop intellectually or even physically whereopportunities may exist for more progress.Their emotional development, characterized by their ability to cope with risky or stressfulsituations, especially over long periods of time, also lags behind that of the average person.Adults tend to believe that intelligent kids can deal with anything because they are intellectuallysuperior. This inevitably includes situations where the intelligent kids have neither knowledgenor skills to support their experience. They go through the tough times alone. Adults don'tunderstand that they need help and other kids don't want to associate with kids the social leaderssay are outsiders.As a result we have many highly intelligent people whose social development progresses muchslower than that of most people and they have trouble coping with the stressors of life that present themselves to everyone. It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of prisoninmates are socially and emotionally underdeveloped or maldeveloped and a larger than average percentage of them are more intelligent than the norm.Western society provides the ideal incubator for social misfits and those with emotional coping problems. When it comes to happiness, people who are socially inept and who have troublecoping emotionally with the exigencies of life would not be among those you should expect to behappy.This may be changing in the 21st century as the geeks gain recognition as people with great

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aylime, I must assume that this saying began with a person who was unhappy but considered himself (undoubtedly a male) sensible and lucid. Having said that, I consider the statement to have been made originally by someone who is not likely to know how to be happy. In other words, the saying is unworthy of our attention.
Bill Allin added this note
Unica Sevante, your case is a textbook example of the problem I expressed. Kids with above average intelligence get pushed intellectually, but they fall behind socially and emotionally. In your case you may have been (as I was) technically a "feral child."
Bill Allin added this note
brunnehild, anyone can be unhappy. As to the part of the article about intelligent people being over-represented among prison inmates, it's a fact. Lack of coping skills affects more people who need them more, such as very intelligent people.

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