Intelligence or happiness?

In a recent episode of House (a medical drama), there was this patient with an IQ of 178. He deliberately dumbed himself down by regularly dosing himself with cough syrup. Supposedly, there was some medical lash back with the regular dosing, so he countered that with regular doses of alcohol.

I will not discuss whether that’s medically correct or possible. I’m concerned with his intentions. Why did this highly intelligent man, who had at least one book published (as seen in the show), gave lots of scientific revelations (implied from the dialogue and behaviour), dumb himself down? He wanted to be happy.

In particular, he was happy when he did not have to think.

Being intelligent caused his brain to keep working, cranking out thought after thought. If I remember correctly, he had an accident, and was drugged so the doctors could do their work. He became happier when he found he couldn’t think clearly.

He met his wife then, who wasn’t, let’s say, Nobel Prize material. But he’s happy. When he recovered, his intellectual faculties returned, and he began to suffer (emotionally, I guess). He started the cough syrup treatment.

Dr House and his team of diagnosticians eventually tracked the source of his sickness, the cough syrup. There was a scene where the man, with his head clear, was scribbling notes and drawing on his notepad. His wife came over and asked what’s that. He explained, and it was something highly complex and scientific, and was both unintelligible to his wife and me. His wife looked surprised, and shocked. He scrunged his eyebrows, the light gone from his eyes, and told his wife to get him some water. When his wife left the room, he wept. His happiness was gone, again.

In the end, that man had an operation to remove some part of his brain, so that he would stay stupid. I can’t remember the exact medical term.

I told my friends this story. They had mixed reactions. Some believed he’s an idiot. With that kind of intelligence, he could do so much. He could help the world. He could create the next clean energy generator. He could not be so selfish just so he could be happy.

Some of my friends (actually just one) could understand where that man came from. As did I. I’m not being deliberately immodest. I’m just saying that I can understand the loneliness of being the only one out, where no one seem to understand my thoughts and views and revelations.

Is it really selfish of that man to waste his talent? Is it fair to that man to force him out of his happiness?

What would you do, if you had an IQ of 178?

Dementors, Patronuses and their Muggle equivalents

A dark addition to the world of Harry Potter, Dementors are vile and loathsome creatures, whose only objective is to suck every single happy feeling out of humans. As MuggleNet, the most comprehensive guide to J.K. Rowling’s novel, puts it

Dementors feed on positive human emotions – happiness, hope, excitement. Their mere presence sucks every happy feeling or memory from any human present, leaving only cold dark despair in its place. The worst experiences of the victim’s life will flood through them as everything positive is stripped away.

Oh, and these foul beings absolutely love granting humans their special gift, the Dementor’s Kiss. The recipient of a Kiss will get their soul sucked right out by the Dementor.

Fending off a Dementor requires summoning a Patronus, guardian of the summoner’s soul and happiness. The Patronus appears as a silver glowing animal, the animal form dependent on the summoner, and is formed from the ethereal positive feelings of the summoner. It then barricades itself between the Dementor and the summoner, thus protecting the summoner from harm.

And why in the name of Merlin’s pants am I talking about Dementors and Patronuses?

Because Dementors truly exist in the real world, just not in the form described above.

The real world Dementors don’t wear cloaks nor do they have a horrible visage. They actually look a lot like us. They can be your parents, your teachers, your friends, your colleagues, the stranger you meet in the park or your nice next door neighbour. Anyone at all.

Armed with their happiness-sucking ability, they proceed to dampen every daring dream you have, every glorious goal you strive for.
“Oh you’ll never make it.”
“It’s just too hard, isn’t it?”
“That’s impossible.”
“You’re a failure, and you’ll always be a failure.”

What you need to do is slowly disassociate yourself from these people. Or ignore them. Whilst it’s hard to do for certain people (like your parents), you can do something to help yourself: summon a Patronus. Just like a true-blue wizard or witch, fill yourself with the happiest memory you can recall the moment you feel the cold despair emanating from these soul suckers. Then blast every cell in your body with the euphoria, forming an invisible barrier, thus rendering you impervious to their debilitating words.

It’s sometimes hard to summon a Patronus under the best of conditions, let alone being continually besieged by these unbelieving, depressing people around you (or descended upon by tons of Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban). Just practise bringing up happy memories and feelings, hold them in your mind for a while, and soon you’ll be able to summon Patronuses as instinctively as the boy who lived.

Waving a wand and exclaiming “expecto patronum” is optional.