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?

  1. Cees Meijer

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

    I’d be wondering what happened to the 190 I usually have…;-)
    But serious. I think having such an IQ could be quite a burden. Yes of course you could do great things that would benefit humanity. But that would only be successful if you happened passionate about something that benefits from your intelligence. (If you dream of being a world class tennis player, a high IQ will not help you much) And if they don’t match I think you can feel pretty unhappy…

  2. Vincent

    Cees, that’s exactly it. The want, the motivation, the excitement, the passion must be there. For some tasks, you need both the passion and the intelligence (for example). I would say that the passion is the more important ingredient.

Comments are closed.