Societal Norms

September 22, 2008

The Dance

I’ve noticed a pattern among the intelligent that can be a great boon or a grave disadvantage, and I want to offer some advice about it.

I don’t think I’m alone among my peers in viewing social interactions, especially in crowds and populations, as fascinating from an anthropological perspective. We watch the sometimes crude, sometimes subtle dance of evolutionary psychology play out with a predictable and occasionally hypnotic rhythm.

The difference between people like me and the population at large, is that they are fully engaged in this dance, while we are interlopers. To us, the dance is transparent, like the moving parts of a Rube Goldberg machine, each activating the next in a pattern that is interesting but entirely mechanical and arbitrary.

The Wallflower

This is the dance of norms, and most participate blindly — perhaps as the Goldberg parts rather than an observer of the machine. Those who do observe choose to participate to one degree or another, and the literature indicates that the degree of participation is inversely proportional to intelligence.

Genius caliber minds tend to be cloistered and anti-social. They often don’t like people and people often don’t like them. The reason is this dance: the genius ignores the dance that is implicit in other people’s way of thinking and mode of behavior. He regards their expectations as silly, while others are troubled by his refusal to adhere to conventions.

This mutual distrust is not ideal.

In the Groove

I’ve mentioned previously on this blog that I deliberately undertook to learn this dance — to understand people on a visceral level– and as a result, I am more “well-adjusted” than most geniuses. Whether this is the natural result of my IQ, which is low for a genius, or the fruits of my study and practice (or some combination thereof), I can dance, and dance well. The movement still feels awkward at times, but I’ve grown accustomed to talking and moving in certain ways that I might not feel compelled to if I had no interest in other people.

There is no subterfuge here. I honestly want to interact naturally with people, and it’s a skill I’ve practiced. If that’s lying, then so is learning and practicing any kind of skill.

Finding the Rhythm

Here’s the rub: dancing well requires balance. The quintessential anti-social genius behaves the way he does because of some sense of efficiency — “Why should I bother interacting with people, when there are all these plants to catalog? The plants don’t care what I wear or how I talk, and neither do I.” That sentiment is true but can only be applied in a limited context.

The larger question is, should these plants be cataloged at all? Or more directly: what experiences should I have during my life? What shall I accomplish in the time I have?

I’ve found that most important experiences relate to other people in some way. I have come to view the extremely anti-social genius as disabled: fundamentally unable to function in their lives in a meaningful way. We can all catalog and calculate, but who among us can make the world a genuinely better place?

On the other hand, it’s impossible to say that people who conform to norms automatically contribute value to the world. I think it’s fair to say that those who are obsessed with the trappings of the dance are as uniformly useless as those geniuses whose legacy includes taxonomies of vehicle transfers.

I propose a middle way: I believe we should choose some norms to adhere to and some to discard as actively harmful. We adhere to the socially helpful or neutral norms, and by ignoring the harmful ones, we maximize the value and perhaps personal satisfaction in our lives.

Go to a Toastmaster’s meeting and learn to speak to people. Read some popular psychology books to practice your body language. It pains me to say it, but I know there are people out there who need to hear it: hygiene is important, and you might as well wear clothing that suits your body and is relatively stylish.

Discard the nonsense that really holds you back, but embrace the small changes you can make it your life that will make you more approachable. This will open up personal, professional, and intellectual doors that you won’t have access to otherwise.

If Mr. Plant Cataloger put on some decent clothing and stopped staring at his feet when he spoke to people, he might find some fascinating new opportunities to catalog exotic plants along side his mind-bendingly brilliant and gorgeous life partner. Good luck to you, Mr. Plant Cataloger, I wish you the best.

30 Responses to “Societal Norms”

  1. sylvester Says:

    this is excellent advice for the genius whos a social outcast in context of general society. what is rele concerning me of recent is my own ability to communicate with my own personal blood family. this has been to say the least highly annoying and most discomforting experiance. i can isolate myself from general society with a fair amount of ease , and integrate beack into it with fwe difficulties , however my own family has been a very different matter. i do love my family but this is driving me into new depths of depression and sadness. if anyone on here is or has experianced similar circumstances, and can share useful advice i would be deeply grateful.

    • MU Says:

      What makes you think that you are a “social outcast” and are depressed because you are a “genius?” Many people with psychological issues, who have trouble dealing with others and society in general, like to think that they are “geniuses” after reading about some of the issues that some exceptionally intelligent people supposedly have (as described in literature) and decide that they must also be exceptionally intelligent. That’s usually a fallacy (and the web is full of people thinking they are somehow exceptionally intelligent because they have psychological issues). The fact that you have such problems does not make you highly intelligent, but if you are exceptionally intelligent you *may* have *some* of the issues typically associated with exceptionally intelligent people. *If* you are really exceptionally intelligent (i.e. a “genius”) then you are most likely the best person to help yourself anyway since you are unlikely to find a person of your own caliber to help you (and why would you require such help with such brain power anyway?). Keep in mind the words I used to describe a “genius”…I used *exceptionally* intelligent. The degree of exceptionality can be so high that you may actually never meet another person of your caliber ever…yet the internet is full of people (probably in the millions judging by the activity in various forums) claiming such exceptionality because they have some behavioral disorders. People have a problem admitting to themselves that they may just have ADHD (e.g.) or they are simply antisocial or lack communication skills to interact with others. It sounds a lot better to claim (and convince oneself) that one is so highly intelligent that one has these issues. As the author of this blog mentions numerous times, the number of people who are truly “profoundly gifted” is so small that they are highly unlikely to run into each other on a frequent basis, if at all. As the name of this blog may suggest, the main problem that exceptionally intelligent people have is mental loneliness, not necessarily physical, although that *can* also be a problem if mental loneliness drives you into depression (which seems to be always there on some level, even if not debilitating) and you isolate yourself from mainstream society because they just don’t understand you and you don’t want to perform the “dance.”

      What’s the moral of all this? It’s highly likely that your issues are just that…you have psychological issues that you need to resolve. In my opinion, and judging from your choice of words and your ability to convey your thoughts, exceptional intelligence, genius, profound giftedness (or whatever you want to call it) has nothing to do with it. (As a sidenote…ability to convey your thoughts, i.e. communication skills, are probably the No.1 indicator of true intelligence).

      • Ken Says:

        I don’t think your tone is called for, Mu.

        There’s no need to talk down to anyone here — you’re correct about your main point, but you know nothing about the person you’re responding to, so don’t presume to. Spread the joy, man, life’s too short to be an asshole.

      • A. Squared Says:

        MU, some harsh words there! I felt that was uncalled for, as well. Not to mention, that genius or lack of genius was not his main point. He was just asking for some advice on how to connect with family members.

        It is true, life is too short. Peace.

      • Coy Says:

        It seems to me you have given this great thought. But who are you trying to convince, us , or yourself?

      • sylvester Says:

        it seems i only just got notification of this reply and post, to Mu , you are correct in assuming that from my initial post in assuming i may have had some sort of mental disorder , however i will kindly inform you that the disorder was being highly intoxicated at the time of this post. as for everything you have said i will agree to it 100%, however i do not suffer from physical loneliness, i frequently meet hundreds of people on a weekly basis and can be quite friendly with all of them , however this drives my mental loneliness into further depths of despair as ive estimated myself to have had brief contact with near 20 000 people thus far , and yet to find a mind of similar caliber to my own , the closest ive come to it thus far are prodigy med students who can somewhat keep up with me with ideas they are comfortable with , new ideas not so much…

        on a side note , communication skillz are the number one indicator of true intelligence then all multilingual rappers must be god damn geniuses?

      • Anonymous Says:

        Multilingual rappers are just multicolored parrots. Same amount of letters, woah! I think the public shakiness of Genius reflects his solitary nature. Why would I be interested in developing sophisticated communication skills when I’m antisocial to begin with and simplicity is what I’m after? Why would I waste my time explaining to you how I feel if you can’t even read the frustration on my face? It’s more about understanding, as when I talk to intelligent people I find it much easier to communicate simply. With normal people, I have to be much more specific, often to no avail and it ends up draining me. I suppose communication skills can come in handy, (especially for liers…) But who cares ? There are plenty of more direct and honest ways to convey your thoughts than with misleading words. Some do it with art; others, music; others with guns: For example if you show up at someone’s house and I put a gun to your head, do you still need some explaining? No, I think you get the picture pretty quickly. Or else the sound pretty loudly! Never the less, the intended message is registered and the ensuing action follows rapidly and much more effectively than with words. Keep it simple. It’s about looking at the whole, not just the arse, or the parts I mean, reading between the lines, connecting the dots, seeing the patterns, riding the wave, the motion of the ocean, the emotion lotion… You feel me? The specificity of words often leads us to mistake the forest for the trees. We used to live in trees, now we have opposable minds. 4 to 1? Heh, more like a million to 1. At least…

        Why does it take a Genius to understand the frustrations of creative individuals with high IQ maladjustment compounded by intoxificacation. Poor me! Poor me another drink. Buwahaha, LoL!

  2. Jack Christopher Says:

    If *I* could do it all over again (rearrange my neurons optimally), I’d study hard math, and a diversity of scientific fields, and couple it with great communication skills.

    You have to match rationality and a diverse knowledge of many fields (not just science) with an ability to share it.

    Studying diverse fields is useful because the metaphors you’ll be able to draw later on; People can relate to what you know.

    And philosophy (direction with a heart), would complete the balance.

    Remember you’re optimizing for the human world as it is today. It would be much easier if we could just hyper specializing and had a much better way to communicate.

  3. mike Says:

    If I could do anything I would be in a rock band and ROCK ON MAN.

    Yes it’s ok for geniuses to do something that isn’t boring and scientific.

    Like matt stone and trey parker. They made southpark. Let me repeat that. Southpark. That show is pure genius.

    Or like maynard from tool. Hes a genius he fucking made Tool. Or marylin manson, he’s fucking marilyn manson hes a genius.

    You dont have to have a stick up your ass to be a genius.

    In fact the opposite most people with sticks up their asses are just above average.

  4. donacha Says:

    The personal hygine and dress code issue I really don’t get, I mean a genius surely understands the outcome of not cleaning the human body ? also a genius will surely dress quite well and again understand the advantages of doing so in the modern world, and it is a way of expression also. Maybe I am viewing this from a creative genius point of view.I also believe that when a genius needs something from normal people they can do whatever needed to do so, like being social and interested and using their understanding people to manipulate a person even people who they have just met using instinct and understanding of human behaviour to do so, I do agree with the boredom of social situations though , and also to Sylvester I have the same issues with my family , I have 4 sisters who create issues amongst themselves over petty simple things as I means to occupy their lives with something interesting ,and as for my parents I cant stand any of their opinions or advice ,I am left speechless at times

  5. sylvester Says:

    reading through all these comemnts has helped me understand and devolp myself quite a bit, gave me the abilty to better understand why approch certain situations in certain ways , and why i have such antisocial behaviours at times. it is primarily through this little blog / posting or however it is classes , that ive begin activly inspiring creative thought and logical rationality in ordinary persons( not much sucess thus far , but the process is still rough and subjective to individual biases), ive also wondered , are all genusius concerned with efficeny? most hitngs i do creates effieceny, from bodily movemnts to any machines i conceptualize( currently working on my first machine, needless to say i severly lack crafstman skills required but i am learning from skilled persons), still no advice on how to deal with family members i c . the greatest problem i have thus far is trying to make them understand that mi intellegence allows me to gain teh same wisdom with limited experiance , as thier vast experiances have given them.

  6. Adam Says:

    This isn’t bad advice, but I wonder if your confusing genius with OCD… or maybe you just didn’t put much thought in to your examples. I do that sometimes too, but it really sells short the potential of the piece.

    Personally, I really can’t consider anyone who devotes their life to cataloging, or similarly mechanical tasks, a genius. I think I know what you mean, but those examples don’t jive with your message.

    Not all smelly eccentrics are genius’, and not all genius’ are smelly eccentrics (although these cliches do arise from some truth) 😛

  7. Ken Says:

    Adam, thanks for your note. I actually was riffing off of William Sidis. “Genius lore” has it that Sidis was the most intelligent human being in recorded history, and after a brief tenure teaching higher math at Harvard(starting when he was 11), he “dropped out.” He cloistered himself, and actually created a series of taxonomies of various types, including one of streetcars. This article was written with Sidis in mind.

    Here’s the wikipedia entry for him:

    For an example of a world-class genius was reported to be remarkably well-adjusted socially, see Leonhard Euler. Maybe he undertook to understand people like I suggest; it seems to have paid off.

  8. unlearning genius Says:

    Mister genius caliber .. please visit overcoming bias at seriously think way too much of your own abilities and this should make you aware of the ground beneath your feet

    • MU Says:

      Is it at all possible that you have no idea what you are talking about and act just like any “normal” person out there who immediately feels “offended” by the mere presence of exceptional (and superior) intelligence because they feel “smaller” in comparison? Threatened? Uncomfortable? Does that ring a bell?

      Ken seems to hit the nail right on the head on most issues from what I have read so far. How do you judge someone’s mental abilities? By their communication skills and the ideas they convey. Of course one needs to understand these ideas to be able to judge…your intelligence level needs to keep up with the subject you are judging though…

  9. Ken Says:

    Overcoming Bias has been one of my favorite sites for quite a long time now, thanks for spreading the link. I may have a terminal case, unfortunately.

  10. MU Says:

    You just failed the test, Ken.

    You act like any other easily offended (for no reason) American out there, in this case vicariously for an obvious moron. Someone brings up direct, frank points without using any offensive vocabulary at all and you start characterizing him as an “asshole” without even comprehending half of what he is saying. Any *normal* person in Europe would call your kind of behavior “stupid” and ask you what the hell is wrong with you. But this kind of stupidity is so ingrained in your society that it’s perceived the standard. Sugar coating one’s comments, or being politically correct, has no place in truly intelligent discourse. It detracts and it’s highly inefficient = plain and simple stupid.

    And just a tip…you should probably think about the difference between a computer geek with *maybe* slightly above average intelligence and some geeky hobbies and what is considered profoundly gifted (and above actually) or as you amateurishly put it “genius” to come to a few self-realizations, if that’s at all possible in your case.

    You are, by the way, reading the words of a truly profoundly gifted (actually there is no classification for me, but I am putting it in words you may understand and are familiar with) individual (sorry, not bragging, can’t help it..I am what I am and I had no choice) instead of reading comments on your pretentious blog from complete morons who think they are somehow geniuses. As for finding a computer geek with geeky hobbies…well, look in the mirror and look around you. That should give you a nice basis from which to start your comparison and analysis.

    Oh yeah, English is my *third* language and I still have a better command of it than any of your *genius* blog participants, and dare I say, the blog owner. Time for a fitting quote: “In the land of the blind the one-eyed is king!” So open up that one eye really wide and look around. You need to get out there and expand your horizon man…there are tons of people like you around, there is really no scarcity. Maybe, maybe (although highly unlikely) you will meet a person who is considered “profoundly gifted++” in real life who can give you a real perspective on intelligence (if he is willing to waste his time). But, if you don’t open that one eye really wide and start using your brain, then you will not recognize that opportunity.

    Please, do me a favor and delete my comments from your blog. This particular comment is meant to go just to you, so no need to publish.

    Anyway, enough time wasted….


  11. Todd Says:

    One hour ago, I felt like I was alone on this earth. Now I realize that people like me are not only here on earth,but accessible. Have you taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? With such a strong desire to do something great before you kick the bucket and the ability to see “the big picture” I would say you are an INTP personality type. For me, it was a tremendous advantage to know “who I am” and moreover; what some of my shortcomings are. Thank you for giving me something to read when I did my lonely genius google search.

    • sylvester Says:

      i am not quite to sure abut this , but i dare say there are quite a few persons who have found this post in the same manner you have, which is in a time of great loneliness they just hit the keywords on their particular search engine and then ken’s blog comes up.So in some regard Ken has accomplished a great deal here already , but even more could be done if we brave forward and try to openly create a network of individuals like ourselves who can transcend the achievements of the average person on an (intellectual level) TOGETHER… each one of us may be capable of greatness but i am sure a room full of us could accomplish the near unthinkable, solve the almost irrational and design the unimaginable…. and that would be a truly great day for us all.

  12. […] 1, 2009 This is a response to Sylvester, who left this comment on the Societal Norms post: …but even more could be done if we brave forward and try to […]

  13. Paige Says:

    Thank you Lonely Genius for touching on this issue. You struck a deep chord. For a great deal of my life I felt as though I was observing people from the other side of something akin to a glass wall, never feeling or able to establish any real connection. It has taken me years of effort, social analysis, trial and error, but now I can get into the groove as seamlessly as a social butterfly. Yes, some of my behavior is disingenuous and at times I find it almost painful to push through the banal conversation that so often ensues. Nonetheless, it’s been worth every moment of discomfort. Some of my most meaningful encounters and greatest friendships have been forged out of seemingly mind-numbing social situations. Intelligent people, geniuses, creatives can be found in the most unusual places. There are many lonely minds out there looking to connect. When we find each other the recognition is very much a relieved sense of “oh, there you are.” Those blissful moments of connection are magic beyond intellect.

  14. Sindre Says:

    I’m stunned by the amount of intellectual geniuses who find it in them to discard the value of politeness. Maybe it’s the result of occupying the middle ground – I recognize people who are more talented than me, of which there are quite a few, yet most people are hard-pressed to come close to me in ability – but I think that social interaction is far more than just norms and ritual re-enactments.

    The heart of the matter: I get the impression that certain breeds of intellectuals – and particularly gifted ones, who are demographically skewed towards introversion – regard polite interaction as “noisy”, as in superfluous and obfuscatory to the “content” of communications.

    But I don’t buy it.

    What I believe is that these self-same geniuses tend to dislike most people, precisely for the same reason that most people tend to dislike them – their values and standards of communication differ. Strongly.

    To the (highly/profoundly/extremely/*insert ostentatious adverb here*) gifted person of an intellectual bent, the most appropriate response to commonly exhibited social behaviours might be to point out flawed reasoning – because they believe in the value of logical cohesion, and because most people are less meritorious thinkers than they are.

    Of course, this doesn’t sit well with their conversational partners, because it’s a lot like being told to improve your shooting while simultaneously having your rifle dismantled.

    “Your thinking sucks, now get this shitty argument fixed” – a (sadly not) exaggerated response to perceived idiocy.

    So, in order to protect their self-images, these averagely intelligent people will find some way to pin the blame on the bringer of bad news.

    “He’s an arrogant know-it-all” – a (sadly) common behind-the-back response to criticism.

    Of course, intelligent people catch on. And so they face a dilemma. Accept ostracism for behaviour they believe to be perfectly acceptable, or dismiss the charges levelled against them as “irrational”, “immature” or such. Most seem to opt for the latter.

    As a necessary consequence of this abjuration, they’ll also claim that the phenomena most closely associated to said kind of ostracism – i.e. polite conversations held between people of approximately average intelligence – is bad, worthless or indeed “noisy”.

    A downward spiral, with neither side coming out the victor.


    • sylvester Says:

      i am curious , did you draw this conclusion based of most conversations in general or conversations with a particular focus?

      From what I understand here , you are speaking about conversations in context of a genius with someone who is average or above average , where they are debating/ arguing over a point. in this case i shall agree with what you say full about us throwing out politeness , though my personal reason for doing so is that i dislike facades and hypocrisy to the extent where i will discard all of my own facades and so on , but in doing so it sort of knocks down their facades as well…. not exactly a frictionless process , but in the long run i find it tends to yield more fruitful results one the person who im speaking to becomes used to my brash nature , they tend to prefer it.

      however debates / arguments / informative discourse may not form the vast bulk of our social contexts of communication, there is also all the banter ( trash talking friends tend to do when spending time together ) , emotional , romance ( or attempting to create one , sadly possibly one of our collective weaknesses or so it may seem ), and then the creative outlets . this is how I view most social communications anyways..

      the problem with geniuses in my experience ( me fuddling around in society ) is that we sometimes forget to or are unable to rapidly switch between the different contexts , and to adapt our form of communication to suit… Best example is my brash nature works great in intellectual and creative contexts , but very very very horribly in romantic contexts ( Hollywood you lied to me XD ). however by learning to adapt rapidly it helps to be able to move from heated brash intellectual conversation to more quiet subtle polite romantic conversations …

      this is only my experience anyways , would you like me to elaborate more on anything?

      as usual share your own thoughts on the subject 🙂

      • Sindre Says:

        I drew most of these conclusions from the evolution of my own relationships to average people, and from observing others with similar or higher intellectual aptitude in social contexts.

        If anything, I was talking about the way in which some such gifted people – myself included – turn casual conversation (which isn’t expected to be challenging) into discussions. And suffering the consequences, as it leaves some people feeling violated.

        As for straight-up social obliviousness, I don’t think that’s a trait exclusive to gifted people. To the contrary, I think most of us are quite able to go for long periods of time without realizing that what we’re doing is alienating others – genius or not. In this I’m in agreement with the kind of intellectual I was criticising in my first comment – it’s a noise problem.

        The thing is that I don’t believe social interaction as a phenomenon is any more deserving of being labelled as noisy, irrational, tradition-bound etc. than – say – thinking. As far as I know, humans are are able to make vast amounts of inferences based on everything from body language and tone of voice, through to the precise words others use to illustrate their points. Of course, ambiguity is an ever-present threat – but it’s not as if that isn’t the case when you’re blunt.

        I believe there is a certain elegance to forthrightness and honesty, but I don’t think that alone is cause for eschewing social norms of politeness. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there is such a thing as being too blunt, and that we all stand the risk of causing unwanted noise when we – for instance – fail to take into account that our wording might come across as hostile.

      • sylvester Says:

        i am a bit curious , how would you describe your interactions with others in the contexts that i vaguely described above? do you encounter the same problems as you have described or do you encounter different problems in those situations?

        for me i have certain problems in reguards to each one which i shall share with you , so please let me know what you think of it…

        in terms of friendly banter , usually thte topic drifts in a direction where you have no clue what they are talking about ( think social wild trend that you may not be exposed to or are slow to catch onto ) , or , making of key remarks ( basically because your thinking of the conversation as an entirety instead of as a flowing entity)

        emotional , i must say i do not experience to many problems in this regard , except knowing what should or should not be considered taboo etc , sometimes it works to your benefit , others it can leave other people enraged at you.

        romance….. errrrmmmmm sore lack of experience suggests i need lot of development in that front to put forward anything in this regard.

        as for creative outlets , this is where I truely shine ( as some put it a bit to bright) i suppose its just a reflection of my own nature …

        thoughts , feedback , similar stories i would love to hear them all .

      • Sindre Says:

        When I was really young, I was an insufferably curious individual. Not entirely stereotypical, mind – I wasn’t a very sophisticated political commentator or anything, and my questions were probably well within the comfort zone of most people, in terms of their adult-to-child taboo level. A combination of curiosity and intellectual clarity bolstered my early thinking development, and I was probably cleverer than most adults by the time I was around six. I remember pondering questions back then that I see a lot of university students struggle with now – much to my chagrin, might I add.

        For all that, I was still a child. I had issues with anger management and I was picked on a lot – probably because the other kids recognized that A) I was easy to provoke and B) I was a lot smarter than them.

        The earlier friends I had saw no problem with calling me “philosopher” (though obviously I wasn’t) to my face and “weirdo” (which I probably was) behind my back.

        One of my great social weaknesses, I think, is that I combine a desire for friendship and closeness that probably exceeds that of my friends, past and present, with a mind that renders those connections shallow. That, and my long-standing inability to be any cleverer than the village idiot when it comes to approaching romantic interests.

        I could give you my full history, complete with editor’s notes and all, but the above really says all that needs to be said about my past, be it immediate or distant. Today, everything is still much the same – apart from the anger problem, which has faded.

        As for the problems I described in my earlier comments, such as deciding how to respond to ostracism and estrangement…

        Estrangement is still an ever-present threat, but not for reasons heavily correlated with intelligence. Out of all my problems connecting to other people, the most pressing is that I generally find them too hostile, too “me (and possibly my friends) against the world”. A trait which seems to take root easily, regardless of aptitude levels. In fact, I positively loathe some of the cleverer students at my school – their behaviour often veers into sociopathy, and that’s something I have a hard time tolerating.

        Over the course of the last few years (and the last few months in particular), my attitude has tipped decisively towards optimism and altruism. Liking people comes easily to me, so others finding me rude isn’t much of an issue any more.

        In fact, you might say I have the opposite problem of the one Ken postulated. I tend to get too serious, too caught up in the dance – though I’m a flexible enough dancer.

        There’s a very simple reason for that, however: I think it matters. Social interaction is much more than “noise” to me. It’s an independent process worthy of respect, in the same way that the application of formal logic should adhere to certain rules. It’s sort of like debates on internet forums, where – if I participated – I would crassly point out that internet users are people, too, whatever you might think of their arguments.

        Everyday machiavellianism, cruelty and sociopathy – these things make it hard for me to relate to my peers, more than incongruous levels of intelligence and sophistication has ever done. Though while the former alienates me utterly, the latter leaves me feeling rather lonely.

        I’ll assert, however, that I’m rather atypical for an intellectually gifted individual. Sure, I’m introverted – which is the norm at exceptional levels of intelligence – but I’m more of a feeler than a thinker, going by the MBTI lingo. Which, in less deceptively layman-like terms, is to say that I’m more given to reflection on relationships, feelings and values than logic, efficiency and utility. It’s my impression that this stands in sharp contrast to the “normal” gifted population, and so gives birth to aberrations.

        Put differently: it seems to me that it is rare to combine a marked interest in feelings, human relationships and values (and particularly a preference for these subjects, over logic, efficiency and utility) with a significantly higher than average intelligence, and therefore my problems seem to be markedly different in character from those I see other gifted people describe.

        I believe it all comes down to the same thing, in the end: our styles of communication adhere to different genre conventions.

        Oh, and just to add my thoughts on switching contexts: I think I’m actually a bit too adept at that. There have been instances of me translating idioms from Engish to Norwegian spontaneously (without the usual grammatical confusion), thus creating sentences that – to me – seem perfectly understandable, but translate to gibberish for everyone else.

        The same goes for norms, mannerisms etc.
        I tend to be more profoundly affected by context than most people, from what I can tell.

  15. Sindre Says:

    Oh, by the way, I hope my opening with “I’m stunned” does not come across as accusatory – I don’t want to pin badges to anyone here, so it may have been a bit of an overstated opening note.

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