Do you lose your intelligence after a psychosis?

IQ and psyche: does intelligence protect against schizophrenia?


Genius and madness are not as close together as expected, says a new study. According to this, smart people have a significantly lower risk of schizophrenia.

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The more intelligent a person is, the less likely it is that they will develop schizophrenia (see box). This is what researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and the Swedish Lund University report in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, Kenneth S. Kendler's team measured the IQ of more than 1.2 million Swedish men between the ages of 18 and 20 who were born between 1951 and 1975. They also documented all schizophrenia-related doctor visits by the participants up until 2010.

Genes also play a role

In a further step, they compared the data with one another and calculated the general risk of illness from this.

In addition, they took into account whether the close relatives - cousins, half siblings and full siblings - had already developed schizophrenia.

The evaluation showed that people with a lower intelligence quotient are more likely to develop schizophrenia than those with a high IQ. This is particularly the case if the disease has also occurred in another family member, according to the researchers.

Despite this clear finding, Kendler emphasizes that people with an extraordinarily high IQ are not immune to mental illness. Because there are plenty of counterexamples. We present some of them to you in our photo series.

The film “A Beautiful Mind - Genius and Madness” (2001), which is based on the life story of the mathematician and Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash, shows that it is possible. (Video: Youtube / Taylor Chan)

What is schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia suffer from loss of reality, delusions, hallucinations and changes in thoughts, language and behavior. It is assumed that a genetic predisposition (disposition) plays a central role. For example, if both parents in a family have schizophrenia, the risk for the child is 40 percent. If only one parent is schizophrenic, the chances for the child are nine to 16 percent. If a twin has schizophrenia, the risk for the sibling is 40 to 60 percent for identical twins and 15 percent for dizygotic twins. With an affected sibling, the risk of schizophrenia for the sibling is around 6 to 20 percent.

The therapy of schizophrenia takes place primarily with so-called psychotropic drugs. In addition, psychotherapy supports those affected in dealing with their illness and coping with everyday life.