Emotional intelligence and/or high IQ

“Academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life… people with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives.”

Daniel Goleman

IQ-EQ-icebergIn her article Emotional Intelligence of the Gifted, Joanna Fletcher notes that Goleman gives examples of high IQ people “who are not achieving the heights they were destined for.”

But she thinks “his observation that people with high IQ may have low emotional intelligence and therefore lower success is flawed.

“For starters, he defines success largely in social terms, a narrow band of achievement that gifted people may or may not choose to pursue.

“I suggest that because the person with high IQ is actually hyper-aware their world, they are not receiving the same information about any given situation as someone within the normal range.

“Because of this, they will react differently. They are able to discern more complexity in any situation, and social situations are the most complex systems humans encounter.”

stuffonmycat.comPeople who are gifted and talented, with that ability to “discern more complexity” and perhaps also introverted or highly sensitive, may often get labeled by others as “strange,” “weird,” “loner,” “snooty,” “ADD” or diagnosed as suffering from various other mental disorders.

See the articles Mis-Diagnosis and Dual Diagnosis.., and Misdiagnosis of the Gifted.

Those labels and reactions from others can impact emotional health, self esteem, relationships and other issues related to personal growth and talent development. [Photo from stuffonmycat.com]

Actor Sharon Stone says when she was 15 she went to college half a day while still going to high school, and “never got to be on a peer level relationship with the kids I went to school with. I was like, you know, that weird girl. I cannot believe I did not know that I was a pretty girl. I was so insecure and so intimidated and so introverted.” [Her IQ is reportedly 154.]

She has also commented, “If I was just intelligent, I’d be OK. But I am fiercely intelligent, which most people find very threatening.” [From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.]

That must be an emotional challenge: being reacted to as threatening.

In her article Gifted Girls, Joan Franklin Smutny writes: “Consider Lakesha’s story. An attractive African-American junior high student, she sat silently in the corner, never speaking.

“Although Lakesha was extremely bright, she was shy and performed more like an average student. Added to her discomfort was the fact that her good looks attracted the attention of the boys who enjoyed staring at her and making remarks just loud enough for her to hear… she retreated into herself.”

More quotes on the page Social reactions/interactions: teen/young adult2. The photo is Nkechi from the book Girl Culture.

Jodie Foster has commented about reactions from others: “Being understood is not the most essential thing in life.” Nominated at age 14 for an Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her role in Taxi Driver, her film Little Man Tate (1991) addressed many experiences of being young and gifted.

She admits that she can “basically put my emotions aside and go headfirst. But it’s something I have to watch, because sometimes I don’t know how I feel about things… Until years later. I am someone who experiences the world through my head, so my psyche’s fight, my whole life, has been the head against the heart. That’s what all my movies are about, too.”

[From the page Self-limiting]

Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D. founded Educational Options to “help the families of gifted children, particularly highly and profoundly gifted children, to know where to begin their search for answers related to gifted issues,” and is author of Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind.

In her article EQ and the IQ Connection, she discusses some of her case study reports of 125 highly gifted adults between the ages of 20 and 83.

Part of her theory “holds that highly intelligent individuals who are not made aware of this source of their emotional and social difficulties [their high intelligence] enter adulthood with weak self-esteem and defensive behavior designed to ward off uncomfortable and unrewarding personal interactions.”

She writes about a 47 year old woman, Candace, IQ above 150, who came from a very abusive home… “Her parents really did not like her… It isn’t too difficult to conclude that her emotional intelligence was tremendously impacted by the way her parents and teachers treated her.

Candace said, “I was nothing but a disappointment. I was a girl- I was supposed to be a boy. I was inquisitive which both parents interpreted as rude and challenging to their authority. I was smart so they confused my ability to learn with a capacity for understanding my actions in a greater context.

“Therefore they attached adult motivations to even the simplest question of a 4-year old. By the time I was 7 or 8 my life had become a painful existence. I knew God had made me wrong and I could never be right.”

Dr. Ruf notes, “Fortunately, Candace had two different friends in her late teens and in her 30s who helped her find herself. She also devoted herself to counseling for a number of years.

Musician Sting“She evolved into one of the most evolved, self-actualized people in my study who has a select number of close friends and a number of casual level acquaintances. She is also very happily married to her second husband.”

We do have a lot of choice in how we develop intellectually, and emotionally, and can make use of our creative abilities for positive growth.

In his memoir Broken Music, musician Sting writes, “Music has always been my refuge from sadness.”

Photo: Sting: “Do I have to be in pain to write? I thought so, as most of my contemporaries did; you had to be the struggling artist, the tortured, painful, poetic wreck…I only know that people who are getting into this archetype of the tortured poet end up really torturing themselves to death.”

– From article: Pain and suffering and developing creativity.

[Daniel Goleman quote from his book Emotional Intelligence.]

[Image at top from article: Emotional Intelligence (Funderstanding site).]


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Originally posted 2007-06-23 18:02:25.


  1. The world is a complex place, if you are aware enough to notice the details.

    95% of our social time is spent trying to say things in a way that other people will understand. It’s not a matter of lacking EQ, it’s just not having the patience to spoon feed our everyday thoughts to the rest of the world.

  2. Oh, btw…I’m “too sensitive” too…I have often been informed of that by insesntive people who didn’t like me calling attention to their wrongdoings.

    Actually, I don’t think I’m too sensitive- I think everybody else is too insensitive!

  3. I think that people like to accuse high IQ people of having low EQ becuase they feel like it takes them down a notch. it’s like that old “people with book smarts usually don’t have street smarts” thing.

    I think IQ and EQ can be found in varying degrees in all people. I don’t think having high IQ means you have low EQ. And certainly having a low IQ doesn’t mean you have high EQ. Some people have lots of both, some people have little of either. etc.
    And the same goes for so called “book smarts ” and “street smarts”. Lord knows there are plenty of people who have neither.

    This isn’t very PC but…why are people so stupid? Dpoes anybody else out there ask themselves this all the time like I do?

  4. I certainly identify with Ms. Marla … I often give people the name Marla because most people can’t say my name. I know that I am a HSP. I’ve tried to ignore it for most of my life. Home, school, work… everywhere I go I feel it. I have to be careful who I let around me. I go as far as to have intense muscle cramping in my shoulders and back from negative energies. This occurred most when I was working in a hospital. I had a boss who understood me and gave me room to be me. Only thing my boss couldn’t protect me from people higher than him so ultimately I was dismissed. The same thing happened last year, but there was no one around this time to protect me. The last thing I remember hearing from my boss at this place was, “You really need to develop a thicker skin”. I’ve heard this all my life from my parents and various people. It’s no fun being like this when you don’t know how to manage it. I was on feel good pills from my doctor which all I can say is that I felt so free but so not me…. I was absolutely emotionless. So that wasn’t an option any longer, especially when I noticed the medication numbing my sexual sensation. I had lost that too… My relationship suffered and we broke up.

    I’m still working on it managing HSP everyday. I didn’t know there was so much information on HSP and I know I was meant to see this at this point in my life. I’ve felt all that I can felt, now I need to learn how to protect and understand myself. There is no mistake, HSP is a gift and a curse.

    Thankful to Have Found This Site,


    P.S. Ditto Marla… every last thing you said is me all the way too.
    Now nothing anyone says can ever make me feel like there is
    something wrong with me… There are more of us out there and
    I’m glad to finally be aware this.

  5. Hi,
    I am just realizing that I am a highly sensitive person. I have finally figured it out after moving to a larger city, about a year ago that I feel overwhelmed by all the business, it has been a real adjustment for my soul. I finally looked back over my life and back to when I was very young and how sensitve I have always been to everybody and thing around me, I just didn’t ( and still have trouble) understand how other children could be so insensitive and seemingly mean spirited. I still feel that most people just don’t seem to be as affected as I am, and now I know why. I believe my son is also like me. I totally understood when he didn’t want to ride the bus home from school because he was tired of all the commotion of the day and needed quiet time. He is a musician and I am a designer, we both have super talent. I am going to read the book about this and I am going to join some type of support group for myself, I think both will be helpful. I am relieved to know why I am so different and introverted with the other attributes as well.
    With Sincere Appreciation, Marla
    P.S. I get so irritated with the rest of the world and how they seemingly are cruel and unfeeling and just don’t seem to care about others.

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