Intelligence, Wisdom and Schizophrenia

I’m pretty sure I had a very high IQ before my first episode of psychosis. After all, I taught informal logic. It was my job to reason well, and I was good at my job.

Because of this, it’s always interesting to me to read articles like this one, about how people with schizophrenia tend to have lower IQs than people without that diagnosis, and that there may be a subgroup of people with schizophrenia who have high IQs.

One time, a psychiatrist told me that for each episode, cognitive function decreases, and it’s hard to get it back. That may be true–and I may not be perfect–but I am not only happier but also a better person than I was before my diagnosis due to the wisdom I’ve picked up over the years.

Prior to my diagnosis, I thought intelligence, particularly reasoning ability that IQ tests measure, was the absolute best thing. It was better, to me, to be intelligent than, say, nice.

The years wore on me and due to a variety of circumstances, I now feel that being a good person is better than whatever high reasoning ability one has because, in short, when you’re a good person, you’re almost always right, especially in ways that matter.

Not to mention, there are many ways one can be gifted: with written communication, the visual arts, athletically, and so on. Why don’t they measure these talents when it comes to people with schizophrenia?

At the end of the day, I may have been one of that “select group” who had a relatively high IQ and schizophrenia, but these studies mean nothing to me, and they tell us very little about people with schizophrenia.

When will they end? I don’t know. Maybe when we start seeing people with schizophrenia as, well, people.

Abusive Politicians

I was talking to a friend about Putin. That’s what sparked this post. Yet, this post isn’t about how downright evil he is and how America (or Biden) are tons better.

This post is about applying what we know about abusive people to political leaders. It’s also about how what I call ‘governing’ (rather than, say, ‘dictating’) requires or develops virtue.

Governing is hard work. It requires that one be responsive to a whole population. It also requires accountability and a great sense of responsibility. Every day, a leader who governs must use practical reason. Governing also takes time. That means less time to fool around and get into global conflicts, perhaps.

Dictating, like being abusive, is the easy way out. We tend to think of dictators as holding great amounts of power, and maybe some do to some extent, but they are also weak in the sense that they are probably afraid of the freedom of their populace, just like an abuser in a romantic relationship limits the freedom of their partner because it threatens them. A dictator, because they do not respond to the freedom of the individuals, is not virtuous, just like an abuser isn’t. And, just like an abuser, a dictator will use forms of manipulation to control and suppress.

In my honest opinion, there are likely few leaders today on the global scene who actually govern. That is, very few who do not employ abusive tactics to a certain extent. That’s not just true of Putin, but also true of America. There is a gradation. It’s not all or nothing.

In the end, though, governing probably leads to far less global drama. It probably also means healthier, happier citizens–and a healthier, happier leader. Just like how healthy romantic relationships require work on both ends, so it is true of actually governing and being a citizen. Yet, it will lead to more fulfilling and healthier relations overall.

Nothing good comes easy. That’s true of relationships as well as countries. The abuser, like the dictator, is, for whatever reason, unwilling to do the work, unwilling to confront themselves and humble themselves, so they control, manipulate, suppress, and even kill.

Understanding things this way makes us realize that the bad actors on a global scene are human, not monsters. They are, just like us, flawed. So, too, the virtuous among us are probably the minority.

For those of us in freer countries, we can take steps to work on ourselves and our governments, to elect leaders who will actually do the work of governing, and step away from abusive tactics once we recognize them. We can also not give abusive leaders more credit than they deserve. These are not strategic geniuses. These truly are cowards, because if they had courage, they would be responsive to their citizens.

What Patriotism Means to Me

I am in the process of joining Daughters of the American Revolution. Almost every generation in my family has served in the military dating back to the Revolutionary War. My dad was in the Special Forces. Although he was an imperfect man in many ways (and I am myself imperfect), I get a lot of my ideas about patriotism from him.

These days, many Americans feign patriotism by purchasing guns and toting them around, and the like.

I have never owned a gun. It’s highly unlikely that I ever will.

I’m a civilian. Probably always will be. But there’s things one can do and ways one can be that are genuinely patriotic without serving in the military.

My dad showed me how.

Being a patriot, for me, is about doing one’s best for one’s community, and for America. It requires sacrifice and I daresay developing some kind of virtue.

My dad was very good at gardening. He grew a lot of his own food. He often gave away the fruits of his labor to neighbors and friends, without asking for money.

He also mowed neighbors’ lawns. Fixed their cars. In general, my dad used his talents to help others.

Being a patriot, for me, also means doing right by Tribal Nations and foreign countries. It means being welcoming to immigrants.

Being a patriot, for me, means investing in education, both mine and others’. It means doing my best to develop intellectual virtues and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge in younger generations.

Being a patriot means recognizing what America has given me while working to make things better for others.

None of this, as you can see, requires a gun.

Rather, to me, patriotism is a life dedicated to service, whether military or civilian. It means bringing out one’s best and encouraging the best from others. It means tolerating–even celebrating–differences, because they are what make America unique. It means defending democracy, and doing one’s best to keep America upright.

I don’t even own an American Flag. I don’t scare other Americans by pounding my chest. Instead, I seek out the downtrodden, like my dad taught me to, and like it says on the Statue of Liberty.

This is a very different kind of patriotism that what is popularized in the media.

So, when people ask me why I’m joining Daughters of the American Revolution, all of this is why. My values and their values line up.

I’m simply doing what my dad taught me to do.

Celebrate Recovery?

The other day, I started working (again) on a chapbook. Below you will find the title poem and tentative cover art.

A few blocks from me, there is a church. They do meetings for people in all kinds of recovery. The name of the group is “Celebrate Recovery.”

I don’t talk much publicly about my personal life. However, I do know of people who have hit rock bottom. I have, in fact, been one, with schizophrenia.

For me and the people I’ve come to help recover, the darkness and desolation has been overwhelming. Often, too, one has lost all friendships, and perhaps even family. More often, reputation. One is socially isolated, often broke, and trying to figure out the next meal.

Down the street from the church is a gas station with a cluster of woods behind it. There lives a community of homeless people. Sometimes, I give them money. But when I don’t have a dollar to spare, I always make sure to acknowledge them, to speak to them as equals, to reassure them, and look them in the eye, if it’s not too invasive.

My chapbook is about all of this. It’s also about how the people we often see, externally, as weak, frequently turn out to be the strongest, and how people with bravado and machismo turn out to be, in reality, pitifully weak. I am calling it “A Sound Mind” because, a few years ago, when I started meditating, I chose 2 Timothy 1:7 as the idea I focused my mind on.

We never know where life may lead. I feel mostly recovered, with some limitations. But that may not always be the case.

I do not celebrate my recovery the way the church down the street seems to. It’s not a joyous song and dance. When everything–your mind, possessions, social connections–have been taken away from you, getting them back, perhaps in a different way, makes one cry and then, hopefully, help others who have lost it all.

A Sound Mind

One would think

That because they are snowflakes

That they are weak.

But they are the strongest.

Each one providing unique insight

And fighting battles the vicious know nothing about.

While they may seem to lack all virtue

On the surface

Deep down

They rally for the cause.

May we hope for some to rise up

To save themselves, at first

So they may rescue others.

An army of previous snowflakes

Will become self-guided ubermenches,

Ready to help another to their feet.

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