Health, Maisel-Eric, Non-Fiction, Self-help, social commentary

#638 Why Smart People Hurt by Eric Maisel

Why Smart People Hurt by Eric MaiselWhy Smart People Hurt by Eric Maisel

When you’re smarter than the average bear, it may seem like an advantage and a blessing, but it can also be a curse. Smart people can be put down by society for being smart. Sure being smart is good, depending on your background. What if you’re born into a poverty line family? What if you’re born into a poorer region of the country? What if your social norms say that a girl cannot be smart?

Even if you are encouraged to be smart, your smartness will be put into a box. You have to be a doctor or a lawyer or whatever it is that smart people do. Going even further, you have to be a pediatrician or a criminal lawyer, not just a lawyer. You are not free in society to be the many things you may desire to be as a “gifted” person.

Going even further, the gifted person is more understanding of the nature of life due to the extra intelligence they possess and all the thinking they do. Smart people are more prone to be depressed, have OCD, or have anxiety.

On top of that, brains don’t come with off switches, so smart people have to learn how to harness their thoughts to better themselves rather than to run away with their mind and ultimately cause problems in other areas of life.

Eric encourages smart people to find something in life that gives them meaning and to work on harnessing their thoughts. The thing that gives your life meaning may not necessarily be religion, or lots of money, but could be something simple that a person enjoys doing and uses their intelligence.

What I liked

This book was very informative and Eric is absolutely right, about pretty much everything. Smart people can be ostracized. Don’t rock the boat. How dare you propose that society operate any other way than what is does? How dare you challenge people to think for themselves? If you think outside of the norm of society, you’re seen as weird, even if your thoughts are highly intelligent and rational as presented to certain problems.

Smart people from the poverty line are definitely not encouraged to be smart. Let’s take my extended family, for example. My family is super smart, yet, hardly any of them have been to college and may appear and sound as country people upon first speech with them. My grandfather can build things from scratch that you couldn’t imagine. He could put a model T back together from memory. One of my great uncles can solve complex physics problems. Another built his own generator. I have a cousin who can pick up languages in nothing flat. My mom could be a volcanologist. Given the chance to have gone to college and to be educated, these members of my family would be rocket scientists and doctors and not what they are today. My family comes form a migrant farming background. Intelligence isn’t really lauded in that background.

I grew up in an area where smartness was not praised. Being stupid was. I know, and knew, people who bragged about never finishing a single book. You were supposed to brag about failing that algebra test. You were supposed to brag about how college wasn’t going to do you any good. That was the thing to do. Newsflash–those people who bragged about this stuff work minimum wage jobs and barely have the money to get by and can’t see why their lives are so tough. Guess you should have tried a little harder on that algebra test.

I think it’s definitely true that gifted, smart, or creative people are more subject to mental disorders. Look at Van Gogh. Look at Robin Williams. Name almost any artist or musical genius or top scientist and you will find that there is a mental disorder lurking somewhere in there. I think smart people definitely are more subject to mental maladies. They can’t turn their brain off and stop thinking thoughts. They can’t be satisfied with the mediocrity that less smart, or less gifted, or less creative people are satisfied with.

I know that I would never be happy in a subdivision because it’s boring and not creative, but I know many, many other people are perfectly happy in subdivisions.

I think this book could be very helpful, but it takes more than one read-through. This is the type of book that takes at least a couple of reads and some note-taking.

What I didn’t like

This book takes more than one read to get a lot of benefit out of. I think a person would have to sit down with a notebook and read this book. There would need to be highlighters and pencils involved to use this book to the optimal degree.


Being smart is cool, guys.

Weigh In

Was smartness discouraged in your culture?

Is smartness discouraged in your family?


2 thoughts on “#638 Why Smart People Hurt by Eric Maisel”

  1. So that’s my problem, Ashe???
    Seriously, when I showed in the top 2% in mechanical reasoning and spacial relations two guidance councilors took me to an office and humiliated me. They made jokes and asked if I was going to be a car mechanic. Another instance, I got the highest grade on in a competitive science test yet they sent a boy with a slightly lower score on to the State level. I heard the words, “You’re only gonna get married and have children.” hundreds of times.

    Yep, da dude is rite, like duh! An I don need a book ta tell me nuttin’.

    1. There are so many instances in which intelligence is discouraged and Eric is right about all of them. You’re supposed to fit in society’s predefined idea of intelligence and not achieve the level of intelligence that you actually are. Girls are definitely not encouraged to be smart, even though they definitely have the capacity to do so.

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