“Genius is Pain” John Lennon





Did you smile when you read the headline? So did I. Because according to a new study cited in Higher Perspective, we the worrying kind are remarkably “intelligent and visionary” beings.

New research reveals people who worry, overthink, and experience high anxiety also tend to have high IQs. Another perk for the overly-concerned is that stewing can be linked those with artistic and innovative minds. Personally, I choose to believe the data is true. I mean, after all, there should be some payoff for tension and stress. And as a bonus: we now have a good comeback line for all the Apple Jacks who keep telling us to, “Chill out.” (Or in some extreme cases, “Chill the f*ck out!”)

Expert neurobiologist Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College in London writes:

“It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat and you also have a tendency to switch to panic sooner than average people, due to possessing especially high reactivity in the basolateral nuclei of the amygdale, then that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present.

This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator.”

I’m listening.

Dr. Perkins also explains that worrying can lead to more attempts at solving problems—the same problems that many optimists and “skip-to-my-lou-my-darlings” glide right over. And we’ve all heard of the creative geniuses who’ve led brooding and emotionally tormented lives. Perkins mentions Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, and Isaac Newton.

“In a sense, worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.”

Dr. Perkins adds that John Lennon nailed this theory point when the music legend said, “Genius is pain.” Okay, well that’s not a very good trade. But then, a professor of psychiatry at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center offered his findings. Dr. Jeremy Coplan concludes that people with high levels of anxiety are likely to better “preserve their lives and the lives of their offspring.”

I’ll take it.


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