High IQ Runs in Families with Psychiatric Issues

Schizophrenia is often found in families with high rates of psychological illness. When one member of a family has schizophrenia, the chances of other members developing psychological problems, including schizophrenia and psychosis, increase. Some of the factors that are considered when analyzing risk for illness are family history, life stressors, trauma, and IQ. Each of these had a unique relationship with risk and schizophrenia.

In a recent study, Kim W. Verweij of the Department of Psychiatry at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands sought to explore the influence and evidence of IQ in families with schizophrenia. Using a sample 696 individuals with schizophrenia and their siblings (766), Verweij compared IQ scores to those of 517 individuals with no history of schizophrenia or psychiatric issues. Researchers collected data from all participants without schizophrenia and scored them separately. Those with schizophrenia also completed IQ tests and their results were analyzed independently.

The results showed that siblings of those with schizophrenia only had elevated IQs if they themselves had any history of mental health issues, or if other members of their family did. Those siblings who did not have a family history, excluding the member with schizophrenia, had average IQs compared to siblings with a robust family history. Verweij also found that the individuals with schizophrenia, who also had a family member with mental health issues, had higher IQ scores than the individuals with schizophrenia and no family history.

Verweij believes that this suggests a high familial influence on psychiatric impairment in the participants with family illness, while those without may be more influenced by external and variable factors, such as trauma, premature birth, or other stressors. Not only do these factors create a ripe environment for psychological impairment, but they also increase vulnerability for intellectual and cognitive disability.

This study provides much needed insight into the unique association between IQ and genetic predisposition for schizophrenia. Verweij added, “Since the association between IQ scores and family history of psychiatric disorder in siblings is not extensively investigated, more research is needed to further address this question.”

Verweij, K.H.W., Derks, E.M., Genetic Risk and Outcome in Psychosis (GROUP) investigators (2013). The association between intelligence scores and family history of psychiatric disorder in schizophrenia patients, their siblings and healthy controls. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77215. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077215

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Al

    November 14th, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    That’s so curious- we always think that someone with a high IQ is going to be a success and have it all but looks like there are additional worries for them that may not have been considered.

  • Christa

    November 15th, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    I wonder why the correlation with high IQ and schizophrenai? I understand the family history part and why that could raise your own chances for having mental health issues, but your IQ?

  • Es Moi

    November 16th, 2013 at 4:05 AM

    It may have something to do with brain activity…high levels of activity in certain parts of the brain

  • Christa

    November 18th, 2013 at 4:55 AM

    Ok that makes a little sense. Thanks!!

  • J Wheat

    January 30th, 2014 at 4:16 AM

    I have schizophrenia i also have a high IQ. I found this page well looking for something to show people who have schizophrenia aren’t stupid, as i have found over the years time and time again if people dont know i have schizophrenia see my intelligence for what it is, but as soon as people know you have schizophrenia you’re treated like a fool and all the say is dribble. Which in itself can be so frustrating. I’m adding a comment as an interesting read but not explaining in a way to how i wish to try and explain to others schizophrenia dont mean you’re stupid.

  • Peter

    April 26th, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    My gradmother and my aunt from the side of my father suffer both from bipolar disorder and my grandfather was a fast developing case of alzheimer desease.From the side of my mother,my grandmother suffers froms schizophrenia and about my closest relatives time will show.As for me although I usually tend to be very modest about it a can’t lie about having a high iq.I was always intriged by this correlation but can actually anyone explain the actuall reason behind it?

  • Cynthia

    January 5th, 2015 at 5:29 PM

    When my son was in the hospital for a mental episode and suspected schizophrenia, all the nurses tried to make me “feel better” by telling me that he was so incredibly intelligent that they were sure that there couldn’t be anything actually wrong with him, and ended up sending him home without even an evaluation, simply because he was so “obviously intelligent.” I was shocked at their ignorance. I assumed the physician would know better, but apparently not.

  • J

    January 17th, 2017 at 9:42 AM

    My mother has tried to drag me to multiple hospitals I have a lot of issues dealing with my emotions and anger. Somehow, on paper, I’m considered a genius to 99.7% of the population. However, after I share a thought the looks and responses make me feel like anything but. I have never been diagnosed with anything because every time we arrive at the doctor’s office I talk my way out of there. I hate mental diagnoses but love my family and found this page while looking for solutions to my mood swings. I don’t talk about my IQ much because the questions are about finding patterns and one of my biggest fears is seeing a pattern where there isn’t one. I’m sharing this simply because I need an outlet and this particular group of people seems curious about the correlation between crazy and smart. My mother has several diagnoses, one of which is dissociative identity disorder. She’s very book smart. She passed med school with flying colors and gets way too many Jeopardy questions right. Sometimes, though, she just says **** it and you might as well try to convince an astronomer that earth is a flat rock in the center of the universe.

    Because Mental health problems run in my family, I am constantly comparing my beliefs with reality. Seeing my beliefs harmonize with my perception of physics and linear logic is comforting, but when an opinion you value tells you they watched your actions not make sense how do stay sane? How do you become sane?

  • Mind

    November 18th, 2019 at 11:02 PM

    Thanks for this post. I have been looking for something like this for year’s thank you!

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.


* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.