The problem I concern myself with is genius as a cause of personal dysfunction. Please note that here I am speaking of the phenomenon of the genius personality type as a chemical addiction to creativity, and not in terms of historical genius.
Most of this dysfunction is a result of the unusual personality characteristics of genius, for which it may be possible to develop coping strategies. (Some lesser dysfunction is a result of modern societal hostility toward geniuses, who are a threat to the existing power structure because it is based on lies.) A great deal of the self-imposed tribulation is caused by retardation in mundane tasks of daily life which require either working memory or sustained focus or both.
Anecdotal evidence abounds to suggest that geniuses experience working memory dysfunction which ranges from annoying to debilitating. This memory dysfunction applies generally to all parts of their life, most notably affecting tasks necessary for daily survival- excepting the genius’ domain of particular interest, in which the working memory is often unusually strong. A genius who is engaged with a problem may draw upon decades-old information with ease in order to solve the interesting problem, and yet experience great difficulty (often insurmountable) finding a parked car or remembering a ZIP code. It is shocking to me how little study appears to have been made of this rather pedestrian observation.
I will attempt to explain this phenomenon according to my theory of genius as a chemical addiction.
There are at least two components to the chemical addiction to genius. 1) The addiction to insight, and 2) the addiction to social prestige from presenting insights to others. Neither is a prerequisite for the other, but I believe the addiction to insight tends to occur earlier when both are present. Both sorts produce problems with working memory.
A person who becomes addicted to insight without being addicted to sharing ideas is an intellectual, but not a genius. An intellectual is obsessed with obtaining as much understanding as possible, and they may come up with a few ideas of their own as a result, but they do not come up with a massive number of new ideas. Here I’m speaking of an idealized sort of intellectual, and not including all of the sorts of people who consider themselves intellectuals. The desires to acquire knowledge and a reputation for having knowledge or understanding are often found together with the addiction to insight, but they are not the same. While an intellectual may enjoy the social prestige of presenting insightful ideas, or the joy of discoursing on their favorite topics, they are not primarily driven by these desires.
Intellectualism, according to this specific definition, can create memory problems because the working memory can often be filled with the processing demands of producing new insights from current knowledge. This is a complicated way of saying that intellectuals are often distracted because they’re reflecting on the ideas that are swirling around in their heads. Thus, the addiction to the dopamine rush of insight can impair productive sorts of dopamine-seeking that are necessary to function as an adult.
A person who becomes addicted to sharing insights will usually be either some variety of teacher, entertainer, or artist. These types rehash and transmit cultural information but they don’t create as much of it as a proper genius. The dopamine reward for such communication is very high and can become addicting, producing similar sorts of memory problems as experienced by intellectuals.
(Speaking speculatively for a moment, a case can be made that artists regularly create cultural information because they communicate ideas through aesthetics. In my opinion all problem solving has an aesthetic component, and also in my opinion all creativity is problem solving. But enough about that for now.)
A genius (per my definition) requires both the addiction to insight and the addiction to communication. To wit, an intellectual wants to be enlightened (introverted dopamine-seeking), an artist wants to enlighten others (extraverted dopamine-seeking), and genius is the rare combination of the intellectual’s brain and the artist’s personality. This creates a virtuous feedback loop in the brain where insight produces communication, and communication produces insight, and unless the genius is exceptionally intelligent (like Euler) this obsessive-compulsive loop can cause him to suffer from typical dysfunctions caused by chemical addiction. (NB: Reading that list of symptoms will probably convince you that I’m on the right track with this “chemical addiction” definition.)
Aspies, depressed people, and people in the sweet spot for dysfunctional intelligence (~155 IQ in my estimation) are at greater risk for developing this sort of chemical dependency because 1) they are less likely to be successful in functional sorts of dopamine-seeking behaviors which puts them at risk for addictive behaviors in general, and 2) they have greater capabilities to be successful at this particular addiction. As illustrations of the latter, it’s unlikely that someone with a low IQ would become addicted to insight, it’s unlikely that a neurotypical person would have the necessary associative horizon, and it’s unlikely that a happy person could maintain the necessary stream of brutally honest observation.