PDA

View Full Version : A high IQ helps protect against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?


CheeringElvi
12-19-2006, 01:15 PM
In this month's Scientific American (On-line version) there's an article about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and it's relationship to how a person might interpret the triggering event. In that article a study is cited which concludes that having a high IQ appears to protect against that internal trauma. I've seen other studies that indicate similar relationships of higher IQ and positive outcomes. I suppose what I'm saying is that it's beginning to appear to me that IQ scores do have some relationship to what happens to us in the world we have all created - and maybe the ones we create for ourselves. But is it correct to assume that a high IQ means what the researchers suspect it means, in regards to how the "stressful" events are preceived, without first going andd asking those who were involved in the study? And don't "stressful events" happen within a context? That is, some of those in the study may have had social support and/or supporting families which may have made a difference. Thoughts?

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=BFBA0CE3-E7F2-99DF-3105A2A4CB9E8E27

...Of the 713 study participants, nearly 76 percent had suffered through at least one traumatic event, and more than 8 percent of those subjects presented symptoms of PTSD. Those teens who were found to have had behavioral issues as children were nearly three times more likely to have experienced trauma and twice as likely to have PTSD than those who exhibited good conduct. Urban children were more than three times more likely than their suburban counterparts to experience trauma and nearly twice as likely to suffer from PTSD. However, those with an IQ higher than 115--one standard deviation above the mean--were only 30 percent as likely to have faced a traumatic event and were only 20 percent as likely to have PTSD. In fact, this protective aspect of IQ to trauma and PTSD was consistent even if a child grew up in an urban area or had behavioral issues.

High IQ is a solid predictor of education-related abilities as well as socioeconomic success, says Breslau, who speculates that higher intelligence may also confer the ability to avoid "getting into trouble." The low incidence of PTSD among more intelligent kids, she adds, could be tied to advanced coping with any sort of exposure to severe occurrences. It is "the way that people explain to themselves what happened to them, how it fits in with their lives, whether it is their fault or not their fault, whether they can get over it and perform some task," Breslau says. "There is no question that there are cognitive aspects with the disorder.

And

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000A942E-DAFC-1CCE-B4A8809EC588EEDF

...Now new research, published in the current issue of the journal Neuropsychology, suggests that higher IQ may help shield soldiers from PTSD.

Jennifer Vasterling of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Orleans and colleagues studied 47 Vietnam veterans, 26 of whom suffer from PTSD. Though the extent of combat that the soldiers experienced proved the most important predictor of PTSD severity, the researchers found that veterans with higher pre-combat IQs were significantly less likely to have the disorder...

Sage Rat
12-19-2006, 01:49 PM
Certainly it would be a potential flaw in the study methodology if they didn't take into account family and social position and such. But it does seem like they did so.

And certainly it does seem plausible that smart kids avoid trouble. I remember once when I got lost. A stupid kid would have run around screaming and crying. While as I knew that once my dad realised that he'd separated from me, he'd come back to look, so I went to the last place I know I'd been with him, opened my book, and started reading.

Having an understanding of what is going on in the world, and being confident that you can react to in a productive way is most certainly going to allay a lot of fears. True, that might be viewed as simply being a stuck up little brat--but if it works, why not.

tomndebb
12-19-2006, 02:34 PM
I suppose what I'm saying is that it's beginning to appear to me that IQ scores do have some relationship to what happens to us in the world we have all created (blolding mine)
I think that statement is a bit premature. Certainly, general ranges of IQ scores probably indicate some quality of intelligence so that it is likely that persons with 120 IQ scores would appear to possess more intelligence than persons with scores of 70, regardless how one defines intelligence.

The typical objection with making assessments (or categorizing humans) by IQ scores has more to do with unproven claims that fairly narrow distinctions may be made based on the scores or that the scores, themselves accurately account for all varieties of intelligence.

If the claim is that people with scores above 120 generally do better than people with scores of 100 who generally do better than people with scores of 80, when dealing with psychological trauma, they may have a point.
If the claim is that a person with an IQ of 115 will consistently do better responding to trauma than a person with an IQ of 110, then I would like to see a lot more rigorous study.
If one attempts to generalize from the results of this study to a claim that IQ accurately identifies that a person with an IQ of 115 is clearly mentally and psychologically superior to a person with an IQ of 110, then I am simply going to laugh at the claim.

BrainGlutton
12-19-2006, 02:43 PM
If this is true, the policy implications are obvious: Bring back the draft, but only for guys with high IQs! :)

[a thousand Dopers break out in a sweat and tug at their collars]

CheeringElvi
12-19-2006, 02:57 PM
Here's sort of where I'm at with this - if IQ is more of a function of reasoning ability, memory, and moving 3-d objects around in your mind - how does this relate to the on-going condition of post-traumatic stress disorder? Maybe on the front end only? The immediate interpretation. But if someone is trying to kill me, or I'm a woman being raped, it's pretty hard to rationalize in that moment. A relly bad memory is created not just in the part of the brain where most 'reasoning' takes place -- but in the unreasoning limbic system where emotions reign. Isn't PTSD something like a phobia, you understand that there's no present danger but the emotional parts of your brain continue to light up anyway. Chronic, on-going stress comes different areas of the brain -- not the frontal lobes. Wrong?

Bryan Ekers
12-20-2006, 12:47 AM
I remember once when I got lost. A stupid kid would have run around screaming and crying. While as I knew that once my dad realised that he'd separated from me, he'd come back to look, so I went to the last place I know I'd been with him, opened my book, and started reading.


So, did he find you? :D


(picturing Sage still sitting there, clothes bursting at seams, well-worn copy of Henry and the Paper Route in hand)

Nava
12-20-2006, 08:21 AM
Here's sort of where I'm at with this - if IQ is more of a function of reasoning ability, memory, and moving 3-d objects around in your mind - how does this relate to the on-going condition of post-traumatic stress disorder? Maybe on the front end only? The immediate interpretation. But if someone is trying to kill me, or I'm a woman being raped, it's pretty hard to rationalize in that moment. A relly bad memory is created not just in the part of the brain where most 'reasoning' takes place -- but in the unreasoning limbic system where emotions reign. Isn't PTSD something like a phobia, you understand that there's no present danger but the emotional parts of your brain continue to light up anyway. Chronic, on-going stress comes different areas of the brain -- not the frontal lobes. Wrong?


I think Sage already explained it, actually. You don't get as scared.

I went to Ireland for a month when I was 15. Next night, "my family" takes me to a club in town, along with the neighbors: a cop and his wife, whom he met when she was a "bar girl" in Spain. While at the club I find out from a casual mention that it's illegal for me to be there (whaaaat?). Once the music's over, I go to the bathroom and come out to find that "my group" is gone. The only people there that I know is a friend of "my father's" who'd joined us there. He tells me he'll take me home after we've gone to his house.

"Uh, to your house for what?"
"Oh, to see the furniture :D"

OK, so here I am, a foreigner in a strange country, that same morning I've been accused of thief (wasn't true) just for being a foreigner, and I'm with a guy who wants to show me his bed and I haven't even been kissed and I don't know him at all and I don't care how Irish gals do it I'm a Spanish gal and we don't do it with strangers and right now I'd like to go home as in with my bio parents even though most of the time I can't stand them and there's some cops there but my being there is illegal and one of the people who left me there with this guy is a cop and a sergeant at that and like hell they're going to help me why would they I'm sure they also think all us foreign kids just come here to shoplift...

It ended up a lot better than it could have, partly because only about I was terrified only about halfway out of my mind... the non-terrified half managed to get me "home" in one piece and with my hymen intact.

I'd liked the cop's wife from the start, but dangit, she was the one who defended me when the other three adults insisted that I was being a sourpuss and should have gone to see that guy's bed. I gave her the biggest hug I could give and will always wish her the best.

Alessan
12-20-2006, 09:14 AM
You know, I'd think that people with active imaginations would be more susceptable to PTSD. Dull people think of less things to worry about.

Isn't imagination a factor of IQ.

kimera
12-20-2006, 09:22 AM
Here's why I think this is true.

First of all, intelligent people tend to have an internal locus of control. A person with an internal locus of control feels very in control of their lives and their situation, a person with an external locus of control feels that others are in control of their lives, and a person with a random or chaotic locus of control feels that chance or fate is in control. People with internal locus of controls tend to blame stresses and negative situations on outside forces while considering positive situations as self-caused. For example, if a person with internal locus of control gets an A in math, he or she is more likely to say "I really studied hard." while if he or she does poorly in English the thoughts would be "The teacher made very hard tests." Externals have the opposite reaction. An internal locus of control can help a lot in stressful or risky situations. In fact, any sort of feeling of control can really make a lot of difference in people's lives. There was a study done on nursing home patients by Judith Rodin and Ellen Langer (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3702/is_199504/ai_n8723874)who found that residents who were allowed to have a lot of control were healthier and lived longer compared to residents who had little control (this only works among Westerners though).

The reason why, in general, intelligent people have a stronger locus of control could be because their intelligence enables them to be more proactive about finding solutions. There is a famous study that was done on dogs where they found "learned helplessness." (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2602/is_0003/ai_2602000349) Learned helplessness occurs when an individual is stuck in a situation in which they can not escape a negative event. Eventually, they give up trying to escape. People that are intelligent are more likely to be able to figure out ways out of situations which makes them less likely to developed learned helplessness. Being able to fix your problems in stressful situations is known as "problem focused coping."

In response to stress, people cope two ways: problem focus coping and emotion focused coping. Let's say that you get stuck in a traffic jam. First, you turn on the radio to a traffic channel and flip through your maps to try to find an alternate route. That's problem focused coping, trying to deal with the stress by finding a way out. Emotion coping occurs when you control the emotional impact the stress has on you. Instead of panicking because you will be late to an important meeting, you think positive thoughts. A study done by Barbara Fredrickson found that college students who tried to "look for a silver lining" after the Sept 11 attacks were less likely to develop depression and other problems afterwards.

I don't think that maintaining a positive/optimistic outlook on life is tied to IQ but I couldn't find a study either way. It is possible that a higher degree of perceived control leads to more optimistic thoughts in general. Another huge other factor that helps protect against PTSD that I don't think correlates to intelligence is having a large social support network.

Nava
12-20-2006, 09:26 AM
... someone who thinks his successes are "all his" but his problems are other people's fault sounds like a complete idiot in my book... Mind you, I think the same about the opposite kind of people.

kimera
12-20-2006, 09:44 AM
And this is why I should read the articles before I post. In the article about the soldiers they said

Greater verbal skills, the authors suggest, could help soldiers better discuss their experiences in order to make sense of them and could help them establish more extensive networks for social support.

Which makes sense. I suppose intelligent people would have an easier time expressing themselves to others whether it be through photography, poetry, short stories, etc. I would be interested to know if interest in these activities surged after Sept 11th as people tried to find ways to cope with their stresses and express what they felt.

As for why intelligent child experience less traumatic events in the first place is tied to two things. One, as several posters mentioned above, intelligent people will find some situations less stressful because they will have better problem focused coping skills and won't react negatively to the same situation another person might. When I was left behind by my tour group in Europe, I used my wits to rejoin the group. If I hadn't been able to do that, I would probably remember the experience as very traumatic instead of amusing.

Secondly, IQ scores are greatly influenced by genetics but environment means a lot. I am reminded of a study done on the IQ scores of the Burakumin. The Burakumin were a group of Japanese people that were considered outcasts in the caste system of Japan. Even today they are still regarded as unclean, stupid, and not fit for marriage or high paying jobs. Burakumin in Japan have very low IQ scores, at least 10 to 15 points lower than other Japanese people. However, once they move to the US where they are not considered negatively, the IQ scores increase to the point where they are indistinguishable from other Japanese. Children from low income families might have lower IQ scores due to improper nutrition and neglect, but they also might have lowered scores because society thinks less of them in general and expects them to be stupid. This can lead to a vicious cycle where they feel stupid so they don't try which makes them look even stupider so they try less and so on.

Nava, I didn't say that they consider -all- successes are due to internal factors, simply they are more likely to.

kimera
12-20-2006, 09:49 AM
I mean, they aren't more likely to consider all successes due to internal factors. They are more likely to attribute a greater percentage of successes due to internal factors. They also forget negative experiences more easily.

msmith537
12-20-2006, 09:51 AM
A high IQ does protect against PTSD. It makes you smart enough to say "volunteer for the Army? Fuck that shit!" :D

Nava
12-20-2006, 09:52 AM
I mean, they aren't more likely to consider all successes due to internal factors. They are more likely to attribute a greater percentage of successes due to internal factors. They also forget negative experiences more easily.

Said like that, works for me. But I happen to have two relatives who are perfect examples of the other two ways and well, I have problems deciding which one I'd like to hang using the other one's guts for a rope...

Sattua
12-20-2006, 09:53 AM
It seems to me that the kind of person who will do well on an IQ test is also the kind of person who is able to plan ahead and evaluate the probable outcomes of possible actions. Basically, smart people make good chess players. It's easy to see how this translates into "staying out of trouble" in everyday life.

Cartooniverse
12-20-2006, 03:16 PM
-shrug- I doubt this. I have been tested twice. Once I was rated at a 148. The other time, a 142.

My PTSD from Sept. 11th have lessened down to a dull roar and an infrequent one at that, but I doubt that my "higher intelligence" did squat to help me deal in the first days, weeks and months.

PTSD is exactly the opposite of an intellectually rigorous process. It is primal.

Sattua, that may well be true as far as planning ahead goes but it is fair to say that many if not the majority of PTSD issues arise from traumatic situations that cannot be predicted day to day.

Cartooniverse