If I have OCD, does that make me a genius?


I was reading about human intelligence and one particular passage struck me deeply. It said that most of the mental disorders aren’t really disorders. Species evolve through creation and propagation of variations. All variations can, strictly speaking, be considered as disorders. But some of these disorders might work in the environment in which the creature lives and they will be selected and propagated.

Human intelligence is a phenomenon that evolved by this same process. Now, the biggest principle in evolution is that there is nothing called a “Free Lunch”. Almost all adaptations come with a cost. The benefits have to outweigh the costs for the adaptation to survive. All the mental faculties that we evolved come with a cost. I had written about this sometime back. For example, Anxiety is the cost of foresight. A bigger brain increases food requirements. Memories can be painful. Curiosity can get us into trouble. Tendency to meddle and cunning got us into the situation that we currently are in. Its very easy to imagine the other species looking at us and thinking that we are crazy.

OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is a very common disorder and is exactly what the name sounds like. A lot of great people had this problem and it became particularly pronounced when they were less occupied with creative things. Obsession with things is not a good thing. But unless you are obsessed with money, perfection, technology or something, the chances of you doing something absolutely awesome are little. So, the key lies in not seeing it as a problem. Instead of looking at it as merely an obsessive tendency what if we saw it as the ability to be contstantly occupied with a single thing without getting bored. It would be great if we could focus such a talent on some useful thing.

I remembered seeing a movie called The Aviator which was about a reclusive billionaire called Howard Hughes. That led me to do a quick search on the internet for people with OCD and look at some of the results it turned up

Albert Einstein

Michelangelo

Nikola Tesla

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Leonardo DiCaprio

Donald Trump

Obsessions are probably not a good thing. And having OCD is definitely, no guarantee for success. But, maybe it gets noticed as a problem only when it’s degree crosses a certain point or it gets directed at the wrong things.

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