Research Associates Social Anxiety With Higher Intelligence And Empathetic Aptitude

Spirituality is a hot topic nowadays, with many people seeking it as a beacon of light in their daily, chaotic lives. Just a few years ago some research studies were conducted to explore the reality of spiritualism and the people who exercise it. The study surprisingly pointed out that people who acquired a spiritual understanding of life were often plagued with addictions, anxiety issues and mental instabilities.

The Telegraph covered the topic of spirituality and revealed that spiritual people had a tough time mentally absorbing some things. This raises the question: are spiritually awakened people just plain looney with mental problems, or are they actually more attuned to what is happening around them? Can this be attributed as a cause for their anxiety issues?

The Daily Mail wasn’t far behind, taking a light hearted poke at spiritual people in their news report

“Spiritual people are more likely to be mentally ill (but at least they think life has more meaning)”

What they really meant to say was they might be a bit off their rocker, but they do know what life is all about.

Let’s just presume that people who claim to be in a spiritually heightened state are actually right. In that case, wouldn’t it make sense that their continuous anxiety is in fact caused by the continuous disharmony and suffering in this world? What is their anxiety is being caused by a storm of unanswered questions being generated by their mind?

All these questions are raised on valid grounds acclaiming spirituality as the force behind several bodily reactions that determine the state in which the body mostly remains or suffers from.

Just a few years ago a study researching this very topic was released which linked social anxiety with heightened empathetic aptitude. The study researched that people suffering from social anxiety are often more connected to the emotional and psychological state of their peers due to their increased empathetic ability. In other words, they are able to stand in other people’s shoes and understand what they are going through.

The research concluded the study laid groundwork for a hypothesis that people afflicted with social anxiety also developed heightened social-cognitive aptitude. This elevated mental ability allowed them a greater understanding of the psychological profile of their peers and were more susceptible to social changes in their environment.
1 b Anxiety

At study that appeared in European Journal of Psychology linked individuals suffering from social anxiety had quicker reflexes towards threat identification and even boasted a better and swifter response as compared to normal participants.

The study cited the Social Defense Theory which states participants who are suffering from social anxiety have quicker responses to danger around them. Their elevated level of threat detection ability detects threats at a faster rate than normal individuals and are hence able to alert the rest of the group of the impending danger. Based on this study, the study concluded that participants with social anxiety were less hesitant in immediately relaying their observation about threats around them and also boasted a higher percentage of being right about their analysis.

Research conducted recently at Lakehead University concluded people who were suffering from social anxiety scored higher percentage on psychological tests, which were created to gauge verbal intelligence of individual. Compared to normal people, those which were diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder actually scored on verbal linguistics tests.

So, why is their stark difference between the nature of normal people and those with social anxiety? One of the reasons might be that they happen to be more altruistic in nature. Take mother nature for example. In the animal kingdom, animals which live in groups have a higher percentage of survival as compared to living as loners. Even if one individual detects threat, they can alert the rest of the group about the impending danger. The group goes as far as becoming dependent on this individual’s threat response reflex.

This study raises a few important questions. Is social anxiety in fact an evolutionary response to our surrounding environment? Can it act as a beneficial super sense which allows us to detect danger and other threats and to avoid them?

Research conducted by SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York first hand scientifically verified that individuals suffering from social anxiety disorders scored higher on IQ tests as compared to normal individuals. This established a link between the degree of intelligence and social anxiety that an individual is afflicted with. Since anxious people are always looking towards being aware of their environment, they are continuously questioning their surroundings, reflecting on them, creating new strategies and analyzing new information which they receive.

Dr. Jeremy Coplan analyzed the study and remarked “While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations” he said, “regardless of how remote a possibility they may be.”

This gives more insight into the fact that individuals with social anxiety might boast higher intelligence levels than normal people. A recent study supplements this statement, as it concluded socially anxious people had on the whole more developed empathetic and psychological abilities. This allowed them to be continuously on higher mental level than normal people.

Although people suffering from social anxiety might be more susceptible to depression, they indeed do have a greater understanding of how things work. They are more attuned to their surroundings, how things work and encompass an insightful understanding of the psychology of their peers.

With elevated empathetic abilities, they are able to step into the shoes of other individuals and understand situations and emotions from their perspective. Such people also have greater intelligence, as studies correlated anxiety with greater intelligence. Not only that, but they have a natural super sense related to precognition of danger which alerts them to it before the threat can cause harm. So, social anxiety might not be as bad as everyone labels it. On the contrary, it might be a blessing in disguise.

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