January 10, 2007

Social Intelligence More Useful Than IQ? Important for Mental Health

Many schizophrenia researchers, and research studies, suggest that having positive, empathic and low stress relationships from early childhood onwards have a very positive impact on mental health - even to the extent that they significantly reduce the risk of schizophrenia in children who have an increased biological risk for the disorder.

In fact recent research in this area includes a study out of Finland that suggests that Healthy Family Social Environment can significantly reduce schizophrenia risk, while positive relationships with parents also seem to lower risk of schizophrenia for people who are predisposed to mental illness. Additionally, in other independent studies, it has been well reported that people who have schizophrenia suffer from a reduced ability to understand and participate in social interactions. Early research is even suggesting that therapies that improve social functioning may lower risk of developing schizophrenia, and improve outcomes for people who suffer from schizophrenia (for more info see this link).

Recently, on NPR, there was a good interview with Daniel Goleman (a former psychology professor at Harvard University, and science writer for the New York Times) who has written a new book about "Social Intelligence" which goes into depth about the anxiety and stress reducing power that close positive relationships can provide.

In this NPR interview "Daniel Goleman, author of the book Social Intelligence, explains why human beings are hard-wired to connect, and how those connections can actually change our biology" for good or bad.

Additionally, in the interview, Dr. Goleman suggests that the field of social epigenetics is finding that certain genes involved in social functioning are being turned off and on by the social environment and the research suggests that a child who grows up with loving and empathic support from people close to them seems to genetically programmed to be more resilient to stresses later in life. This is good news and points toward strategies that may lower the incidence of schizophrenia in future generations.

In fact at the end of the interview, Dr. Goleman mentions that even if a parent has a mental illness, it is possible for them to still be an effective and positive parent if they work on developing their social intelligence, and have other people such as a spouse or close family members provide positive, empathic and supportive environments during periods when a mentally ill parent may not be able to.

Listen to the NPR interview: Is Social Intelligence More Useful than IQ?

Additionally, below is a Publicity Video from Daniel Goleman:

Related Reading:

Lower level of Family Stress May Reduce Risk of Schizophrenia in Children

Is It Psychological Or Biological?

Daniel Goleman's Website


Article from Finland these assumptions were based on shows that the genetic load in the children created a severe lack of resiliency causing them to not be tolerant of adversity.

To conclude from the main study cited that nurture therefore has any causal effect is not valid.

Posted by: Dr.Vic at February 7, 2007 03:37 PM

Dr. Vic you should pick up the book its a good read...
Doesn't this lack of 'resiliency' just show a larger capacity to love, and a stubbornness to stick with what is known?

Nuture, and the lack of nuture plays a role in everyones life. Maybe you should read some freud, It would be very enlightening, or maybe some Goethe or even Nietsche's Twilight of the Idols.
Genes switch on and off, and they can even mutate if a person is bullied, you can find the study in Scientific America magazine... Hence the grey hair you see on young people who have had stressful lifes.
Secondly people are conscious entities that can learn to become tolerant to adversity. Reducing everything to DNA is kind of childish. You can take a group of genetically identical cattle raise them in different settings and you will get different gene expressions. Ie their colour patterns will be different.

And If genetics where only as simple as one gene affects one allele. One gene can have multiple physical manifestations.

So Don't go knocking this intelligent piece of thinking.

Remember Genes are the building blocks and life's experiences sculpt the statue that is you.

Posted by: Max at May 21, 2007 05:46 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required