I had to change the title of this blog to "Married to a COMPASSIONATE Genius" instead of EMPATHETIC Genius. Last night Johnny and I were having a conversation about his brain after reading a few articles on the difference between genius brains and those with an average IQ. Apparently, according to tests, genius brains are physically different as well as operationally different from that of a normal brain. That said, there are other types of intelligence to be measured, I don't consider myself just an "average person". I don't want it to sound like Johnny is somehow "better" than me, but I do find it fascinating that he is in the top .01% of the population. That is unique.
I changed the title because I noticed something about Johnny. He isn't necessarily empathetic...it's actually very hard for him to be empathetic on a large scale. In certain areas, yes, but as a whole, no. His brain functions on such a high level that he finds it hard to relate to others way of processing information or decision making.
Empathy is described as, "a person’s ability to recognize and share the emotions of another person, fictional character, or sentient being. It involves, first, seeing someone else’s situation from his perspective, and, second, sharing his emotions, including, if any, his distress."
I'd say Johnny has a lot of Sympathy and Compassion. Sympathy is: "I care about your suffering." And Compassion is, "I want to relieve your suffering." He is incredibly concerned with relieving the suffering of others. So much so that for most of our marriage he hasn't allowed himself to use his gifts because of guilt. He has always felt bad about things being easy for him. Unfortunately, this led us to live a life of service to others while neglecting our truest gifts.
I started to think, if Johnny is as intelligent as his IQ states, wouldn't he be able to help more people if he tapped into that gift? Isn't his intellect a benefit to society if he uses it for good? This is why I began researching the genius brain. I want to see him operating at his full potential. I think it will make him feel more whole and be a huge gift to society.
So, back to the brain.
His brain can process an immense amount of information, not only that, it can also hold on to an immense amount of information. This makes it tough for him to understand how a brain like mine works. It's funny, he talks to me constantly. He's a verbal processor. Even if I'm not around, or he doesn't know I'm nearby, I can hear him talking to himself. It never stops.
According to the research I've read, there are a few main differences between his mind and average mind. First, the long and short connections in the frontal cortex tend to be balanced for most people. In the mind of a genius they are more heavily weighted toward one side. If they are toward the short connections the person is more likely to be a savant; really talented at one thing. If they are more toward the long connections they will be incredible at a lot of things. I'd say Johnny is toward the long connections. This has been a downside for him. He has termed this issue, "analysis paralysis". He sees so many options that it makes it hard to come to a decision or direction.
That leads me to the next key difference between a genius brain and the average. Dopamine receptors in our thalamus determine, essentially, what gets through. A lot of stuff never comes to full thought because it gets weeded out. It's basically the bottleneck for all possible thoughts. In a genius brain there are less dopamine receptors and thus more thoughts get through. This means that a genius has a greater capability to problem solve and they have more ideas to draw upon. For Johnny, this seems to be a blessing and a curse. Once he decides on a direction, though, his resources are endless.
Genius brains also contain more gray and white matter, which is where dendrites hang out to receive and process information. The larger quantity of nerve cells in the gray and white matter means that communication happens more quickly and effectively. This means not only does Johnny have access to more thoughts and resources, he also is able to process them at a much higher speed. It's very common for me to feel competitive with him in conversations with other people because we'll both be trying to explain the same thing but he is able to remember details more quickly and come up with ideas faster. You can imagine my frustration. He's sweet about it though, all I have to do is remind him to let me talk sometimes and he turns up his awareness the next time. He is constantly striving to be the best husband and person he can be. I love that about him.
These differences are very apparent to me in our romantic relationship.
His access to more thoughts, ideas and his ability to process at high speed means:
-He is verbally processing with or without me constantly. I have to be available to listen much more than the average person. Sometimes I have to tell him I don't have the ability to actually take in and process all the things he is telling me. He reads 5x the amount (or more) than I do and can synthesize that information.
-I am his sounding board and am constantly on deck to process through something with him. He has so many ideas that it can feel a bit all over the place.
-I jokingly call myself his "agent". I help him with the social aspect of his thoughts and ideas and how they might play out in the real world. I remind him that we aren't all like him. Haha. Statistically, almost none of us are like him. A wise friend told him at the age of 19 that he should definitely get married sooner rather than later because he needs a "buffer". Haha!
-Like I said, in public his rapid processing and thought accessibility is hard to compete with when we're both trying to tell the story or explain the same thing. Even when it's frustrating I remind myself that I'm glad to have him on my team.
Every couple has their frustrating moments, the beautiful thing is that we can combine and share our gifts with one another to make a more well-rounded team. While Johnny is shockingly intelligent, he has had to grow to be more "empathetic" or at least learn to communicate his sympathies with people. I've heard from many people that their first impression of him was nothing like he actually is. He has a heart of gold, a genius mind and the desire to sew goodness into the world with his gifts. I am so happy to be his partner, buffering him, encouraging him, listening to him and sharing my gifts with him.
It all comes down to:
He has made me a better person and I, him.