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Van Bark, B.S. (1951). Smartness and Stupidity in Neurosis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 11(1):36-41.

(1951). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(1):36-41

Smartness and Stupidity in Neurosis

Bella S. Van Bark, B.A

In this paper I wish to focus on problems associated with pride in intellect. In one group of people, over-emphasis on intellect is in the foreground and feelings of stupidity must be hidden at all costs. In another group, the over-emphasis is on feeling stupid and all evidences of pride in intellect must be hidden and shunned.

There are healthy people who live constructively and are genuinely and sincerely devoted to the scholastic life, as well as to the expansion of their powers of comprehension of themselves and the world about them. Those who use their intellectual powers constructively are motivated by natural impulses to enlarge their sphere of communication with others in mutual appreciation, growth and enjoyment. They have an interest in searching for the truth and really believe that “the truth shall make you free and only the free can find the truth.”

The healthy person is relatively free from compulsiveness, hostility, false solutions and rigidly held illusions about himself. He is free to check with the evidence both without and within, in arriving at conclusions or decisions. He consults himself and his feelings for value judgments as well as his reason and logic. He can tolerate flaws in his intellectual powers and uses his energies toward a better understanding of the situation at hand. As Horney states, “the intellect is an opportunist at the service of whatever interest carries the greatest weight.” When the mind is used in the service of self-realization, the individual works at uncovering the truth alone and with others in a spirit of humility.

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