IQ and schizophrenia

My daughter has schizophrenia and her IQ is very high. Starting in high school her grades were high and she took all the advanced classes, but she was already in trouble with the law and on probation by that time. She is diagnosed with schizophrenia disorganized. When she has panic attacks, she acts out and steals. Most of the time she does not remember stealing. She can’t work because after a couple of hours, her auditory and visual hallucinations start in due to extreme stress. I know, I have had to pick her up from at least 2 of the few jobs she had due to her fainting. Once there was an ambulance at her work because she did not come to for several minutes. She was denied SSI and we are not appealing. SSI denial letter stated that although she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, it does not limit her work ability (that is bull). Her psychiatrist and lawyer both told us that her high IQ definitely will work against her getting SSI and in court. I can’t understand why people don’t see that even if a person is smart, they can still be sick. I had a cousin diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia with the onset at about 22. He was a straight A college student at the time. Tragically, he died in his 30’s in a mental hospital of starvation because he refused to eat due to believing people were trying to poison him. I am angry and believe that could have been avoided. Does anyone else have a family member who, by the legal system and SSI is “too smart not to know better?” Smart people can be mentally ill and no one seems to get it.


My fiancé has a high IQ too – his mom is his representative payee as he cannot handle money and he is eligible for disability. It’s irrelevant how smart a person is if they cannot take care of themselves or make responsible decisions.


Is your daughter compliant with her medication? How many times has she been hospitalized? I would advise you to put together her history of hospitalizations and medications in a binder and report all instances that she was treated or not able to finish her work. You will have to do the work to present to the attorney. You might try an attorney that specializes in that. NAMI might have a recommendation for you on that.


Did you mis-type? or are you really not appealing?
We’re waiting for our first denial (or approval if we’re lucky), but I think they look for any excuse to deny.

I think I’ll continue to appeal at every opportunity (is there a limit?). After all, what else do I have to do?

We’ve put this off because we can afford to support him since he still lives at home, but I’ve recently found out how many opportunities for treatment Medicare would open up for him.

My friend’s father was a college professor, had multiple doctorates, and was a published author.
His bipolar got so out of control that when he died fairly young a few years ago, he was living in a 1-room apartment they use to get homeless people off the streets - he was on disability. He just couldn’t function anymore because the meds weren’t working for him. I would guess he had a high IQ, although I’m doubtful about my friend’s. (That’s a joke - I give him a hard time as often as possible, even when he’s not around to hear it.)

Equating IQ with mental illness is pretty dumb. I would think IQ should only come into play if you’re trying to get disability for some kind of mental retardation or whatever the politically correct term is for that.

Speaking of that, I kind of envy parents who have children who fall into that category, especially if they’re high functioning. Other people are so accepting of mental retardation, and many people with that condition seem very happy and find a way to make their life productive. Same with autism. I have to say that any kind of psychotic disorder is the absolute worst thing to have, even compared to diseases that will kill you.


Autism and schizophrenia together are worst – my fiancé has them, topping it with bipolar disorder (Schizoaffective), oppositional defiant disorder, and sensory processing disorder. It’s like a ticking timed bomb waiting to explode.

Yeah, when I mentioned Autism, I wasn’t talking about someone like him.
He’s definitely got a cocktail I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I was talking about the people who might be a little awkward or have some challenges, but pretty much function well enough in everyday life.

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It’s not classic autism, it’s Asperger’s, so it would be classified as high-functioning. He didn’t always have schizophrenia, though. He would always go out with friends and have parties at his parent’s house. It’s mostly the schizophrenia which has isolated him from everyone, before he was more social than I’ve ever been and he’s still better at interacting with people to get what he wants than I am (I also have Asperger’s). He’s confident in what he wants and needs to get, but won’t respond if someone asks him how he’s doing or if they try to make conversation. I’m deathly afraid of going up to someone at the supermarket and asking them where something is, yet he is capable of doing that unlike me, someone who has more mental clarity.

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That’s really interesting.

My son is terrified of going up to someone in the store too, but we always classified it as social anxiety because I don’t think he has anything else that would be in the autism spectrum.

He’s wondered if he is autistic, because he wonders if he has anything & everything he hears about, but he has no problem picking up on social cues. In fact, he picks up on them too well. He might misunderstand what people say sometimes, but he can read people like a book based on facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. I’ve always thought that ruled autism out.

It’s all genetically linked anyway - autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar. I don’t think anyone on either side of the family has autism, but there’s certainly some ADHD and BP/SZ types of things going on, although I would have to say my son has the worst of it. Now & then, he’ll say he lost the genetic lottery.


I’m very analytical, so I am also good at reading in between the lines, but I have moments where I misinterpret what other people are asking of me. As a kid I didn’t have the ability to lie, so my mom would always scold me when I answered something that she didn’t want people to know when they asked me. Growing up with someone as manipulative and narcissistic as her taught me to see the worst in people and to be have realistic expectations, so I’m always overthinking things. However, I’m still horrible at social interactions. Last year this happened to me twice – same nurse offered me a hand when getting off the weighting scale, instead of taking and accepting her help, I got down and shook her hand. She looked at me weirdly both times and it wasn’t until later that I realized what she meant to do. Reading books and watching movies also helped a lot. Schizophrenia and bipolar runs in the side of my mom’s family. My fiancé’s dad is a psychopath and his paternal grandmother is what my fiancé calls a holy-roller, which means she’s really religious, but she seems very paranoid and cold. He also has an aunt with bipolar disorder from his mom’s side.

Holy Roller used to be a common term when I was growing up, along with a lot of other terms.
My family was not religious - they also weren’t any of the things you’ve described, but like all families, they did have a few things they didn’t think should be mentioned in public.

My son didn’t grow up like that though. We talk about everything, and we’re sometimes brutally honest. If anything, he’s always telling me not to talk about stuff in public. I can be a little embarrassing because not only do I not really care what people think, I sometimes take a perverse joy in shocking people a little bit. I do it with everything, but with mental illness I justify it as doing my little part to fight stigma.

However, I never seem to shock anyone when I talk about severe MI. Most people either have something or know someone who does. For example, I recently locked my keys in my car at work. The guy came from AAA to unlock it & said something about someone in the car was a smoker. I said, yeah - my son just got out of the hospital for psychosis, so I figure I have bigger things to worry about than his smoking habits. He said, I know what you mean - I have bipolar, but I finally gave up drugs and got on some good meds and straightened out my life. I quit smoking, but it was really hard. Then, we had about a 10-15 minute conversation about the whole thing. It was nice.


@dkgreg I would truly hope you would appeal, since it is standard practice for SS to deny upon first application to basically slow down the influx of apps…(I got this info from a SS employee) - Their backlog is ridiculous. There is no valid reason she should be denied since schizophrenia is an approved disability…But she would have had to have missed a year of full time work…Or show how the illness has made her ability to remain gainfully employed impossible. Either way I wish you well.


That’s good. I wish my family had been like that, I’ve never have had that type of relationship with my mom and I never lived with my dad since they were divorced before I was born.

Sorry it was a type I meant to say she was denied and we are NOW appealing.


@Doctor - don’t feel too bad about it. My biological parents are both nightmares. My grandparents who raised me were great.

Now that you’re an adult, you get to surround yourself with people you choose and kind of make your own family, and you can certainly unlearn some of the messed up stuff you grew up with.

Of course, your current situation makes that a little difficult, but you know what I mean.


That’s true, thank you. :slight_smile:

I am pretty sure they never considered how smart I was when they approved me for disability. I don’t think they ever knew anything about my grades in school or anything I had accomplished. They never asked those questions when I went for an interview with social security. It may be different if you have to go to court though.

When my daughter was in high school she took IB classes and on her college placement test she scored very high on her Spanish (she was a Spanish and dance major). In the last year she had to take a IQ test for a government agency and she scored so low that I was completely stunned. Not sure what caused the dramatic drop in IQ - was it the mental illness or her drug addiction she struggled with for several years.

My son had IQ tests done as part of his IEP in school for a learning disability.

He always scored just above average, but he’s an interesting case. He sometimes has problems with the simplest things, then can grasp the most complex concepts - and he tests very poorly between his anxiety, lack of self confidence and memory issues.

I personally don’t think IQ tests are a very good indicator of anything other than how you’re functioning that particular day.


I believe the majority of people with schizophrenia have a higher than average IQ. My son even had a college psychology professor tell the class that there was some truth to the old saying about a fine line between genius and madness. I have noticed there seems to also be a correlation with artistic creativity.


IQ is not on the questionnaire and neither are grades or classes listed. It just isn’t a factor. History and medications are what matters. People aren’t prescribed APs for no reason. Get all hospital records so you can record the dates admitted to hospital. They will check them but list them all and medications.