Why Highly Intelligent People Lack Empathy

And how a significant level of intellect comes with societal burdens.

Michael Ndubuaku
4 min readApr 29, 2022


Photo by Fábio Lucas on Unsplash

Lacking empathy sucks.

Especially when I can’t help it. I just feel like there are more valuable things to occupy my mind with.

‘Oh, you fell down some stairs?’

I hope you’re okay, but I’ve still got some sh*t to do. Catch you later.

Too many people feed on unnecessary sympathy and displaying a certain level of empathy makes you vulnerable to emotional blackmail.

Why would I willingly add that to the long list of burdens society has already imposed on me?

Here are only a few of them.

To be expected to expect the unexpected

Unrealistic expectations are a heavy burden for anyone to carry.

To be constantly expected to see and understand things that people around me cannot perceive gets exhausting.

If a certain task would take other people months to complete, I’m supposed to somehow perform magic and achieve it in weeks.

If for whatever reason I’m not making more money or having a better career than my peers, I’m considered a failure.

At this point, the pressure I put on myself has begun to grow on its own. Whatever I do that’s not perceived as a win is seen as the opposite.

Making friends has never been easy

People act as though I should feel bad about only wanting to be friends with intelligent people I can relate with.

Whenever I meet someone new, I immediately put them through a subtle test. I’d ask clever but seemingly innocent questions to gauge their intellect.

Occasionally, I’d meet kind and genuine people who don’t pass the test. I give them a shot.

I might get bored and reduce communication with them sooner rather than later, but at least we now know each other.

As you can imagine, this can get a bit lonely. And when loneliness is established, it doesn’t take too long before…