What does it feel like to be stupid?

I had an arterial problem for a couple of years, which reduced blood supply to my heart and brain and depleted B vitamins from my nerves (to keep the heart in good repair). Although there is some vagueness as to the mechanisms, this made me forgetful, slow, and easily overwhelmed. In short I felt like I was stupid compared to what I was used to, and I was.

It was frightening at first because I knew something wasn't right but didn't know what, and very worrying for my career because I was simply not very good any more.

However, once I got used to it and resigned myself, it was great.

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I had pretty much this experience after a stroke that damaged working memory, speech production, and attention... I just could not keep up with the cognitive demands of my pre-existing life, friends, work, etc. I couldn't even read more than a page or so of text at a time.

Unlike the author, I hated it. But it did lead me to identify less with being clever, which isn't a bad thing.

This resonates, though:

I developed much more respect for one of my friends in particular who I always considered slow - it turned out he is much deeper than I thought, I just never had the patience to notice before.

Absolutely... I had this epiphany about several friends of mine, with whom I now have much closer relationships than I did.


Interesting article, but I gotta say

once I got used to it and resigned myself


Wait, but what's he supposed to do? Shoot himself full of nootropics? And haven't you resigned yourself to being much stupider than a Jupiter Brain?

Wait, but what's he supposed to do? Shoot himself full of nootropics?

Yes. :)


Seems like most of the benefits came from being less wrapped up in his idea of himself as a Smart Guy. Good ways of accomplishing the same aim without brain damage? Doing difficult but worthwhile things for which being smart is not very helpful, maybe?

Getting in touch with your own blithering stupidity, and realising that what you had a case of was hubris. Worked for me.

I'm not sure of good ways to achieve this other than having your nose rubbed good and hard in it, particularly if you're smart enough to have trouble finding people who make you feel dumb by comparison.

I dunno. Try to take average people seriously as worthwhile humans? Emotionally, not just intellectually. Intellectually is an excellent start, of course.


I used the example of "Doing difficult but worthwhile things for which being smart is not very helpful" because my own experiences with classroom teaching and nursing have been quite humbling, and have helped me realize that those dumb popular girls are quite competent humans in many ways, even if they may not do as well in math as I.