Does the mind matter?

Intelligence does not equal happiness.


The author is trying to portray the idea that being incredibly intelligent, though one may appear to be able to accomplish all they set their mind to, won't necessarily bring on happiness. The author highlights the importance of other important aspects of life through protagonist Charlie, as his increasing intelligence causes him to be increasingly bitter and pessimistic. As Charlie's intelligence advances, he becomes more intolerable by his peers, and untrusting of others around him as his intelligence allows him to understand the mistreatment he unknowingly faced. Alternatively, when Charlie was less intelligent, he seemed more content with life, as he was often described as a warm, kind, ambitious person. Though Charlie aspired to be incredibly intelligent in the hopes that he would reach ultimate happiness and satisfaction, he is proven wrong when his low emotional strength causes him to experience a lot of anxiety, pain, and even causes him to contemplate suicide. Therefore, it is clear by examining Charlie's character that intelligence does not equal happiness.


"He feels that my rapid intellectual development has deceived me into thinking I could live a normal emotional life. But I've got to accept the fact that the fears and blocks triggered in these sexual situations reveal that emotionally I'm still an adolescent - sexually retarded" (Keyes 102).

This quote represents the reality of the growth of his intellectual capabilities, as his increasing IQ does not bring him happiness. Charlie expresses the pain he feels; though he became as smart as he had hoped to be, he is unable to fulfill his true life desires. He describes wanting to be intimate and wanting to have the sexual experiences he reads about in his books, but his inability to do so causes him to feel pity for himself and causes him to be bitter. Although Charlie's intelligence had made him seem capable of accomplishing anything, he describes his emotions as fears and blocks. He describes being "deceived" from the illusion that having a high IQ would allow him to be completely happy, as he learns that high intelligence does not always mean one's happiness. Charlie expresses the desire to live "a normal emotional life" and how he thought that that would occur once he became more intelligent. He even goes on to describe himself as "sexually retarded" as though to say although his IQ is high, he still feels inferior in other aspects of life, causing his unhappiness. Therefore, by looking at the way Charlie is suffering due to the lack of intimacy in his life, despite being able to develop the intellectual capacity he has always desired, it is evident that intelligence is not equivalent to happiness.

"But with the freedom came a sadness. I wanted to be in love with her. I wanted to overcome my emotional and sexual fears, to marry, have children, settle down" (126).

Charlie is expressing the way his intelligence does not allow him to accomplish the truly important desires he has in life. For example, though Charlie's intelligence was able to bring on the freedom he was stripped of when he was not as intelligent (he was not trusted with responsibilities) he was unable to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of his true goals, as his emotional unavailability was a problem that could not be fixed with intelligence. His sadness, therefore, derives from believing that he could solely rely on his intelligence to solve all problems and regain happiness. As he wishes to fall in love and start a family, he is unable to do so because of his lack of emotional maturity, causing his disappointment, frustration and self pity (as seen through his impulsive reactions to Miss Kinnian's rejections). Therefore, by examining the way Charlie is unable to enjoy some of the simple joys in life despite having a high IQ, it is evident that intelligence does not equal happiness.

"Before you had the operation, you weren't like this. You didn't wallow in your own filth and self-pity, you didn't pollute your own mind by sitting in front of the TV set all day and night, you didn't snarl and snap at people. There was something about you that made us respect you-yes, even as you were" (299).

In this quote, Miss Kinnian goes on to describe the change that went along with Charlie's increasing intelligence. She expresses the strong distaste she has for Charlie's newly developed ego and pessimism, and goes on to talk about his self-pity and unhappiness. She even describes the way his happiness was not dependent on his intelligence, as he was very warm and kind prior to the surgery. She later goes on to say that Charlie had lost the warmth he used to have to his smile after gaining an alarming amount of intelligence. As Charlie's expectations to be happier and satisfied due to being incredibly intelligent after the surgery proved to be false, Charlie's happiness suffered proving that intelligence does not mean happiness. Though Charlie's intellectual abilities allow him to accomplish such feats such as his ability to understand numerous different dialects, he is frustrated by the fact that he cannot control his emotions or express them in the ways he wants to, fueling his unhappiness.

text to world connection

This article tells the story of mass murderer, James Holmes. James Holmes was a man of great intelligence - he is described in the article as "a highly functioning doctoral neuroscience student". The intellectual level required to study neuroscience is undoubtedly higher than average, proving his high intelligence. However, his intelligence proved to be irrelevant, as his mentally-unstable mindset caused him to mass murder 12 innocent people in a movie theater shooting. James Holmes, though incredibly intelligent, was unable to find happiness in his life, considering only someone who were not at peace with themselves would resort to such a psychotic rampage. Many described him as someone who they imagined would be incredibly successful later in life due to his high intelligence, however, he proves that intelligence does not always translate to happiness through his violent acts. This example is an extreme case of what could go wrong when high intelligence is not accompanied by a healthy mindset or environment, as these are also necessary for happiness in life. Charlie, though is in no way, shape or form anywhere near as harmful as the mass murderer, needs to realize that his happiness cannot come from his intelligence alone - he needs to strengthen his emotional intelligence as well.

TEXt to text connection

Movie: Forrest Gump

The movie Forrest Gump tells the story of a kind-hearted man with a low IQ. Though he is not considered smart according to intelligence quotients, he proves to be intelligent in other ways, as he proves his bodily-kinesthetic intelligence through his great athletic ability despite his injuries (running and ping-pong). Forrest Gump embodies the definition of a healthy mindset, as he doesn't let anything stop him from doing what he loves and/or wants to do. Though some would expect someone of Forrest's IQ to be unsatisfied or cynical about life due to his inability to comprehend the way most people do, Forrest's positive outlook on life brings him to the state of happiness he ends up in. Forrest is able to achieve happiness and stability in his life because he makes up for his low intellect through his strong emotional strength. Forrest’s emotional intelligence is seen through the several words of wisdom he shares throughout the story, including “I happen to believe you make your own destiny. You have to do the best with what God gave you”. As the movie ends with him being successful and famous, while marrying his long-time sweetheart whom he shares a kid with, Forrest proves that intelligence does not determine the happiness of a person.

Text to self connection

In my life, I have met many people with very different academic intellects. Something I've learned from knowing all these people is that there is no correlation between one's intelligence and one's character/happiness. Several incredibly intelligent people I've met have been anywhere from very friendly, cheery and outgoing to snobby, pessimistic and/or unpleasant to be around in general. Likewise, I have met people who were less intelligent academically, and were anywhere from positive, bright and bubbly, to bitter, gloomy and cynical. By looking at the several examples outlined above (Charlie, James Holmes, Forrest Gump), it is obvious that intelligence does not define someone's character. The intelligence of some, like Charlie and Forrest for example, are out of their control, but their characters are still warm, kind individuals - qualities that the world needs more of. I myself, have a friend from elementary school with the same condition as Charlie. However, her outlook on life is one of the most positive ones I have ever gotten to know and witness, which is what makes her likeable and fun to be around for her family and friends. Unlike Charlie, she was able to fully accept the fact that God had intended her to be the way she is, and currently uses what God has given her to her advantage. Her positive character is why she is doing very well and is very content with life. Therefore, from my own personal experiences, I am able to confirm that the happiness of others' is not dependent on their intelligence.