Prof. Sam Vaknin on Giftedness and IQ


Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin (YouTubeTwitterInstagramFacebookAmazonLinkedInGoogle Scholar) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited (Amazon) and After the Rain: How the West Lost the East (Amazon) as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction. He was Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International (February, 2001 – April, 2003), CEO of Narcissus Publications (April, 1997 – April 2013), Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician (January, 2011 -), a columnist for PopMatters, eBookWeb, Bellaonline, and Central Europe Review, an editor for The Open Directory and Suite101 (Categories: Mental Health and Central East Europe), and a contributor to Middle East Times, a contributing writer to The American Chronicle Media Group, Columnist and Analyst for Nova Makedonija, Fokus, and Kapital, Founding Analyst of The Analyst Network, former president of the Israeli chapter of the Unification Church’s Professors for World Peace Academy, and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (1979-1982). He has been awarded Israel’s Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978), among other awards. He is Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia (September, 2017 to present), Professor of Finance and Psychology in SIAS-CIAPS (Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies) (April, 2012 to present), a Senior Correspondent for New York Daily Sun, and Columnist for Allied Newspapers Group (January, 2015 – Present). He lives in Skopje, North Macedonia with his wife, Lidija Rangelovska. Here we talk about giftedness and IQ.

*Previous interviews listed chronologically after interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You have been measured three times with a high IQ, an understatement.[1] An IQ between 180 and 190, between ages 9 and 35. You referred to this in some writings, in passing, including pages 2[2], 3[3], 4[4], 5[5], and 7[6], of epigrams, in an interview with Richard Grannon (2018), with Smashwords (2014), and on a YouTube video answering viewer questions[7]. It has been mentioned in an article by Gavin Haynes (2016), too. With the IQ scores of 185 at age 9, 180 in the army at age 25, and 190 in prison at age 35 (vakninsamnarcissist, 2018; RICHARD GRANNON, 2018), presumably on a standard deviation of 15, what was the reaction of family, friends, peers, community, even the psychometricians or psychologists administering the tests each time? 

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin: First, let me clarify than any result above 160 (some say, 140) is not normatively validated: it is rather arbitrary and meaningless because there are so few people to compare with (the sample is way too small). Matrix IQ tests are better at validating higher results, though.

Everyone always loathed me. I am a sadist, so from a very early age, I have leveraged my IQ to taunt people, hold them in contempt, and humiliate them. This did not endear obnoxious me to anyone. My own teachers sought to undermine my academic career, peers shunned or attempted to bully me (they failed), my mother detested me, my father pendulated between being awe-struck and being repelled by me. Both my parents beat me to an inch of my life every single day for 12 years.

Jacobsen: To you, as a scientific person, what defines intelligence?

Vaknin: Anything that endows an individual with a comparative advantage at performing a complex task constitutes intelligence. In this sense, viruses reify intelligence, they are intelligent. Human intelligence, though, is versatile and the tasks are usually far more complex than anything a virus might need to tackle.

Jacobsen: What defines IQ or Intelligence Quotient?

Vaknin: The ability to perform a set of mostly – but not only – analytical assignments corresponding to an age-appropriate average. So, if a 10 year old copes well with the tasks that are the bread and butter of an 18 years old, he scores 180 IQ.

IQ measures an exceedingly narrow set of skills and mental functions. There are many types of intelligence – for example: musical intelligence – not captured by any IQ test.

Jacobsen: What defines giftedness, to you? Even though, formal definitions exist.[8]

Vaknin: Giftedness resembles autism very much: it is the ability to accomplish tasks inordinately well or fast by focusing on them to the exclusion of all else and by mobilizing all the mental resources at the disposal of the gifted person.

Obviously, people gravitate to what they do well. Gifted people have certain propensities and talents to start with and these probably reflect brain abnormalities of one kind or another.

Jacobsen: Inter-relating the previous three questions, what separates intelligence from IQ from giftedness, i.e., separates each from one another?

Vaknin: IQ is a narrow measure of highly specific types of intelligence and is not necessarily related to giftedness. Gifted people invest themselves with a laser-focus to effect change in their environment conducive to the speedy completion of highly specific tasks.

Jacobsen: What defines genius?

Vaknin: Genius is the ability to discern two things: 1. What is missing (lacunas) 2. Synoptic connections.

The genius surveys the world and completes it by conjuring up novelty (i.e., by creating). S/he also spots hidden relatedness between ostensibly disparate phenomena or data.

Jacobsen: How does genius differentiate from intelligence, IQ, and giftedness?

Vaknin: A genius can have an average IQ or even not be analytically very intelligent (not be an intellectual). Some craftsmen are geniuses. Musicians, athletes, even politicians.

Jacobsen: What happens to most prodigies, or adults with exceptionally, profoundly, or unmeasurably high IQ?

Vaknin: A majority of them end badly. IQ is a good predictor of academic accomplishments, but not much else. Character, upbringing, mental illness, genetics, nurture, the environment (including the physical environment), sexual and romantic history matter much more than IQ.

Many “geniuses” with a high IQ (Mensa types) are dysfunctional and deficient when it comes to life, intimacy, relationships, and social skills. Additionally, as Eysenck had correctly observed, creativity is often linked to psychoticism.

Jacobsen: What are the optimal things for raising gifted children and prodigies, and for resuscitating drifting adults with exceptionally, profoundly, or unmeasurably high IQ, if at all possible, to productive and healthy lives?

Vaknin: All interventions are somewhat effective only during childhood and adolescence, up to age 21. Afterwards, it is an uphill battle.

The most crucial thing is to never remove the gifted child from his peer group (as was done to me). I am also dead set against academic shortcuts.

The gifted child should follow the same path as everybody else but feed his voracious mind with extracurricular enrichment programs and materials.

Jacobsen: Who seem like the greatest geniuses in history to you?

Vaknin: The usual suspects: Einstein, Newton, Freud, da Vinci, other polymaths who had upended every discipline or field that they had turned their scintillating minds to.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Professor Vaknin.

Vaknin: The opportunity is all mine.


Hayne, G. (2016, September 8). I Spent a Day Trying to Get to Know a Real-Life Narcissist. Vice.

National Association for Gifted Children. (2019). A Definition of Giftedness that Guides Best Practice

Prof. Sam Vaknin. (2020, September 19). Narcissistic Buffet: Answering Your Questions (Well, Sort of) [Video]. YouTube.


Smashwords. (2014, October 19). Interview with Sam Vaknin

Vaknin, S. (n.d.a). Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 2. samvaknin.tripod.

Vaknin, S. (n.d.b). Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 3. samvaknin.tripod.

Vaknin, S. (n.d.c). Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 4. samvaknin.tripod.

Vaknin, S. (n.d.d). Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 5. samvaknin.tripod.

Vaknin, S. (n.d.e). Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 7. samvaknin.tripod.

vakninsamnarcissist. (2018, June 13). [Prof. Vaknin provides some biographical information on IQ test scores]. Instagram.


[1] Vaknin (2018) in Instagram stated, “My IQ was tested every time I got myself into serious trouble: at age 9 (result: 185), in the army (180), & in prison by an orthodox religious psychologist who made me his pet project (190). There are only 60 people in the world with IQ 185 & only 7 with IQ 190. It gets pretty lonely pretty fast. Being the sadistic asshole that I am, I am fond of saying that the gap in IQ between me & the average human is far bigger than the difference between that human & an orangutan (or a chimpanzee).” See vakninsamnarcissist (2018).

[2] “Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 2” states:

At the age of 9, I was sent to study in the Technion – Israel’s leading technological university. I have been diagnosed with 180 IQ. It was my lowest score in 3 IQ tests I have taken over the decades. There started my love affair with physics…

…At a very early age I discovered that I lack the most basic life and social skills. I had only one thing going for me: my formidable intellect (there are only 6 other people in the whole wide world with my IQ). So, I deployed it to construct a shelter, a bubble, replete with its own rigid rules and defenses intended to shield me from the life-threatening hurt that the world was inflicting on me daily. This bubble was a self-constructed mental asylum with me as the sole inmate…

…Women also feel inferior & inadequate faced with my 190 IQ.

See Vaknin (n.d.a).

[3] “Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 3” states:

These are for lesser mortals with an IQ score inferior to my stratospheric 190.

See Vaknin (n.d.b).

[4] “Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 4” states:

There were two of us. I was not alone inside my body. Physiologically, I was supposed to be twins: I have two urethras, two sets of teeth, and, at an IQ of 185, probably double the brain. It’s as though, denied their birth, this duo haunts me, an inbound, coupled poltergeist…

… My IQ – 190 – is literally off any known chart. There are only 8 people in the entire world with this level of intelligence and I am one of them.

I used to be so proud of this fact. Now I realize that I am cursed. My IQ is a rare incurable disease…

See Vaknin (n.d.c).

[5] “Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 5” states:

I have 190 IQ and I make sure that my interlocutors are well appraised of this daunting fact…

See Vaknin (n.d.d).

[6] “Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams – Page 7” states:

So, I harnessed my formidable intellect – all 190 IQ points of it – to write my user’s manual…

…After all, how does one succeed to not bore to tears someone with 190 IQ and encyclopedic knowledge?…

…They run away screaming to the waiting arms of the first man available because they find out that I am a reptile or a computer simulation or a robot with a brain who is about 10 times more potent than an average one (fact: I have 190 IQ). It is like being trapped in a futuristic sci-fi yarn with an alien life form, albeit carbon-based.

See Vaknin (n.d.e).

[7] See Prof. Sam Vaknin (2020).

[8] “A definition of Giftedness that Guides Best Practice” (2019) states:

Students with gifts and talents perform – or have the capability to perform – at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains. They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential. Student with gifts and talents:

• Come from all racial, ethnic, and cultural populations, as well as all economic strata.

• Require sufficient access to appropriate learning opportunities to realize their potential.

• Can have learning and processing disorders that require specialized intervention and accommodation.

• Need support and guidance to develop socially and emotionally as well as in their areas of talent.

• Require varied services based on their changing needs.

See National Association for Gifted Children (2019).

Previous Electronic ‘Print’ Interviews (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)

An Interview with Professor Sam Vaknin on Narcissistic Personality Disorder

(In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal: June 22, 2020)

Interview with Sam Vaknin and Christian Sorensen on Narcissism

(News Intervention: June 23, 2020)

Prof. Sam Vaknin on the Philosophy of Nothingness

(News Intervention: January 26, 2022)

Prof. Sam Vaknin on Narcissism in General

(News Intervention: January 28, 2022)

Prof. Sam Vaknin on Cold Therapy (New Treatment Modality)

(News Intervention: January 30, 2022)

Previous Interviews Read by Prof. Vaknin (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)

How to Become the REAL YOU (Interview, News Intervention)

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 26, 2022)

Insider View on Narcissism: What Makes Narcissist Tick (News Intervention)

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 29, 2022)

Image Credit: Sam Vaknin.


Leave a Reply