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Conversation with Uwe Michael Neumann on High-IQ Societies, Depression, ADS, and Alcohol: Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society (2)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/09/22


Uwe Michael Neumann developed a love of photography when he got his first camera, a Polaroid, at the age of eight years old. From 1982 to 1988, Neumann diverted from photography, studying law at Cologne State University. But his love of photography, driven by curiosity and the desire to see new things and discover and show their beauty, always called him back. He conducted his first photo tour in Provence, France in 1992. In 1998 he visited New York where he further developed his photographic style; experimenting with verticals and keystone/perspectives. Launching into the field of international cooperation he combined his daily work with his photography in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Finland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine. In November 2014, Neumann attended the wedding of a daughter of the Sultan of Foumban, Princess Janina, in Foumban, north-west of Cameroon. There he met and became friends with the famous French photographer and producer, Alain Denis who inspired him to become a professional photographer, instructing him in portrait and landscape photography. After his life-changing visit to Cameroon in 2014 Neumann returned there in February 2015 taking photographs of Central Africa’s unique nature and everyday life, which differed greatly from Europe, and even tourist destinations in Africa like Kenya and the Republic of South Africa. During his stay in Central Africa, he lived in Yaoundé, Cameroon and travelled frequently to Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad and Congo Brazzaville, among the poorest countries in the world. He also visited and photographed Algeria, Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Benin, Kenya, Egypt, Mauretania and the Republic of South Africa. Neumann focused on often-overlooked treasures in nature, the environment, and beauty in places seemingly dominated by poverty. In October 2017, Neumann returned to Berlin and worked on over 90,000 photos from Africa, launching his first exhibition in May in ‘Animus Kunstgalerie’, Berlin. In October 2018 his exhibition ‘Inner Africa’ in GH 36 gallery in Berlin was focused on Central Africa displaying not only a huge variety of photographs, but also traditional masks from different regions. In 2019 and 2020, other exhibitions at Bülow90, Berlin and Nils Hanke, Berlin followed. In Ghent, Belgium, he was a speaker at the European Mensa Meeting 2019 on Africa and presented some of his works.  He was also invited to present his works in the online exhibition e-mERGING a r t i S T S. and again at GH36 in the exhibition No Time. One of his photos was on the title page of the Norwegian magazine Dyade in 2019. His photos have also been featured several times in the online Magazine Foto Minimal & Art. In December 2021 his works were part of an exhibition at Basel Art Center in Basel, Switzerland. He discusses: the Big Five; openness to experiences amongst the high-IQ; rigid structure; finding out about the gifts; the formal diagnosis for depression; and a protective against various forms of mental illness.

Keywords: Big Five, depression, high-IQ, openness to experience, IQ, Uwe Michael Neumann.

Conversation with Uwe Michael Neumann on High-IQ Societies, Depression, ADS, and Alcohol: Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society (2)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What do you think of the, typically, psychologists who spend their life studying this stuff, speaking of the Big Five personality traits? Do you think openness to experiences, as you’re noting, is a big correlate with higher intelligence?

Uwe Michael Neumann[1],[2]*: Yes, I think certainly. Openness to new experiences, yes, for sure.

Jacobsen: What do you think might be exceptions to that rule?

Neumann: Openness to experiences. Exceptions, I don’t know. Maybe, some people are less interested. Let’s say a place like Africa, also higher IQ people, not everybody is interested to hear about Africa, but many people. But maybe, there are some who are, of course, not so keen on that. But basically, it’s compared to other groups of people. It’s very open and very open minded and very interested. People are very interested in these things. But no exception. No idea at the moment. Maybe later after the interview.

Jacobsen: It might be something like some kind of comorbid cognitive deficit in a social and a socio-emotional area, or something like this, where someone who is, for instance, part of Mensa or some other group qualifies, appropriately, while having a limitation in their interpersonal functioning. So, they would prefer the kind of rigid structure and don’t necessarily have a necessary tendency towards openness to experience. This sort of thing.

Neumann: Yes. Ok. I think many people are shy. So, even though, they are generally open, but, at some point – and also me, they are shy. When I was young, I was very, very lonely because I was growing up in a working class area. There are also very smart good working-class people. But in general, these people are very not smart, not so intelligent – let’s say, the opposite of intelligent. And I don’t have a grudge, but I was very lonely because you don’t fit in and then it’s difficult to interact with other people. I have many problems with that; and I think many people have the same problem when they are young. Many people are shy and that limits their possibilities.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, when were you finding out about the gifts? When did you develop those formal interests in academics to hopefully have your intelligence flourish a little bit more in school?

Uwe Michael Neumann: In school, I knew that I was intelligent, let’s say, in the first class. We had a contest, math contest, arithmetic; and we were given tasks like, “What is five plus five?” and then you have to add to answer. If you were the first one to answer, you could advance one step. And I was very fast. I was the guy who was winning the contest. I was always five six steps beyond the others. So, I realized that, “Yes, there’s something in me.” Also, I realize that I’m more sensitive than other people. I realized this about the world, let’s say. So, that gave me a shock. Because when you’re at a very young age, you realize how the world is. You get depressed, I would say. Because the first few, if you see the world is so big, there’s fighting. There’s aggression. There’s this and that and crime.

For me, at first, it was like when the ideas of the travel thinking. I became aware of my real involvement. Also, in this working class environment, this poor, relatively poor low education working class environment, I was really depressed. Also, I started some kind of meditation when I was 12 or 13 because I was lonely. I had no friends so much in that area when we moved, when I was 12 to a new area. And I was very lonely. I started meditating. I was thinking about things just sitting around, and so on. So, yes, I didn’t feel so good about university because I was also shocked when I came to university because in the first year; we were 800 students and I got really a shock. So, I’ve never felt really at ease at university and wasn’t particularly good at that. Yes, I can only work when I feel good, when I feel comfortable.

And also, I’m basically shy. So, for me, it was difficult. I tend to have depression. So, that’s also difficult when you only can work, let’s say, one hour a day because of your depression. And to get on with your work, so, that was difficult for me.

Jacobsen: What’s the formal diagnosis for depression?

Neumann: Diagnosis, yes. It was diagnosed later. But let’s say, I was constantly in psychotherapy and with a psychoanalyst, which didn’t help, actually. But now, I have a very good neurologist; and this is helping a lot; and Mensa is helping a lot. For me, this is the first time in my life. I became a member of Mensa and other High IQ organizations 10 years ago. And since then, it helped me a lot because now I really have friends and so got some new situation for me. So, I’m very thankful to have that.

Jacobsen: I’m not a psychiatrist. However, do you think that higher intelligence is a protective against various forms of mental illness, or do you think it can make it worse if present?

Neumann: Let’s say, I think in my case, I was more prone to mental illness or depression and things like that. And I suffer also from ADS. I think many people get depression. So, I get to cry. Yes, I get depressed very often. And it helps also to find strategies to get out of it. I developed a strategy for myself to stop drinking alcohol. I never took any drugs. Only once, I tried, but it was very few. But I had the habit of drinking alcohol every evening. I wasn’t an alcoholic. But I just had the habit to drink instead of one beer then it became two beers. In the end, it became three beers, basically, over years, many years. And at one point, I realized that I only drank beer because I was used to drinking beer. And then I developed a strategy to get out of this, and that worked, and that was 10 years ago.

So, I cannot sell it as a program for other people because it’s tailor made for me. But basically, you are able to get out of certain things. The thing of when I was very young was that you are not basically allowed to think that you would be one percent of the population in this group, basically, especially when you grow up in a working class environment, working class lower level public servants, and so on. You’re constantly told that you are not excellent. You cannot be that; or, maybe, they don’t tell you openly. And also, when you’re a man and you’re relatively big one, I’m six foot one and a half or something. People tend to think that you’re not intelligent. I remember when I was in school, I was sitting at a table. We were two students at one table. So, I was sitting next to a small guy with glasses. I didn’t wear the glasses at the time when I was at school. He was very small; and he wore glasses.

And at the end of the school year, the teacher said, “Yes, you got a three or two.“ We have a number system. One is very good and two is good. „But only thanks to your neighbor.” And I was really shocked because he was thinking that the small guy helped me to get through all this. And it wasn’t like that. We were sometimes exchanging, but it’s not like he was feeding me with the information. But people think when you are really big and when you’re a man; that you’re not intelligent, basically. And that is sometimes very… I find it depressing.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, CIVIQ High IQ Society.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2022:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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