Insecurities of the Highly Educated

I would go to these cocktail parties held by the CEO. All the top brass would be there as well as most of the key scientists. Inevitably one of these scientists, and they’re brilliant people you know, would start up a conversation with me about their latest work. They needed to show me that they knew more than me. If you tried to move the conversation to cocktail party talk they would immediately move you back. They were uncomfortable with other topics. They needed to show their superiority and this cocktail party discussion was their opportunity. I’m sure they left feeling much more secure in their person. DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+ Participant

The term Insecurities of the Highly Educated+ came from the pharmaceutical industry executive who related the cocktail party story above. Although it’s a simplification I found the term quite helpful for its insights into several behaviors. The inner strength of highly educated individuals comes from their knowledge: they know they know more than most. But they are insecure about the basis of their strength and continually need to test this commodity – knowledge – in comparison with others. Eventually when this basis of inner strength is found wanting it is often superseded with the need to secure the inner strength with wealth – I can feel comfortable in social situations without flaunting my knowledge based on an unspoken but manifest reliance on material wealth. But what follows when that wealth is found wanting, and the luster has dulled on that trophy bride?