SIX Psychological Flaws in Talented People

In 1897 a Spanish Pathologist, Santiago Ramon y Cajal wrote a book, Advice for a Young Investigator. Considered the father of neuroscience, he came down to 6 major psychological flaws that hinder people from reaching their potential talent.

Who doesn’t dream of making it big someday? Unfortunately, some of us put it down to bad luck or other factors in life that prevent us from achieving our dreams.


These people although study their chosen field but don’t feel the need to apply them to new situations. They view their field as it is but not more than that. What does that actually mean? If you have mastered a certain field, your work is definitely in connection to that, right?

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The researcher is pointing out that only knowing a craft is not enough, applying it in a progressive direction, in a unique way is what matters.

Bibliophiles and Polyglots

Now those are two words which aren’t too common anymore but can be easily defined as knowledge hoarding.

What? You seem to recollect this term bibliophiles from your university days? But Cajal says

Absorbing tonnes of facts and figures about a variety of subjects might help you in a quiz, but this vain pursuit will not help you if you only want to project your knowledge.

Psychological flaws in talented people
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Cajal explains that absorbing tons of facts and figures can be useless if it cannot be put to valuable use. We have often heard that to only know is not enough. One has to act as well. The neuroscientist says that once human brains receive knowledge, it should also transform into something constructive. An experience teaches us something, but if we are not learning from it and then applying it in the future, it is doing us no good.


A megalomaniac is a person who wants his/her talents to be recognized. They want acknowledgement, you could say.

Psychological flaws in talented people
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But this could prove wrong especially if one becomes overconfident, revealing their flaws.

Cajal explains that megalomaniacs are dreamers. The problem with excessive dreaming is that it leads to thinking up grand ideas but never reaching a goal.

They lack the determination to do something tangible. And we know only dreams without action are meaningless.

Instrument Addicts

If you are obsessed with gadgets, apps or any particular tool, this one might be a bit too close to home.

Cajal may not have seen this actually coming true back in the 1800s but it is quite a common aspect of our lives today. Who isn’t addicted to their gadgets?

The neuroscientist says that an obsession of an instrument is useless if one cannot know its basic value.

What does this even mean?

Psychological flaws in talented people
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He says:

Cold-hearted instrument addicts cannot make themselves useful. They suffer from an almost incurable disease, especially when it is associated (as it commonly is) with a distinctive moral condition that is rarely admitted — a selfish and disagreeable obsession with preventing others from working because they personally do not know how, or don’t want, to work.


We have all felt misfit as certain points in our lives, especially in high school. Going through raging hormones, teenagers try to find space, want to gel in with or stay away from certain crowds. Sometimes this happens at a later stage in life, at workplace.

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Feeling a misfit for a long time can be unhealthy for us, especially talented people who want more from life. They could get stuck in a rut. This is where the problem lies. Feeling misfit for too long can lead one to believe that nothing can change. Cajal says this has to change through conscious effort.


Cajal’s work and research dates back to a time we cannot relate to today. He says that thinkers and philosophers who are in constant research are theorists.

Psychological flaws in talented people

In his book he writes the following:

Basically, the theorist is a lazy person masquerading as a diligent one. He unconsciously obeys the law of minimum effort because it is easier to fashion a theory than to discover a phenomenon.

Whilst exploring hypothesis is encouraged, a rejection of facts is a dangerous pursuit according to Cajal.

Theorists believe in hypotheses but it is the collected data once a hypothesis has been proved or not that eventually matters. The world runs of facts, on proven research. But theorists only pile on hypotheses.

While you might not immediately associate yourself with any of these traits, Cajal’s advice does remain informative and possibly highlights why talents often go to waste.


However, it should be noted that when Cajal wrote his teachings, his studies were only aimed at men.

Cajal’s research may not seem relate-able as first glance since it was conducted in the 1800s and also only aimed at men. Back then the women representation was zero. It may seem outdated, which means more research is required to validate or challenge the ideas of Cajal.


Also read Four Signs of a Narcissist