Gifted Adults

Many gifted adults don't even know that they are gifted. There are  several characteristics of giftedness that if misunderstood in childhood  lead to feelings of defectiveness and isolation in adulthood. So what  is giftedness, anyway? Giftedness, as it is understood today, is not  necessarily about child prodigies or  geniuses. It used to be measured  solely  in terms of IQ, and the idea was that anyone with an IQ of 130  or over was  intellectually gifted. But current  thought in the field is  that the IQ test is much too limiting. The characteristics  being  looked at now  are: 

  • Curiosity
  • Energy
  • Speed of learning or of getting things done
  • empathy
  • sensitivity to both beauty and pain
  • a highly developed moral sense and a need  to speak up
  • ability to see patterns and analogies and to do abstract thinking
  • playfulness 
  • intensity

The Polish  psychiatrist, Kazimierz Dabrowski, coined the term  “overexcitability” to  describe the highly intelligent and outlined 5   categories of overexcitabilities (or OE’s): Psychomotor, Sensual,  Intellectual,  Imaginational and Emotional. These OE’s  are now being  used to predict and identify giftedness in children. 

According to  Marylou Kelly Streznewski, in her book, “Gifted  Grownups,” (which is an  excellent book, and very readable) there are  roughly three types of gifted  people: Strivers, Superstars and  Independents.

  • Strivers do very well in school,  enjoy and follow rules and  like structure. These are hard workers,  high achievers and make great employees. 
  • The Superstars really seem to  have it all together.  This group is popular, attractive and successful.  You will find your scholar-athletes  here. The superstars have great  social  skills and often take their values from the realm of their  peers.
  • The Independents are the creative   intellectuals and are usually the least understood.  These are the  students who  ask challenging questions in class and may be seen as  insubordinate rather than passionate. These are the  employees who want  to do things their way and ignore the tasks that  seem unimportant to  them. The independent will work long, hard and  brilliantly at what  interests him/her, and neglect the rest. The independent also has the  most potential for making  creative contributions to the world.

It is so important to understand, rather than judge, what  drives you and what you are sensitive to. A working alliance with the right therapist can help you to value what makes you unique.

Please contact me and I'll be happy to provide a free phone consultation. 


The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. 

To them... a touch is a blow, a sound  is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy   is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create 

-- so that without  the creating of music or poetry or books or  buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off... 

They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating. 

--Pearl S. Buck