Five areas of sensitivity in gifted people

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Woodpeace
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04 May 2009, 4:01 am

This article - http://members.jorsm.com/~kaityf/overexc.htm - describes how gifted people are extremely sensitive in five areas. By sensitive is meant that in these five areas a person reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to stimulus that may be very small.

The five areas which I summarise and paraphrase are:

Pyschomotor: This expresses itself in lots of physical energy and movement, fast talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics.

Sensual: Here is the "cut the label out of the shirt" demand . Also a love for sensory things - textures, smells, tastes etc. or a powerful reaction to negative sensory input (bad smells, loud sounds etc). Another important aspect of this is aesthetic awareness - the child who is awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset or cries when hearing Mozart etc.

Imaginational: These are the dreamers, poets who are strong visual thinkers, use lots of metaphorical speech. They day dream, remember their dreams at night and often react strongly to them, believe in magic (take a long time to "grow out of" Santa, the tooth fairy, elves and fairies etc.).

Intellectual: This is shown by a love of brain teasers and puzzles, by enjoying following a line of complex reasoning, figuring things out. A love of things academic, new information, cognitive games, etc.

Emotional: This is having intense emotions, but also a very broad range of emotions. Also a need for deep connections with other people or animals. Unable to find close and deep friends they invent imaginary friends, make do with pets or stuffed animals, etc. Being empathetic and compassionate.

Highly gifted people tend to have all five areas of sensitivities, but different people lead with different areas. The engineer types lead with Intellectual, the poets with Emotional and Imaginational, etc.



UnusualSuspect
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04 May 2009, 8:43 am

That's a description of Kazimir Dabrowski's "overexcitabilities." Without even reading the article, I can tell you that the person has either just read one or two interpretations of Dabrowski's work, or has read it himself and doesn't understand it. Gifted people aren't necessarily strong in all five areas. However, Dabrowski wasn't speaking specifically of giftedness as we understand it today. His work has been adopted, and very often misinterpreted, in order to explain giftedness, which it doesn't. What he was concerned with was developmental potential, and the five overexcitabilities were a method of helping to determine a person's ability to grow and develop.

"...reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to stimulus that may be very small." Dabrowski wasn't writing about reactivity; his concern was with overexcitabilities as a part of the person's basic temperament and how much the lack of some of them, or their strength, determined developmental potential.

Giftedness advocates have turned his ideas into cheap pop psychology. That's very easy to do because he books are out of print, so most of what you read about his work these days isn't actually what he said, but interpretations based on the agendas of the people writing about him.



Tantybi
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04 May 2009, 9:06 am

UnusualSuspect wrote:
That's a description of Kazimir Dabrowski's "overexcitabilities." Without even reading the article, I can tell you that the person has either just read one or two interpretations of Dabrowski's work, or has read it himself and doesn't understand it. Gifted people aren't necessarily strong in all five areas. However, Dabrowski wasn't speaking specifically of giftedness as we understand it today. His work has been adopted, and very often misinterpreted, in order to explain giftedness, which it doesn't. What he was concerned with was developmental potential, and the five overexcitabilities were a method of helping to determine a person's ability to grow and develop.

"...reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to stimulus that may be very small." Dabrowski wasn't writing about reactivity; his concern was with overexcitabilities as a part of the person's basic temperament and how much the lack of some of them, or their strength, determined developmental potential.

Giftedness advocates have turned his ideas into cheap pop psychology. That's very easy to do because he books are out of print, so most of what you read about his work these days isn't actually what he said, but interpretations based on the agendas of the people writing about him.


So, out of curiosity, if a person were to sound a lot like all five of the overexcitabilities, what would that mean for their potential? Like lets say a person does talk fast and use lots of gestures, and they are extremely sensitive to loud sounds, bad smells, light, and cries at Mozart, and they use a lot of metaphorical speech while daydreaming and doesn't exactly believe in Santa, but they do believe in magic in more adult accepted forms (like God, wicca, etc.), and they love puzzles and also needs deep connections with people or things. Like what is this guys theory on people like that?

And, is it just me or does that almost describe what many people seem to go through on this site and relate it to aspergergers even though it's not really by definition?



starygrrl
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04 May 2009, 10:30 am

Not to be overly critical of this, but the presense of "all five traits" were present is very similair to the diagnostic criteria of Schizoid PD. :P
Pop psychology indeed.
I mean honestly, I can go down each of these and relate them to something in the spectrum, whether it be HFA, NLD, AS, or something else.

With that being said, these do describe me pretty well, but they are really to generalized.



ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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04 May 2009, 10:50 am

Again we see the ASD/PD dichotomy. Does it really matter if ASDs and PDs overlap? Perhaps gifted people have some SPD characteristics? Schizoid Personality is not necessarily a bad thing.



Bozewani
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04 May 2009, 11:00 am

As a person who is majoring in political science, I can tell you that people can interpret anything however they want.

I can say the grass is blue, because the reflection of the sun makes them appear blue (and yes, it does, I am not color-blind).

If the above is an example of a metaphor used by us "gifted people", (which by the way, I disagree with the context it is being presented here), I like to point out that is being interpreted badly.

You can argue that rapists are good people because they take advantage of weak people who are disposable to society because of their low self-esteem. I, because I have a heart and a conscience disagree with this, but it can be interpreted that way.

Hitler and his Holocaust programs were designed along the ideas of eugenics, the science of improving hereditary qualities in humanity. That was the "benevolent and altruistic" motive but of course the realities were they destroyed humanity and innocent human beings for no reason and created racial and ethnic tensions all the way to contempory Europe.

I at this rate refuse to read interpretations of anyone's scientific work, no matter the science, unless I get it the primary form. It's all bastardized along self-interested lines to promote an agenda and the relevant proponent of that idea's social status.



Unknown_Quantity
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04 May 2009, 11:06 am

I have all except perhaps the Psychomotor.

I lead strongly with Imaginational.

Most of my Sensual experiences are uncomfortable/negative.

And my Emotional connections are mainly with animals.


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TPE2
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04 May 2009, 11:09 am

starygrrl wrote:
Not to be overly critical of this, but the presense of "all five traits" were present is very similair to the diagnostic criteria of Schizoid PD. :P


?????



Zonder
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05 May 2009, 10:40 am

If you look at a bell curve, with giftedness being the right hand (top) few percent and mental retardation being the left hand (bottom) few percent of the curve, you'll realize that neither mental retardation or giftedness are "normal" development. Even though gifedness is thought of as positive, it can still be considered to be "abnormal" development.

Yes, those who are considered as "gifted" often have oversensitivity / overreaction to stimuli. And those who have ASD also have oversensitivities. And some who have ASD are also considered intellectually gifted.

However, neither science, nor pop psychology have figured out why this all happens or how to categorize people. The brain and nervous system are so complex that no one has come up with a satisfactory explanation of the relationship of giftedness, ASD, and "oversensitivities."

Z



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05 May 2009, 5:20 pm

If you look at the bell curve with the vast majority covering a few percent of the range, 90 to 110, you realize that normal development could not come up with a satisfactory explantion for much of anything.

The second problem is a gifted explanation of the brain and nervous system, that fleeting mind thing, could not be understood by normal people.

Psychobabble is a soft science version of seeing Demons.

Alone they are as entertaining as any Cult, but working with government and the drug companies, have become a danger to themselves and others.

Their world view is that they are perfection, anything other is defective, and they seek to cure or destroy it.

I do not see them as anything to trust when it comes to the best lives for gifted, ASD, or the over sensitive.

If an intelligent alien species came, with telepathy, these witch doctors would be thinking of autopsy, the paper they could publish. If they got a big enough grant they might cure these aliens with drugs.

I recently read a news article, Autism was compared to the same genes that caused humans to have larger brains than other apes, some brain structure was larger at a young age in Autism, and they saw it as a way to cure this larger brain development. They are sure humans have evolved enough and it is time to put a stop to that.

We best make our own plans.



millie
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05 May 2009, 5:26 pm

^ inventor's last line "We best make our own plans" is really the only way to be.



Zonder
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05 May 2009, 7:25 pm

Yup, millie and Inventor, call us the trinity of the road-less-traveled-plan-has-to-work-for-me-thingy.

Z



UnusualSuspect
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05 May 2009, 10:13 pm

Tantybi wrote:
UnusualSuspect wrote:
That's a description of Kazimir Dabrowski's "overexcitabilities." Without even reading the article, I can tell you that the person has either just read one or two interpretations of Dabrowski's work, or has read it himself and doesn't understand it. Gifted people aren't necessarily strong in all five areas. ...snip.


So, out of curiosity, if a person were to sound a lot like all five of the overexcitabilities, what would that mean for their potential? Like lets say a person does talk fast and use lots of gestures, and they are extremely sensitive to loud sounds, bad smells, light, and cries at Mozart, and they use a lot of metaphorical speech while daydreaming and doesn't exactly believe in Santa, but they do believe in magic in more adult accepted forms (like God, wicca, etc.), and they love puzzles and also needs deep connections with people or things. Like what is this guys theory on people like that?

And, is it just me or does that almost describe what many people seem to go through on this site and relate it to aspergergers even though it's not really by definition?


These specific traits and behaviors you mention have nothing to do with Dabrowski's work. You've taken a second or third-hand interpretation and twisted it even further. I'm reminded by this whole thread, of the game of "telephone" where a phrase becomes more distorted and further away from the original as it's whispered from one person to the next.