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It’s not easy being a unicorn, oddball, or “only”. I know, because I’m one, too! And maybe no one told you that being gifted is part of what makes you weird and wonderful. Or maybe — like me — someone told you that you were “gifted” but no one prepared you for the unique struggles and challenges that would bring.  Maybe those challenges have made you want to give the “gift” back.

Me too! I get it. This page is intended to help you navigate those challenges — and realize you’re neither crazy nor alone. You’re neurodivergent. You belong to a misunderstood and misdiagnosed minority that’s only 2-5% of the population! You’re a wizard living among muggles. There’s nothing wrong with you.

Below you’ll find articles, books, videos, podcasts, and art I’ve found helpful in my own journey — or created myself. Whether you’re gifted, suspect you’re gifted, or love someone who is, I hope you find some jewels and magical objects here that guide and fortify you in your quest.

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“I thought I was just odd. I didn’t realize there were other people having the same difference in experience that I was. That puts an anchor in the water when you’re trying to sail through life.”

~ Emma Nicholson

What does “gifted” mean?

One of the problems with giftedness — and why you may have received mixed or messed-up messages about your giftedness (or reached adulthood without ever being identified) — is that there isn’t one clear, consistent definition!

In Western civilization, the term has been used for about 150 years, and  historically meant “high achieving” and/or “highly intelligent”. If you were identified as gifted in the last 75 years or so, it was likely based on an IQ test, or your “relative ability” compared to other students in your school. (This short article breaks down some basics and the history.) See how this is already problematic?

Today, we know a lot more about the unique “personality structure” and emotional qualities of giftedness — which bring special challenges and vulnerabilities. The 1991 Columbus Group definition is now common, and my favorite: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.”

I also like Paula Prober’s concept of the “Rainforest Mind”, and InterGifted’s description: “a cognitive, neurological, phenomenological mind construction pattern which results in uncommon complexity of thought (and often emotion)” [my paraphrase].

In short, giftedness includes:

  • High intelligence and complexity. This intelligence may or may not be intellectual, and the complexity may or may not be cognitive.
  • Fast processing (in the G’s areas of brilliance, not all areas)
  • Asynchronous or “spiky” development (uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development). G brains are physiologically different. Gs can be fast/brilliant in some areas, and slow/underdeveloped in others, even into adulthood.
  • High sensitivity
  • High intensity (usually, but not always — also known as “overexcitabilities“)
  • Neurodivergence

Gifted children and adults, particularly those with overexcitabilities, can be especially susceptible to trauma. We can also carry “gifted trauma” — harm related to our giftedness and membership in a marginalized minority.

Where should I start?

“The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling for them to develop optimally.”

The Columbus Group, 1991

What are “overexcitabilities”?

Many — but not all — Gs have at least one OE (“overexcitability” or intensity) which make us particularly sensitive and responsive to internal and external stimuli. These heighten our experience and perception of both positive and negative events.

What’s “positive disintegration”?

The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), developed by Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dąbrowski, resonates with many Gs who have OEs. While Dąbrowski didn’t create TPD specifically for Gs, and I have profound disagreements with the theory, his normalization of OEs and their role in developing a more authentic personality has given many Gs a road map for navigating life’s difficulties.

Challenges for Gifted People

General

Giftedness and Mental Health/Trauma

Books (chronological)

  • Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness, Barbara A. Kerr, 1997.
  • Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential, Marylou Kelly Streznewski, 1999.
  • * The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Geniustm, Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, 2000.
  • The Sound of a Silver Horn: Reclaiming the Heroism in Contemporary Women’s Lives, Kathleen Noble, 2002.
  • Mellow Out, They Say. If Only I Could. Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright, Michael Piechowski, 2006
  • * Living with Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults, Susan Daniels (Editor), Michael M. Piechowski (Editor), 2009.
  • * Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, Paula Prober, 2016.
  • Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You, Jenara Nerenberg, 2020. – about ND women
  • Intersection of Intensity: Exploring Giftedness and Trauma, Patty L. Gently, MSMHC, PhD, 2024.

* highly recommended

Orgs, Groups, Socials & My Stuff

Organizations & Online Communities

Podcasts

  • Positive Disintegration Podcast
  • Conversations on Gifted Trauma

Instagram

YouTube

My articles & poems

POEMS

ARTICLES COMING SOON!

Kid Stuff!

General

Challenges

Misdiagnosis and 2e

Relating and relationships

Guidance for parents

Books (for parents)

  • The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? by Maureen Neihart, Sally Reis, Nancy Robinson, Sidney Moon, 2002.
  • Living with Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults, Susan Daniels (Editor), Michael M. Piechowski (Editor), 2009.
  • Perspectives on Giftedness: Sound Advice from Parents and Professionals, 2021. (a collective of essays)

“For your heavenly power being forever pushed down by brutal force;
For that which is prescient, unsaid, infinite in you.
For the loneliness and strangeness of your ways.
Be greeted!”

~ Kazimierz Dąbrowski

Need support or more resources?

I offer trauma-informed professional coaching and body-focused stress management to unicorns, oddballs, and "onlys" like you!

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