Living With Intensity

Living With Intensity, edited by Susan Daniels, Ph.D., & Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D. Published 2009, by Great Potential Press.

This is a book intended for counselors, psychologists or social workers, but it is reasonably accessible for other people who have interests in Psychology. It discusses Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilites and Developmental theory. The book covers children, adolescents, and adults including discussions on how Overexcitabilities can lead to misdiagnosis and mental health treatment that does not help. One of the authors Michael  M. Piechowski worked closely with Kazimierz Dabrowski in his native language. Dabrowski’s theories have been very important in many psychologists and others conceptualization of gifted psychology. Includes articles by many influential authors in gifted psychology and education. Includes case studies involving working with gifted people.

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What are your OEs?

The Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski created the term Overexcitabilities or OEs, which are hard wired energies or sensitivities. The term sensivities and overexcitabilities should not be taken in a negative light and are not perjoratives, but parts of our psyhche which have increased energy, which contribute to positive gifts along with some of the challenges that we may deal with. There are five basic OEs: Psychomotor, sensal, intellectual, imaginal, and emotional.

 Psychomotor: You may have a lot of energy, speak rapidly, be driven. You will need to be at risk of workaholism, nervous ticks, etc.

Sensual: You have highly developed senses. You may notice colors, smells, and sounds others do not. Your perceptions can be very intense. Some smells make you feel sick, sounds may irritate you and rough seams and fabrics may annoy you.

Intellectual: You have strong problem solving and ability to comprehend complex problems. You enjoy reading,  very curious, and driven to find the truth to things.

Imaginal: You have a highly developed imagination. You see where things can go to, but are not. You have a strong sense of humor, you can be creative, may have a intense dreams and fantasies. You are likely easily bored.

Emotional: You are likely highly emotional sensitive, you are sensitive to your own feelings, and the emotions of others. You have strong attachments and relationships. You may however  have difficulty fending off strong emotions, and others emotions can deeply hurt you and can make you feel overwhelmed.

 Psychomotor is only considered when other overexcitabilities are present.

How do you rate yourself?

Source: Living with Intensity edited by Susan Daniels & Micheal M Piechowski, Great Potential Press, 2009.

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., published by Broadway Books, 1998.

Elaine N. Aron’s book is aimed at helping people who are highly sensitive, which can include many GT people, especially those with certain Overexcitabilities, though she argues this is not just for gifted people. She suggests that being highly sensitive is not abnormal and such sensitivity, even though it leads to being stigmatized is a gift and not a problem. Her arguments are that people need to take steps to manage their emotions and the circumstances in their lives that overwhelm them. This can be useful, but sometimes can be difficult if the circumstances are such that you can’t make the adjustments. It is good to hear a lot of her comments especially her attempts to reframe and normalize the challenges that we face.


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Mailing Lists i.e. email lists, listserv

There are several email lists at for the GT world. Especially for adults, their GT-Adults list is a real good resource. For those into discussing and debating GT-Talk can  be a good place. They also have a number of lists for those who are parents GT-Families, and those who home school who have special ed needs i.e. disabilities GT-Spec-Home, and those who have GT children with special ed needs GT-Special

Gifted Grown Ups: The mixed belessings of extraordinary potential

Gifted Grown Ups: The mixed blessings of extraordinary potential, by Marylou Kelly Streznewski, published by John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

This is a good basic informational book for gifted adults. It covers many basic information. The basic point of the book is “This is who you are and what you have to deal with.” This can be a good book to give to a friend who you want to understand you better. As far as books that may help you take steps to grow and improve yourself and live a better life, this is not the best. For many people this may be a good starting point. This book is also honest about some of the problems that gifted adults face in the world and challenges that we need to deal with.


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The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius

The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Psy.D., published in Paperback by Ballantine books, 1999.

This book is a very useful book for gifted adults. It normalizes a lot of what gifted and talented people are and deal with and tries to provide a framework that people can use to enhance their lives and develop their potential. Jacobsen acknowledges the challenges GT (Gifted and Talented) people face in a normal world where talents and gifts are viewed as oddness and problems and helps us find ways to use them productively and face less pain in the world. This book is also good for those who aren’t sure they are GT and know more about themselves if they have not known a lot about who they are and why they have struggled with life. She breaks areas of potential into three different levels, collapsed or unexpressed, exagerated where all features are very big and balanced where we are able to use our potential to the fullest, but not be as troubled by it. She also helps normalize some of the criticisms that we have heard and face the reality that many of us create a false-self to avoid pain in dealing with others.


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