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.

Gifted in the Media

There have been more images of gifted in the media, a few examples I will discuss are ABC’s The Middle and Fox’s The Simpsons. I think it’s good to see more gifted people depicted in the media, but it’s hard to conceive of how these characters became who they are in the social milleu and family they grew up in.

The Simpsons: I  would suspect that we all love Lisa Simpson or at least identify with her. It is clear from hearing her character that we are hearing what a gifted person would be thinking and talking about. Who’s genes did she come from, the rest of the family is at best average, perhaps less? I recall hearing that the difference in IQ in families tends to be very small like plus or minus 15 points. Even if you want to argue nurture over nature, the social environment is very poor. We have other characters who could be, but they are portrayed in such a bad light, for instance the mad scientist character, or Martin, the other gifted child, who is unfortunately gets portrayed in a negative light.

The Middle is another example. The gifted example we have is Brick portrayed as a child who at minimum avoids social contact because of anxiety, or might be diagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome. Who else in this family could be gifted, again who’s genes did he come from?

There are more examples to be found in Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy and American Dad on Fox.

Family Guy: Little Stewie is our gifted character, of course we also have a gifted dog Brian. Stewie is like two but acts older, and talks even older. This is one character, I am not fond of, he is very condescending and insulting and has murderous tendencies. Where the giftedness could come from, not in this family. It is mentioned in episodes the father has borderline intellectual functioning, and the rest of the family at best average. This example is not the best example of giftedness that we have. I could go on about this, I will later.

American Dad: In this show, we see another potentially gifted son, a real nerd, though probably not the most obvious example. The father and mother aren’t very bright in this one either, not as stupid in the Family guy example, but brain dead in different ways. Again a question, where did the son get his brains?

What is the common theme in these stories? The gifted child surrounded by people who are stupid and moronic. I wonder if the creators saw their families like this. My father used to say when we are young, we think our parents are stupid, when we are older we admire them.  This does not seem to be the case. They are people to be ridiculed.

Gifted Musical Artists

I have had on my mind some musical artists who are likely GT.

The two artists I have been thinking about are Siouxie Sioux who people may remember as being part of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Creatures. The other artist that I have been thinking about is an Australian band called The Church,



My partner is a big fan of Siouxsie. Siouxsie has been performing for over 30 years, and has now moved into a solo career. Siouxsie had never gone farther than High School, though listening to her, the language in her songs, the words and language she uses in interviews, she is far more intelligent the knowledgeble than someone who never went farther than High School.


Church membersus09_admat_red_sml

The church is a band that I have been following for a long time. They have been around for about 30 years. I have particularly focused on the lead vocalist and writer of many of their songs Steve Kilbey. In addition to writing most of the lyrics, he also plays on the songs in addition to being the lead vocalist. The lyrics are very ecclectic, intelligent, complex, and divergent. Themes in his songs from his interests include the dark side of people, complex relationships, mysticism, legends, myths, poetry, literature. He is also an accomplished artist and his work has been on many of their albums. He is also a complex person, who has had a dark side, including serious drug addiction. Recently I had heard of a concert in New York and decided to go. The audience, a bit more geeky older and intelligent, I felt very much at home and felt that I was among other GT folk, though it also seemed a bit autistic in some ways. It turns out money from sales of merchandise is being sent to a Autism charity. Aparently recently introduced as a Biography about Him and the band called No Certainty Attached. It is very honest and not appologetic about any of the dark side. In reading the biography reading about his upbringing and his education and development, there are many clues pointing to a GT person. The other members of the band who have been together. except for the drummer, the entire 30 years, the drummer came in the picture later. They are also very talented and one wonders about the other members, who may be GT as well, though one would want to know more about them.

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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