ChapterPDF Available

The Inner World of the Young and Bright

Authors:
  • Institute for Educational Advancement

Abstract

William James (1902) made the connection between intensity of character (ardor) and moral action more than a 100 years ago. In the 1960s and 1970s, when cognitive psychology supplanted behaviorism, moral development was seen as development of moral judgment through reasoning. However, reasoning does not guarantee that behavior will follow the dictates of reason. Behavior follows what one believes and feels to be right rather than what one thinks is correct. Emotional rather than cognitive development is the key to congruence between moral motivation and behavior. Dabrowski constructed his theory of emotional development from the study of lives of gifted and creative people. The theory provides insight into emotional life of the gifted and into what motivates moral action.
Chapter 14
The Inner World of the Young and Bright
Michael M. Piechowski
Abstract William James (1902) made the connection between intensity of charac-
ter (ardor) and moral action more than a 100 years ago. In the 1960s and 1970s,
when cognitive psychology supplanted behaviorism, moral development was seen
as development of moral judgment through reasoning. However, reasoning does not
guarantee that behavior will follow the dictates of reason. Behavior follows what
one believes and feels to be right rather than what one thinks is correct. Emotional
rather than cognitive development is the key to congruence between moral moti-
vation and behavior. Dabrowski constructed his theory of emotional development
from the study of lives of gifted and creative people. The theory provides insight
into emotional life of the gifted and into what motivates moral action.
Keywords Character development ·Emotional development ·Emotional gift-
edness ·Emotional intensity ·Emotional life themes ·Emotional sensitivity ·
Emotional tension ·Empathy ·Entelechy ·Extraversion ·Giftedness ·Imagination ·
Introversion ·Intuition ·Mirror neurons ·Multilevel disintegration ·Overex-
citability: psychomotor, sensual, imagination, intellectual, emotional ·Positive
maladjustment ·Psychological types ·Psychosynthesis ·Self-actualizing
14.1 Giftedness as Energy
Gifted children tend to be more active than regular children displaying higher en-
ergy level, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional. Prodigies are examples of an
extraordinary concentration of mental energy. The energy of the electric current in
the nerve tissue becomes interest, passion, sustained effort, perseverance, creative
M.M. Piechowski
119 Ski Ct., Madison, WI 53713, USA
e-mail: spirgif@earthlink.net
D. Ambrose, T. Cross (eds.), Morality, Ethics, and Gifted Minds, 177
DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-89368-6 14,
c
Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2009
178 M.M. Piechowski
flow, ecstasy, caring, compassion, or spiritual experience. A greater than average
intensity, sometimes very great and extreme, makes for experiencing life at a high
pitch. Countless sensations of extended range of hue and nuance, thoughts racing
and tumbling over each other, often on many tracks at once, memories, desires, and
a rich tapestry of feelings produce a multidimensional apprehension of the world,
one’s life and its possibilities.
The excess of energy Dabrowski called psychomotor overexcitability because it
has to be discharged using one’s muscles whether, for instance, to release the bottled
up steam after sitting still or throwing oneself into action. For example, a gifted 16-
year old girl said: “I get filled with energy when I need that energy. And, of course, I
release it by doing the thing that got me excited in the first place” (Piechowski 2006,
p. 40). Psychomotor overexcitability differentiates between gifted and nongifted stu-
dents (Ackerman 1997; Bouchard 2004; Tieso 2007). Overexcitability stands for the
capacity of being stimulated to a high degree and sustaining it for extended period
of time.
Sensory experience for gifted children, and adults especially, tends to be of a
much richer quality because so much more detail, texture, contrast, and distinction
is coming into awareness. What is pleasant is liked with a passion, what is unpleas-
ant is disliked intensely. Dabrowski called it sensual overexcitability. For example,
in the words of a 16-year old: “I seem to notice more smells than a lot of other peo-
ple. I love dark, musty smells and earthy smells, herbs and things like that. I love the
smell of clean air in spring and tree blossoms and things and the smell of clean bod-
ies, esp. hair” (Piechowski 2006, p. 48). When sensual overexcitability joins with
emotional overexcitability, the experience becomes much richer and more meaning-
ful. For example, a 17-year old girl said, “I like yellow for it seems warm and full
of joy” (Piechowski 2006, p. 46). In an intimate relationship sensual and emotional
elements go together.
14.2 Intellectual Energy
Intellectual overexcitability is the characteristic by which gifted children are most
often identified. In a happy turn of phrase, Frank (2006) said that intelligence is
about the ability to solve problems, but overexcitability is about the passion for
solving them. When the emotional and mental energies meet, the mind supplies the
energy of sustained concentration while emotional energy drives interest (passion).
Interest is one of the basic emotions (Izard 1971).
Intellectual energy has certain consequences: relentless questioning, critical
thinking, and evaluation. For instance, gifted adolescents responded to the ques-
tion, What gets your mind going? by mentioning the irresistible attraction of
brain teasers, logical puzzles, theories and controversies. More significantly, some
have mentioned “challenging anything accepted by society,” their way of resisting
conformity: “One good thing [is that] I try to think about my beliefs – politi-
cal and religious – so that I won’t believe things just because my parents do”
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 179
(Piechowski 2006, p. 64). This may lead to a crisis in families with rather strict and
orthodox religious faith or political adherence. Gifted adolescents are likely to ques-
tion the foundations of their faith, and may find it wanting. To a highly gifted young
person doubts about beliefs present themselves almost inevitably, consequently they
may precipitate a crisis of worldview, in other words, a moral crisis.
The price of questioning can be twofold. One, in environments that do not
value questioning one quickly meets with resistance and even rejection. Two, self-
questioning may create self-doubt and the fear of going crazy: “I probably spend
too much time thinking about my own thinking, analyzing myself and analyzing the
analysis.IsometimespsychmyselfintothinkingIamgoingcrazy”(Piechowski2006,
p. 63). It may be interesting to note that the great Sir Francis Galton tried thinking
paranoidally and was startled how quickly he became paranoid.
14.3 Imagination
Gifted children tend to have excitable imagination that is especially rich, abundant,
and surprising in creative individuals (Piechowski 1999). With imagination a whole
universe of unlimited possibilities opens up to us. Imaginal experience can be real
and remembered as such, “as if it really happened.”
The subject of invisible friends (imaginary playmates) has not received much at-
tention in gifted literature other than noting that gifted children tend to have many
more such companions than other children (Terman 1925; Hollingworth 1942/1977)
and that creative adolescents often keep them from childhood (Davis 2003; Piirto
2004). That children distinguish pretend play from everyday reality is well estab-
lished (Singer 1975; Singer and Singer 1990). However, the role of invisible friends
in social development, in gaining sense of competence and overcoming fears, though
studied in regular children, has not received much attention in regard to gifted chil-
dren. Imaginary companions usually are not secret but they do belong to the child’s
own world. Attempts on the part of adults to interact with them swiftly lead to their
disappearance by natural or unnatural means (Taylor 1999). Imaginary playmates
are real to the child and one may wonder whether the experience is accompanied by
sensations of sound, warmth, or touch that are felt. The answer is that it is.
Cohen and MacKeith (1991) examined 64 accounts of imaginary worlds. The
degree of elaboration – creation of histories, languages, multiple characters (in one
case as many as 282), and the early age when they are begun (six or seven or even
younger) – indicates that the young weavers of these worlds were highly gifted. The
experience of being in an imaginary world can be “as real as real.” For example: “I
also had a magic boat in my youth for a while. It had an outboard motor but I found
that too noisy. I’ve never been clever with engines and there were always problems
about petrol, so I discarded the idea” (Cohen and MacKeith 1991, p. 57).
Imaginary is usually taken to mean not real. But imaginary playmates and
imaginary worlds are lived with the full range of sensory experience and vivid
memory. The brain appears to make little distinction between something that is
180 M.M. Piechowski
vividly imagined from something that is experienced from an outside sensory input
(Damasio 2003). Therefore, to allow for the “as real as real” quality of experience,
a more fitting term is imaginal (Singer 1975; Watkins 1990).
14.4 Emotional Energy and Funneling of Emotional Tension
Emotional overexcitability, manifested in a wide range of emotions and feelings,
addresses the passionate nature of gifted and creative people – their emotional
intensity. But it is emotional sensitivity that moves to compassion, caring, and re-
sponsibility. The significance of deep and perceptive feeling lies in empathy as a
way of knowing, another little explored ability of the gifted.
Gifted children are often misunderstood exactly because they can be so greatly
stimulated and because they perceive and process things differently. Their excite-
ment is viewed as excessive, their high energy as hyperactivity, their persistence as
nagging, their questioning as undermining authority, their imagination as not paying
attention, their persistence as being disruptive, their strong emotions and sensitivity
as immaturity, their creativity and self-directedness as oppositional disorder. They
are the wild tall poppies that many forces conspire to cut down to size (Gross 1998).
The concept of overexcitability suggests that the overall picture of an individual’s
personal energy is worth investigating. Certain situations impede the natural flow of
this energy. For a naturally active person inactivity leads to a buildup of energy,
which presses to be discharged. For a naturally active mind a boring day at school,
or at a meeting, has to be worked off by engagement in an intensely absorbing men-
tal task, otherwise sleep won’t come (Tolan 1994). Emotional tension also builds up
energy which then seeks release in nervous habits, sensual easement of tension (e.g.
drinking, eating, shopping, sex), or excessive worrying. Nervous habits and worka-
holism are a psychomotor way of funneling of emotional tension, the sensual way
lies in oral compulsions, among others (Piechowski 2006).
14.5 Emergent Themes
The varieties of expressions of each overexcitability have been collected from open-
ended questionnaires (Piechowski 2006). While quantitative studies are good for
group comparisons and catching general trends in the data, it is the content of
responses that reveals the quality of experience and features of emotional life
(Piirto 2004).1The expressions and manifestations of overexcitability have been
1Three different studies provided 158 OEQs (open-ended) with a total of about 5,000 responses
from 79 boys and 79 girls, ages 9–19; the majority were teens (??;PiechowskiandColan-
gelo 1984; Piechowski and Miller 1995). The first study used an OEQ with 46 questions,
subsequently replaced by a 21-item open-ended OEQ.
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 181
listed in a number of sources (Cline and Schwartz 1999; Piechowski 1991, 2003,
2006; Piirto 2002, 2004; Silverman 1993).
The themes that emerged from review of the responses give a fairly good
picture of the many dimensions of inner life of gifted children and adolescents
(Piechowski 2006). A sampling of themes is presented in Table 14.1. Yoo and
Moon (2006) developed a 47-item inventory of problems identified by parents of
gifted children requiring counseling. Quite a few of the items in their inventory
Table 14.1 Themes in research on the inner lives of the gifted
Piechowski (2006) Yoo and Moon (2006)
Intensity and sensitivity Hypersensitivity
High personal energy – physical and mental
Funneling of emotional tension: psychomotor: nervous
habits sensual: eating, drinking, etc. intellectual: a mind
that can’t slow down imaginal: doomsday scenarios emo-
tional: excessive worrying (expecting the worst)
Sensual delights: appreciation increases with age
Intellectual energy interest as a basic emotion the role
of empathy in intellectual probing passion for find-
ing and solving problems relentless questioning and its
consequences: resistance in others, self-doubt in one-
self testing assumptions and beliefs: adolescent crisis of
worldview spatial thinking
Low self-esteem
Imaginal experience is imagination valued or source of
annoyance? imagistic thinking, e.g., metaphors precise
visualization: spatial and vivid absorption: experiencing
with full sensory engagement communication with na-
ture invisible friends (aka imaginary companions) imag-
inary worlds how real is a self-created reality?
Emotional experience emotional intensity as “too much”
predominance of positive affect friendships transcend
stereotypes affectional bonds with family, animals, and
places the self in adolescence: elusive, fragmented, mul-
tiple, or confident sense of responsibility: the burden of
“the gift” being different perfectionism entelechy empa-
thy and a calling to action empathy as a way of knowing
triggers of conflict resistance to compulsion anger, in-
security, and self-consciousness coping with depression
coping with fears coping with death
Pressure to meet expectations
sense of being different perfec-
tionism conflict with teachers,
fighting with peers noncompliance
anger/frustration depression isola-
tion, loneliness anxiety, fearfulness
recent loss/grief suicidal ideations
Typology of emotional growth rational–altruistic (“judg-
ing” or J) emotional–introspective (“perceptive” or P)
Emotional giftedness the high end of emotional intelli-
gence
Spiritual giftedness facility for transpersonal experience
Multilevel development unilevel vs. multilevel develop-
mental process
182 M.M. Piechowski
identify similar themes, for instance, hypersensitivity, anxiety and fearfulness,
low self-esteem (self-doubt), pressure to meet expectations (burden of “the gift”),
perfectionism, conflict with teachers or classmates, noncompliance (resistance to
compulsion), depression, loss and grief (coping with death), and so on.
14.6 Intensity and Sensitivity
Emotional overexcitability is about what stimulates the person’s feelings and emo-
tions. It is further differentiated into emotional intensity and sensitivity. Emotional
sensitivity corresponds in many ways to emotional intelligence, the ability to per-
ceive and respond to nuances of emotion and feeling in others, in oneself, and in
group interactions. It may be so acute that it becomes hypersensitivity. Emotional
intensity (passion) is about the amount of energy being expressed. With some peo-
ple the intensity of their expression is so great that it may be felt as a pressure wave.
Intensity of concentration, and their passion for a subject or talent, distinguish gifted
children; as one of them said: “A passion is something that rules your life. You want
to know everything that there is to know and you want to be the best at it. An interest
is something that is cool, and you would like to know more, but if you don’t that’s
okay too” (Schultz and Delisle 2006a, p. 90).
Emotional life of the gifted encompasses so much that only a few selected themes
can be discussed (Table 14.1). In the responses to the OEQ positive feelings pre-
dominate. The dominant affect tends to be love, compassion, caring, optimism,
appreciation of beauty, and the like. Bonds of deep affection involve parents and
siblings, pets and favorite places, whether it is grandma’s house, an orchard, a spot
by the river, or backstage of the school theater.
The role of contact with nature in our emotional well-being has received very lit-
tle attention. With the worsening environmental condition of the planet and growing
urbanization, the opportunity for children to spend time in nature and explore it has
all but vanished (Louv 2005).
Younger children have much empathy for the natural world. They empathize with
a wilting plant, a tree whose limb is cut off, a crushed spider, and rise in indignation
against maltreatment of living things. We belittle it by calling it animism because
we don’t see the moral imagination of the child who identifies with what is living
and seems sentient. This feeling is extended to stuffed animals or any objects of
which the child is especially fond. When we grow up we still do it, too, when we
identify with our car or piece of jewelry (Piechowski 2006).
Gifted adolescents describe friendships in terms of intuitive connection and
mutual understanding on a deep level. Friendships transcend gender stereotypes
and are as easily formed between boys and girls as between boys only or girls
only. Introverted and nonathletic gifted youngsters have a particularly difficult
time finding friends – they are a minority (nonathletic) within a minority (gifted),
which may be further compounded by any degree of “geekiness” (Anderegg 2007;
Tannenbaum 1962).
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 183
Being intense is an ineradicable part of the gifted self. To most people being
intense means “too much,” creating an obvious challenge to find friends of similar
level of intensity and passion. When asked how they see their own self (identity),
some said that their self is unknown, elusive, or hidden; some described themselves
in opposites. For example, a 16-year gifted girl said: “For every adjective I can
think of there is one that contradicts it entirely: artistic but can’t write neatly (so
you’ve seen), lovable, yet a bitch; shy but loud, mature but silly, calm but ‘spastic,’
together yet ready for a nervous breakdown” (Piechowski 2006, p. 174). Others saw
themselves as competent yet highly self-aware and weighed down by the burden of
“the gift.” For example, a 17-year old boy said this about himself (Piechowski 2006,
p. 178):
I am an existence perched in a precarious balance above the abyss of failure, sorrow, despair,
and everything else associated with people of misfortune. I am held up by a few slender
supports, among them self-confidence and a few raw talents and abilities. Forces weighing
down on these supports...are the responsibility accompanying ability and the expectations
of others... . The supports have bent but not broken, dipping into the chasm, but always
rebounding with renewed strength.
Struggles with self-doubt, low self-concept, and lack of self-acceptance are com-
mon. In adolescence the self keeps changing – awareness of having many selves,
or even being split into a thousand fragments, is not unusual. It’s part of emotional
growing and developing one’s identity, which may be intensified in the process of
multilevel development.
Because they are aware of the larger picture and their frame of reference may be
the whole universe, gifted adolescents may feel as a little “insignificant human speck
in the vast universe trying to make something of itself but will probably not succeed”
(words of a 15-year old, Piechowski 2006, p. 172). But they can also feel predestined
for their mission in life, an inner imperative called entelechy (Lovecky 1990). In
such cases the qualities of will and self-determination become prominent and will
clash with compulsory demands and authoritarian commands.
For gifted young people it is not always easy to admit being talented. The ex-
pectations of others for gifted children “to fulfill their potential” (as if one could
know what that is) create pressure that is an unwelcome burden, because already
one of the outstanding dominant traits of most gifted young people is a feeling of
responsibility. Expectations and pressures from others rob them of their own initia-
tive only to make the responsibility weigh all the more heavily on their shoulders.
They are well aware of it. The question, who owns “the gift,” is rarely considered
(Clark 2005).
14.7 Sense of Fairness and Empathy: A Natural Response
The value of working for the common good is something gifted children understand
readily. One teacher of the gifted said this about the difference in teaching gifted
and regular students:
184 M.M. Piechowski
One thing I have not realized until I returned to the regular classroom was that gifted
students’ heightened ability to perceive connections meant that I extensively used their em-
pathy for others to teach broad concepts at a depth I find difficult to even start to address
with my current classes. The empathy made the abstract very personal. Most of my current
students cannot get beyond their own narrow world, and for some, not even beyond their
skins. (Frank 2006, p. 166)
Gifted children’s quick empathic response to the needs of others, their mis-
fortunes and tragedies has been well documented (Lewis 1992; Lovecky 1992;
Piechowski 2003; Roeper 2004, 2008; Silverman 1994; Waldman 2001) yet, ob-
viously, it is not true of all gifted children. The statement quoted above shows the
gifted students’ capacity for empathy as a way of knowing. Sense of fairness and
empathy are strong feelings that compel a person to act – to offer help when help is
needed, to oppose injustice, to redress wrongs suffered by innocent persons. It’s the
essence of moral action.
The capacity for empathy as part of gifted children’s intellectual makeup is some-
thing that deserves more attention. We have come late upon the knowledge that
rational thought is ineffectual without feeling. In a study of individuals who showed
a curious defect – an ability to solve moral problems through reasoning but inability
to respond to emotionally charged pictures of human suffering – a lesion was found
that severed the connection between the reasoning and feeling functions of the brain
(Damasio 1994). A patient with this type of lesion remains unimpaired on tests of
intelligence, moral reasoning, and the like. The impairment is revealed in the lack
of emotional response to human tragedy and the inability to arrive at a decision
when given the choice to exercise preference for, say, Wednesday versus Friday for
the next appointment. In Damasio’s view, this exposed the error in Descartes’ say-
ing “I think therefore I am” instead of “I feel therefore I am,” and, one might add,
“Because I feel, I can evaluate my reasoning.” Evaluation as a process of appraisal
involves feeling to decide that something is more desirable or less desirable than the
alternative (Bowlby 1969). Centuries of placing reasoning above feeling now seems
a pretty foolish enterprise since one cannot work properly without the other.
Tannenbaum (1998) pointed out that we tend to look at giftedness only in positive
light and that we leave out gifted people who do harm, whether on a small or large
scale. For a gifted person without emotional overexcitability there is no imperative
to feel compassion or to be moved to altruistic action. To be effectual, morals and
ethics need the engine of the heart. One-sided, harsh emotions like ambition, striving
for power, ruthless competition, a drive to win at all cost (without regard for cost
to others) can be found in gifted people lacking compassion and caring. There is
no lack of examples: a secretary’s of defense fascination with precision bombs, a
Nobel Prize winner making inappropriate remarks about female brains, financial
whizzes and manipulators bringing ruin on thousands of people, amoral presidential
advisers, writers and film makers depicting violence and evil for their thrill value,
and the list goes on.
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 185
14.8 What Causes Conflict for the Gifted
Being gifted inevitably leads to conflict. Gifted adolescents described their con-
flict with those who brag, are insensitive and irresponsible. Clearly, these behaviors
offend their empathy, caring and sense of fairness. A frequently mentioned con-
flict arises with teachers who do not accept students’ views, their knowledge,
and their questions, in short, teachers who do not show respect for their students
(Piechowski 2006; Schultz and Delisle 2006a, b).
Being forced to act against one’s will raises resistance to compulsion, a much
overlooked but very basic phenomenon (Seligman 1975; Piechowski 2006). Gifted
students, and the creative ones especially, react very strongly and viscerally when
they are denied choice and respect. Procrastination, refusal to work, as well as learn-
ing difficulties are born from this kind of resistance. Also being forced to adhere to a
belief one has not chosen. The students then assert, by any means possible, their self,
individual identity, right to be heard, respected, and given choice (Roeper 1998). In
such situations resisting to be dominated could be viewed as taking a moral stance
to preserves one’s integrity.
They have fears. Holding to a high standard for themselves they fear making a
fool of themselves. Those who are introverted and emotionally sensitive tend to lack
self-confidence and suffer agonies when having to speak in front of an audience.
They fear not doing well, of not being the best (many are those who feel they have
to be the best), they fear failing in their responsibilities, not fulfilling their goals. As
one boy said, the list of possible failures is pretty frightening (Piechowski 2006).
They also think of death, a subject that has received too little attention in gifted
literature and in school. As one boy said, “can’t ask questions related to life, only
the textbook” (Schultz and Delisle 2006a, p. 53). Grant (2002, p. 13) observed, “the
important topics in educating gifted children are self, meaning, sex, relationship,
community, life, purpose, ethics, spirituality – the Most Important Things in Life,
subjects that are for the most part avoided. Thinking of death makes some gifted
children delve into the meaning of their role in life. Encountering violent death of
others – by accident and murder – forces such questions with even greater urgency.
Not all are afraid of death. Some expressed curiosity about the process of dying and
wished to be able, when the time comes, to be conscious of their own dying and
making the transition into the great unknown. Others, however, feared the finality
of death and especially of their parents and loved ones more than their own. As for
explanation of what happens after death they are divided between those who accept
standard explanations offered by religion and those who don’t (Piechowski 2006).
Gifted adolescents prefer to cope with their problems on their own. In a study
of bullying, Peterson and Ray (2006) found that rather than report it and ask for
help, gifted students chose to handle it themselves. Sometimes it meant to just grit
their teeth, endure, and not complain. This may explain why despite their overex-
citabilities, the suicide rate of gifted young people is not higher than their nongifted
counterparts (Cross 1996; Cross et al. 2006).
186 M.M. Piechowski
14.9 Emotional Giftedness
Emotionally gifted children have deep empathy and respond to the needs and hurts
of others (Roeper 1982). Such children cannot rest until they have set things right
for others. This is especially noteworthy when the other is a stranger or someone
disliked, e.g., when a child makes a special effort to be friendly to the class bully as
did one 10-year old girl. Intimidating others, she explained, was his way of cover-
ing his own insecurity. Another girl, upset over her teacher’s unfair treatment of a
classmate, took her own paper, tore it into pieces and threw it into the wastebasket
to show her moral outrage at the teacher’s prejudice. There are also mediators and
peacemakers. Terry, a gifted 9-year old was a natural leader but he often held back
when he worked in groups to allow others to shine. One day he defended an “at risk”
student, a boy who received a black eye in a wrestling tournament. The other boys
teased him about the incident and embarrassed him. Terry told them, “you all know
it was an accident so drop the subject.” His tone was so sincere and authoritative
that the boys ceased their teasing.
To be emotionally gifted is to dare to act on one’s awareness. If there are hun-
gry people one feeds them and makes sure they won’t go hungry from now on. If
one sees someone in distress one offers relief. Unfairness and injustice call for de-
fending people’s rights. Strongly felt caring becomes the motivation for altruistic
behavior.
Strongly felt empathy moves quickly to action. Heather Tobis Booth, co-director
of Citizen Action in Chicago recalled how, when she first encountered injustice, she
reacted instantly (Witty 1991):
I was in first grade at P.S. 200. I arrived in the schoolyard one morning and saw a little
black boy named Benjamin surrounded by some other kids. They were picking up stones
and starting to throw them, because they believed he had stolen this girl’s lunch money. I
ran up to him and stood beside him. And they stopped. I remember thinking something like
“you don’t treat people like this.
Compassion may move a youngster to personal sacrifice. A highly gifted high
school student decided that after graduation he was not going to the university but
to work with the homeless.
There are many preteens and early teens who take up social action on behalf of
others, actions that become large scale operations extending over many states, or
even many nations. For example, raising thousands of dollars for deaf and blind
children, victims of abuse, sending over 100,000 books to African children, pro-
viding suitcases for children going into foster homes, providing kid packs for
children victims of domestic violence whose parents are in jail, are only a few
of the ingenious, effective organizational efforts that are motivated by compas-
sion in these very young people (Lewis 1991; Piechowski 2003; Silverman 1994;
Waldman 2001).
Emotional giftedness represents the high end of emotional intelligence. Mayer
et al. (2001) devised ways of measuring components of emotional intelligence.
In one of their tests they asked teenagers how they handled emotionally difficult
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 187
situations: “Think about the last time you were out with some friends and they
wanted to do something you were uncomfortable with.” Mayer et al. hypothesized
that emotionally gifted adolescents will resist going along with unsavory intentions
of their friends. The results confirmed the hypothesis. Consequently the concept of
emotional giftedness was validated. The biological basis of emotional giftedness
becomes open to research with the discovery of mirror neurons. These neurons are
engaged in empathy and understanding the moods and intentions of others. They are
more strongly activated in people who score higher on an empathy scale (Gazzola
et al. 2006).
Emotional giftedness at advanced level of development is represented by Eleanor
Roosevelt, Etty Hillesum, Peace Pilgrim, Paul Robeson, A. J. Muste, Bishop
Tutu, all profoundly spiritual persons, and can be also found in case studies of
self-actualizing people (Brennan and Piechowski 1991; Mr´
oz 2002; Payne 1987;
Piechowski 1990). In their research on moral commitment, Ann Colby and William
Damon studied 23 moral exemplars who dedicated their lives to the poor, world
peace, civil rights, ethics in business and in medicine, sanctuary movement, and the
like (Colby and Damon 1992). They found that those who were moved to action
by compassion had an easier time keeping a peaceful heart than those who were
fighting social injustice. In other words, being inspired by altruistic love appears to
diminish conflict and friction. Fighting for social justice makes conflict and friction
unavoidable.
The first piece of research exploring the application of Dabrowski’s theory to
the personality of a teacher of the gifted is Frank’s (2006) study of an inspirational
teacher. The criteria of multilevelness applied by Frank revealed an authentic indi-
vidual, thoughtfully and deliberately engaged in a teaching grounded in the moral
foundation of his advanced level of development. The effectiveness of this teacher
lay in his Socratic method as an empathic and moral education that can be called
teaching for life in the truest sense.
14.10 Positive Maladjustment
Mayer et al. (2001) realized that the young people in their study who took a stand
in opposition to peer pressure displayed what Dabrowski named positive malad-
justment. Positive maladjustment is a term for opposition to unethical behavior and
moral compromise, self-interest and prejudice. It means standing by one’s ideals and
having the fortitude to stand alone (Dabrowski 1970). When empathy and sense of
justice inspire action to help and protect others then emotional giftedness and pos-
itive maladjustment overlap (Piechowski 1997a). Resisting peer pressure for drugs,
sex, and subversive acts are examples of positive maladjustment in which empathy
and caring play a lesser role.
Standing by one’s beliefs and ideals is not uncommon for gifted teens. Here
are two examples (Piechowski 2006). A 16-year old gifted student was asked the
question How well do you like being all by yourself? She replied:
188 M.M. Piechowski
Depends – all on the circumstances. I can take standing alone – if I have to. I spent 7 years
of my life (almost 7) as a social outcast because I refused to conform to some demands of
my society or couldn’t conform to others – I’m not at all likely to be afraid of ostracism
now.
To be true to oneself may indeed require a person to stand alone at times. The
following is a reply to What situations bring you in conflict with others? A 16-year
old girl said:
My opinions are quite different from other students my age. This many times brings conflict
between someone in my class and myself. For example, many kids in my class don’t think
drinking is dangerous and I do. I don’t believe in it and I believe it is a waste of time.
This sometimes causes a hassle. Another thing my classmates disagree with me on is styles.
Many students buy clothes because they are “in style.” I don’t. If I like them I get them, if I
hate them I leave them at the store “in style” or not! (Piechowski, 2006, p. 209)
14.11 Fostering Emotional Growth as Character Development
Examining emotional life leads to the question of how to give it proper attention and
help cultivate it. One way is to lead psychosynthesis exercises, or any other guided
imagery designed with similar focus. Psychosynthesis techniques are designed for
personal and spiritual growth (Ferrucci 1982). Among the principal elements of
personal growth are: training one’s will as an executive faculty (i.e., operating by
choosing a course of action rather than forcing oneself), training for concentration,
learning about different parts of one’s personality, finding one’s inner authority and
guidance from within, working toward a synthesis of conflicting parts of oneself,
practicing a sense of purpose (Piechowski 2006, Chapter 20).
I have been leading psychosynthesis exercises for a number of years, first with
undergraduate students, then with gifted children aged 10–17 (Piechowski 2006,
Chapter 20). Gifted children, with very few exceptions, have great capacity for de-
tailed visualization and absorption in the imaginal experience. These techniques
have also been adapted for elementary age children (Fugitt 2001; Murdock 1988).
Another way of attending to emotional life is through group process devoted to emo-
tionally charged issues. In a safe space, where no judgment or criticism is allowed
to interfere with the process, teens discuss feelings, family, relationships, and the
future (Peterson 1995).
14.12 Emotional Growth and Psychological Types
Jung’s (1971) concept of psychological type identifies four continuous personal-
ity dimensions from extroversion to introversion (E–I), from sensation to intuition
(S–N), and from thinking to feeling (T–F). One would expect these dimensions to
correspond to the overexcitabilities, for instance thinking to intellectual or feeling
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 189
to emotional. However, there is very little correlation between overexcitabilities
and these dimensions (low correlation for sensual and imaginational with F, and
no correlation for psychomotor, intellectual, and emotional). The reason is this:
the Jungian dimensions are different constructs from overexcitabilities. They re-
fer to habitual ways of dealing with the data of experience, the overexcitabilities
refer to the heightened capacities for both apprehending and generating the data
of experience (Lysy and Piechowski 1983). A further distinction into judging
(J) and perceiving (P) was introduced by Myers and Myers-Briggs (Myers and
Myers 1995). There is a significant correlation (.37) between imaginational overex-
citability and type P (Lysy and Piechowski).
The gifted are evenly divided between extroverts and introverts (Hawkins 1998;
Cross et al. 2006). The higher the level of giftedness, the frequency of both the
intuitive (N) and the perceiving (P) type rises dramatically (Meckstroth 2006). The
highly gifted Rhodes scholars are more than ten to one intuitive, and type P is close
to twice as frequent as type J. In the general population of high school students it is
just the opposite: the intuitive type is about five times less frequent than the sensation
type (Myers and Myers 1995). This is one significant source for the gifted feeling
“different,” consequently not fitting in school – their predominant type is opposite
of that of mainstream students and teachers (Cross et al. 2006). The prevalence of
the intuitive type is consistent with higher frequency of multilevel developmental
potential among the gifted.
Myers and Myers (1995) described the “judging” type as oriented toward action
by personal executive power of will and choice, while the “perceiving” type as ori-
ented toward embracing experience: “The judging types believe that life should be
willed and decided, while the perceptive types regard life as something to be ex-
perienced and understood” (p. 69). From analysis of responses rated as emotional
overexcitability two types of emotional growth have been identified in gifted ado-
lescents: rational–altruistic and introspective (Piechowski 1989). They correspond
exactly to the judging/perceiving distinction. Thus one validates the other as the two
typologies were derived independently.
The rational–altruistic type so far has not been analyzed into internal compo-
nents. The introspective type has eight intrapersonal components. Although on the
surface people of the J type, being organized and planful, fit society’s yardstick for
defining a “good citizen” they are nevertheless capable of deep inner life (Lysy and
Piechowski 1983; Piechowski 2006). Schools clearly prefer J type students because
they tend toward achievement and tend not to buck the system unless their logical
thinking and strong sense of fairness see a violation of basic principles and rights.
14.13 Multilevel Development
Theories that address moral development tend toward a “progression from rigid-
ity, self-absorption, and dependence on authority to more sophistication, flexibility
and independence as mature persons” but differ as to “what causes movement from
190 M.M. Piechowski
one stage to the next” (Tannenbaum 1998, p. 99). For Dabrowski true moral de-
velopment begins with the experience of inner conflict between lower and higher
levels in oneself. The lower levels contain all that one finds in oneself unbecom-
ing, even disgusting and reprehensible. The higher levels contain all that one finds
desirable and ideal. It is a “multilevel” conflict. This concept of “multilevelness”
can be applied to almost any behavior and human phenomenon. Its great value lies
in making possible to sort out experience and behavior according to level. For in-
stance love on a low level will be possessive, dominating, and controlling, while
love on a high level will be nonpossessive and with the highest regard for the
object of love (Dabrowski 1977). The theory found confirmation in cross-cultural
validation of overexcitability profiles and in several empirical tests (Falk et al.
1997, 2008; Piechowski 1975, 2008).2Dabrowski linked the potential for multi-
level development with the strength of emotional, intellectual, and imaginational
overexcitabilities.
For the understanding of emotional growth of gifted children, the distinction
between a unilevel and a multilevel developmental process is the most relevant
(Piechowski 2008). In unilevel process values are relative rather than universal, in-
ner conflicts are recycled rather than resolved, relationships with others do not have
a steady footing. Trying every new trend, following fads, being guided primarily by
others’ opinions is an individual without a psychological center. The shifting nature
of the person’s identity depends on the circumstances. Such is often the self of an
adolescent. When the process intensifies it becomes unilevel disintegration.
A change comes when the person begins to tire of this state of affairs with its
meaningless emotional treading water and growing malaise. The search for a way
out starts with the realization of the possibility of a more meaningful focus in life.
A sense of higher and lower in oneself opens new horizons. Sensing the possibility
of something higher in oneself engenders the feeling of inferiority, not to others but
toward oneself. It is an inferiority before one’s unrealized, more evolved and ideal
self. Soon this feeling of inferiority toward oneself is followed by an array of inner
currents and rifts with descriptive names like disquietude with oneself, dissatisfac-
tion with oneself, positive maladjustment, and so on. What they all have in common
is the vertical axis of self-evaluation, that judges the distance from the higher in
oneself, which attracts, and grows a stronger reaction against the lower in oneself,
which repels. Dabrowski firmly believed that moral exemplars share human values
that are universal. His theory details out the process of development through inner
transformation (Dabrowski 1967).
When we can spot in a young person an inner dialogue, self-judgment, distress
over a moral conflict, we have in front of us a multilevel process. The intro-
2Additional empirical support comes by way of a positive correlation (.44) between the Jungian
intuitive type (N) and developmental level, and that all five overexcitabilities correlated with de-
velopmental level: psychomotor .26, sensual .31, intellectual .57, imaginational .38, emotional .59
(Lysy and Piechowski 1983). Furthermore, on detailed scrutiny, Dabrowski’s construct of Level IV
corresponds exactly to Maslow’s description of self-actualizing people (Piechowski 2008). When
two independent sets of observations and constructs converge, we can be confident that a real
phenomenon has been identified.
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 191
spective emotional growth mentioned earlier, has eight components, which help
recognize the specifics of the multilevel emotional development in adolescents.
They are: (1) awareness of growing and changing, (2) awareness of feelings, interest
in others and empathy toward them, (3) occasional feelings of unreality, (4) inner
dialogue, (5) self-examination, (6) self-judgment, (7) searching, problem-finding,
asking existential questions, and (8) awareness of one’s real self (Piechowski 1989;
2006). The values in such a process can be both individual and universal; the feelings
toward oneself can be rife with inner conflict or they can be showing an emergent
self-direction; feelings towards others will be sincerely democratic and displaying
awareness of interdependence. In cases of intense inner conflict, suffering, inner
seeking, and depression, the process becomes multilevel disintegration.Thispro-
cess may become very deep and may be misunderstood. How to read the signs and
how to assist through counseling has been described elsewhere (Jackson et al. 2009;
Jackson and Moyle 2009).
Let me close with an example of a boy awakening to the realization that com-
petition in which there are winners and losers clashes with the virtue of caring, a
distinctly moral concern. Here are replies, two years apart, from a boy confronted
with asking himself, Who am I? When he was 15 he wrote: “I feel that I am a person
who is on the earth that is destined to use his abilities and talents to his fullest. This
is simply what I think I really am.” He gave it much thought over the next two years.
At 17 he recognized a moral conflict between getting ahead and being considerate
of others (Piechowski 2006, p. 210):
The answer to this question has changed over the past few years. A few years ago I was a
person who wanted things for himself. Now I am trying to change that person to a person
who wants to contribute to others and the world not just himself. Obtaining this type of
person in this world is not that easy. The one thing that is a roadblock is competition. Not
necessarily losing to other people, but beating them. How can I compete to get into medical
school when a doctor is supposed to build people’s confidence and restore their sense of
security? The process is self-defeating.
It is not hard to see that this kind of thinking guided the lives of Gandhi, Eleanor
Roosevelt, Paul Robeson, Peace Pilgrim, Bishop Tutu, and many others who follow
their inner voice.
References
Ackerman, C. (1997). Identifying gifted adolescents using personality characteristics: Dabrowski’s
overexcitabilities. Roeper Review,19, 229–236.
Anderegg, D. (2007). Who they are and why we need more of them. New York: Jeremy P.
Tarcher/Penguin.
Bouchard, L. L. (2004). An instrument for the measure of Dabrowskian overexcitabilities to iden-
tify gifted elementary students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 48, 339–350.
Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss (Vol. 1). Attachment. New York: Basic Books.
Brennan, T. P., & Piechowski, M. M. (1991). A developmental framework for self-actualization:
Evidence from case studies. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31, 43–64.
Clark, C. (2005). Personal communication, 12 February 2005.
192 M.M. Piechowski
Cline, S., & Schwartz, D. (1999). Diverse populations of gifted children. Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Merrill/Prentice-Hall.
Cohen, D., & MacKeith, S. A. (1991). The development of imagination: The private worlds of
childhood. London: Routledge.
Colby, A., & Damon, W. (1992). Some do care: Contemporary lives of moral commitment.New
York: Free Press.
Cross, T. L. (1996). Examining claims about gifted children and suicide. Gifted Child Today, 19,
46–48.
Cross, T. L., Cassady, J. C., & Miller, K. A. (2006). Suicide ideation and personality characteristics
among gifted adolescents. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50, 295–306.
Dabrowski, K. (1967). Personality-shaping through positive disintegration. Boston, MA: Little,
Brown.
Dabrowski, K. (1970). Mental growth through positive disintegration. London: Gryf.
Dabrowski, K. (1977). Theory of levels of emotional development (Vol. 1). Oceanside, NY: Dabor.
Damasio, A. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Putnam.
Damasio, A. (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain. Orlando, FL:
Harcourt.
Davis, G. A. (2003). Identifying creative students, teaching for creative growth. In N. Colangelo &
G. A. Davis (Eds.). Handbook of gifted education, 3rd ed. (pp. 311–324). Boston, MA: Allyn
& Bacon.
Falk, R. F., Manzanero, J. B., & Miller, N. B. (1997). Developmental potential in Venezuelan and
American artists: A cross-cultural validity study. Creativity Research Journal, 10, 201–206.
Falk, R. F., Yakmaci-Guzel, B., Balderas, R. A., Chang, A., Sanz, P. S., & Chavez-Eakle, R. A.
(2008). Measuring overexcitabilities: Replication across five countries. In S. Mendaglio (Ed.).
Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration (pp. 183–199). Scottsdale, AZ: Gifted Potential
Press.
Ferrucci, P. (1982). What we may be: Techniques for psychological and spiritual growth.New
York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
Frank, J. (2006). Portrait of an inspirational teacher of the gifted. Unpublished doctoral disserta-
tion, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.
Fugitt, E. D. (2001). He hit me back first! Development of the will in children for making choices.
Torrance, CA: Jalmar Press.
Gazzola, V., Aziz-Zadeh, L., & Keysers, C. (2006). Empathy and the somatotopic auditory mirror
system in humans. Current Biology, 16, 1824–1829.
Grant, B. (2002). Looking through the Glasses: J. D. Salinger’s wise children and gifted education.
Gifted Child Quarterly, 46, 6–14.
Gross, M. (1998). The “me” behind the mask: Intellectually gifted students and the search for
identity. Roeper Review, 20, 167–173.
Hawkins, J. (1998) Giftedness and psychological type. Journal for Secondary Gifted Education, 9,
57–67.
Hollingworth, L. S. (1942/1977). Children above 180 IQ. New York: Octagon Books.
Izard, C. E. (1971). The face of emotion. New York: Apple-Century-Croft.
Jackson, P. S. and Moyle, V. F. (2009). Integrating the intense experience: Counseling and clinical
applications, 105–125.
Jackson, P. S., Moyle, V. F., & Piechowski, M. M. (2009). Emotional life and psychotherapy in
light of Dabrowski’s theory, 439–467.
James, W. (1902). The varieties of religious experience. New York: Modern Library.
Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological types. Collected works (Vol. 6). London: Routledge & Kegan
Paul.
Lewis, B. (1992). Kids with courage. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel
Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
Lovecky, D. V. (1990). Warts and rainbows: Issues in the psychotherapy of the gifted. Advanced
Development, 2, 65–83.
14 The Inner World of the Young and Bright 193
Lovecky, D. V. (1992). Exploring social and emotional aspects of giftedness in children. Roeper
Review, 15, 18–25.
Lysy, K. Z., & Piechowski, M. M. (1983). Personal growth: An empirical study using Jungian and
Dabrowskian measures. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 108, 267–320.
Mayer, J. D., Perkins, D. M., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2001). Emotional intelligence and
giftedness. Roeper Review, 23, 131–137.
Meckstroth, E. A. (2006). Personal communication, 3 August, 2006.
Myers, I. B., & Myers, P. B. (1995). Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Palo Alto,
CA: Davies-Black.
Mr´
oz, A. (2002). Rozw´
oj osoby wedlug teorii dezyntegracji pozytywnej Kazimierza Dabrowskiego
(Individual development according to Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration). Unpub-
lished doctoral dissertation, Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland.
Murdock, M. (1988). Spinning inward: Using guided imagery with children for learning, creativity
& relaxation. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Payne, C. (1987). A psychobiographical study of the emotional development of a controversial
protest leader. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
Peterson, J. S. (1995). Talk with teens about feelings, family, relationships, and the future.Min-
neapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Peterson, J. S., & Ray, K. E. (2006). Bullying among the gifted: The subjective experience. Gifted
Child Quarterly, 50, 252–269.
Piechowski, M. M. (1975). A theoretical and empirical approach to the study of development.
Genetic Psychology Monographs, 92, 231–297.
Piechowski, M. M. (1989). Developmental potential and the growth of the self. In J. VanTassel-
Baska & P. Olszewski-Kubilius (Eds.). Patterns of influence on gifted learners: The home, the
school, and the self (pp. 87–101). New York: Teachers College Press.
Piechowski, M. M. (1990). Inner growth and transformation in the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. Ad-
vanced Development, 2, 35–53.
Piechowski, M. M. (1991). Emotional development and emotional giftedness. In N. Colangelo &
G. Davis (Eds.). Handbook of gifted education (pp. 285–306). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Piechowski, M. M. (1992). Giftedness for all seasons: Inner peace in time of war. In N. Colangelo,
S. G. Assouline, & D. L. Ambroson (Eds.). Talent development. Proceedings of the 1991
Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development.
Unionville, NY: Trillium Press.
Piechowski, M. M. (1997a). Emotional giftedness: The measure of intrapersonal intelligence. In
N. Colangelo & G. A. Davis (Eds.). The handbook of gifted education, 2nd ed. Boston, MA:
Allyn & Bacon.
Piechowski, M. M. (1997b). Emotional giftedness: An expanded view. Apex, A New Zealand Jour-
nal of Gifted Education, 10, 37–47.
Piechowski, M. M. (1999). Overexcitabilities. In M. Runco & S. Pritzker (Eds.). Encyclopedia of
creativity. New York: Academic.
Piechowski, M. M. (2003). From William James to Maslow and Dabrowski: Excitability of char-
acter and self-actualization. In D. Ambrose, L. Cohen, & A. J. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Creative
intelligence: Toward a theoretic integration (pp. 283–322). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
Piechowski, M. M. (2006). “Mellow out,” they say. If I only could: Intensities and sensitivities of
the young and bright. Madison, WI: Yunasa Books.
Piechowski, M. M. (2008). Discovering Dabrowski’s theory. In S. Mendaglio (Ed.). Dabrowski’s
theory of positive disintegration (pp. 41–77). Scottsdale, AZ: Gifted Potential Press.
Piechowski, M. M., & Colangelo, N. (1984). Developmental potential of the gifted. Gifted Child
Quarterly, 28, 80–88.
Piechowski, M. M., & Miller, N. B. (1995). Assessing developmental potential in gifted children:
A comparison of methods. Roeper Review, 17, 176–180.
Piirto, J. (2002). “My teeming brain”: Understanding creative writers. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton
Press.
Piirto, J. (2004). Understanding creativity. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.
194 M.M. Piechowski
Roeper, A. (1982). How gifted cope with their emotions. Roeper Review, 5, 21–24.
Roeper, A. (1998). The “I” of the beholder: An essay on the self, its existence, and its power.
Roeper Review, 20, 144–149.
Roeper, A. (2004). My life experiences with gifted children. Denver: DeLeon.
Roeper, A. (2008). Global awareness and gifted children. Roeper Review, 30, 8–10.
Schultz, R. A., & Delisle, J. R. (2006a) Smart talk: What kids say about growing up gifted.
Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Schultz, R. A., & Delisle, J. R. (2006b). More than a test score: Teens talk about being gifted,
talented, or otherwise extra-ordinary. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Seligman, M. E. P. (1975). Helplessness. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.
Silverman, L. K. (Ed.). (1993). Counseling the gifted and talented. Denver: Love.
Silverman, L. K. (1994). The moral sensitivity of gifted children and the evolution of society.
Roeper Review, 17, 110–116.
Singer, J. L. (1975). The inner world of daydreaming.NewYork:Harper&Row.
Singer D. G., & Singer, J. L. (1990). The house of make-believe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
Tannenbaum, A. J. (1962). Adolescents’ attitudes toward academic brilliance. New York: Bureau
of Publications, Columbia University.
Tannenbaum, A. J. (1998). Giftedness: The ultimate instrument for good and evil. In N. Colangelo
&S.G.Assouline(Eds.).Talent development IV. Proceedings of the 1998 Henry B. and Jocelyn
Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development (pp. 89–120). Scottsdale, AZ:
Great Potential Press.
Taylor, M. (1999). Imaginary companions and the children who create them. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Terman, L. M. (1925). Mental and physical traits of a thousand gifted children (Vol. 1). Stanford,
CA: Stanford University Press.
Tieso, C. L. (2007). Patterns of overexcitabilities in identified gifted students and their parents:
A hierarchical model. Gifted Child Quarterly, 51, 11–22.
Tolan, S. S. (1994). Psychomotor overexcitability in the gifted: An expanded perspective. Ad-
vanced Development, 6, 77–86.
Waldman, J. (2001). Teens with the courage to give. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press.
Watkins, M. (1990). Invisible guests: The development of imaginal dialogues. Boston, MA: Sigo
Press.
Witty, M. C. (1991). Life history studies of committed lives. Ph.D. dissertation. Northwestern
University, Evanston, IL.
Yoo, J. E., & Moon, S. M. (2006). Counseling needs of gifted students: An analysis of intake forms
at a university-based counseling center. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50, 52–61.
... Anak berbakat (gifted) merupakan anak yang memiliki karakteristik berbeda dengan anak pada umumnya. Salah satu karakteristik dari anak berbakat adalah energi yang lebih tinggi dari anak-anak pada umumnya, baik secara fisik, intelektual, maupun emosional (Piechowski, 2009). Silverman (2005) menyebut hal tersebut sebagai sensitivitas dan intensitas. ...
... Dabrowski (1972) mendefinisikan overexcitability sebagai daya tanggap yang lebih tinggi dari rata-rata terhadap sebuah rangsangan, yang diwujudkan baik oleh eksitabilitas sensual, psikomotor, emosional, imajinasi, dan intelektual, maupun kombinasi dari padanya. Singkatnya overexcitability merupakan kemampuan terstimulasi yang sangat tinggi dan mempertahankanya dalam waktu yang lama (Piechowski, 2009). Penggunaan kata over dalam overexcitability menunjukkan lebih dari sekedar eksitabilitas (kemampuan merespon), yang digunakan untuk menyampaikan pemikiran bahwa overexcitability tersebut merupakan jenis yang khusus dari eksitabilitas, yakni yang ditingkatkan dan dibedakan oleh bentukbentuk karakteristik ekspresi (Piechowski, 1979). ...
... Dabrowski (1964) menyatakan bahwa overexcitability dapat mempercepat perkembangan individu, namun di sisi lain dapat mengarah pada fase awal dari neurosis dan psikoneurosis. Sebagai contoh, pikiran yang intens (intelectual overexcitability) bukan hanya memberikan dampak pada pemahaman yang komprehensif dan banyaknya ide yang dihasilkan, akan tetapi aktivitas pikiran yang intens juga dapat bermanifestasi pada sikap tidak berhenti untuk bertanya yang dapat mengakibatkan keraguan diri (self-doubt) dan ketakutan menjadi gila (Piechowski, 2009). Dengan adanya dampak positif dan negatif dari overexcitability Tieso (2007) menekankan bahwa peneliti dan praktisi perlu mengembangkan strategi intervensi yang akan meningkatkan karakteristik positif dari overexcitabilty sekaligus mengajarkan untuk mengkompensasi karakteristik negatifnya. ...
Article
Full-text available
Overexcitability is a special characteristic of gifted which lead to a higher level of development. Overexcitability not only has a positive effect, but aslo has a negative effect. The variations in the level and form of overexcitability possessed by gifted raises the question of whether the main attributes of giftedness, namely intelligence and creativity, are predictors of overexcitability itself. This research was conducted to examine the effect of intelligence and creativity on overexcitability. Sample of this study includes 173 students of SMAN 2 Tangerang Selatan. Overexcitability measured by Overexcitability Questionnaire II (OEQ II). OEQ II was adapted based on Indonesian culture. Intellegence measured by Culture Fair Intellegence Test (CFIT). Creativity measured by Tes Kreativitas Figural (TKF). The results of this study indicate that intelligence and creativity together significantly affect overexcitability by 7.9%. However, dimensional analysis show that intelligence and creativity significantly affects sensual, intellectual, and imaginational overexcitability. Abstrak Overexcitability merupakan karakteristik khusus dari anak berbakat yang mengarahkan pada level perkembangan tertinggi. Selain berpengaruh positif, Overexcitability juga bisa berpengaruh negatif. Adanya variasi dari level dan bentuk overexcitability yang dimiliki oleh anak berbakat menimbulkan pertanyaan apakah atribut utama dari keberbakatan, yakni kecerdasan dan kreativitas, yang menjadi prediktor dari overexcitability. Penelitian ini dilakukan untuk menguji signifikansi pengaruh kecerdasan dan kreativitas terhadap overexcitability. Sampel yang dilibatkan dalam penelitian ini adalah 173 siswa kelas X SMAN 2 Tangerang Selatan. Instrumen yang digunakan untuk mengukur overexcitability adalah Overexcitability Questionnaire II (OEQ II) yang telah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia dan diadaptasi berdasarkan budaya Indonesia. Instrumen yang digunakan untuk mengukur kecerdasan adalah Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CFIT). Sedangkan instrumen yang digunakan untuk mengukur kreativitas adalah Tes Kreativitas Figural (TKF). Hasil penelitian menunjukkan kecerdasan dan kreativitas secara bersama-sama signifikan mempengaruhi overexcitability sebesar 7,9%. Hasil analisis pengaruh kecerdasan dan kreativitas terhadap dimensi dari overexcitability menunjukkan kecerdasan dan kreativitas secara signifikan hanya mempengaruhi sensual, intellectual, dan imaginational overexcitability.
... Other authors propose that feelings of responsibility regarding others' needs, misfortunes, or tragedies develop sooner in children with HIA (Piechowski, 2003;Roeper, 2008) than in their peers. It has also been suggested that there is a higher level of awareness and concern about current events and interpersonal and intrapersonal issues, accompanied by an increased sense of justice (Piechowski, 2009;Roeper & Silverman, 2009). ...
... They thus evince acute perception, abstraction in thought, and moral sensitivity. These results agree with other studies that show the relationship between intelligence and moral components at an earlier age among children with HIA compared to peers with typical intellectual capacity (Piechowski, 2009;Roeper & Silverman, 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
From a neuroconstructivist point of view and a developmental model of high intellectual abilities (HIA), the aim of this study is to understand the world perception of high intellectual children, which results from their cognitive complexity and other traits such as their high context sensitivity. An intentional sample of n = 40 children with HIA, aged 7, 9, and 11 years old has been studied and compared with a paired control group of n = 40 students with typical intelligence. BADyG and TCTT tests were administered to determine their intellectual profiles multidimensionally. They were also given the Autobiography Questionnaire Form U in order to capture their world perception. The multivariate analysis of variance (GLM) shows an earlier and more advanced world perception among HIA participants compared to subjects with typical intelligence. The coefficient of generalizability is high (.822). The conclusions suggest the relevance to design educational programs for an ethical guide of moral sensitivity differentially wide and early in HIA students.
... Other authors propose that feelings of responsibility regarding others' needs, misfortunes, or tragedies develop sooner in children with HIA (Piechowski, 2003;Roeper, 2008) than in their peers. It has also been suggested that there is a higher level of awareness and concern about current events and interpersonal and intrapersonal issues, accompanied by an increased sense of justice (Piechowski, 2009;Roeper & Silverman, 2009). ...
... They thus evince acute perception, abstraction in thought, and moral sensitivity. These results agree with other studies that show the relationship between intelligence and moral components at an earlier age among children with HIA compared to peers with typical intellectual capacity (Piechowski, 2009;Roeper & Silverman, 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
From a neuroconstructivist point of view and a developmental model of high intellectual abilities (HIA), the aim of this study is to understand the world perception of high intellectual children, which results from their cognitive complexity and other traits such as their high context sensitivity. An intentional sample of n = 40 children with HIA, aged 7, 9, and 11 years old has been studied and compared with a paired control group of n = 40 students with typical intelligence. BADyG and TCTT tests were administered to determine their intellectual profiles multidimensionally. They were also given the Autobiography Questionnaire Form U in order to capture their world perception. The multivariate analysis of variance (GLM) shows an earlier and more advanced world perception among HIA participants compared to subjects with typical intelligence. The coefficient of generalizability is high (.822). The conclusions suggest the relevance to design educational programs for an ethical guide of moral sensitivity differentially wide and early in HIA students.
... More research is needed to explain the result that suggests this decrease, despite the earlier awareness of ethical sensitivity, in the HIA group across the ages studied. This is consistent with other authors [28,29,36], postulating that children with HIA have greater pessimism and concern for the future, as they perceive the world in a more complex and realistic way compared to their peers. ...
Article
Full-text available
High intellectual ability is expanding its conceptualization. This broadening includes the need for executive and ethical regulation of high potential, in order to offer effective solutions in the complexity of the 21st century. Research on the regulation of ethical sensitivity in persons with HIA is scarce and necessary, suggesting that children and adolescents with HIA are superior and earlier in ethical sensitivity than their typical peers. However, cognitive excellence does not predict excellence and its development; therefore, the importance of regulating and guiding the broad ethical sensitivity of people with HIA is highlighted. The objective of this study is to explore what is the ethical sensitivity of schoolchildren with HIA compared to typical ones. A sample of n = 21 schoolchildren, previously diagnosed with HIA, and an age-matched control group of n = 23 schoolchildren of average intelligence is studied through their answers to the ATHRI questionnaire. The multivariate general linear analysis reported intergroup differences showing the highest and earliest ethical sensitivity in schoolchildren with HIA compared to typical schoolchildren from 8 to 9 years old, but not at 10 years. The generalizability coefficient was high (0.842). Educative derivations are suggested to guide the regulation of ethical sensitivity in children.
... Örneğin enerjik olmaları hiperaktivite rahatsızlığı, kararlı olmaları inatçılık, fazla sorgulamaları asilik ve aşırı duyarlı olmaları da olgunlaşmamışlık olarak değerlendirilir (Akt. Piechowski, 2009) Toplumun bu çocuklarla ilgili kafa karışıklığı yaşamalarının yanında öğretmenler de üstün zekâlı ve yetenekli çocuklarla karşılaşmadan korkabilir. Öğretmenler, genellikle aşağıdaki hususlardan çekinmektedirler: (Strip&Hirch, 2000). ...
Article
Full-text available
zet Bu yazın taramasında, üstün zekâlı ve yetenekli çocukların çevresiyle iletişimlerini etkileyen özellikleri araştırılmış ve bu çocuklarla iletişim kurma ipuçları üzerinde durulmuştur. Bu özellikler arasında dil becerisi, empati, oyun, arkadaşlık, liderlik, ahlaki yargılama, duygusallık, benlik saygısı, mükemmeliyetçilik, aşırı duyarlılık, hayal kırıklığı ve asilik sayılabilir. Üstün zekâlı ve yetenekli çocuklar kabul görmediği ortamlarda dünyaya uyum sağlamak için farklı yollar seçebilir. Gruptan kendilerini soyutlama, dikkat çekme ve kabul görmek için gösterilerde bulunma veya herkes gibi görünmeye çalışma eğilimi gösterebilirler. Ailelerin, öğretmenlerin ve diğer yetişkinlerin üstün zekâlı ve yetenekli çocukların akranlarından farklı özelliklerini kabul edip ve bunları kabul ederek başarı ve sosyalleşme merdiveninde tırmanmalarında ellerinden tutabilirler. Abstract In this literature review, gifted and talented children's characteristics that affect communication with others who are surrounding themselves have been focused. Language, empathy, play, friendship, leadership, moral judgment, emotionality, self-concept, perfectionism, over excitability, frustration, and non-conformity can be considered for characteristics. Gifted and talented children may choose some ways for adjusting to society. Withdrawn, making shows for attention or tendency to become ordinary individual are some of the strategies. Parents, teachers and other adults should accept their peculiarities that different form peers and give a hand for climbing achievement and socialization stairs.
... − General intellectual (encyclopaedic); − Academic (mathematical); − Creative; − Artistic and aesthetic; − Communicative; − Psychomotor; − Practical; − Spiritual and value (Piechowski, 2009). The characteristics and needs of different groups of talented children and youth vary greatly, they need different support programs, a system of events that would be closely related to the main type of talent the child has. ...
Article
Китайська педагогічна наука завжди мала досить складні стосунки з поняттям «обдарованість» як соціальною та освітньою реальністю, оскільки ознакою обдарованості людини у традиційній китайській педагогіці вважався соціальний успіх людини (обре матеріальне становище, соціальний та професійний попит, максимальна відповідність соціальному ідеалу суспільства). Онлайн-освіта завжди вважається допоміжною формою освіти в Китаї або варіантом освітньої послуги, діяльність якої спрямована на особливі категорії дітей (важкодоступні діти, діти з особливими фізичними та освітніми потребами, ті, хто опинився у складній життєвій ситуації: ув’язнені, у лікарні тощо). Однак ситуація з пандемією 2020 року поставила увесь світ та Китай, зокрема, перед необхідністю переглянути погляди щодо місця дистанційної освіти. Вся педагогічна та освітня робота у світі була переміщена в Інтернет і робота з обдарованими дітьми не стала винятком. Стаття має на меті представити китайський досвід роботи з обдарованими дітьми (особливо з комунікативно обдарованими) в Інтернеті за допомогою спеціальних освітніх платформ та програм. Для написання статті було використано комплекс теоретичних і емпіричних методів дослідження (метод абстракції, аналіз педагогічної літератури, індукція та дедукція, спостереження тощо). Дослідження проводиться в рамках програми «Порівняльне дослідження професійного розвитку вчителів початкових класів у Китаї та Південній Кореї» (реєстраційний номер ZKNUC2017038)
... Οη απαληήζεηο ζε πνιιά εξσηήκαηα γηα ηελ αλζξώπηλε θύζε ή ην πσο δνκνύληαη νη θνηλσλίεο θαη ζρέζεηο κπνξεί λα απνγνεηεύζνπλ έλαλ ραξηζκαηηθό άλζξσπν πνπ είλαη θαηά βάζε ηδεαιηζηήο θαη ππεξεπαίζζεηνο, θαζώο ε πξαγκαηηθόηεηα δελ είλαη έηζη όπσο "ζα έπξεπε" ζύκθσλα κε απηνύο. Η δηαθνξεηηθόηεηα ηνπο θαη ε αδπλακία ηνπ πεξίγπξνύ ηνπο λα ηα θαηαλνήζνπλ, ζπρλά ηα νδεγεί ζηελ ζπλαηζζεκαηηθή θαη θνηλσληθή απνκόλσζε θαη ηελ κνλαμηά (Piechowski, 2009), ζπλαηζζήκαηα πνπ είλαη ζηελά ζπλδεδεκέλα κε ζπκπηώκαηα θαη αίηηα ηεο θαηάζιηςεο. ...
Article
Full-text available
Είναι γεγονός ότι οι χαρισματικοί μαθητές παρουσιάζουν εξαιρετικές ικανότητες και επιδόσεις, που απέχουν παρασάγγας από εκείνες των συνομηλίκων τους. Η διαφορετικότητα γίνεται αντιληπτή τόσο από το χαρισματικό άτομο, όσο και από τον περίγυρο του, γεγονός που συχνά δημιουργεί συναισθήματα μοναξιάς και οδηγεί στην συναισθηματική απομόνωση. Λόγω της διαφορετικότητας αυτής, η κοινωνία θεωρεί ότι η χαρισματικότητα συνοδεύεται από κατάθλιψη, αυτοκτονικές τάσεις ή άλλες ψυχολογικές δυσκολίες και ψυχικές διαταραχές. Επιπλέον, η άποψη ότι τα χαρισματικά άτομα τείνουν να διερωτώνται για τα υπαρξιακά, “μεγάλα” ερωτήματα έχει οδηγήσει την σύνδεση των χαρισματικών ατόμων με την υπαρξιακή κατάθλιψη.Η έρευνα έχει ως στόχο να διερευνήσει την σχέση μεταξύ χαρισματικότητας και ψυχολογικών διαταραχών και κατά πόσο η συσχέτιση τους ανταποκρίνεται στη πραγματικότητα. Θέτει ως ερώτημα το αν το χαρισματικό παιδί είναι πιο επιρρεπές στην ανάπτυξη ψυχολογικών διαταραχών σε σχέση με τα μη χαρισματικά παιδιά. Τέλος, εξετάζει αν τα χαρισματικά άτομα είναι πιο ευάλωτα στην εμφάνιση της υπαρξιακής κατάθλιψης.Το θέμα εξακολουθεί να βρίσκεται υπό διερεύνηση και οι ερευνητές δεν έχουν καταλήξει ομόφωνα στο αν τα χαρισματικά παιδιά έχουν περισσότερες πιθανότητες να εμφανίσουν ψυχολογικές διαταραχές σε σχέση με τα υπόλοιπα. Ωστόσο, όλες συμφωνούν στο γεγονός ότι το περιβάλλον μέσα στο οποίο ανήκει το χαρισματικό άτομο παίζει ίσως τον πιο ουσιαστικό ρόλο για την ομαλή ένταξη στο σύνολο και την απαραίτητη ψυχολογική υποστήριξη που το άτομο θα χρειαστεί.
... We belittle it by calling it animism because we don't see the moral imagination of the child who identifies with what is living and seems sentient. This feeling is extended to stuffed animals or any objects of which the child is especially fond. When we grow up we still do it, too, when we identify with our car or piece of jewelry (Piechowski 2006(Piechowski ). (2009 Gifted adolescents describe friendships in terms of intuitive connection and mutual understanding on a deep level. Friendships transcend gender stereotypes and are as easily formed between boys and girls as between boys only or girls only. Introverted and nonathletic gifted youngsters have a particularly difficult time finding friends - ...
Chapter
This chapter is an overview of the key discussions and findings from the author’s PhD thesis (Walton, 2015). Spirituality and its relation to giftedness are discussed, along with the theoretical framework for the research. The latter included applying the principles of Multiple Intelligences theory (MI) to the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT), creating the Differentiated Model of Multiple Intelligences (DMMI). An examination of the differences and commonalities in Australian gifted policies, with suggested categorisation, provided the background framing. Adolescents who were members of academic, creative and sporting gifted groups in schools in a large regional area of New South Wales (NSW) were surveyed on their views in relation to spirituality, along with a non-gifted control group. The key findings were: (1) significant variation in the spirituality of female gifted students, which were not reflected in the male responses; and (2) the Creative group scores were generally higher than the other groups, but this was not consistent across spirituality domains.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This is a study of three lives in transformation, two of which are directly concerned with the issue of war: Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who lived in the Nazi occupied Amsterdam and later died in Auschwitz and Peace Pilgrim, an American woman who started walking for peace at the time of the Korean war. The third, Ashley, is a contemporary woman, mother of two. The lives of these three gifted individuals illustrate characteristics of transforming growth: inner conflict, acceptance, willingness to serve, surrender, and inner peace. As a result of their far reaching inner transformation, they discovered on their own the transpersonal principle of nonseparateness. From the depth of their being they know that inner peace is the necessary condition of world peace. These cases illustrate in greater depth than was previously available the higher levels in Dabrowski's theory of emotional development. They also bring out the deeper meaning and effectiveness of acceptance which the theory has neglected.
Article
Full-text available
This article describes Eleanor Roosevelt's discipline of inner life. An earlier study (Piechowski & Tyska, 1982) showed that Eleanor Roosevelt met all the criteria of self-actualization as given by Maslow. Maslow labeled her a "doer" rather than a ''seer" or a visionary. But she was an inspired person, "a woman with a deep sense of spiritual mission" (Lash, 1971) and, as such, much more a "seer" than Maslow gave her credit. Christ was her inner ideal. Her methods of inner work are described in the sections on the courage to know oneself, coping with inner conflict and emotional pain, self-discipline, and the inner ideal. Her inner growth is briefly analyzed in terms of Dabrowski's theory of emotional development-a theory particularly well equipped toward understanding lives engaged in the process of inner psychic transformation.
Article
Full-text available