Gifted Adolescents

Most common reasons for referrals for adolescents is because of Existential depression, underachievement, social isolation, self mutilation (cutting), learning disabilities, homework refusal and school refusal. Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar, anxiety disorders other depressive disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders: OCD.


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Special Developmental Conflicts

Dependence – Independence

In order to advance to higher levels of achievement and accomplishment, gifted adolescents need to accept a prolonged period of dependence just when there is a normal developmental push for more independence. Gifted adolescents must depend on:

  1. Parents: To provide increasingly sophisticated and specialized resources as well as the necessary perspectives and controls on gifted development
  2. Mentors, Coaches, and Advisors: As role models and experts who guide them to a professional level of achievement and accomplishment

Gifted Development – Normal Development

Gifted adolescents often need to make choices between the demands of gifted development and the normal time sensitive tasks of establishing a social network and developing intimate personal and sexual relationships. These choices may seem exclusionary and cause conflict and anxiety.

Common Coping Methods

Despite their intellectual sophistication, gifted adolescents rarely can use mature coping methods to resolve psychological conflicts. Their attempts at managing the anxiety that accompanies unresolved conflicts can be quite maladaptive- conflicts and anxieties can be:

  • Passively avoided
  • Passive/aggressively projected onto others- especially parents and mentors, coaches and advisors
  • Acted out self-destructively
  • Putting themselves in harm’s way (ex. poor personal hygiene, self-mutilation, and substance abuse)
  • Expressed by the sudden appearance of a learning disability or refusal to attend school
  • By trivializing gifted curiosity and passion
  • Expressed as psychosomatic illnesses
  • Expressed as psychological symptoms
  • Expressed by the beginning of an “existential crisis”

Left untreated, these maladaptive methods of conflict resolution may develop into true psychiatric disorders. Most common disorders:

  • Mood disorders
  • Depressions which may include suicidal ideation
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive/compulsive disorders

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