Gifted Individuals

An IQ of 130 is the starting point at which an individual’s cognitive skills and processes are considered to be gifted. For a complete understanding of what it means to be gifted, however, extra-cognitive or non-cognitive skills and processes need to be considered.

Common Personality Traits

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Giftedness: The Characteristics of Gifted Endowments

Giftedness: advanced cognitive abilities
Thinking, understanding, learning and remembering at advanced levels are the most obvious signs of giftedness.

These extraordinary cognitive functions are only one set of the innate building blocks necessary for precocious accomplishments. They can be subdivided, measured against statistical norms and summarized as an IQ.

An IQ of 130 is generally considered the cognitive starting point of giftedness and can be used as one of the requirements for entrance into gifted school programs. Higher IQ’s of 145+ and 155 + are the levels often used to identify the exceptionally and profoundly gifted.

Advanced cognitive abilities are the conscious intellectual component of giftedness but, by themselves, are no guarantee of exceptional accomplishment. They also are not particularly useful in identifying gifted artists, musicians, athletes and leaders. indidivudlas are unique in personality, The following are common personality traits they could share.

Giftedness: the extra-cognitive abilities
Non-cognitive or extra-cognitive qualities are the other innate features of giftedness. Identifying them and describing how they work in conjunction with cognitive abilities complete the picture of a gifted endowment. They are also more useful in describing giftedness in non – cognitive areas.

The extra-cognitive qualities of giftedness are hard to identify. Precise definitions are difficult to pin down. They are elusive, pop up unpredictably and often operate outside a gifted individual’s conscious awareness. Although they can’t be quantified by traditional methods, they are no less powerful than their cognitive counterparts. Individually and as a group, they organize cognitive functions, energize them, focus them and propel them toward productive goals. They are the turbo chargers of gifted functioning and are where the “ magic” of giftedness lives.

Intense curiosity is the driving force for the acquisition, processing, mastery and integration of information from diverse domains. Aesthetic and physical sensitivities; a protean imagination, precocious physical abilities; a capacity to be inspired; uncanny intuition; clarevoyance( seeing beyond the ordinary) and penetrating insightfullness all open awareness to unexpected relationships between seemingly unrelated things and help connect and integrate them into a new whole. All of these extra- cognitive functions make the processing and integration of information seem smooth and effortless.

Precocious Accomplishments: potential starting points of an existential crisis
Precocious accomplishments can be traumatic for many gifted individuals. Their hunger for more success can be blocked by worries they have already outgrown their current resources. Their desires to develop more of their gifts often conflict with feelings of shame that they’ve lost their idealism, lost their altruism and, instead, have become arrogant and narcissistic. Guilty feelings may arise when they realize they’ve already left their peers far behind. Another source of anxiety is, that by outdoing some adults, they’ve “disturbed the natural order of things”.

This toxic mix of conflicting issues and emotions can be intensified by parents, teachers and mentors who are eager to promote even higher levels of accomplishment.

Enthusiastic support and encouragement for more development of their gifts may have the unintended consequence of pushing gifted individuals away from their giftedness rather than rather than have them lean into it .

The Chronic stress of unresolved conflicts about giftedness can lead to an existential crisis
Gifted individuals are unusually adept at finding creative solutions to complex intellectual puzzles. Unfortunately this ability rarely can be used to accurately identify the true nature of their emotional conflicts about being gifted let alone resolve them. Although they may be quite sensitive to the emotional conflicts and needs of others, their “ extra–sensitives” often intensifies their own.

Emotional/intellectual asynchrony & the symptoms of Existential Depression
This asynchrony in emotional and cognitive development can prevent certain gifted individuals from embracing their giftedness and may make them more prone to feelings of alienation, disillusionment detachment, isolation and a sense of meaninglessness- the symptoms of existential crises and existential depression.

Turning against giftedness : the beginning of an existential crisis and an existential depression
When some gifted individuals become overwhelmed by their painful and confusing emotional responses to their giftedness and it’s effect on others, they can dismiss the pride and joy of being gifted and shift their focus to more general existential concerns : how and why did I get to be gifted; am I worthy of owning giftedness and using it properly; if I’m gifted , does it mean anything, does being really matter and is being gifted worth all the trouble it brings?

These are interesting questions of course. When, however, the become preoccupations, that prevent the true expression of their gifts they may open the door to an existential crisis. When they become obsessions that completely block the use of their gifts they can lead to an existential depression.

Another pathway to existential depression: effortless success
For gifted individuals, arriving at inventive answers to complex problems can seem like child’s play. For normally endowed individuals , sometimes referred to as” neurotypicals” the process can be difficult or even opaque. Their approach is most often a step by step one to discovering even the most basic, let alone creative, solutions to difficult problems.

However painstaking and arduous, this process may be for neurotypicals , their emotional payoff can be a straightforward uncomplicated feeling of pride and and enhanced self-esteem. There is little confusion about the legitimacy of these rewards when success comes from hard work.

For gifted individuals, the emotional endpoint of success that comes from spontaneous leaps of imagination and insight is an ambivalent one. Effortless completion of a difficult task seems unworthy of pleasure and pride. Why should pride and self-esteem come from a mysterious intuitive process that requires little conscious input?

These intuitive processes and their remarkable results may open the door to higher levels of creative activity. Both, however, may also stimulate a set of internal and interpersonal conflicts that can shut down further gifted development. If left unresolved, these conflicts may usher in the earliest forms of an existential crisis and an existential depression.”