Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities or Supersensitivities - a.k.a. my sock seam is killin' me!
If you have AD(H)D or are gifted, chances are you deal with excitabilities every day. I deal with it when I have to ask complete strangers to turn off fans, or when I have to run through the seafood section at Whole Foods like a maniac so I don’t instantly puke from the smell. How about that time I was watching a little dance group perform in a Toys R Us, and I cried because ANYTIME I see someone doing something with passion, I cry. I LOVE this about our kind. Sure, it sounds kind of wacky, but once you see it on paper, it doesn’t look so weird, so read the following article. This list applies to kids and adults; ADHD, Gifted, Aspergers and Autism. P.S. Seeing myself dance makes me want to cry for entirely different reasons. -ST
By Carol Bainbridge, About.com Guide
Does your child complain about the seams in his socks? Put her hands over her ears when the movie starts in the movie theater? Have trouble sitting still? Get moved almost to tears by a piece of music or work of art? These are signs of the kinds of intensities that can be seen in gifted individuals.
Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five of these intensities, which he called “overexcitabilities” or “supersensitivities”: Psychomotor, Sensual, Emotional, Intellectual, and Imaginational.
*Gifted children and adults tend to have more than one of these intensities, although one is usually dominant.
The primary sign of this intensity is a surplus of energy.
Nervous habits and tics
Preference for fast action and sports
Physical expression of emotions
The primary sign of this intensity is a heightened awareness of all five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Children with a dominant sensual overexcitability can get sick from the smell of certain foods or as toddlers will hate to walk on grass in their bare feet. The pleasure they get from the tastes and textures of some foods may cause them to overeat.
Appreciation of beauty, whether in writing, music, art or nature. Includes love of objects like jewelry
Sensitive to smells, tastes, or textures of foods
Sensitivity to pollution
Tactile sensitivity (Bothered by feel of some materials on the skin, clothing tags)
Craving for pleasure
Need or desire for comfort
Intellectual This intensity is the one most recognized in *gifted children. It is characterized by activities of the mind, thought and thinking about thinking. Children who lead with this intensity seem to be thinking all the time and want answers to deep thoughts. Sometimes their need for answers will get them in trouble in school when their questioning of the teacher can look like disrespectful challenging.
Love of knowledge and learning
Love of problem solving
Asking of probing questions
Concentration, ability to maintain intellectual effort
Imaginational The primary sign of this intensity is the free play of the imagination. Their vivid imaginations can cause them to visualize the worst possibility in any situation. It can keep them from taking chances or getting involved in new situations.
Fear of the unknown
Good sense of humor
Love of poetry, music and drama
Love of fantasy
Emotional The primary sign of this intensity is exceptional emotional sensitivity. Children with a strong emotional overexcitability are sometimes mistakenly believed to have bipolar disorder or other emotional problems and disorders. They are often the children about whom people will say, “He’s too sensitive for his own good.”
Extremes of emotion
Feelings of guilt and sense of responsibility
Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority
Timidity and shyness
Concern for others
Heightened sense right and wrong, of injustice and hypocrisy
Strong memory for feelings
Problems adjusting to change
Need for security
Physical response to emotions (stomach aches caused by anxiety, for example)
Parents can get a better understanding of their *gifted children by matching their child’s behavior with the characteristics of each of these intensities. Telling an emotionally intense child to ignore teasing or not let the teasing bother him is impossible advice for the child to follow. Understanding what lies behind a gifted child’s behavior will help parents better respond to that behavior.