I owe my friend Jennaviere a lot for sharing a wonderful website with me regarding Gifted and Creative Adults. Lynne Azpeitia, M.A., is the website’s owner, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AAMFT Supervisor.
After perusing the website for a while, I feel like I’ve just came out of a therapy session where I’m really left feeling understood and encouraged. Like many adults who suspect they might be gifted but were never formally identified as children, I’ve been left with more questions than answers. I am finally feeling more confident in who I really am.
This website includes an excellent list called Characteristics of Gifted and Creative Adults adapted from Annemarie Roeper’s “Gifted Adults: Their Characteristics and Emotions” .
Many of them apply to me, but in particular these points ring loudest for me:
- Gifted adults crave interchanging ideas with other gifted adults and many love to engage in intense intellectual discussions.
- Gifted adults have an inner urge to fulfill their own expectations and feel very guilty if they cannot even when no one else sees the need to.
- Gifted adults are often confronted with the problem of having too many abilities in too many areas in which they would like to work, discover and excel.
- Gifted adults need time for inner life experiences, and to understand themselves. Because it takes quiet time to clarify thoughts and feelings, gifted adults need contemplation, solitude and daydreaming
- Gifted adults have strong moral convictions and many use their specific talents, insights and knowledge for the betterment of the world.
Many gifted children and adults not only go unrecognized, but misdiagnosed as well. In the article by Ms. Azpeitia, and Mary Rocamora, M.A. The Misdiagnosis of Gifted and Creative Adults, I found this passage noteworthy:
Therapeutic assessment of gifted persons with asynchronous development, heightened levels of awareness, energy and emotional response, and an intense level of inner turmoil often results in their developmental transition being mislabeled as a personality or attentional disorder. Histrionic, dysthymic, cyclothymic, borderline, narcissistic, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) are a few of the diagnostic labels mistakenly used to describe normative stages of positive disintegration.
The results of this type of misdiagnosis can range from benign neglect to misguided counseling strategies that invalidate and attempt to ‘normalize’ the complex inner process of the gifted. When misdiagnosed gifted clients are prescribed medication to suppress the “symptoms of giftedness” there is the danger that the wonderful inner fury of the gifted process will be neutralized, thus minimalizing the potential for a life of accomplishment and fulfillment. As a result, those who have the most to offer society are the least likely to get their therapeutic needs met.
Any of this sound familiar? It sure is familiar to me. I’ve been accused of being dysfunctional in various ways, from the mild barbs of being labeled “the absentminded professor” to the more damaging pronouncement that I must be bi-polar.
Ah, but there is hope for us yet…
In this article about Creativity, I feel validated.
Creativity is the lifeblood of gifted, talented and creative people of all ages.
Creativity may be the most defining characteristic of gifted adults because no matter what they are doing, the multi-talented gifted person is always utilizing their uniqueness, originality and creativity in everything they do.
Furthermore, she goes on to articulate what we may have figured out on our own:
Everyone and every field or business does not look upon creativity, creative ideas or creative people as positive forces—even when they benefit greatly from them.
Most of the time creative ideas and people are misjudged, mistreated, unappreciated and just plain misunderstood– not to mention mislabeled and misdiagnosed as crazy, stupid, etc.
It always takes time, sometimes many years, for others to catch up to where a truly original and creative mind lives, breathes, works and plays.
I take comfort from the words of Jack Kerouac in On The Road:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Or put another way, from the Apple Computer Ad:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
We must give ourselves permission to celebrate our creativity, our originality and all the expressions of our giftedness.