You think you’re so smart. You’re too verbal…too sensitive

A number of movies include gifted and talented characters, and depict a variety of characteristics related to exceptional people that are positive – but these qualities also can generate not so positive reactions from others, such as “You think you’re so smart,” or, “You’re too verbal… too bossy… too nerdy… too sensitive.”

Elle Fanning in PhoebeAnd, of course, we may still experience some of those reactions as adults.

A few movies with “too smart” characters include Matilda (1996, with Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman); Phoebe in Wonderland (2008, Elle Fanning – photo – and Patricia Clarkson); Little Man Tate (1991, directed by and starring Jodie Foster, with Dianne Wiest, Adam Hann-Byrd);  Akeelah and the Bee (2006, Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne); Bridge to Terabithia (2007, Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Zooey Deschanel).

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Video: one of the key traits of high ability people is being multitalented

Related article: Interested In So Many Things: Creative and Multitalented.

Creative people are complex and multitalented. Along with the benefits of many abilities and passions, there are challenges in realizing so many interests.

The movie Nancy Drew (2007; link goes to DVD), was based on the books about the talented girl detective.

Emma Roberts as Nancy DrewGifted children like Nancy are different and divergent in their thinking, interests, values and behavior.

And many gifted adults still feel wrong or anxious about not fitting in – even though being different can be a strength.

In Nancy Drew, the heroine (played with style and grace by Emma Roberts) uses and celebrates her intuitive and intellectual abilities as a teen sleuth, and accepts the fact she is exceptional, and does not fit in with her high school peers mainly concerned with cliques, clothes and boys.

Many gifted children and gifted adults are considered “eccentric.”

Another example: Ghost World” (2001) starring Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch. The director Terry Zwigoff commented that when he met Johansson, he thought, “OK, she’s 15, but she could easily pass for 30. She’s a very attractive girl, but she’s sort of a weirdo. I like that about her.”

In her article “Counseling Gifted Adults A Case Study,” counselor Paula Prober writes about Susan, who had “known that she was different since she was seven. Her thoughts and feelings had never fit into the box that was comfortable and reassuring for most children.

“Her appetite for learning was insatiable. Reading was more nourishing than food. … At age 52, Susan came to therapy. Raising her teenaged son, John, had forced her to confront herself. John had been identified as gifted in preschool. Susan started reading about gifted children and was quite surprised to find that she was reading about herself.”

Read more and see link to her article in post: Gifted adults are different from an early age.


school-LittleHouseIn his book Why Smart People Hurt, psychologist Eric Maisel relates the story of a client of his, Jeanette, who recalled:

“My first negative experience of being too smart was in fifth grade.

“I had gone to a rural school (a tiny village on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge) in a three-room school that combined grades since there were very few of us…”

– See more in article: Challenged By Being So Smart.

More resources:

Books that can help people understand the cognitive, emotional and social aspects of being gifted:

Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential by Marylou Kelly Streznewski

The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD.

Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative by Eric Maisel.

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Elle Fanning in Phoebe in WonderlandList of films: Hoagies’ Gifted: Movies Featuring Gifted Kids (and Adults!)

Video: Dr. Linda Karges-Bone about gifted children.

Gifted characteristics: What is giftedness all about? – by Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., Gifted Development Center.

Longer list of traits: Self-tests: giftedness / high ability

Photo: Elle Fanning in Phoebe in Wonderland, also in post: Our high sensitivity personality: normalcy, wholeness, acceptance.


Originally posted 2012-01-05 19:43:00.


  1. says

    thanks for your post.. we might get some of those movies out to watch as a family. Sometimes movies like these can spark some good conversations with your gifted children!


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