Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902 – 1980) worked with creative adults and adolescents, and developed a theory of personality and emotional development that is often applied toward understanding the psychology of gifted and talented individuals.
One aspect of his Theory of Positive Disintegration is the concept of unusual intensity and reactivity, as Lesley Sword explains in her article Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children:
“Overexcitability is a sensitivity of the nervous system, an expanded awareness of and a heightened capacity to respond to stimuli such as noise, light, smell, touch etc.”
[Also see the Highly Sensitive site.]
Stephanie Tolan notes the original Polish word can be translated more literally as “superstimulatabilities” and “involves not just psychological factors but central nervous system sensitivity.”
She describes the Psychomotor form of Overexcitability or Excitability: “This is often thought to mean that the person needs lots of movement and athletic activity, but it can also refer to the issue of having trouble smoothing out the mind’s activities for sleeping. Lots of physical energy and movement, fast talking, lots of gestures, sometimes nervous tics.”
From the page Dabrowski / advanced development.
Sword describes the Psychomotor form as “surplus of energy: rapid speech, pressure for action, restlessness impulsive actions, nervous habits and tics, competitiveness, sleeplessness.”
Michael Jackson exemplified a number of these qualities as a singer and dancer.
But for some people, including him, this high sensitivity and surplus of central nervous system activity can be very challenging.
Jackson took a variety of drugs that included powerful sedatives, reportedly more than ten Xanax every night. “He had a long-running addiction to several prescription painkillers, including the powerful narcotics Diprivan and Oxycontin.” [From article Jackson Death Puts Focus on Painkiller Addiction.]
The clip of Jackson is from the new documentary This Is It.
> Also see related post: Developing Creativity: Excitabilities – Our Teeming Brains