Excitabilities, Overexcitabilities, or Intensities are considered to occur in five areas: psychomotor, intellectual, imaginational, emotional and sensual.
Many writers and educators consider the concept to be particularly relevant for gifted and talented people.
The video below is an excerpt from the SENGinar (a webinar by SENG): “Understanding Overexcitabilities – The Joys and the Challenges” presented by Susan Daniels, PhD – January 31, 2011.
What are Overexcitabilities or Intensities?
Description from the SENG site:
Overexcitabilites – psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional – are often presented as personality traits and behaviors to be managed in terms of interactions at home and at school.
Yet, as important, one must consider and understand that it is an overexcitable nature that contributes to the talent development as well as the social-emotional development of gifted children, youth and adults.
Overexcitabilities, misunderstood and misinterpreted, can result in inappropriate pathologizing of these qualities – especially in twice exceptional students.
This presentation will focus on the role of overexcitabilities in contributing to the optimal developmental potential of the gifted as grounded in
Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration.
About Susan Daniels, Ph.D.
“Dr. Susan Daniels is a Professor of Educational Psychology and Counseling at California State University, San Bernardino.
“She is also Co-founder and Educational Director of the Summit Center, located just outside of San Francisco in Walnut Creek, CA. The Summit Center provides assessment, consultation, educational planning and therapy for gifted, talented, and creative children and families.
“In her spare time, she is a mixed media artist and an international consultant and speaker on the social-emotional needs of the gifted and nurturing creativity across the lifespan.”
From info at SENG / Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted
The image at top is from the Intellectual Excitability section of the presentation.
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Susan Daniels is co-editor, with Michael M. Piechowski, of the book Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults.
For more info about Kazimierz Dabrowski, see the page Dabrowski / advanced development which has a variety of quotes and other material such as articles including Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals, by Elizabeth Mika.
Also see the Highly Sensitive site
Here are some quotes about having “teeming brains” – comments that seem to me are about the experience.
Stephen King has said:
“I’ve taken off two months, three months at a time, and, by the end, I get really squirrelly.
“My night life, my dream life, gets extremely populated and crazed.
“It’s as though something in there is running all the time.”
Actor Amanda Bynes, talking about going to college, once said:
“I have such a busy mind and it’s really hard for me to do one thing at a time. … It’s hard for me to sit still.”
Sandra Bullock has commented:
“I am a big ball of high energy and organization and structure.
“I’m controlling, and I want everything orderly, and I need lists.
“My mind goes a mile a minute.”
Quotes are from related article:
Developing Creativity: Excitabilities – Our Teeming Brains
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Emily Dickinson: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry…”
Also see another version of this quote image in my post Intensity and Being Creative.
Overexcitabilities and emotional health
These areas of intensity that are part of so many gifted, creative people’s lives, can also lead to emotional health challenges.
Learn more about the online program of therapist Sharon Barnes – “The HSP-GT-2E Social-Emotional ACES Program” – in the article: Emotional Health Program for Creative, Gifted, Highly Sensitive People.