Some references (2)

Francis Heylighen’s works have been very precious for me for working on how gifted are perceived by others (and then, compared with what they actually experience).

F Heylighen directs a transdisciplinary research group on “Evolution, Complexity and Cognition” at the Free University of Brussels). He has written many publications in many fields.

In the article « Gifted People and their problems », F Heilighen builds up a « digest of the traits that are most often listed as characterizing “gifted” or “creative” individuals. The number of “*” signs indicates how often this trait (or a very similar one) appeared in one of the lists that I found on the web. I have ordered the traits in different categories, in order to emphasize that these traits extend much further than just intelligence and knowledge (cognition).

As a comparison, I have also included the traits (indicated by a “•”) from Maslow’s description of what he calls the “self-actualizing personality”. There is obviously a strong overlap in both lists, although Maslow seems to virtually ignore the cognitive traits, while emphasizing the motivational and emotional ones, in accord with his motivation-based theory. The fact that in spite of this very different basis to establish two personality types, the overlap is so obvious, confirms my own reinterpretation of Maslow’s theory in which I argue that self-actualization requires not only need satisfaction, but cognitive competence, i.e. knowledge and intelligence. (Heylighen F. (1992): “A Cognitive-Systemic Reconstruction of Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualization”, Behavioral Science 37, p. 39-58.)


********** ▀ Original, unusual ideas, creativity, connects seemingly unrelated ideas

******* Superior abilities to reason, generalize or problem solve, high intelligence

******               Vivid and rich imagination

******               Extensive vocabulary, verbal ability, fascinated by words

*****                 Learns new things rapidly

*****                 Excellent long term memory

****                   Grasps mathematical/scientific concepts readily, advanced comprehension, insightful.

****                   Avid reader

***                      Complex and deep thoughts, abstract thinker,

**                        Runs mind on multiple tracks at the same time, fast thinker


*******             Highly sensitive

******* ▀        Excellent/unusual sense of humour.

******          Very perceptive, good sense of observation

***** ▀             Passionate, intense feelings

*** ▀                 Sensitive to small changes in environment

***                      Introverted

** ▀                    Aware of things that others are not, perceive world differently

** ▀                    Tolerance for ambiguity & complexity

**                        Can see many sides, considers problems from a number of viewpoints.

* ▀                      Childlike sense of wonder.

▀                          Openness to experience

▀                          Emotional stability, serenity


**********      Perfectionistic, sets high standards for self and others.

********* ▀    Very curious, desire to know

******** ▀      Very independent, autonomous, less motivated by rewards and praise

******* ▀        Seeker of ultimate truths, looks for patterns, meaning in life

*******             Enjoys challenge, penchant for risk-taking.

****** ▀           Outrage at injustice or moral breaches, good sense of justice

**** ▀               Wide range of interests, overwhelmed by many interests and abilities.

**** ▀               Strong moral convictions, integrity, honesty.

**** ▀               High drive

** ▀                    Visionary, realizes visions, sense of destiny or mission

**                        Loves ideas and ardent discussion.

▀                         Sincerity

▀                         Acceptance of self and others


*******             Great deal of energy.

****** ▀           Long attention span, sustains concentration on topics of interest, persistent

****                   Cannot stop thinking, work myself to exhaustion

*** ▀                 Needs periods of contemplation, solitude

▀                          Spontaneity

Social Relations

********* ▀    Questions rules or authority, asks embarrassing questions, non-conforming

******* ▀        Feels different, out of step with others, sense of alienation and loneliness

***** ▀             Very compassionate.

**** ▀               Empathy: feels along with others, helps them understand themselves”

Key point : In reading this list one must always remember that these characteristics, this way of thinking/operating are considered by a gifted as being absolutely normal. A gifted one cannot imagine that “others” think/operate in a different way.

In this article F Heylighen also reports some key points tapped in different other articles :

– LIBERATING EVERYDAY GENIUS™ by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Psy.D.

– The Gifted Resource Center and Lesley Sword, Ph.D.

– Giftedness and education from the perspective of sociologic social psychology by Steven M. Nordby © 1997-2002

– The Intellectual and Psychosocial Nature of Extreme Giftedness Philip M. Powell & Tony Haden Roeper Review , Vol. 6 No. 3, p. 131-133, February 1984.

– On Giftedness, an interview with Mary Rocamora

– Kathleen Noble , interview by Douglas Eby (on Gifted Women)

– Behaviors Associated with Giftedness (Webb, 1993)

– Misdiagnosis of the Gifted by Lynne Azpeitia, M.A. and Mary Rocamora, M.A.

Reference to Overexcitabilities is also made.

Very interesting article !

This url

also leads to many other ressources regarding different self tests (Mary Rocamora, Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Deirdre Lovecky, Linda Kreger Silverman)

as well as to some other related useful articles related to introversion, intensity, sensitivity, and perfectionnism.

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