Monday, October 12, 2009

What's the difference between giftedness and mental illness?

I have a theory that being a gifted child (and therefore a gifted adult) mimics or, at least consists of, mental illnesses; specifically bi-polar and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Characteristics of Gifted Children and Talented Children
and Possible Associated Problems

Characteristics of Gifted Children and Talented Children
Gifted and talented children may:
Possible Associated Problems

Gifted and talented children may:

Learn quickly and easily have the ability to abstract and reason critically; see relationships between ideas and events

Become bored and frustrated; dislike repetition and shallow curriculum; hide abilities to gain acceptance; receive negative adult attitudes to smartness

Exhibit verbal proficiency

Dominate discussion; have difficulty with listening skills; exhibit manipulative behaviour

Have a high energy level

Need less sleep; become frustrated with inactivity, lack of challenge or active inquiry

Exhibit heightened curiosity

Take on too many activities

Be extremely persistent; concentrate on tasks of high interest for extended periods

Disrupt class routine; feel stifled by restrictions; resist interruption or schedules; be perceived as stubborn, uncooperative

Exhibit different learning styles - accelerated: desiring mastery, achievement and/or - enriched: desiring depth of knowledge, the need to experience, emotional investment in subject, imagination

Become frustrated with absence of progress; be prone to being 'overdriven' and/or not be motivated by results; be resistant to interruption; be seen as time wasting or preoccupied

Exhibit unusual emotional depth and intensity

Be unusually vulnerable; feel confused if thoughts and feelings not taken seriously

Be highly sensitive; be acutely perceptive

Be perceived as immature; try to mask feelings to conform; be vulnerable to criticism

Be concerned with adult/moral issues; be idealistic

Attempt unrealistic reforms; feel frustrated, angry. Depressed; develop a cynical attitude; receive intolerance from age peers

Aim at perfection

Set unrealistically high goals; feel inadequate; feel frustrated with others; fear failure, inhibiting attempts in new areas

Exhibit independence, nonconformity

Have a tendency to challenge and question indiscreetly; have difficulty with rigid conformity; may be penalised; exhibit rebellious behaviour

Have heightened self awareness, feelings of being different

Experience social isolation; regard difference as bad, worthless, resulting in low self esteem

Have a keen sense of humour

Use humour inappropriately or to attack others; feel confused when humour not understood; feel rejected by others

Possess unusual imagination

Be seen as weird; feel stifled by lack of creative opportunities

Respond and relate to older children and adults

Experience social isolation; be seen as show off, odd, superior, critical; be rejected by older children

(Adapted from publications by Clark, Colangelo, Dalton and Whitmore,
by Marion Mackenzie for QAGTC inc.)

Signs and symptoms of Bipolar Illness:

Common signs and symptoms of mania include:

  • Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
  • Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
  • Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
  • Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
  • Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
  • Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
  • Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

Common symptoms of bipolar depression include:

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty.
  • Irritability
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Physical and mental sluggishness
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms:

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder fall into one of the following categories:

  • Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
  • Checkers repeatedly check things (oven turned off, door locked, etc.) that they associate with harm or danger.
  • Doubters and sinners are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen or they will be punished.
  • Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements.
  • Hoarders fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They compulsively hoard things that they don’t need or use.

To me there are so many similarities I have a hard time thinking that these things aren't hand in hand.

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