Underachievement in Exceptionally Gifted Adolescents and Young Adults: A Psychiatrist’s View

A group of exceptionally gifted adolescents between the ages of 14 and 25 were each treated in individual psychotherapy over the course of a number of years. They were referred for symptoms of anxiety, depression, self-destructive behavior, and underachievement. Each phase of their gifted development was accompanied by particular anxieties and conflicts. In adolescence they developed a powerful personal vision, a sense of destiny, and a charismatic personality. Their inability to resolve conflicts about these particular gifted traits led to their most dramatic forms of underachievement and self-destructive behavior.

The Gifted Identity Formation Model: In search of the gifted identity, from abstract concept to workable counseling constructs

Knowing one’s giftedness and having a well-developed sense of identity as a gifted person are crucial for the development of the self. Many gifted people struggle with their giftedness, what it means to be gifted and how to develop that potential because there are few models available to assist in the identity development and counseling of gifted people. Moreover, identity itself is often viewed as an abstract concept, making the task of bridging this concept to pragmatic applications highly challenging.
The Gifted Identity Formation Model, presented here, helps bridge the theoretical with the practical, includes identity and its formation as crucial variables in the counseling process and uses identity as the baseline for intervention. The model aids with assessment and helps deliver counseling related interventions that explore and strengthen the identity and identity formation of gifted people, in turn enhancing the health and development of the self.

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