There are few descriptions in the literature of the cognitive processes of exceptionally gifted children. This study, based on testing profiles, anecdotes collected from parents, and observations made during family and group therapy sessions with moderately and exceptionally gifted children delineates some of the characteristic modes of thinking that differentiate exceptionally gifted children from their more moderately gifted peers.
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.