Friday, July 31, 2009

A note for those who oppose changing the "Gifted" label

I have come across several, many :), people who oppose any attempt to move away from the use of "gifted" as a categorical descriptive, or who oppose the institution of any label at all. I would like to address both of these objections here:

1) For those of us who oppose labeling people as "gifted," OR anything else, who believe we should all just accept that people are people and we are all different from each other... I agree. I agree that we should, ideally, arrive at a place where we are each individually considered and accepted, in all of our similarities and differences. BUT, we must also realize that this place is an arrival point, a destination, not where we can, or should, depart from or begin at.

We must consider and understand the developmental needs of people, children and adults, and exersize compassion and empathy with the needs and developmental stages of each of us.

We must understand, and accept as normal, that we each begin as infants who lack internal/intellectual structures for understanding ourselves and our worlds, it is this lack of preimposed structure that allows us such incredible ability to adapt to whatever world we are born into, it is this that has allowed us to, as a species, flourish and thrive in spite of vastly differing experiences, environments, and cultures. And, perhaps, it s this internal malleability that truly separates us from other species of animals-- As far as we can tell, we are the only animals who are born without an instinctiive drive to be "x."

From, at least, the day of our birth (and likely in our prenatal experence) we observe and take in the environment and stimulus we encounter. First we become aware of the existence of things, then we catagorize them, then we refine our understanding of catagories, then we make connections within and between catagories of our knowledge. This process starts simply and becomes exponentially more complex as we accrue knowledge and form more and more connections. This is the way we learn, simply put, and is universal in our experience (though differently organized between each of us).

Thus, while we can eventually reject catagorization of things or attributes, we MUST first understand them in terms of catagories of things t be able to do so. For example, I must first understand that a cow is a thing, then I will understand that it is a different sort of thing than I am-- something we call an animal, then I will come to understand that a dog is also an animal, even though it is different from a cow, and both are different from me, I might then understand that the cow is an animal we keep for milk or "food." At the begining I am likely to not understand that the cow is ACTUALLY the same kind of being as the steak on my plate, though I "know" we call them both cow. Eventually I come to realize that the cow is, indeed, the same thing as that steak, and that in order to get that steak from the cow we must kill it. I then have to determine how I feel about that-- it's a big issue, death, pain, value, rights etc..-- and my conclusions on the issue may lead me to any number of ultimate beliefs about cows. Including, but not limited to, the idea that I no longer feel comfortable catagorizing cows as animals we use for food; I may in fact decide that I do not want to accept that there should be any "animals we use for food." The point is, though, that I cannot go from not knowing that a cow exists to believing we should not eat them. I also cannot leap from not knowing that anyone believes in something called "God" to hating people who don't believe in that thing called "God;" I must first understand the concepts and differences between believing or not believing in that "God."

So it is that we cannot ask a person, or science, to understand or process any idea, including "giftedness," without first labeling the phenomenon and categrizing it as a concept for consideration. Further, we, as intelligent adults, may ask why we should mention or investigate things like "race" or "giftedness. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we never had these concepts? Sure, it would. Along with concepts like religion, strength, power, masculine, feminine, ability, hate, country, and difference; the human drive to categorize and assign value to some things over others is, ultimately, the ONLY cause of war, hate, envy, murder, torture, xenophobia, ownership, nationality and so on. But, it is also, perhaps, one of the single largest defining characteristics of the human being. It is a natural, unstoppable, feature of each of us-- whether or not we like to believe ourselves to be so.

Babies catagorize things as "me" or "not me" (in terms of alikeness), in order to develop catagories of things like alive/not alive, human/animal, safe/not safe, good/bad etc... Small children refine their groupings of things and as they explore themselves and their nature they use comparison and contrast to understand themselves and others: Joe has a penis/is a boy, I have a vagina/am a girl. I wear glasses/ Seth does not, Mike is white/I am black. As small children they begin with these simple information, without assignment of value, to understand and construct their ever-expanding understanding of reality. The assignment of value comes a bit later when they collect information about the meaning of these differences: I have to wear glasses because my eyes are ""bad"/ Seth does not have to wear glasses because his eyes are not "bad"/ Seth has better eyes than I do. Until understanding the meaning of having or not having glasses, that they are tools for correcting vision, I cannot assign value. Until I assign value to that attribute I am not equipped to re-evaluate the assigned value it has. I must understand that my eyes are "bad" before I can think about what it means to have "bad" eyes, which I must be able to think about before I consider if "bad" is really the right word to describe my difference from Seth, and ultimately come to the logical conclusion that my eyes are not REALLY "bad", they're just different.

In the same way that we cannot prevent our children from seeing and taking note of who wears glasses and who does not, or who's skin is pale and who's is dark, of who has a penis and who has a vagina, we also cannot prevent them from noticing who learns faster or slower, who can read and cannot, who thinks about dinosaurs and who thinks about chess, or who can draw a picture that is "realistic" and who can only draw scribbles or stick people. It's their job, you see, to notice these things. It is how they learn and grow into themselves and society.

And, it seems, we are naturally predisposed to view "differences" as negative things. As social beings, who have largely adapted to surviving through forming social groups of "sameness," we are naturally suspicious of foriegn objects and attributes. To simplify the reason for that, let's say you are in the forest and you are hungry; you see a plant that you have never seen before and another plant that you have often eaten without harm, or have observed others "like you" eating without any ill-effects. Your natural/instinctual response would be to eat the plant that your experience tells you is safe, and also to be wary of that plant that you don't know. Our evolutionary (or experiential), if you will, trajectory has programmed us to be suspicious of eating things we cannot identify.

We have, no matter how illogically, as a species generalized this suspicion to all new or different stimulus. Until we understand, catagorize, an process a given thing, we are likely to be wary of it or assume it is "bad." We may not like this about ourselves, we may believe it to be a "bad" predisposition, we may try to overcome it, and we may try to deny it in ourselves, but like it or not, it is a natural and neutral/to positive trait that humans possess. It is what keeps us from eating poisonous things, jumping off of cliffs, or letting strangers into our houses.

And, luckily, children possess this trait (or else we'd have to watch them every second of the day-- no matter their age!) of discrimination. It is our job, as adults, to show them when and how to apply this trait (as they get old enough to do so), and help them understand and evaluate the stimulus they come in contact with.

Therefore, we must accept the necessity of labels to describe differences among, and between individuals, as a tool for our understanding and acceptances of such differences.

2) For those of us who object to changing the "gifted" label because you feel it to be an accurate descriptor of the phenomenon, because you have fought long and hard to accept it and have it accepted, or for any similar or related reason... I can understand your objection. I do not agree, for what it's worth, though.

As far as it being an accurate descriptor-- well, I, quite simply, disagree. First because the word "gifted" is a vague and loaded term. It is, in of itself, somewhat meaningless, because it does not describe any particular attribute(s) or experience(s). Also, it is not an objective term-- it's root and meaning are based upon positive phenomena.

Perhaps you, as a parent or "gifted" person, feel like it IS a positive thing, inherently. That's great, and I am glad for your experience as being a good one. The thing is, though, that we are not looking for a way to describe only you or your child; we need a term/label that we can comfortably apply to at least the majority of us--- not only you.

Maybe you feel like the problem is with our inability to "accept" ourselves as being "gifted" with this positive thing; maybe you're right. Or, maybe our feelings about the label are valid as well. Perhaps our inner pause on a term that implies "good," "advanced," "desireable," "superior," etc... is because our experience does not fit with these adjectives. Perhaps we don't feel, or want to feel, like we are any "better" than anyone else. Perhaps in our own minds we are normal; we are special-- just like everyone else. Perhaps we just object to the murky complications of a non-objective label... it clouds our ability to consider and understand the truth. Perhaps we are rebelling against the idea that anyone should tell us how to feel or think about ourselves/our children. Perhaps we are painfully aware of all of the negative consequences of that loaded label, and think of it as anything except a gift!

For whatever reasons we each have for our feelings on the issue, I think we can all rationally, if not emotionally, agree that the "gifted" label makes things more difficult for everyone who has to deal with it and all it means.

I'm voting for "Dabrowskian" or "Hypatian" as a new label-- two inspiring but semi-obscure people who can lend us their names without telling us how to feel about it :)


I really hate the term "gifted" as a descriptor of individuals who reside on the right reaches of the bell curve. I think it is an inappropriate label that fails to describe the experience or issues faced by such people and also creates difficulties, particularly in our egalitarian/anti-elitist society, and complications to an already difficult and complicated issue.

We all have a natural tendency to assume that other people think, feel, and experience things in the same way we do. A part of mental/emotional maturity comes with learning and understanding that this is not the case. But, this label makes it feel shameful to investigate the different ways of seeing-- to attempt to understand relies first on the acceptance that one IS different. For most people the understanding is natural and acceptable-- "I am more emotional than most people I see," "I am better at basketball than most of my friends," "I am more interested in people than things," and so on. All of these personal observations, that are a necessary part of individual development, are objective observations with obviously positive and negative attendant qualities. Most personal understandings, acceptances of the quirks and individualities that make us unique, are socially encouraged and acceptable.

The understanding of self, and of what makes "me," me instead of "you," is a fundamental developmental journey for humans. This journey of self begins in infancy; The child progressively grows to understand that s/he is seperate from caregivers, family, society... we slowly come to understand that we are autonomous beings with various dependencies, defining characteristics, needs, desires, understandings, and experiences. The toddler, in one example of a heightened stage of personal understanding, urgently discovers and processes his/her truth of being a seperate person; we understand and (hopefully) patiently support the child as they test what it means to be A person-- as they test the boundaries of their self-hood, assert their own opinions, needs, and desires, and in various ways feel out the scary place that it is to be alone-- an individual. Then, more smoothly for a time, the individual continues to come to an understanding of the self as the self. From, maybe, 4 until adolescence, the child continues to refine and develop their sense of individuality-- their particular tastes, preferences, joys, talents, and shortcomings. This period is smoothed by a modulation of physical and intelectual growth; the person has adequate time to perceive and process the changes and understandings they come to.

Adolescence, then, is the next time of "urgent" self-discovery and examination. Like the cognitive leap that propels the infant into a "sudden" discovery of "self," and the attendent difficulty of understanding that "difference," the adolescent experiences a period of rapid cognitive and physical change. Suddenly they percieve that they are "different," they do not realize that these feelings are as a result of physiologic changes in their internal workings-- to them, things are just suddenly different-- their thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs. We all recognize adolescence as a difficut period for children and parents-- akin to the difficulties of the "terrible twos," though obviously quite different in scope and length. The urgent demand for the adolescent is to come to understand how they "fit in" with their society, and also how they do not fit in. They are faced with the internal demand of processing how they are the same and different. Emotional maturity, then, begins to develop as the individual comes to see that their view of the world is different from anyone else's. They proceed through various and conflicting desires to "fit in" and also to "be myself."

We all experience these stages of inner development, and often have additional periods of "urgent" self-exploration in our mid-20's and then in the "mid-life crisis." These are normal and necessary experiences of individual development which allow us to form and utilize important information and skills for coping and thriving throughout our lives.

While certain aspects of our personal development are expected to be dealt with internally, for the most part we are able to come to understand and process our experiences within the context of our familial and peer groups. In fact, the feedback and shared experiences of family and friends are integral to our ability to process and effectively understand ourselves.

For the "gifted" child, though, this process of normal identity formation and integration is often disrupted and problematic. EVERY child, in the latency period (most often thought of as age 6 or so through adolescence) has the need to be a part of a peer-group (however that is composed) or groups and also familial group in which they are accepted and "fit in." This sense of self and of being a part of, instead of apart from, allows the child a secure and safe foundation for exploring their uniquenesses and idiosyncrasies while still maintaining inner cohesion and security. Children in this developmental stage need to feel "normal" and tend to naturally feel "normal," even though they are not the same in all ways. They tend to be ego-centric in nature, percieving their thoughts and feelings to universal, but capable of projecting themselves into the experiences of their friends and families to come to, at least, an understanding of how they might feel if they went through the same thing. Children in this age-range most often form groups of peers who they share interests and cultural experiences with; this is one example of how they cope with their internal need for "sameness" and social acceptance.

For many "gifted" children (increasing in profundity and difficulty the further to the right on the curve they reside) this is where the breakdown of normal emotional/identity development begins. At a time when their emotional/social needs are for normalcy, "sameness," and acceptance, they begin to discover that they are not "normal," the "same," or accepted.

They often find themselves unable to form "peer" groups because their experiences are limited to children their own chronological age, and in dealing with older children or adults, the physiological differences are too apparent to alow "sameness" to develop (as further compounded by this being the age when physical differences are being noticed and seen as important). These children usually have vastly different thoughts, concerns, and interests than their age-mates and are seen, and see them, as incomprehensile and "different."

This is a HUGE problem for the "gifted" child, for they still have the same developmental needs as their "normal" counterparts. The proper development of their social self and inner-self still rely upon having their needs for acceptance and being "a part of" a larger group being met; they still rely on the important groups in their life to provide feedback and alternate experiences so that they can process and understand their own thoughts and perceptions of life. These things are absolutely fundamental to optimum personal development of the individual.

For a large part of coming to understand ourselves relies upon our ability to compare and contrast our own experiences, thoughts, perceptions, and understandings with those of the people in our society. We talk a great deal about "socialization" of children without talking about what that means or why it is an important developmental tool. I believe that a large part of socialization is just this; having a social mirror to help us understand ourselves, as we relate to the larger world, and others as they relate to us and the larger world. This social mirror is extremely important for us to develop understanding and empathy for all people.

For many gifted children, though, this social mirror is fundamentally distorted. In order to understand the self in terms of the larger world, the child must both understand how s/he is a part of, and apart from, that world. For the "gifted" child, that social mirror seldom, if ever, shows the person how they are a part of society. The mirror only shows them that they are apart from their "peers."

But the internal drive for social/identity integration moves on. The child is still driven to understand themselves and others, with or without the social mirror-- it is, after all, a developmental imperative. And so s/he attempts to make do with the tools and information available to him/her.

And here is the begining of the problem of the label "gifted." Children this age, you see, do not want or need to be "better," or "worse," or even "different" from their peers. It's great if they are "better" at something; they can run the fastest, read the fastest, or dance the best. They enjoy their excellence AT something, or things, but they REALLY do not want to be "different" in any fundamental way. They realize that everyone is better and worse AT things, and that is acceptable and even celebrated. It doesn't seperate them, deep down, because these are not defining characteristics of that person. They are still Nathan, or Karen-- they are still normal, multi-faceted, and accepted people. To be labeled, though, AS "gifted" is a much different thing. It becomes a defining characteristic, it IS a defning characteristic, that says who they are, and even worse, implies (explicitly) that they are "supposed" to be (overall) better and different from other kids.

We, adults, find it hard to remember, but we didn't always want to be "better" than anyone else. We wanted to be better AT things, but we wanted to be normal-- we felt like we were normal. For we were, and ARE, normal to us. We each live, from year-to-year and moment-to-moment, in our own minds. To us, our experience is normal, our rate of thought, our curiousities and interests, our talents and problems... they are all normal, to us. If left alone, to our own minds, without that social mirror, it would never occur to any of us that we might NOT be "normal." And none of us would have internal struggles between our natural inclinations and perceptions of how the outside world sees us and expects us to be. It is our understanding of ourselves in relation to others that allows us to develop the desire to be better or the same as other people.

But children, and adults, have a natural dislike of labels that imply inherent value-- unearned value-- on some people and not others. For the "non-gifted" the label tells you that you are somehow less, that, through no fault of your own, you are unfairly disadvantaged and judged. For the "gifted," the label tells you that you are somehow "more," that through no work or achievement of your own, you are unfairly advantaged and judged.

Many adults assume that the "gited" child will be happy to learn that they are "better' than other kids, and often they fear that the child will become arrogant and develop negative personal traits due to that arrogance, like elitism, feelings of superiority, lack of compassion and empathy for others and more. Their fears, though, are based on the erroneous assumption that these children will gladly accept and internalize this label. It is completely disregarding the normal human needs of the individual-- we all, at every age, need to feel accepted and a part of something. It is also disregarding the normal need and desire of individuals to "earn" their accomplishments.

We all know and accept that the way that we value things is directly correlated to how hard we had to work to get them. We might appreciate that our parents provided for our material needs when we were children, but we naturally took those things for granted. The car we were "given" did not mean as much to us as the car we "bought" and earned. The allowance we got every week for being our parent's chldren had nothing of the emotional significance or pride that the first payccheck we worked for possessed. It is through our efforts and achievements that we truly value things-- by having to exersize the patience to save up for that toy, we come to value it as a symbol of our own mastery, by having to practice the piano we embue our mastery of a new piece with deeper meaning than notes on paper or sounds in the air.

"Gifted" children, and adults, have these same needs and systems of value. Just as we can't "give" a chld self-esteem by telling them they have worth-- they must develop proof of that worth for themselves-- we can't simply label a child, or adult, as "gifted" and expect them to accept that as an accurate description of who they are.

They are not "gifted" to themselves, but as they come to recognize and see that they are, indeed, different, that label COULD and sometimes does lead to negative internal development. They COULD, and sometmes do, become arrogant, have feelings of superiority, and lack empathy or compassion for others. This is not because they are inherently bad people, or predisposed to negative qualities, but rather because they are developmentally neglected and stunted (though not intentionally) by a society that has little understanding of their needs or feelings.

Because, unlike other children, they are not "allowed" to deeply consider their differences and idiosyncracies. They are not "allowed" to search for broader understanding of this label and what it means to them, as individuals. They are not "allowed" to examine the areas of themselves that set them apart, and make them unique... they are expected to "just be happy" with their good fortune-- without ever having a chance to understand why they're supposedly "lucky" or "gifted."

This label makes people bristle. Both the "gifted person," who doesn't feel or understand it, and others who resent, don't understand, and don't want to think about, it because it makes them or their children "less" than the best. The "gifted" person comes to feel guilt and shame, akin to survivor's guilt, because they don't see what makes them "so special" and they did nothing to EARN their "elevated" position. They may feel like they were improperly labeled, that they are not "gifted," or that there is something wrong with them-- that they are "bad" because they are "enjoying" the fruits of something they don't deserve.

Even more, they are still DIFFERENT, but they don't really understand how or why. They experience ostracism from their peers, ridicule, shaming, singling-out, by peers and adults. They don't "fit in" and they don't know why. They may try to hide their difference, they may pretend to be at the same skill levels as their age-mates, they may stop volunteering their true thoughts and begin to just parrot the observations of other children, they may fail to pursue their real interests, and they may do this to the depth and extent that they come to be unaware of their internal selves, or cut off any part of themselves that do not "fit in" with the person thhey "should" be.

That is, if they are capable of learning to "fit in."

Often enough, though, they cannot fit themselves "into the box." They cannot escape their inner drive to be who they naturally are, and they exist on the outskirts of their "peer" society, hurting and alone.

What they really need is the ability to understand, the factual truth of, who they are and why they are different. They need to have the information of how and why they are different (that their brains work differently--- and that it is a NEUTRAL and objective difference, not a qualitative or value-ridden experience). They need to be given the tools and materials to process this information, as well as the patience and acceptance to work from, so that they can objectively and rationally accept themselves and others. They need to be armed with the information that their perceptions and thoughts are not right or wrong, better or worse, JUST different. And this need for objective, non-judgemental, data and feedback needs to be vailable throughout the developmental process through childhood and adulthood.

That is not possible, though, as long as we continue to use the term "gifted" to describe these individuals. The word itself is too loaded with meaning and connotation. It is not a neutral or objective adjective like brown, blue, blond, or freckled. It inherently implies value and desirability, no matter societal trends, for a gift is always a welcome thing, and to be gifted is to be the fortunate recipient of something of value..

So, it is clear that we need to agree upon a diferent "label" to understand the needs and experience of the "gifted" child and adult. What, though, do we use? I have pondered this question for many years, balking against my own label of "giftedness", and have yet to come up with a good answer. We need something that either accurately, and neutrally, describes the phenomenon, or something that is separate from the experience, and neutral because of it's lack of connection to the concept.

Differently-abled would be good, except it is already used to describe those who are in some way disabled-- and thus has connotations of negatively impacted developmental/physical manifestations. Atypical has some merit and accuracy as a descriptor, but has underlying negative connotation as abnormal. In the end I think that probably the best route would be to use a term that is currently neutral or without meaning.

Perhaps we could agree upon some person's name (perhaps who has been important historically as an example or advocate) as an adequate categorical title. Maybe we could be "Dabrowskian," "Terminian," "Franklinian," or "Hogian." We, even as young children, know we think faster, know deeper, feel more intensely, and have different interests. If it was because we're "Hypatian" it would not be embarrasing or isolating any more than Jill's ability to outrun all of us, or Cameron's knack of making the funniest jokes.

If parents recieved a letter informing them that their children had, or had not, been determined to be suited for the "Terminian" program, it would not make them feel either insecure or proud of their child.

And, finally, upon knowing that you are "Dabrowskian," it would not be good or bad to look deeper into what that means. It would not be admitting, or believing, that you are "better," or "exceptional," when your experience (as yourself) tells you that you are still "just you." You could talk to your friends, family, teachers, and others about how you feel about being extra-sensitive to clothing tags, bright lights, and injustice without them feeling like you're bragging or being arrogant. You could pursue your interest in physics, as a "Franklinian," without fear of threatening other people. You're not special, and you're not saying you are, you're just different--- like everyone else is different, and special--- you're simply you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking about...

I have been doing a lot of thinking. A lot of introspective examination. A lot of tryng to remember. A lot of trying to understand. It may, on the surface, seem a sad process. There certainly are sad moments in this journey, but in actuality this is a joyful process-- I am learning to accept and understand things I have long cut off from myself-- I am learning to beccome the full person I need to be. I am learning that many of my long-held assumptions were incorrect or incomplete; In doing so I am discovering how to correct and complete my experience.

I am remembering the joyfulness, the wonderful love and acceptance, of my childhood. Instead of seeing only the failures; I am discovering the many successes of myself and my family. For years I harbored anger toward my mother for what I saw as her failures as my parent, now I am discovering that she did not "fail" me in many of the most important ways-- and perhaps as important, I am coming to empathize with her and how difficult it must have been for her to experience my childhood with me.

One of my most important blessings, as a child, was that I was born into a "gifted" family. I was lucky enough to be "normal." I was lucky enough to be seen as an individual; to be cherished and respected for who I was. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that didn't ask me to conform to preconcieved ideals of thought or personality-- I was exceptionally lucky. And this acceptance and love prospered throughout my family-- mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents... We were, none of us, conformists. All had lived, loved, experienced, life in different ways. Some of us were exceptionally talented in music, in art, in academics, in emotional understanding, in self-understanding-- we were all unique, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that we.

I never felt "different" as a young child-- I never was. For we were all different-- that was the norm. My feelings of difference came later-- 7 on-- and while they started outside of my family culture, they ultimately fractured my sense of sameness in every situation. This is an important realization-- one I am struggling to understand and integrate (so I apologize for repetition of this realization) into my current identity.

For I am coming to understand that my normal emotional development was stunted and in some cases halted, probably around the age of 7. I have, for years, been trying to understand and solve the inner struggles that have plagued my life for so long. I believe we each have an inner drive, an imperative really, to reach our developmental potential-- in all ways of development; intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, and social. I have been struggling with that drive and my impediments to that development for too long. I feel, though, that understanding (finally) where my development fractured will allow me to retrace the milestones I should have reached and ultimately integrate the fractured areas of self-development with my non-fractured self.

The reasons I share this experience, whether it be of interest or not, are varied: 1) it is hepful for me to write and organize my thoughts, 2) I have some hope that sharing my experience might in some way help others who have had similar experiences, and 3) because it might be interesting to read about :)

My recent revelation that my emotional/social problems are likely rooted in my school-age life has been a supremely freeing and joyful thing for me. It has allowed me to empathize with myself as a child, and also with my caregivers. It has also given me a specific point of reference in understanding my emotional/social deficits and a means of developing a plan of recovery from them.

Most of all, though, it has given me an understanding of the imperative of learning to accept myself-- all of myself-- and understand my unique needs and abilities.

I started this with the idea of how I was "normal" in my family because I believe that feeling accepted and respected as an individual was the most important developmental foundation I had, and that, perhaps, being singled-out or otherwise made to feel "different" is detrimental to one's development-- in all ways.

As I grapple with trying to accept my differences and their causes, I am largely dealing with the psychology of highly-gifted children and adults. In many ways I am dissatisfied with the term "gifted" to describe this population of individuals. I believe that, in the American culture at least, it engenders an almost automatic bristling of feathers-- The very term suggests that this population possesses something better, or is better, and is too-often percieved as describing people who have an "unfair advantage" over the rest of the population. Beyond that, though, I believe that it is a completely inadequate descriptor of the experience of "gifted" people; in particular, of the proundly giifted.

For the experience of being "profoundly gifted," for most, is anything but a gift or advantage. We are often taught (by society and our experience) that we are strange, wierd, incomprehensible, and unaccepted by the world. We are often taught that we should be ashamed (either implicitly or explicitly) of our "giftedness" and that we must hide and deny large parts of ourselves in order to "fit in."

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have, in most of my life, hated that I was different, and would have gladly given up my "gifts" in order to just have friends, be liked, and "fit in" to a society which I had to live in but never felt a part of. Honestly, I have lived my life HATING myself because I could not live up to the expectations and demands of the society I lived in. And I still dislike myself, deep down, for that, but am working hard to learn to understand and appreciate my differences and potentials, now that I can CHOOSE what society I will live in.

And so I will end this with a promise/warning that coming closely on the heells of this entry will be my account of my "gifted" experience and the ways I attempted to deal with my desires to fit in-- particularly by cutting off parts of myself that I believed the worst offenders of my "difference." I hope that my experience will help others deal with their own experience and/or help you understand and protect your gifted children from the experiences I contended with.