I could be talking about some crazy new cocktail making the scene at the local bar or my life and the gifted children I know. I’ll let you decide.
Overexcitabilities (OEs) are just what they sound like-like a drink gone way too strong. Being overly excitable often comes within the territory of giftedness and can be mistaken as ADHD. They’re fun and crazy, yet some days I’d much prefer a pot of tea. So, if you know someone exhibiting some of these characteristics, you might want to pull up a chair and learn a little more.
Kazimerz Dabrowski, a psychologist and psychiatrist, put it all together after some research and much observation. He came to realize that giftedness often comes with extra shots of emotions and behaviors. It’s something that’s inborn (which means there’s no escape). They’re an eclectic combination of attributes that many gifted show in one way or another. The best you can do is learn how they manifest themselves in the internal and external world and understand how to use them to be your fullest self.
THE MILKSHAKE- Psychomotor
Like a “party animal”, the Psychomotor OE demonstrates itself through movement. It’s the kid who just can’t sit still, the teen who must dance, and the adult runner. They often feel the need for constant action. Whether it’s talking, dancing, or exercise, this is the kid you’d like to hook up to a treadmill because you’re convinced he could power the city. Bountiful energy can also be demonstrated through the “workaholic”, competitive sportsman, or extreme organizer color-coding her life. The MILKSHAKE needs an outlet for action and time to work it into his life; along with leaving room for spontaneity and open-ended work.
THE COCKTAIL- Sensual
The Sensual OE is aware of so many sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds all around. Many Cocktails develop an appreciation of the arts or go on to become the center of attention as pubic speakers. They drink in the crowd or (on the flip side) can be reclusive; opting for serenity in place of overstimulating noise. Once this sensual OE gets involved in her work, the world stops. He’s the child who really doesn’t hear you reminding him to turn off his video games (again), the well-read father who’s not ignoring you (only oblivious to the outside world), or the woman taking center stage with the audience in the palm of her hand. It almost becomes an “out of body” experience. Just like The Milkshake kid, The Cocktail needs time in a comforting environment and downtime to push away sensory experiences after taking center stage in the world.
While this OE manifest itself less energetically on the surface, she’s a girl who can curl up with a book all day long, the mother who takes classes online for “learning’s sake”, the boy relentlessly searching online for the key to unlock the next level of his game, or the father who can spit out the names, dates, and places of every battle. Espressos crave knowledge and Curiosity is their middle name. It’s got to be deep and comprehensive. Espressos even love thinking about thinking! Give these Intellectuals a way to use their knowledge (through a cause or profession) along with reminders to “chill out” every once in awhile, and you’ll keep this outspoken and active mind satisfied.
THE WARM MILK-Emotional
Like a warm glass of milk, the Emotional OE is all about comfort. Warm Milks have very complex emotions, exhibit physical responses to happiness and suffering. They tend to form strong relationships and are strongly empathetic to others’ feelings. Emotional OEs are the kids with 100 stuffed animals in their beds and who keep mementos of everything you could imagine. Hanging onto a paper clip because it’s a favorite color or is a token from someone special makes perfect sense to a Warm Milk. The trick with Warm Milks is to support them while embracing their emotions, help them to sort through the confusing ones, and identify the triggers that can make life a joy or a struggle.
Just like smoothies come with an endless combination of fruits, veggies, and more, these Imaginational OE come with a multitude of flavors. The Smoothie dreams of inventions, writes endless stories, and sometimes mixes up fact with fiction. Ideas can send the Smoothie off on tangents where they’ll throw everything together while you stand back and sip on their dreams. Creativity rules their imaginations and sometimes the world created in their own minds is much better than the real world. Helping The Smoothie means embracing his creativity while helping him follow his own path and develop his own systems.
Do any of these sound familiar? Perhaps you recognized a certain flavor, or perhaps you’ve noticed a little of each in a gifted person you know. Overexcitabilities are part of not only a personality, but are intrinsic to the personhood of many gifted people. Understanding is only the first step. The celebration is ongoing.