Gifted Adults Can Have ADHD Too

By Carolyn Patterson on

GiftedAdultCoverGifted Adults Can Have ADHD Too

The Gifted Adult, by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Psy. D.  New York: Ballantine Books, 1999.

My motivation for reading this book was (1) personal – always nice to feel “gifted” and “special”; and (2) my consistent impression that the parents of the kids I work with are gifted, but may suffer from a case of ADHD or Strict Moral Upbringing or SBU (that’s my own acronym!) and feel their own unease coming out when they see their children struggling.

This book is incredibly pragmatic. It even includes a self-assessment that you can score.

But first of all, Ms. Jacobsen re-defines “intelligence”. Most adults grew up with the idea that IQ is a fixed number, and a fixed ability. Ms. Jacobsen widens the definition of intelligence to include several new facets – some that are a bit hard to define or quantify – but I think she does a good job.

She includes Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (MI), critics be damned. While these are used a lot in elementary schools, they have not been seen as verifiable qualities that can be measured by most psychologists. Still, in an effort to help adults move past rigid ideas about their own intelligence, she includes questions on her survey to help them see new aspects of how they approach the world.

From there, she moves into the concepts of Intensity and Excitability, which she calls Gifted Traits (GT) (pp. 98-99). She includes descriptors for complexity and drive, too, which is necessary if you are going to get your ideas out in the world.

btw she loves acronyms, especially 2-letter acronyms.

The next section she calls Advanced Development (AD), which is quite nice in my opinion because she sees the desire to help others as a parted of the gifted personality. She loves making up “equations” such as:

AD = HV + MM + RA. These abbreviations stand for Advanced Development equals having a Humanistic Vision, a Mandated Mission, and a need to perform some Revolutionary Action.

All of these qualities of your interests, your proclivities, and your higher self are tabulated into your EvIQ, or Evolutionary IQ. She gets Evolutionary IQ from the notion of “evolve” – just as we evolve as a species, each individual evolves as we mature. We are able to have a vision and to take action once we are adults, in different ways than when we were born. Even if you like the idea of having a fixed IQ, you can see how you evolve your intellectual gifts into meaningful action through your work or your community involvement.IntegratedMindBody

She really sees this definition of IQ as one that changes over time. After you’ve answered qustions on her survey, you tally up your scores in the areas of Multiple Intelligences, Gifted Traits, and Advanced Development, for a single score, which is your “current level of Evolutionary Intelligence” (p. 108).

And then what? Let’s assume that if you are reading this blog, you have a high EvIQ. J She has positive suggestions about meeting / confronting the usual criticisms you’ll receive – either from yourself or from others, such as, “Why don’t you slow down?” and, “You’re so sensitive and dramatic!”

I really like her section on Intensity (pp. 258 – 267). She has a chart that shows the differences between extremes of intense behavior, and a balanced version of the same energy:

Collapsed

Exaggerated

Balanced

Listless Wired Exhilarated by life
Numbers out with substances Thrill seeker; addicted to excitement Frequent peaks of experience
Dodges controversy; steers toward popular opinion Intractable opinions; dominates conversations Engaging conversationalist; comfortable with intense discussion
Substitutes mindless banter for in-depth conversation Caustic; uses words as weapons Articulate; stimulating
Deprecates self as laughingstock Jokingly mocks and humiliates others Joyous; congenial
Cold and remote Doting and smothering Warm and caring

She gives advice on how to reclaim your true self, your gifted self, and to seek balance to find joy and meaning in your world – but not by hiding your gifts, stifling yourself, or repressing others.

She ends the book with information about how you interact with others – relationships and finally your place in society. I expect for many people this last phase involved a sense of intuitive spirituality. Even if that sort of thing turns you off, it is important to know that those questions of the meaning of your life, and the legacy of your life, will be important as you continue along this journey. I hope everyone can find his or her gifts, see how the intention and willingness to change and improve can turn into reality, and how much our society needs you to share your gifts.

individual-society

4 comments

Comments are closed.