What Should I Write Next?

Hello, and thanks so much to everyone for the enthusiasm and feedback regarding my last blog entry.

There were quite a number of questions requesting clarification, which gave me the idea to just ask you what you would like to see me write about next.

If there is a topic that you would like to see me write about, please let me know what it is in the comments of this post. If I think that I can do it justice, I’ll give it a shot.

Thanks again.


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52 thoughts on “What Should I Write Next?”

  1. Hi Sam-
    I enjoyed your blog post on gifted individuals. Right now, I am struggling with parenting two profoundly gifted young people who are clinically depressed. My husband and I deliberately tried to raise our kids in a manner different than how we were raised. We practiced attachment parenting- wearing our babies, breastfeeding on demand, and co-sleeping. The kids were happy, loved to learn, and we encouraged them to pursue their interests, whatever they might be. They were sought out as playmates and soared in academics as well as extracurriculars.
    Everything started to change once these kids hit adolescence. I wonder if you have any words of wisdom related to such a dramatic shift in mood? Each gradually withdrew from the activities which had fascinated them and won them acclaim. At this point, the older child is “on a break” from a prestigious college where he was failing multiple classes. The younger is not at all interested in college but also has no prospects or stated preferences for a career.
    thank you,

    CT Mom

    1. It has always amazed and impressed me when parants go out of their way to offer their children something that they wish they’d had growning up.

      It seems like there are a few possible topics here. Please let me know if there’s one that you like:

      Why Teens Rebel
      Pushing Family Away: Why Some Teens Value Peers More Than Family
      Neurological Differences: Why Teens & Adults See Things Diffrently

      Did I get it? If I missed the mark, please feel free to give me the title of the article that you wish were out there. Thanks very much.

    2. There is a sociological issue called the ‘social contract’ which has terms of engagement which tend to be assumed by gifted people but 99% of average people are clueless about how these unspoken assumptions and rules of engagement (assumptions) are utterly violated by lower IQ people daily, to their own self destruction. This is very depressing and disorienting and can lead to the sort of decoupling you describe. Start at home, by opening up the issue of parent child expectations and describing to offspring your expectations and understanding of them. And they should do the same. This will create an explicit social contract. You will understand their expectations and they, yours. You will learn how to engage without random disappointment. Then, encouraged, they will go out into the world and build such contracts with some aware people and this practical work of living positively and constructive engagement will replace the frustration and disappointment which leads to disconnection, isolation, and related mental issues.

  2. My personal mission in life is to end the perpetuation of poverty, crime and prejudice—one person at a time, through education. Working with alcoholics/addicts, the incarcerated and inner city education, one of the most profound affects on a person comes from understanding themselves. We have a world around us of individuals who suffer depression, addiction and isolation. The greatest gift given to a suffering person is the ability to see themselves in objective truth and objective love. Cutting through self-deception and the lies society has dumped on those who are “different”, provides a breading ground for hope. Sam, your article, “Understanding Very, Very Smart People” gives hope. I also find Howard Gardner’s 9 Intelligences, provides an easily understood spring-board to help one begin to see their capacity. Please, continue to blog. Your capacity is unique and profound…giving hope…

    1. Self-discipline sounds like a challenging one, but it is easy to imagine such a piece being helpful, if done well.

      Seeing more and curiosity sounds like good ones to tie into misdiagnosis.

      Now that I think about it, all three could tie in well to a Dąbrowski post.

      Thanks for the suggestions.

  3. Any extension on your previous blog is interesting for me.
    Could you maybe put up a mailing list or similar so I can receive updates about any new article?

  4. Thanks for this. I would like to know how to deal with the feelings of “I haven’t accomplished enough” with the intelligence I carry. Sometimes the feeling is simply overwhelming. In my case, it was part of what I tried to escape by becoming an alcoholic (20 years in recovery).

  5. I would be interested in what you know about correlation between gifted and depression.

    Also, gifted and ADD.

    Thanks for your blog; I enjoy your thoughts.

      1. That’s what I was going to ask — if there is evidence of a positive correlation between high IQ and depression and anxiety. I read an interesting article suggesting that it might be due to an increased awareness of and sensitivity to the inequities and injustices in the world, a heightened sense of social responsibility, without the power to effect change. The flip side of the “ignorance is bliss” coin.

        1. When I had my daughter at a school for gifted I was informed many gifted children also have learning disabilities. Many go undiagnosed because they are smart enough to learn around it. It may sound fantastic but actually ends up being problematic when learning disabilities are not diagnosed.
          Great article.

      2. I would also like to see you do something on this topic. Our 19-year old is experiencing depression and anxiety, as well. I can see how his giftedness and sensitivity contribute to feeling lonely as well as seeing and then feeling repercussions of everything so deeply. This is a kid who when four or five sobbed, “Are you going to die, Mommy?!!” Super smart and caring yet totally beats himself up about not reaching his potential and not being able to do enough for this broken world. I was just like that when I was younger….

        Can you please recommend some good books or articles about emotionally sensitive gifted people’s mental health challenges? Our son doesn’t think his giftedness has anything to do with his anxiety and depression (he finds fault with the notion of differing levels of intelligence–he’s an anarchist now, you see), yet it’s patently obvious to us that this is a factor. He has agreed to read up on the topic, at least. Suggestions, please?

  6. Hi Sam,
    Like many others, my nephew gave up on education in his early teens, so as not to seem different from his friends. Privileged skateboarding and hanging out; chose more popular schools over better adapted ones. Sabotaged himself academically and is now facing/avoiding a study choice & maybe never going to get there.
    Maybe also a paragraph on how pedagogy is rarely adapted to how very smart brains function and hence not so attractive to the (V)HIQ.

  7. Sam,
    Great article! My husband and I have 5 children, the oldest is gifted (as is a middle kid). I remember so vividly one day when he was 7 years old. He was sitting in the top bunk of his bed and sobbing crying. I tried to console him and he started yelling, “Why am I here mom? What am I supposed to do?” The intensity of his experience shook me to my core and shifted and strengthened my understanding of the depth of his gifted soul. Moving forward, he is now 15 and I can completely relate to the ‘trying’ aspect if your article. When he chose to go to public school (the kids were homeschooled) in 6th grade (FYI: terrible time to enter public school!!) hhewas confused that he had to try in certain subjects and had homework as he was used to being able to study arts, literature and history prolifically during his homeschooled days. It was a challenge not easily met, but he did get comfortable with it over the following couple years.

    I would love to see and article related to dyslexia and giftedness, as one if our children fits that profile. Homeschooling is a godsend for such a kid!

    Thank you!

  8. Thank you.
    Having an IQ thats been tested over and over all thru my school and adult years has left me kind of in my own lost space,
    Standford -Binet (151) and 154 respectfully,
    Both youth and adult Wechsler tests only told my parents and teachers that i was smart and easily to get bored.
    I know i am smart, BUT, hiw do i say this, when family tells me i am, i have a hard time with it.
    I am a SYSTEM guy. I can fix anything, i can learn any skill quickly if i am allowed to learn it MY WAY.
    But, what i do for a living is not what i feel i am destined for, and niw at 53, turning a hobby and something i had fun doing, 35 years later i feel so lost.
    I mean really lost.
    I want to to more to affect others lives, and i just cant seem to get out of this fog…..
    Maybe you can relate to what i am saying and discuss it.
    I cant be alone in the way i feel.
    The turmoil is spiritually wrecking me.
    I dont seem to have a real purpose anymore and i know there has to be something more…
    I know it. But i cant see it thru the dense fog…

  9. I liked your article, it clarifies so many bothersome and confusing issues. Relating to other people is incredibly difficult if you don’t know the rules. Odd; very bright people can’t seem to understand interpersonal rules, but easily see complex dynamic holistic systems. Very bright people can easily interpret static abstract instructions, yet cannot recognize their own inability to describe their own feelings, or quickly empathize another’s. Then the trouble starts, and feelings become the issue not the task. The task, dropping rapidly in priority requires fluidity…a very available skill set…until it hits the emotional realm.

    I’m not declaring a trade-off, as many very bright people are also well adjusted. I am noting the pressure, mostly internal, a very bright person constantly struggles with to ‘fit’ into the rule system and some are able to divert their fluidity skill set in other abstract areas back into emotions. All this effort appears as aloofness, distance, failure to engage, stupidity, and so many other tragic inaccuracies. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to train and focus the mind to interface with other humans and draws away from the natural torrent of successive realizations available to the very bright. The bright lose twice: their gift is suppressed, and the process is draining.

    The torrent – in its natural state – is a vast hurricane of wonder…a force that occupies all parts of the brain. Observing, zooming in and out of, the torrent is peaceful, solving problems joyful, absorbing information akin to listening to music, calming, gratifying. Controlling and shutting down the power of the torrent sometimes just isn’t worth it, as many relationships are one sided transactions, that I have yet to figure out the purpose for.

    Our public school system requires, demands, the storm be clamped down. It ridicules, quashes, torments, alienates, and says there’s no place for that kind of thinking. Indeed, relationships demand the storm drop in priority many times in a day. So the struggle is real, to find a balance with this force of brilliance.

    Early in life, simple existentialist conclusions are reached, but the emotional response has no experience to rest on, can easily become overwhelming and the worst part is no one understands. You look around and see people laughing. It makes no sense…don’t they know? The taunt of a bully can be dismissed, he’s simply seeking power, that’s linear, understandable, but sycophants cause extreme emotional distress, because…why? How? How does one set aside the storm just to curry favor?

    This leads to “What Should I Write Next.” Bullies tend to lead. Very few and far between are true leaders, more so since November, that can harness intellectual resources and move us all forward. Sycophants fill in under the bullies. Falling in line is a useful skill, but not for the bright. It’s painful and draining. Being close to the bully and sycophants isn’t sustainable. It hurts. So the bright resign themselves. Often to isolation. Which hurts, but in a manageable way…it’s not traumatic, it’s just dramatic.

    How do very bright people manage that kind of pain in this kind of world?

    1. It depends.

      Some of them don’t.

      I think the more successful strategies involve learning how to change the relationship to things that will not change.

  10. Is there any advice you can provide to channel the seemingly never ending talking, explaining and questioning? I understand it is a trait, but I find myself telling my children to just stop talking sometimes…. Thank you.

  11. Sam

    Can you please write a version of this that speaks directly to a slightly younger audience. My 8 year old is struggling with so many of the issues you mention that he would really benefit from reading it himself. Of course the language doesn’t need to be simplified nor the concepts. I still may have him read it but if he felt it was geared towards the under 16 crowd, it would be so powerful.

    1. I was about to ask the same for my 12 year old. As a gifted person myself I recognise so many of the issues in my son as well, and so I can provide some of this guidance, but external sources are a welcome support.
      Thank you!

  12. I would love to read some literature on how to actually understand my child as a parent. I know this scope seems broad, but most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing or dealing with. My son,age 12, never opens up, but is always in his head. he says he “can’t turn it off”. I really need a “what to expect when your expecting…for gifted kids” kind of book. I have read too many books to count and tried to talk to school counselor/gifted teachers with no real understanding of how his little mind works and how to direct, mold, comfort him or help him thrive.

  13. Sam–

    Thanks so much for your last post, and for being thoughtful enough to gather suggestions for your next one.

    I’d love to be able to point friends with gifted kids (or gifted kids and gifted adults themselves) toward the following things:

    1) A highly-organized (flowchart?) resource that walked people through possible educational options from birth through university, specifically the pros and cons (plus maybe a regional directory?) of each of the following:
    – homeschooling (may not be an option if both parents value their careers, both need to work for financial reasons, or there are toxic dynamics between the kid and either parent)
    – private schools (did wonders for me, but are often very pricey indeed– I was lucky enough to get a scholarship, but I know the need far outstrips supply; also, may be more structurally rigid than many gifted kids can handle)
    – charter schools (not my area of expertise; seems hard to sort the charlatans from the genuine article, though)
    – public schools (honestly I think this tends to be the worst of the options for most gifted kids, but maybe for parents with no other options, this can be combined with online educational resources to make the best of it)

    2) Casual support group conversation and resources. Maybe a private Facebook group or something? The SENG Connect option looked interesting, but it appears to require membership, which discourages low-barrier drop-in discussions.

    3) Alternative groups for adults. Many folks, myself included, either don’t qualify for the arbitrary membership requirements or are just put off by the vibe of groups like MENSA. Just knowing what else is out there (and requirements to join) would be helpful.

    Note: I checked out the sengifted.org website and I found a lot of good stuff there, but I didn’t (yet) find resources like the ones above.

  14. Useful tips for dealing with (perhaps un-acknowledged) perfectionism as an adult or child. When the expectation is to do X to a certain degree (such as 5 points to consider when sponsoring a project), but we feel that we need to understand and communicate a body of work first – how to avoid analysis paralysis?

  15. Another example to expand upon: that most others simply will not “catch up” – and how to be ok with that. My wonderful mom had my siblings and I discuss many types of situations that involve a mix of innate abilities, skills that come from “trying,” and learning to work with others. Examples: “Is it likely you will ever be an expert sumo wrestler? Why/why not? Are you ok with that? How about an Olympic swimmer? How about someone who can swim across the lake? How about someone who can solve a Rubic Cube in 30 seconds? Picasso? A person whose knowledge gets them invited to speak all around the world? A Professor who gets tenure? What advice would you give young Mozart if you could?”

  16. My son is hg with an IQ above 140 and seems to be very well adjusted most of the time. He’s 11 and just started a school that specializes in highly capable students, my questions, what I would like to know more about, is some success stories with highly capable indiviuals. I feel like so many blogs are about struggles and problems and and he does have some but it’s intimidating to be faced with so much negativity all the time. Surely there must be some highly intelligent adults out there who are living successful happy lives.

  17. I am an older retired person (67 years old). I tended to score in the top 95% on a few IQ tests I took the (Lorge Thorndike while in high school), the Cattel IQ test in the 1970’s, and the Wechsler Adult IQ test around the year 2000 (when the factory I worked at for 27 years shut down and I was seeking job retraining).

    I took the (untimed) Raven Advanced Progressive test in 1980 and scored high enough to join MENSA and the Triple Nine society IQ club. I took this test because my college instructor thought my troubles with certain reading items could have caused trouble on standard written IQ testing.

    A doctor Tim Miles (Bangor University, UK) thought my learning difficulties were related to a mild case of dsylexia, as full blown dyslexia problems were evident in others in my family.(Dyslexia is defined a little differently in the UK).
    Topics to possibly write about
    1)I think an interesting topic could be: What is it like to cope with difficulties from being gifted and having some problems from a learning issue as well.
    2)IQ tests do vary somewhat. I did best on the Raven. Can a given IQ test maybe give some direction for a person seeking a career? This could be useful to help young people trying to develop career interests.

  18. Speaking for myself, I’m always curious about the story of the person who’s words I’m reading. So I’d love to hear how you got into this specialized area of psychotherapy for gifted teens and adults, and some of the lessons you yourself have learned from it.

    1. Fair enough.

      While I have read quite a bit about it, the place that I learned the most about this topic has to do with where I went to high school. I went to The Roeper School in Birmingham, MI, which specializes in gifted education. Watching the people that I know from that school over the course of the last few decade has been the real education.

      I get to see how they interact with the world, what they expect of themselves, how they are in relationships, what issues they may have with substance use/abuse, etc. I got to witness and participate in a longitudinal natural experiment that has been going on for most of my life.

  19. Please, Sam, stop using the phrase “too smart for their own good.” It’s pejorative. Many of us gifted were hurt by hearing it as we were growing up.

    1. Emily, it is not a phrase that I use often, but I chose it quite intentionally. One of the things that therapists do is focus on the messages that people receive from the world. It is because of its resonance that it has meaning. If you found reading it unpleasant, then that is unfortunate.

  20. Sam, I am 44 and I still often feel like the awkward child–too sensitive, asks oddball questions, short-tempered–when trying to fit in at work. “You make people feel stupid.” “You make your colleagues ‘shut down.'”

    These comments seem funny to me since the only one who is systematically shut down is me.

    Perhaps I have a personality disorder and I am unaware of my own narcissism but when I ask for evidence of how I do this no one can provide me with an answer. I wonder since I am aware that I am more intelligent and have a high IQ do I unconsciously exude contempt for the opinion of others? Or are others insecure and threatened? I think my reputation for being fast and knowledgeable has created an anxiety response in my managers and colleagues. They fear being exposed. So they attribute malintent to the things I say where none exists. My input is both desired and feared.

    (And then I think to myself again–do I have a personality disorder I am unaware of?)

    You stated that your clients have to struggle with those who have more power but less intelligence. Can you write about strategies to deal with these kinds of dynamics?

    1. I can give that a shot. I think it really depends on the person, their personality, what sort of job they have, etc. Something that I think can help in most cases, however, is a mindfulness practice. Intentionally cultivating greater awareness can lead to meeting people where they are a bit more, which can be helpful.

  21. Hi !
    Thank you for a very relevant blogpost!
    I would like to read about a romantic relationship/ mariage between someone too smart for their own good and someone that is quite intelligent and gifted. I would love advice for both parties. How to understand more of each other and deal with this uncomfortable difference in a playful way, a model to address this issue.

  22. Loneliness. I’ve been without close friends all my life because of all the elements of being too smart for my own good. I am in my sixties and the research/literature is just now beginning to realize that people like me exist. I’m alone and lonely and don’t really want to stay that way. I’ve ordered Frankl’s book and hope to find some sort of meaning for my declining years, but would also like to see you address this issue. Thank you.

  23. First, thank you for this article. It has appeared with synchronicity to one of my goals–reconnecting with a very bright childhood friend whom I miss very much.

    You made a fairly broad statement of how to help these kids enjoy life better–instead of heavy FOCUS 24/7, see the world as systems, more broadly. I loved this hint and would like you to expand on it…give examples. Also, I wonder if you could make a few statements on how to socialize without talking down to people, and being frustrated when they don’t get what you’re saying.

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