Jerald Grobman and Madelon Sann will be leading a 3 hour workshop/seminar:
Learning Disabilities and the Gifted/Learning Disability Syndrome:
A Psychodynamic Approach
at the annual SENG conference in Orlando Florida July 19th 2013.
The Essence of Giftedness
Giftted children, gifted adolescents and gifted adults have precocious intellectual and intuitive abilities that allow them to relate to the other people and their physical environment in sensitive and creative ways. Tragically, when these same remarkable traits conflict with one another they can feel more like disabilities than assets. Left unresolved these conflicts can cause intense emotional pain and problems such as: underachievement, learning disabilities, perfectionism, procrastination, low motivation, existential depression, homework refusal and school refusal.
Personality characteristics of gifted children, gifted adolescents and gifted adults
- An intense drive to explore, understand and master their environment. This drive can feel like a powerful physiological force that is difficult to describe and hard to control or direct.
- An intense motivation to explore ‘big’ ideas and ‘big problems’ in detail and in depth
- Impatience with conventional educational settings where the pace is too slow and the structure to boring
- Because gifted children adolescents and adults can have an unusual capacity to combine logic and intuition, the process of learning can seem effortless and immediate
- Physical sensitivities to light, sound, temperature food and clothing
- Aesthetic sensitivities to color, rhythm, and a general sense of beauty
- Physical and aesthetic extra sensitivities often work together permitting gifted children, gifted adolescents and gifted adults to become fascinated and ‘tuned into’ certain aspects of the physical environment
- Gifted children gifted adolescents and gifted adults can be empathetic with other people’s emotional pain and can offer solutions for emotional problems and conflicts. This capacity is rarely accompanied by insight into their own emotional problems.
- Passionate and bold visions for how to use their prodigious gifts and talents in powerful ways
Common conflicts of gifted children, gifted adolescents and gifted adults
- Gifted individuals of all ages can experience their unusual sensitivities and abilities as both gifts and disabilities
- The need for friendships and admiration v. the need for privacy
- Knowledge gained from intuitive extra cognitive processes can seem less reliable than knowledge gained from logical cognitive processes
- Secretly feeling grateful for parents who support their gifted development v. feeling openly resentful at prolonged dependency
- Wanting to give free expression to the forces of giftedness v. the need to control them
- Conflicts about gender identity
- Desires to explore all areas of interest v. the need to make choices among them: a special problem for the gifted polymath
- Feeling proud of being gifted and special v. fear of envy and retaliation
Failure to resolve these emotional conflicts can cause many of the common problems experienced by gifted children, adolescents and young adults. Gifted young people may have many precocious abilities but rarely does this include is a capacity to be aware of their own emotional conflicts or the ability to resolve them.
Common problems of gifted children, gifted adolescents and gifted adults
- Learning disabilities
- reading disabilities: dyslexia
- writing disabilities: dysgraphia
- math disabilities; discalculia
- Low motivation
- Existential depression
- Homework refusal
- School refusal
If these problems persist and become severe they can lead to true psychiatric disorders such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorders
Our Diagnostic, Assessment and Therapeutic Approach
Our assessment approach is an eclectic one that uses the principles of psychodynamics-the knowledge of how psychological conflict influences personality and behavior-as well as principles of cognitive and behavioral theory.The cornerstone of our assessment approach is to discover each gifted individual’s unique “central dynamic conflict”and then formulate how it intersects with genetic, medical,social,educational factors as well as the tasks of normal growth and development to cause psychological symptoms and maladaptive behavior.
This formulation allows us to determine if a gifted individual’s psychological symptoms are evidence of a true psychiatric disorder or are a reflection of a gifted person in crisis or both.When necessary,it also permits us to select appropriate psychotropic medications.
Our psychotherapy approach is a flexible psychodynamic one.It includes the techniques of cognitive/behavioral therapy, mentoring,advising and coaching to establish and structure an appropriate venue for gifted growth and accomplishment.It helps an gifted individual understand his/her central psychological conflict and then develop more adaptive psychological coping mechanisms so that gifted endowment can be used more productively.
For a more detailed discussion of these and other issues please read Dr. Grobman’s two articles available for download from the publications section of the website