The Burdens of Gifted Children

The Burdens of Gifted Children



Gifted children have an unusual cross to bear; most of society sees giftedness as–well, as a gift, but gifted children most often see it is a curse. As most who do not understand giftedness, people assume gifted children are smarter and have it made in life. For those of us who understand, teach and parent gifted children, we know otherwise. Here are seven burdens most gifted children bear in their lives.

Bullying: Bullying could stem from envy of a gifted child’s intelligence, but insight into why kids bully also shows that children who become victims of bullying usually are those who stand out from the norm in some way. So, you-know-who stands out among their same-age peers–Sarah Smarty-pants and Nathan the Nerd. Delivering an in-depth monologue at recess about the loss of Ancient Greek knowledge and technology when the Romans conquered the Greeks, and the resulting affect it had on the historical timing of the Industrial Revolution does call attention to oneself. Correcting a teacher in front of the class when she mispronounced a word could also lead to some retaliation. Yes, gifted children are often the victim of bullying when their intelligence shines a little too brightly.

The Race to the Middle: In the last few decades, our educational system has focused on making sure no child gets left behind and teachers having to teach to the middle. This works well for the students who struggle and those who are performing in the average range. Excellent, right? No? Oh, wait. Where does this leave our gifted learners whose voracious appetite for knowledge puts them ahead of the pack? It leaves them bored, disenchanted and disengaged. While everyone in education is racing to the middle, gifted children’s love of learning is racing out the classroom door. The parents of gifted children do not escape this educational burden either, as they find themselves fighting the schools to get the education their gifted child needs and deserves.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Unless of course you are gifted and you are a rare bird. Gifted people make up approximately the top 2% of the population. If a gifted child in 6th grade attends a school with say, 200 other sixth graders, statistically there is only going to be two other gifted 6th graders to flock with. We know as humans, we tend to make friends with those who share our interests. The same goes for school-age kids. For gifted children, the likelihood of finding like-minded peers to make friends with are slim. Having trouble finding friends who share your interests is a significant social issue for gifted children.

Bionic Senses: Gifted children are most often born with emotional and physical intensities, sensitivities and overexcitabilities. These are known as Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities; named for the Polish psychiatrist who first noted them. An itchy tag on the back of a shirt, an odd odor no one else seems to smell or the unavoidable death of a dragonfly hitting a car’s windshield–all of these could send a gifted child into a uncontrollable spiral of emotional turmoil. These super-sensitivities easily become an unwanted burden for a gifted child, and it leads to exhausting levels of damage control for parents.

Not In Sync: Asynchronous development. While other children develop emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually in a synchronous manner, gifted children usually do not. Their intellectual and social intelligence may be light years ahead of their same-age peers, but emotionally, they could lag behind significantly. How difficult it must be for a child who has the intellectual reasoning of an adult, but not have the equivalent emotional maturity needed to handle the adult concepts he understands. As a parent of a gifted child, asynchronous development makes parenting difficult when trying to reason with the man-child who is also falling out on the floor crying like a toddler.

The Green-Eyed Monster: Some say that money is the root of all evil, but in many instances, the root of all evil is envy. Gifted children are not spared from the envious actions and words of mean-spirited, resentful people. Both same-age peers and adults deliver envy-laden insults and actions just to make sure the gifted child is knocked down a few notches. Envy is also a major road block to advocacy efforts for gifted children–why would a child who has it made need more? I read recently this one particular blog post written by a mom proclaiming in her title how she hates it when parents brag about their gifted child. Another blog post seen by many on the internet claimed people are not born gifted, they work and create good habits in order to become gifted. There’s some envy behind these misguided posts.

It’s a Mis – Misunderstood, Misdiagnosed, Mislabeled, Mistreated and Mistaught: The “mis” plight of our gifted children causes their lives to be unnecessarily painful. The many unique and misunderstood characteristics of our gifted children often lead to psychological misdiagnoses. The gifted child who is bored in class begins to misbehave and his teacher recommends that he be tested for ADHD. A gifted child’s underachievement in school can be misinterpreted as laziness. Teachers who misunderstand giftedness do not see the need for acceleration or differentiation when teaching gifted children. In the classroom, on the playground, at the park and in their own neighborhoods, gifted children are misunderstood and are being mistreated.

Saddled with these burdens, our gifted children struggle with self-esteem issues, feel like they don’t fit in in our world, they learn to hide or dumb down their intelligence, they may underachieve, and many end up with anxiety and depression, dropping out of school or turning to delinquent behaviors.

Isn’t it time we work to alleviate these burdens? Through advocacy, all of us who love, parent, educate and work with gifted children can make positive changes in the lives of gifted children. Make your voice part of the change.

Advocate for gifted children and let’s lessen the burden.

57 Comments on “The Burdens of Gifted Children

  1. I started in the gifted and talented program when I was about six. This is incredible. This explains my life perfectly. I’m about to graduate from highschool. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for many years! I’ve been told that I’m bipolar, and I am taking many medications. However, this makes me think a lot differently.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It seems many, many gifted kids struggle with the same issues you have. Have you read this book? “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults” by authors: Authors: James T. Webb, Ph.D., Edward R. Amend, Psy.D., Nadia E. Webb, Psy.D., Jean Goerss, M.D., Paul Beljan, Psy.D., ABPdN, F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D.

      Congratulations on your upcoming high school graduation! Woo Hoo!

  2. Thank you. I experienced many of these myself and then my wife and I watched our son experience many of them himself in school. Now we homeschool and could not be happier with the decision.

    • Yes, as parents of gifted children, it is impossible to sit back and watch them experience these burdens; homeschooling is such a good fit for gifted children! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Not to be cliche…but you hit the nail on the head with this article!! Thank you! As a gifted specialist for the past decade and now a parent of an identified highly-gifted son, I know all too well the difficulties of gifted individuals. There’s not much compassion or understanding by the mainstream when it comes to meeting the needs of these unique individuals…and they do have needs not only academically, but emotionally too. And unfortunately, if you live in my state…not much is being done in the way of funding for these children either. Last I checked it was zero dollars!

    • Yes, there is a lack of compassion and understanding which often leads to the lack of funding in many states. We just moved from a state where the gifted funding toggled each year between zero funding to some years with a total of 1 million dollars in funding which is just a drop in the bucket. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! The more we all speak out, the more likely we can make positive changes happen for our gifted children!

  4. Seems like bionic senses would be called sensory defensiveness too. I was a gifted child and gave birth to another one. I can’t help but think that aspergers syndrome is part of a lot of these kids. I see that in myself (yes i have been dxed with that and ADD as an adult) and in a lot of other aspies. At least it would have given me grounds to ask for accommodation. I wish that schools had more flexibility and teachers had aids to help with the little things that make all the difference.
    The more i learn about so called disabilities the more i learn about the other abilities in myself and others. It is like mother nature did some trade offs.

    • Yes, exactly! It does feel like trade-offs! And yes, the little things would make a big difference! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  5. This was an excellent article. As a retired gifted teacher of k-5 students, this article really hit the nail on the head. I was also gifted myself, reading on a 12th grade level in 3rd grade. I was so totally bored in school and became the classic underachiever. It wasn’t until I was 35 yrs old did I go to college and became a gifted resource teacher at 6 schools. I saw so many of these “burdens” on gifted students, exactly because of the reasons you state. I taught in an inner city school system where it is “just not cool” to be gifted. There are other things that matter more. I faced an uphill battle with students, staff, administrators, parents and even colleagues in the pursuit of best educational practices for gifted. I hope you consider putting this article on other gifted sites like Hoagies and/ or GT World. This would also be a great piece to put in the Gifted Journal. Keep up the great work! :)

    • Many thanks for your kind words! And thank you for sharing your story; if we all share our stories, then maybe we can make positive changes in the lives of gifted children. One change I’d like to see is the misconception that a gifted underachiever is just “not applying himself.” I really appreciate your comment; your experience and story is a needed testimony for many of us!!

    • My family and I live in Virginia where there is actually alot done for “gifted” children. Ou problem is that the public school system where I live has the top 15% of their students in some type of “gifted” classes/programs etc and there is no understanding for the student that is in the top 0.05%. We’ve tried several very expensive private schools also and it is all the same. My oldest 2 somehow did ok – we lived in another area of the country when they were little and they were fortunate enough to find friends that allowed them to be who they were and accepted them. They are fairly well adjusted adults and are making their way in the world. My nearly 19 yr old has gone through multiple schools and just about the time somebody in the system almost “gets it” and I think we might turn the corner, he gets so frustrated he quits. His last 1 1/2 years we homeschooled and he does a lot of internet surfing and just hitting the library. It is a lonely life for him. I’m not sure he would/will do any better in college, although I think he is learning to not correct teachers and to just not talk much around peers do he is not outcast. Sad. Anyway, thank you to everyone for educating parents, students, the general population. Bless you all. Sue

      • Sue, I have heard that about many gifted programs: the gifted programs contain such a wide range of abilities much like the regular classrooms do. It really amounts to the challenge level of Honors or AP classes – it is still not what a gifted child with unique learning abilities needs. And you are right, it is critical to have teachers who understand the emotional, social and educational needs of the gifted!

        Thank you for sharing your 19 year old’s experiences, it hits home for many of us. I can’t help but think that in our mad race to the middle, we are oppressing and losing our next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Einstein to the detriment of our society!

        • I find it fascinating that you reference the possibility of losing our next “Bill Gates” who is doing so much to create a bigger problem for gifted students with his brand of educational reform. His actions definitely highlight the problem of allowing money to dictate educational reform as opposed to getting those with experience to develop what is truly needed. One size never fits all, most, or even many…

          • I agree with you about his role in education; his actions are controversial. My mention of him was because of his influence on computer technology. Without his role in the advancement of computer technology and promotion of its availability to most of society, we just wouldn’t be where we are today with so many technological advancements that we all enjoy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

          • Bill Gates got his money through a legal theft.

            Bill Gates was from one of the wealthiest 250 families in the United States.

            The original MS-DOS was actually Q-DOS (Quick and Dirty OS) developed by the Seattle Computing Company. The SCC founders had approached IBM Boca Raton about licensing their OS to IBM. The SCC founders were running on a shoestring. They needed 3 months of seed money / capital, so that they could finalize their deal with IBM. They approached Bill Gates father for the money. Bill Gates father denied their request. SCC went bankrupt and liquidated. BIll Gates got the SCC software in the liquidation sale. He was aware that SCC had a deal in the works with IBM. He went in with his friend and founded Microsoft. BG’s parents put up the startup capital for the business. The Microsoft founders were not taking any risks. They were from very, very wealthy individuals. If the business didn’t work out for some reason, they were planning to return to school.

            From an ethical and moral standpoint, the Gates fortune is based on a thievery. Thievery that was done legally. He (and Microsoft) really had a minimal influence on computer technology. In fact, he has been much more of a hinderance than a help.

            Yes, Bill Gates is gifted. He was born with a safe full of silver spoons in his mouth. His parents sent him to the best schools. However, Bill Gates actually lacks an appropriate sense of fair play, professional and personal sense of ethics and morals. That comment also goes for his parents.

  6. I am a retired public school teacher and mother of two gifted children. We have spent several hundred thousand dollars educating our children in private schools. They are both doing well now. It is, however, very frustrating to see our brightest children being told “You’re bright, but probably not as bright as your mom and dad think, you’ll be fine. Maybe it would be good if you spent your in school hours assisting those who do not learn as quickly as you, then you can learn what you need after school hours or on Saturday.”
    Mediocrity has become the accepted norm in our schools. In our effort to make everyone the same, aren’t we losing this country’s most valuable resource?
    Perhaps it’s time for parents of those brightest children to make their voices heard, just as the parents of the special needs children have done.
    Great article! Keep it going.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! I know that advocating for gifted children oftentimes seems insulting to parents of children with special needs, but our gifted children are still children and should not be neglected and made to feel like outcasts. They are not fine on their own and the statistics for depression, underachievement, delinquent behavior and suicide among the gifted proves this. These are children; is there ever a situation where it is acceptable to neglect and ignore the needs of a child?

      I wholeheartedly believe that the more gifted adults share their stories, the parents of gifted children speak out and gifted children bravely start to advocate for themselves, the greater our chances of being heard! We all have to work together to improve the lives of our gifted children!

      Thanks for your comment and for getting me on my soapbox so early in the morning! :)

  7. I have a 14 year-old son who was identified as gifted in first grade. He loved school until second grade where his teacher was determined to “put him in his place” whenever he showed signs of working independently. He is now a freshman in high school and is barely getting by grade-wise. After reading this article, I am wondering if his underachieving is a form of depression or feeling misunderstood. I have tried every form of discipline and praise I can think of, but nothing has helped. I know he can do the work, he just won’t turn in the work.

    Do you have any recommendations for me?

    • Lora, I know from my own experience and from what I have learned about gifted children, when the traditional school environment is not a good fit, many gifted children do just give up. I would recommend that you look up gifted children and underachievement – there are many articles and books out there. You may also want to seek the advice of a counselor or psychologist who understands and has experience treating gifted children. Good luck, Lora!

      • Hi Celi, just a quick comment. (You’ve heard this before from me, but it bears repeating).
        I was not interested in school, elementary or high school. teachers came up with all sorts of funky theories to explain why, including one grade 5 teacher of mine who didn’t like me and who suggested to my parents that I was mentally handicapped. My parents got so frustrated with my underperformance at school, they had me tested by a psychologist, who had the wits about him to simply ask **me** why I was not interested in school. (I tested in the top 1% of the population for IQ).
        I told him I was bored. And frankly, I remained bored until grade 11/12, when I took some electives that really interested me. But what REALLY helped was getting into college.
        Now, I see my gifted, brilliantly clever son, who will be 13 (tomorrow), telling me he doesn’t want to go to high school, he’d rather be home-schooled and tutored. Why? Bullies and boredom.
        I started school when I was 5, in kindergarten, that was 1969. Now, it’s 2015, 46 years later, almost half a century, and has anything — ANYTHING — changed? Nope. Not a bit.
        The traditional formulation of schools, based as it was on an 1850’s “factory” model that, in the glorious (but at the same time horrendous) beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, sought to turn out children who’d be exactly the same, and it just can’t work that way.
        Children aren’t “products”, to be turned out within certain “tolerances”. They are human beings, each with their own ideas and unique way of learning; of course there is huge overlap for most kids, but gifted kids aren’t most kids. So why are we still trying to turn out a product — children graduating as though they are gingerbread men — when it JUST DOESN’T WORK! Not just for gifted kids, but for many children, who find the school system uninspiring and who get turned off learning. I just don’t understand it. All I can rack it up to is that politicians, the teachers’ unions, and many other “stakeholders” who have too much vested in the current system to allow it, or even to see the need for it to change.
        I fear for my son, and many other children; we need an educational revolution, a new way of teaching children that is NOT based on a method/philosophy of learning that dates back over 165 years. If something is broken, shouldn’t it be fixed?

        • Absolutely, John. Education needs a total transformation.

          I do want to comment on this —> “Now, it’s 2015, 46 years later, almost half a century, and has anything — ANYTHING — changed? Nope. Not a bit.” I went to see Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester exhibit and one of the exhibit’s narratives stated that because Da Vinci was illegitimate, he had no access to a formal education. This was said to have liberated him and his intellect instead of hindering him. So, even over 500 years ago, formal education was deemed to be a hindrance to an exceptionally gifted individual. Has anything changed in 500 years? Nope, Not a bit 😉

  8. What an excellent website. I am product of the “gifted” program in the public school system. While I admit it was an attempt by the state/county to serve the needs of the gifted it was counter-productive from certain standpoints. It definitely led to bullying. In elementary school, the gifted children were sent to “gifted” once per week. This was announced after the roll call in our primary class. “Gifted students may leave now” the teacher would announce. This created animosity that lasted for years and for some of us, that stayed in our small community, into adulthood. Many of the other points you state are spot-on also, but that one hits home the hardest.

    I think another point that is tangential to the “Mis” diagnosis you mention (and discuss in another article) is teachers diagnosing children with ADD/ADHD as a result of non-accepted behavior resulting from sheer boredom. Often, the gifted child already knows the material being taught or grasps it quickly. Repetition of something already learned leads to boredom/distraction which often results in behavioral issues. “Talks in class”, “Does Not Complete Class Assignments”, “Doesn’t apply him/herself”. I’ve been accused of all and more.

    As luck would have it, I have a 4 year old nephew who is also gifted. His VPK teacher has already noted suspected ADHD in his cumulative folder that will follow him to public school kindergarten next year and will be seen by any of his teachers that care to read his file. Needless to say, this concerns me.

    I would be grateful for any thoughts or experiences you may have on how to handle this situation.

    • Sadly, it is common for gifted traits and behaviors to be misinterpreted and misdiagnosed as other conditions such as ADHD. If it were me, I would learn as much as you can about the misdiagnoses in gifted children, request a conference with his teacher first, and then possibly other school personnel such as the counselor and the principal if need be. Go prepared with pertinent information you have found and ask questions. If you feel it is needed, get a private evaluation by a psychologist who has experience with and understands gifted children. Good luck!

    • i’m cringing reading this, i know how it feels, especially when it’s pointed out like that.

  9. I LOVE that you called them “bionic senses.” Both my son and I are gifted and suffer from bionic senses. Mine is mostly noise and I’m so sick of everyone in my life telling me there’s something wrong with me because of my “noise issues.” For my son it’s bionic touch. He feels seems in clothing that send him over the edge. When I find something he likes we by a many of the exact same item as we can. Others think he’s just being picky and I’m letting him manipulate me. People who don’t have this sensitivity can never really get it.

    • Shannon, oh do I know what you mean! My husband is extremely sensitive to sounds and it used to annoy me and I would get aggravated with him. Through our journey with our kids’ giftedness, he found out he was highly gifted, too. Now, I can’t fuss about his “noise issues”! lol Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  10. So interesting to read about another country and culture! As a mother of four, all more or less gifted, school is really tricky in a country where home schooling is forbidden by law and private schools do not exist. The only thing we can do is to politely ask if the children can move up a class in school. That requires that they are in sync (otherwise it is impossible). My oldest and youngest have done that, but never really has become accepted in the new class (especially the youngest, only immigrant children really play with him), you are half-outcast.
    The Race to the Middle (or to the Bottom) is very important in our culture – no one of the Less gifted is to be left behind. No 2 somewhere around grade 7 learnt not to correct his teachers, which has helped him along with being very few boys in his class and he has become very tall and handsome… Now in last year he suddenly has started doing his homework to get grades good enough to become accepted into a class where gifted students study at gymnasium (upper secondary/senior high school), his older sister went there. A studying child warms a mother’s heart. Earlier he has never had any reason to do any homework.
    Number 3, now in grade 5, suffers for example of an English teacher with very bad English but she does not dare to say anything about mispronounciations and misspellings the teacher teaches.
    Must I say we live in a tiny village, only around 25 children in each year in school?
    I myself has an Asperger diagnosis and because of that is retired in advance, which is how odd and eccentric people is treated by our Race to the Middle-society, since we do not have energy for all strange things the today’s standard requires of us (and sees no point in following the norm). I tell my children to study to get good, well-paid jobs (like civil engineer), so they get a good pension if they become retired like me (and of course I never could have afforded a private school even if one had existed).

    • Karin,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us; so many of us don’t really know how education and gifted students are served in other countries. Your children are lucky to have a mom who keeps encouraging them through this tough time in their lives. I wish you and your family much happiness and success!

  11. I am afraid jealousy of the gifted child is not only limited to outside the home. Case in point: my mother taught me to read at 18 months and I was taken to see a prominent educator. He recommended that I go to a special school. My parents had no desire to send me to a special school, as they had come from relatively humble beginnings. The educator shook his head and said “you’ll always have problems”.
    Fast forward to me being 40. I was accelerated in school and have had endless wrangles with school peers, parents, educators, bosses, and was arrested once but not charged. (This may have also been partly due to my harsh and abusive family environment). I am jobless, partnerless, and about to be made homeless and feel I have been shouting into thin air for a really long time. I have had job problems throughout my life and another theme that comes through is that I just had no help with anything – my parents were very into themselves and completely disinterested. They are only ever interested when I land a publishing deal. I work in the creative sector and even though my mother is interested in that sector herself, she has not a clue what I do even though I have tried to explain. Even when I mix with creative peers, the room goes silent when I show my work. They may offer “help” in the form of work but won’t pay me for it, and certainly won’t offer me any role where I am on the same level at or higher than them. Or I’ll have married men offer to pay for my accommodation in return for sex. I am just disgusted by everyone and as far as I am concerned I am going to have to force people to help me by acting passive-aggressive and useless, as as far as I am concerned brightness and hard work gets you absolutely nowhere in life, but idiocy and laziness does.

    • You are right, envy exists everywhere. Reading your story reminds me of something that is often said of gifted children: highly-intelligent, gifted children are envied, shunned and marginalized to the point of others saying they don’t exist, that is until one makes a huge, newsworthy discovery, invention or feat, then they are glorified. It seems the same can be said for gifted adults as well.

      I’m so sorry to hear your story and I can sympathize–I’ve seen this same situation many times and it hits close to home. I guess like a lot of hardships we all may have, we all have to summon the strength to rise above the BS somehow, or find another way around the idiocy.

      Thanks for sharing your story, and my sincerest wishes to you for a Happy New Year!

    • I share you pain, as a female similarly, reaching 30, I have been shouting for help, trying to explain and ridiculed because of a multitude of envy when I worked in the design field. It’s a very VERY tough world if you are ‘gifted’, there is little support I am finding and burdened with worry of how to exist / be understood/ control emotions / live with integrity / …etc. The list continues.

  12. I am only 12 but this relates to me so much. In English schools everyone sees themselves as gangsters so whenever anyone intelligent but socially inept comes around they feel the need to be moronic d**** to you just to raise their social status. The teachers don’t care about your feelings they just show your talents off and leave you to rot in a classroom doing work way below yourself. People THINK smart people have it easy because you should be smart enough to manipulate you environment but it never will be. Nothing changes if no one tries.

  13. Where have you been my friend? I found another one of your articles on FB and I’m reading everything. You are my go to now. No one get’s it and it’s just been so hard. I have a 7 year old that comes home talking about inertia and the laws of gravity, but you put a brush through her hair or her food is too warm and she is losing her mind.

    • I’ve been here for almost two years waving at you, Heather! lol

      Yeah, it is difficult to find others who get it, but there is a huge online community of gifted parents,educators and mental health professionals who do get it, so you are not alone. There are lots of those online resources on my RESOURCES page.

      Thanks for stopping by, Heather. Keep in touch and let me know if you have any questions or concerns; maybe I can point you in the right direction for answers.

  14. Pingback: My Gifted Child, You’ve Been CHOPPED | Crushing Tall Poppies

  15. Hello.My 13 yr old daughter has ptsd because of bullying at primary school from children and teachers. We are now homeschooling her because she was unable to cope with secondary school because she developed ptsd.She has just begun work from home using online maths websites etc.Considering she has not been doing work for over a year and a half and her self esteem is extremely low she is scoring top marks.She is extremely creative and driven and has always been highly commented on for art and creativity at school.Teachers put her down a maths group and said it was because she was getting questions wrong.I pushed to find out the real reason and they admitted it was because the top group had too many children in it.She has been making homemade spa products and has had products already been accepted into a shop.My feelings are that she has suffered jealousy at the hands of fellow bullyings pupils and also bullying teachers.She is extremely emotionally mature often making sense and clear understanding of adult situations.She has many creative talents and despite missing school through illness due to ptsd has already been getting top marks on maths tests and is also reading classic novels like “pride and prejudice”.she has bought alot of similar novels and is going to do reports on them.She has suffered as a result of a lack of care and protection and the decision to home school is due to never having her talents recognized and encouraged as well as suffering from ptsd and needing to heal without pressure.This has been such a difficult time and yes, we did consult with the head then governors,local authory and even the education secretary.None helped at all.No support whatever.It has all been down to us.Now that we are homeschoolong her she has felt the pressure release and is doing well with work.thanks

    • Adrienne, I am so sorry for what your daughter has been through and my heart goes out to both of you. She is very lucky that she has you who supports her and advocates for her. Sadly though, your story is like many others. Many gifted children are neglected in school and bullied. Homeschooling seems to be helping her heal, and with your love and support, she should continue to do well.

      Thank you for sharing your story, Adrienne. Good luck to you and your daughter <3

  16. I am the parent of a gifted child. She was bullied so severely that I had to move her to another school. And not just by the students, but also their nasty green-eyed mothers.

    However, not all people that dislike braggarts are jealous. I don’t brag about my gifted child. I have nothing to be jealous of. However, I have been stuck in a room with people that go on and on like a train about their child’s awesome intelligence as though the kid was the second coming or perhaps destined to be the next Doogie Howser. It’s disgusting. Their kids even walk around saying how they are smarter than everyone else.

    People brag because it makes them feel good. I would liken it to farting – it might feel good to them, but nobody else really wants to smell it / hear it. I refer to all types of bragging, including the thinly veiled ‘humble brag’.

    The only time I have felt compelled to boast was after a year of listening to a certain person relentlessly hammering on about Doogie-in-the-making, I did the dreaded ‘one-up’ just to shut her up – tacky but necessary. Motormouth looked like she had been slapped in the face.

    Whatever happened to plain old good fashioned modesty.

    • Bragging is just one of those touchy areas. There’s bragging and then there is showing pride in an accomplishment–there is a line there. And you are right, “not all people that dislike braggarts are jealous”.

      Love! your analogy for bragging–farting! So true!

      Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your thoughts!

  17. Don’t forget about the envy experienced BY gifted kids. For some of us, it’s a constant companion and especially loathsome when we’re surrounded by others’ demonstrations of how unattractive and unacceptable it is. This is a thing everyone has to get clear on before real emotional progress can be made–what envy is, why it’s both acceptable and vital to self-knowledge, how to understand and overcome its negative effects without hurting self or others. I don’t like to see all of that undermined by catty, categorical condemnations (“Envious much?”), because I think it distracts from the real issues: inequality and how we learn to cope with it as people. Where people are unequal, conflict happens. It’s how you handle the conflict that matters, not “who started it” or whose motives are the most selfish.

  18. I can really relate to the envy of others, adults, and even kids. I always thought I was responsible for their own inadequacies, so I’d try to change myself to appear less intelligent so they could feel more comfortable with themselves. I’d feel so wrong for being this “way”. I was always chastised by another daughter’s mother for how I got things so easily, as her daughter who I thought had amazing qualities that her mother could not see, she’d take it out on me. And I’ve had other kids who I suspect their parents held intelligence in high regard, which made them resentful of how easily I got things. There used to be this boy who I felt was overly competitive with me, I thought he was very intelligent himself, I always felt that sense that he was threatened by how I got things so easily. One day he admitted to me, that sometimes he just doesn’t like it when he feels like others know more than him. And hearing that was important for me, because I knew then, it’s not my fault if other people don’t feel good about themselves. I’m not responsible for them.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Envy can be hurtful and gifted people often get the wrath of envy directed at them. And you are right, your are not responsible if others don’t feel good about themselves.

  19. Pingback: I Have a Gifted Kid and I Will No Longer Be Ashamed | Crushing Tall Poppies

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  21. Wow.
    I feel all of this, deeply.
    I have periodically done google-searches on the problems of being a Genius in America…every five years or so.
    At first there was nothing(I’ve considered that this may have been due to word choice in the search field,idk)…then, a whole bunch of stuff about “gifted children”, but overwhelmed with ‘those parents’, who believe real hard that their precious one is the next Einstein, but are obviously mistaken(my thought:”how dare they intrude”,lol). Very little about adult geniuses, save for the same sort of pop-psychology that encourages ‘those parents’.
    I am pleased that this time around, I have found you, and many others.
    I’m 45 and have been a Freak my whole life…reading at 3(I think, as I do not remember illiteracy)…bullied by peers and teachers and shrinks and cops and the world in general…I learned early on to hide my mind under the proverbial bushel basket. I despised school, from Kinder, all the way through college…and felt a great sense of relief when I abandoned such endeavors, and went my own way.
    The hardest thing…as you aptly describe…is Alienation: that Mike the Martian-hood, Anomalousness…having to give a class at every utterance….it’s exhausting!
    I am thankful that I lucked into finding my wife(17 years), although it hasn’t been easy; her low self esteem coupled with my esotericism and lack of interpersonal skills have been a challenge to integrate.
    One thing about this post concerns me: Therapists.
    As others have said, folks like us can’t just go to the first therapist we find.
    Especially when we’re poor(“Blessed be moderate Poverty”-Nietzsche)….and especially when we live in a place like Texas, where the common understanding is that if one has issues, one need only go to the nearest church, and psychology is regarded in much the same way as witch-craft.(mental health services, here, are almost non-existent.)
    How does one Shop for an appropriate Shrink in this situation?
    In spite of the above access issues, I have tried out quite a few therapists, and come away frustrated, if not downright angry…they have all fallen somewhere between Lay Preachers(publicly funded, no less), insisting that if I would only accept Jesus, I would be fine…and Denialists, who have trouble believing that the long haired weirdo sitting in front of them is ‘really’ a genius(“Grandiosity” is the word I’ve often encountered: I try mightily for humility, but when I’m paying someone to help my mind, I feel I should be honest).
    This is a real conundrum.
    Is there a list of Psychologists, somewhere, who are potential fits for people like me?
    Thanks, again, for being where I could find you.

    • Josef,

      I’m very happy you have found us, too. If you read the many comments on the different post on my blog, you will see many adults just like yourself. Yes, the way our world treats gifted adults–geniuses–is shameful.

      I very much understand your problem with finding a therapist who actually understands giftedness–it is very much like shopping. I always referred to it as “therapist hopping.” I hope I can help. Here are some links to lists of gifted-friendly therapists. Some may say they are for children, but if they understand gifted children, they should know these kids will grow up into gifted adults!

      Gifted Homeschoolers Forum list of Gifted & Homeschool Friendly Professionals

      Seeking Professional Help for Your Gifted Child

      SENG Mental Health Professional Listing

      Your Rainforest Mind (blog from a psychotherapist for gifted adults)

      Josef, I know many deal with gifted children or they are not local to you, but I’m sure any of them can refer you to someone who does understand gifted adults.

      I really appreciate you sharing your story because the more we all speak out, the more we will find that we are not alone. I can only imagine the number of gifted adults who have hidden their intelligence in order to fit it and it is such a tragedy. I’m so happy you found a little solace here, Josef, and I hope you continue to comment here and also on the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page.

  22. What you describe so aptly in this article reads to me like a synopsis of my own experiences.

    What is most sad about the tall poppy syndrome in schools, and in adult society, is that the worst perpetrators of this abuse aren’t other children or colleagues, but the authority figures themselves, whose own insecurities and cultural Marxist agendas drive them to cut down the gifted and unique, to advance a society in which mundanity and mediocrity are rewarded, and the brilliant are fed to the bloodthirsty unwashed masses, as martyrs were devoured alive by beasts in the Coliseum of old.

    Some are resilient enough to overcome the abuse, however, it permanently alters the perceptions that a person has. For my own part, it has left me forever estranged from humanity, emotionally crippled, and badly damaged internally. The best life I have been able to achieve, despite numerous talents and a strong work ethic, is that of a hermit. I make a living doing business from home, and the relationships I have with my clients (who I’ve never met in person) is far more rewarding than any other– since these people stand to gain from my unique abilities, they therefore appreciate me, but only because of what I can do for them.

    Often, I feel that my unique nature has put me in a position to perceive, with poignant and painful accuracy, the truths about humanity, and human society; and those truths, far from being a liberating comfort, are an abyss of disappointment and disillusionment. I often feel hopelessly trapped in a filthy enclosure, inhabited by insane primates, who are hellbent on their own perdition, and an ever present danger to my well being. Where I must endure the painful truth on a daily basis, I see the untermenschen who surround me, wallowing like swine in their base and tawdry illusions, and it is a daily struggle for me to hold onto sanity in such a dystopian world as this. I know the truth, but can never openly speak it, lest I be torn and scattered like carrion.

    To pine for such an illusory thing as justice is true folly, and I therefore have nothing to hope for, save that I be left alone to enjoy my own company, and spared from the sadistic whims of the culture I inhabit. I weep for the innocent children who are born with this curse upon them, as I was.

    • Jim,

      There are so many things I want to respond with and say to you, but the first is to say you are not alone–your life story is shared by far too many gifted individuals. I’m so sorry, but I do understand.

      I get that it feels hopeless to be an intense, profoundly intelligent person among the vast majority of typical people who do not understand and care not to understand. And our emotional intensities make it that much more hurtful. Others here have commented with a similar story as yours, sadly.

      I myself have been told to give up the fight to move the mountain of negative, adverse public opinion of gifted people, but I can’t. Yes, it is a near-impossible goal to try to sway public opinion, but somehow the act of trying, the advocacy, keeps the glimmer of hope alive, and those who advocate for justice for our gifted children have serendipitously created a community of like-minded gifted adults who I belong to and cherish. And so I continue to have hope that I can change the life of one gifted child or change the mind of one teacher who does not understand, and at the very least, I am showing my own children to stand up for themselves.

      My heart goes out to you. I know how giftedness can be a burden, a curse. But please know many of us do understand, you are not alone and there are many others who share your story.

      Thank you for sharing your personal story, Jim.

      • Mrs. Trepanier;

        In the torrential emotional state that I found myself in after reading this article, I neglected a few very important areas where credit is due.

        In what you have said and done here, you have vindicated a segment of humanity that has gone unsung in our times. There is one thing I know about pain, which is that it can be a motivator with untold potential- pain can be the blacksmith’s fire and hammer that forges useful tools, even as it can also be a force of unthinkable destruction. People like yourselves, who have refused to turn their backs on the right and just, are the catalyst that can shift the tide of a person’s life.

        If there is anything that can fill the cavity left by my painful life experiences, it is the selfless desire for justice, and the yearning to see future generations better off than I have been. I can only hope that I will find inspiration a fraction of yours, and find my own healing through reaching out to others, as you have so beneficently done.

        Even as I newly discover this website, I am deeply moved, to the point where I am wracked with tears, and I have been given an emotional release that has been beyond my grasp for many years. What I feel is a breaking away of the spring ice that has formed over my soul throughout the prolonged winter, and I hope that these tears that now flow may begin to wash away all that I have borne in my heart for so long.

        • Jim,

          Again, there are so many things I want to say to you and just saying “thank you” seems disgustingly inadequate, but you truly have touched my heart.

          You are absolutely right, pain “can be a motivator with untold potential- pain can be the blacksmith’s fire and hammer that forges useful tools, even as it can also be a force of unthinkable destruction.” It was the pain of seeing my child being bullied by a teacher intent on cutting down the tall poppy to the point where she crushed him, and she stole so much from him. Pain led me to writing and advocating because the alternative of going to beat her up just didn’t seem the right way to handle it (just kidding–I would have never done that, but I sure thought about it).

          I hope your pain brings you to advocating for the gifted because you have so much more to offer than I ever could, so much more. And your writing paints feelings and projects thoughts like mine never could. And one day, when you receive a comment like the one you just wrote to me, your pain will find a purpose, your heart will feel happier and you will find faith in others. Your words have made everything I have done in the last two years for gifted children all worth it.

          Thank you so much, Jim!

        • Hi Jim;

          I have been a frequent commentator on Celi’s blog, and she has been very positive towards what I have written; I suffer from complex PTSD from a recent threesome of bullying situations, and part of what has helped me has been both Celi’s blog, far more than any other blogger on giftedness has done; I have told her so in Facebook messages how grateful I have been to her, and how her kindness, intense ambition to move a seemingly impossible-to-move mountain, and compassion has also directly helped me.
          She asked me to respond to you, because my experiences very much mirror yours. I have suffered some very intense bullying situations, from students in elementary and high school, as well as by four teachers, three in elementary grades, and one in high school. I have also had terrible run-ins with bosses and supervisors, some of whom, in their intense envy/jealousy and anger, have done great damage to my self-esteem, and it has taken a lot of psychological ‘work’ to undo the damage done.
          I have been insulted, verbally attacked, publicly ridiculed, dismissed, and (of course) violently attacked by some of the bullies, including one who gave me two concussions; the first time, he cornered me in a high school bathroom, asked me if I thought I was some sort of genius, and before I could respond, grabbed me by the hair and slammed the side of my head into the tiled wall. I was so concussed, I could not speak; threw up in the washroom, and stumbled to the nurse’s station, where I lied that I had fallen down, and asked to lie on the couch there. I was so out of it, my mom had to come by and pick me up from school; I could barely walk. The second time, he again cornered me, asked me to tell him about Einstein, and again, before I could respond, grabbed me by the hair and slammed the side of my head into the tiled wall. I was not as badly concussed, so I managed to just leave school, go back to my home, which was only a couple of blocks away, and lay down in bed and slept (which you’re not supposed to do if concussed; people die that way).
          Eventually, he was arrested and convicted and sent to prison for 18 years (he was later murdered in prison), for repeatedly slamming his just-learning-to-speak 3-year-old brother’s head against their home’s walls, because he thought it was “funny” how the child would respond after the concussions. The baby boy ended up severely brain-damaged and ended up not being able to speak or walk, was confined to a wheelchair, and was said (by the newspapers) to be stuck permanently in a 3-year-old state. A tragedy, for the parents, to lose two sons to one son’s violence.
          And why did he concuss his baby brother? You guessed it, the child showed genius precocity before the damage the older brother caused. The delay in his speech (he could write short sentences, apparently, by the age of two, and taught himself how to play the piano, also around 2-3 years old) was caused because the older brother was bashing the kid around since the younger was 12 months old or so.
          So this lovely older brother did his wall-bashing trick to every smart kid he could find at school; no-one could figure out why our high school had brain-injury rates five times the city average; it was because of this one, extremely violent, bully. Fortunately, no-one died, but that, I attribute to a miracle from G0d.
          Much of what Celi has written about has done the same to me as it did to you; it’s been a gut-wrenching, devastating experience, realizing the full horror of North America’s love-hate relationship with giftedness/genius. The great unwashed mediocrities, a sizeable minority of Canada and the USA’s population (I’m Canadian) seems hell-bent on loving the outcomes of genius, the smartphones, brilliant surgeons, the Internet (not created by dummies, I can guarantee), and the rest, but don’t understand that the very people they love to hate, the geeks and nerds, the bookworms, the brilliant oddballs (like I am and was) are the same sort of people who gave them the smartphones, the Macintosh computer (Thanks, Steve Jobs), the PC (Thanks Microsoft and IBM), open heart surgery, DNA testing, and the rest. I have no idea where they think these things came from, but the attitude is, use them then lose them. “Thanks for being a genius and giving me fantastic technology/medicine/law/engineering/science, now get the f**k out of my face, nerd!”. Sorry for the swearing, but there’s a story behind that that just came to me the other day.
          In high school, in grade 10, in one class, we were broken up into groups and had to do a mock-replay of Canada’s founding; the arguments for and against, the various sides (Upper Canada — now Ontario, Lower Canada, now Quebec, the native Indians, the British Privy Council, etc.). I happened to have read, in grade seven or eight, a huge amount about Canadian history on my own. In the group I was assigned to, this dumb football jock took control of our study-group (we were the British Privy Council). I knew well the laws and issues around Canadian Confederation, the British North America Act (the Canadian equivalent of the US constitution).
          But every time I tried to offer help, the jock just kept telling me to shut up, while he struggled desperately to understand the topics I knew well. After my many attempts to help, he threatened to punch me in the face right there and then if I didn’t shut up, He led the group so badly, we got the lowest mark in the class, a C minus. After we got the grade, I told the whole group I knew that area of Canadian history very well, so this lummox had the gall to turn around and BLAME ME for the lousy grade and the fact that his dad was going “to beat the tar” out of him for such a lousy grade.
          After all, said this football star, why didn’t I say something? Why did I just sit there and contribute nothing? He of course threatened to beat me up because of HIS decision to essentially shut me down, so I cut classes and got home ASAP so that this six-foot-three monster couldn’t do anything to me.
          How do you overcome something like that, especially since the guy kept saying, in gym class (where I was also saddled with him), that due to his penis size and the fact that he had had sex with at least forty girls in school, he was a “genius”, unlike “the stupid f***heads who think they’re so clever ’cause they get great marks in class but never got laid and were therefore” (in his opinion) “likely gay faggots”?
          I remember that I just gave up and didn’t say anything in that group. Why bother? I wasn’t needed, we had the penis-genius to save us. I was both frustrated and scared of this huge guy, who took to punching me in the back in the halls whenever he saw me, for being “too talky” in class, and making him look dumb.
          When I told him he “didn’t need my help to do so”, he didn’t understand the insult till three weeks later, in the gym class locker room, when one of the other jocks had to explain it to him. He had thought I was giving him a compliment! He roared at me, but the other classmates just laughed at this buffoon, and talked him out of “ripping [my] stupid ugly Jew face off” (I’m Jewish).
          Shall we talk bosses? I have had five bosses tell me to stop being “too smart for my own good” — they were the smartest person on the job, by reason of being the boss.
          That’s the least of it. I have had a boss, as an IT consultant, who HATED his technicians, and did everything he could to micro-manage everything we did, even though he was “educated” (I use the term loosely) as a marketer. he insulted us, berated us, blamed us for problems in the technology (Windows 95a was popular at the time, and if you recall it, you’ll realize that although it was WAY better than Windows 3.1 or 3.11, it was still a cluster-frick of the highest order for technicians to install and service; Window 98 was just starting to be installed in many businesses, but the great majority were still Win95).
          Nothing we did was right, and everything we did was wrong; “Why can’t you people be more like marketers?” he screamed at us once; Another time it was “Why can’t you people be more like the waiters I used to supervise in the restaurant”. Another, because we were caught, the three of us, consulting on a computer problem (a big no-no for him): “I want cowboys, not fishwives! Get back to work and stop lolly-gagging around gossiping like a bunch of women!”
          I had a “friend” who was no friend. He was a serial business-killer. He’d get into a business and then wreck it, because of his own jealousy and mediocrity. He wanted to get rich fast, but his religious upbringing wouldn’t let him be an actual criminal, so he did stuff that was legal, but not ethical, like saddling a Greek restaurant he was working for as assistant manager with 12 million orders of Greek salad, instead of the usual 12 thousand.
          He destroyed three of mine, went after a mutual friend’s side business; it took three tries, but he finally managed to wreck the business when our friend tried to give it to me. My “friend’ John was infuriated that the Internet Service Provider business called a ‘micro-ISP’ was handed to me, a network engineer, instead of to him, a (at the time) gas station assistant manager and the the guy who convinced my friend to dump me and give him my contract — except that John, overconfident with my up-to-that-point minimal training, couldn’t service the clients the way I could, and the biz went from 53 businesses in three locations, down to six clients in one location, and then, because John, who had by then gotten me hired at the gas station so he could abuse me as my manager, prevented me from taking back the micro-ISP by keeping me on night-shift (he had to fire someone else to make room on the shift schedule so he could force me into the night-shift). It died; by the time I got back off a five month night-shift spell, all that was left of the micro-ISP was an out-dated network switch in the building where the last vestige of it had been located.
          After he killed my consulting business, which was built around the client-base, mostly, at the micro-ISP, I confided to him I needed a job. I meant a temporary job in computer retail sales or service (I am a certified computer technician, as well as a network engineer). He got me a night-shift job in the gas station where he was assistant manager, so that he could insult and berate me under the guise of being my manager up close and personal.
          He turned the tables. I had taken him on as an intern in my consulting business. Now I was his virtual wage-slave in a job I absolutely hated and detested. I was, in street slang, his “bitch”.
          This “friend”, one day at work, intercepted a phone call from my wife (he answered MY cell phone, while I was outside doing a full-serve). She BEGGED him to let me out of the job, knowing how mind-numbingly boring and horrible the job was for me. When he said that if I left, I would not qualify for employment insurance, she said that that didn’t matter, she just wanted me to be happy. She could manage with money from her sisters and father while I got another job.
          When I got back inside, John told me my wife was very happy I was in the job, she needed the money, he (falsely) reported, and would he please help keep me in the job since (he said) she thought I was lazy if I wanted to quit.
          I laboured under that lie for three years, until one day I had a fight with my wife, and called her a “bitch” in Spanish (she’s Mexican) for forcing me to stay in the job. She was horrified, not only for calling her a “puta”, but that I was so wrongly angry at her, so she begged me to believe that she had wanted me out of the job, and could not understand why I hadn’t quit a long time before.
          After that, I had an opportunity to be directly insubordinate to John, who, for the umpteenth time, threatened to fire me (by the way, he also told me that Alnoor, our boss, considered me his worst employee, when in fact Alnoor thought I was one of the best, better, in fact that JOHN!).
          So I said to him, “Go ahead, fire me, I just found out about your lie, how you utterly misrepresented my wife’s wishes — you LIED TO ME!”. Now, of course, i had de-fanged his #1 threat against me. Freed from the misapprehension of my wife’s desires for my working situation, I was now free to leave. And I did not care if I was fired. I hated that deathly dull job.
          Because he no longer had power over me, he was caught in a bind (I play chess, to great effect, I should add). If he fired me, he would be giving me what I wanted. Then he could no longer bully me.
          I didn’t realize it, because of John’s chronic abuse of me and its negative effect on my self-esteem, but the 40 or so staff in the two gas stations our boss managed respected me;; I know this, because a mass-mutiny occurred.
          After my act of rebellion, no-one would take orders from John. Alnoor had to pull him from being a staff manager, because no-one would obey his orders. And when he tried to fire the insubordinate staff, they told him they would only accept being fired if Alnoor fired them, not John. “Call the cops and have me removed”, one of them told him.
          Upside? Alnoor tried (but his own boss, who hated Alnoor, thwarted him) to promote me to assistant manager. In a new reconfiguration, by Shell, Alnoor would get two new gas stations, and I would be assistant manager at two of the smallest ones! Did John get offered a management position? No. Thank G0d!
          As an IT consultant, I have had clients who valued my skills tremendously. Without blowing my own horn (too much), I had a deal with clients where, for troubleshooting calls, if I couldn’t fix it, there was no charge. Clients paid me 152 out of 156 troubleshooting calls in the 27 months I had the business. That’s a 97% success rate.
          But some of my clients, almost all of them older businessmen (over 65) hated my guts (but used me anyway. Remember? “Use them, then lose them”).
          I would solve problems in minutes or just a couple of hours that they had struggled to solve for days or in some cases, weeks, unsuccessfully. They had even, on occasion, called in other technicians to solve the problem(s), and those techs failed, where I succeeded (by the way, my IQ is in the 99.1st percentile of the population). Apparently I “made” these guys feel dumb and foolish, that they were smart guys, respected and/or feared by their staff, and here was this fat geek consultant who could fix problems (easily) that they couldn’t.

          That’s a short list of some of the stuff that’s happened to me in the past. The last round of bullying came from three sources, starting in 2010 and not ending till the beginning of 2015, mostly (but one is still ongoing).
          The first was caused by the brother of my then-best friend (actually I had four, now reduced to three best friends, including my wife). Cheryl’s older brother Bill, was absolutely INCENSED when he’d heard from Cheryl (whom he forced to tell him everything I told her) that I, a mere gas station attendant, would DARE to consider joining MENSA.
          He was full of ‘righteous indignation’, which is ironic, considering he was an ex-con, who’d spent three years defrauding the major Canadian banks to the tune of 10’s or possibly 100’s of thousands of dollars before the long arm of the law (the fraud squad of the RCMP) caught up with him.
          He got two years less a day in prison, so at least he wasn’t a federal prisoner, but he brought tremendous shame to his parents; my city’s Jewish community is quite small, despite the large size of the city, and news (especially scandal) travels very fast.
          It was while he was in prison that his parents found out he was gay, a real blow to a nominally Orthodox Jewish father.
          After their father died of bowel cancer in 1992, Bill started defrauding his sister and mother of a total of $450 000 in fraudulently obtained credit-cards, but was never charged, because the Provincial Guardian and Trustee (PGT), who’d taken charge of Cheryl and their mom’s care, declined to prosecute. Cheryl is borderline mentally handicapped (just a couple of points above being truly mentally handicapped), and the mother has Alzheimer’s; neither could testify in court, in the opinion of the PGT and their lawyers.
          Bill, via threats, promises, and extortions, forced Cheryl to harass me incessantly for three years, until I ended up hospitalized, with exhaustion, depression, and severe lymphodema (water retention) to the point where I weighed nearly 500 lbs., and needed two ambulance drivers and four beefy fire-fighters to get me out of my bed and into a waiting ambulance. I stayed in hospital for NINE weeks, and lost 160 lbs., most of it fluid.
          And what was the “topic” of Cheryl’s harassment? Of Bill’s proxy-bullying? Bill is, as one can imagine, a severe narcissist. He thought himself a true genius, and hated the idea that anyone in his “orbit” would dare to outshine him.
          Celi pointed out, brilliant and insightful lady that she is, that Bill-via-Cheryl had “gaslighted” me; had mostly convinced me, for a time, that I was no genius, because I am not rich or famous, because I was a “mere” gas station attendant, while our brave leader of men and souls was, in his own words, a “professional correspondence logistics transmission professional” — i.e., a courier driver.
          And for a while, I bought into the lie that Cheryl had hammered home, very much the way that Back to the Future’s bully, Biff, would knock on (not yet then) father George’s head, saying, “MacFly, MacFly, are you in there?”.
          Cheryl didn’t do it with her knuckles. She did it with her voice. It’s like Chinese water-torture, when you have to repeat — and I am not joking — THOUSANDS of times how psychologists determine IQ and therefore who is a genius.
          One of the dumber arguments i heard was Bill’s complaint that psychologists are all geeks, and are all conspiring to keep “genius” all to themselves, limiting it solely to only bright people and not letting others have access to the title. Was it an admission that Bill was no genius? When I pointed it out to Cheryl, we fought for TWO WEEKS, every day, by phone, text message and email, as well as face-to-face coffee meets, over whether or not Bill could be counted as a genius.
          She/he eventually won the day, as it were, because Cheryl wore me down, trying to convince me that because Bill had spent 4 hours a day, 6 days a week studying commerce at one of the city’s universities, he was a way better student than was I, who’d gone through a post-baccalaureate diploma program in counselling psychology and educational psychology, in the same university.
          I have two B.A.s, one in psychology, the other in sociology/anthropology, and did the Honours program in psychology.
          I studied about six hours a WEEK, which is roughly a quarter of the studying Bill did in his program, and I graduated with two B grades, and everything else (including six M.A. courses) was A-, A, or A+ — mostly A+’s, I should add. Since Bill put in far more work, even though he graduated near the bottom of his class, and I graduated as one of the top five students in my program, he was the better student. AND I BELIEVED IT, for a while, just to get Cheryl off my back. Imagine dealing with that, sometimes multiple times a day, for THREE YEARS!
          Cheryl and I are no longer friends, and will never be so, because as long as her brother(s) are around, I can’t trust her.
          The younger one, Mark, is no treat; he’s a psychopath. He tried, unsuccessfully, to bully me in high school even though he was in grade 8 and I was in grade eleven. At 14, he sexually seduced 17-year-old Cheryl, telling her it wasn’t incest, because that only occurs between a father and a daughter. To this day, she believes him.
          He is still furious at me for stealing his crown as “King of the Technicians”. How did I do that? To what unethical behaviour did I stoop, to render myself king, despite being a Pretender to the Throne? It’s so horrible I can barely tell you.
          I did two things: instead of screaming at and blaming my clients, and calling them stupid morons, I’d treat them with respect and dignity.

          BUT WAIT!!!!!!

          IT GETS WORSE!!!!!!

          The horrible, unethical, monstrous and truly evil sin and transgression I committed against the Lord Of All Technology was this:

          I am better at fixing computers and networks than Mark is.

          Can you imagine what NERVE I had, to steal this gorgeous super-genius’s title and crown? To this day, I hang my head in shame for how I have so grievously wronged Mark. I am a truly wicked monster, and deserve to be cast into the depths of HELL for my sins.

          Yeah, and if you believe that, i have a lovely bridge between San Francisco and Oakland I can sell ya real cheap.

          The second was done to me as what’s known as a ‘workplace mobbing’, which is when a group of colleagues at a work-site or volunteer organization gang up on one person and drive them out of the organization, or at least make the person’s life miserable. It’s the bullying equivalent of a gang-rape or a home-invasion by multiple lovelies. This one is still going, on, I am still trying to get myself allowed back there. This is solely for professional reasons. They accused me, as I’ll explain, of being incompetent at fixing computers primarily because I have a mild neurological disability. I believe it will look bad for me. If I let them win without exhausting every angle I can think of, I’d be admitting or acquiescing to incompetence, which is a complete lie.
          At this organization, I got a target painted on my back by half the staff there, and several of what I call “super-volunteers”. It’s a green NGO, that recycles computers “ethically”, and so is radically Leftist.
          I had three strikes against me. Firstly, I was president of a Linux Users’ computer group (a LUG); secondly, I was a meteorically rising star at their Open Help Night, at which people could bring in their Linux computer(s) and have the volunteer-helpers fix the computer for no charge (except for parts). Thirdly, I was part of a group of reform-minded volunteers who thought it was ridiculous that for clearly Marxist reasons, the staff was unaccountable to anyone, whether the Board of Directors or the volunteers, lest the poor proletarian workers be “exploited” by their masters.
          That meant that staff could do whatever they wanted, to whomever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and faced zero consequences. Long story short (and I know, this is an insanely,HUGELY long-winded post), the staff managed to get me banned for a year. On what basis? That I have a physical handicap, and that I was ageist towards one staff; I asked him how old he was. Terrible, just terrible. You can see what a horrible beast I am, eh?
          When I got in front of the board of directors to appeal my case, they unanimously voted that I had been unfairly treated. And they said I’d be allowed back if the staff agreed. How did staff react? By banning me permanently. The trauma caused me to regain 80 pounds in six weeks, and back into the hospital I went for a month. Exhaustion, PTSD, lymphodema, clinical depression. My 2014 summer.
          The third was a guy who’d started out as a friend as a fellow member of my Linux Users Group, but, unbeknownst to me, also harboured both a severe narcissism, and a moderate case of Aspberger’s syndrome, which made him emotionally “deaf” to people’s feelings. He hid it well.
          True, he really was a genius, and he knew it, but he held everyone — and I mean everyone, even people like Einstein and Hawking, and some of the great names in computing — in contempt as dummies, compared to him.
          He wanted to start a BSD group (another operating system based on UNIX, a parent operating system to Linux), and as prez, I was in a position to help him get his special interest group launched. Only I didn’t realize till too late that he didn’t want to share the limelight. I found out the hard way he didn’t want me in “his” group, when he threatened me with physical violence if I tried to show up to any of the meetings. Needless to say, I broke off the friendship, and have blocked his email address. He was the least traumatic, but that’s not saying much: threatening to physically throw me out of the room — in a university campus, no less — did have its negative effects.

          So Jim, I get where you are coming from. I totally sympathize. Celi knows how I have railed against the anti-intellectualism of North American society, against an educational system which, 30 years on, treats my very gifted 13-year-old son exactly as I had been treated in the 1960’s and 1970’s as a child and teenager. I have posted my own radical rewrites of the educational system on her blog, where she has been so kind as to let me get up on my soapbox and prattle as I am doing here.

          You can curse the darkness, as poet Dylan Thomas said; or you can light a single candle. I have chosen not to let these particular bastards grind me down. Albert Einstein said, among many other things, that “great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”. I choose not to look down on people with average IQs, and forgive me, I am not saying you are doing so.
          But I do not have quarrel with average folk. My problem was and always will be with anti-intellectuals, with bullies, and most especially mediocrities. I define a mediocre person as someone who not only can’t be bothered to work hard, or to think hard, but who insists — no, demands — that everyone else be as mediocre as they are. Bullies and mediocrities are of a common kind, intellectual and psychopathological kith and kin.
          They do the world no great service by existing; indeed, they are an impediment who must be dragged into progress, kicking and screaming all the way. They seem to say, “Leave me to my intellectually slovenly ways. I cannot bear to be around people who work harder, who try harder, who are smarter and just morally better than I am, so I have to drag such people into the muck and mire where I live”.
          I have no respect for such people, and neither do they deserve my respect or my attention, or yours, Jim. You are better than they are. You can let them defeat you, or you can choose to rise above them, to see them for what they are: wholly inadequate, by their own choice, to the task of living life to its fullest.
          You can be crushed or not, but whatever you do, do it for yourself, not because of them. A great rabbi, perhaps one of the greatest, Rabbi Hillel (who may have been Jesus’ teacher), wrote, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”.
          It’s hard, I know, from tremendously awful experience, to bear this “gift” that is no gift. I called and still call it being “cursed, but with upsides”, because it isn’t all crap and negatives, sharp glass and hard angles. It’s also having a mind that can soar among the stars, that can see connections that many others miss; being able to solve problems that absolutely flummox others, sometimes utterly.
          It’s also difficult to live with the emotional sensitivity; just thinking about all I’ve had to go through, all the pain I see you’ve experienced, brings me to the verge — and sometimes over the verge — of tears.
          I don’t know if you believe in G0d. I do. I have a relationship with a G0d I can only understand obliquely; who provides me with no direct guidance, but who seems to allow me to rage against him and argue as to why things are the way they are. I constantly struggle with why a supposedly perfect G-d created a very imperfect world. But it’s that faith, plus my own internal resilience, my own internal resources that have gotten me to the half-century mark with a good education (I still want to do a Masters and Ph.D. degree), a wonderful and devoted and loving wife, and a son who loves me despite the fact that for a variety of (immigration-related) legal and familial issues, loves me and thinks I am a great dad to him, and who radiates that information, the fact of his love, to me as often as his sensitive heart allows him.
          I may not have much, because of my medical situation, which means after a ten-year hiatus I am rebuilding my business, and which means that although I have been without my wife and son for THIRTEEN miserable years, I do have them, and I do have what I have, and am so grateful for the things I do have that are positive in my life. Okay, so obviously I am a glass-half-full kind of guy, but perhaps it’s that indomitable, unstoppable optimism that has allowed me not to be crushed by the weight of the world and my upside-down gifted curse.
          I read your comments, your magnificent writing, which is so obvious and speaks with such clarity as to your clearly highly intelligent mind, and I also hear the desperation, the hurt and the pain. And I am sorry, that the world has burdened you so, as it has done to so many gifted people and their loved ones, as so many on Celi’s wonderful blog (an island of sense in an insane see of anti-giftedness) can attest.
          I urge you to get yourself to a therapist, someone who specializes in treating gifted adults. But even a therapist with a good, kind manner (and a cognitive behavioural approach) may be able to do wonders, to help you see the upsides, and not just the curse.
          I have a brilliant, near-genius wife, a lovely beautiful woman who, because of her severe learning disability and having been brought up in a strictly religious household where dissent was — quietly — discouraged, has struggled, far more than I have, to maximize her potential, and she has. A two-time university graduate, with a long career as a teacher and a social worker in some of the toughest schools and neighbourhoods her city had, she is an accomplished woman.
          I by contrast grew up with a father who retired 25 years ago at the pinnacle of his profession, as one of the very best scientists in the WORLD in his field of study, and a mother near-equally as brilliant, in a household and a religion where argument, discussion and thinking has been hugely valued. But I figure if she can make it work, so can I, and so can you.

          Again, I apologize for the huge length of this comment. I hadn’t been able to contribute much lately to Celi’s blog comments, both because I am busy (or busier) and because of a poorly timed computer system crash (but they are all poorly timed). This comes more from my heart than it does from my head. And I know I am long-winded, so I thank you for bearing with me.

          I hope you get the help you need, and I wish you the very best, Jim. Don’t let the bastards defeat you. Letting them win would be a disaster. Be stronger than them. Show them your strength by being better than they are.


          • Sorry, I meant to say, “But it’s that faith, plus my own internal resilience, my own internal resources that have gotten me to the half-century mark with a good education (I still want to do a Masters and Ph.D. degree), a wonderful and devoted and loving wife, and a son who loves me despite the fact that for a variety of (immigration-related) legal and familial issues, WE HAVE NOT BEEN TOGETHER FOR MORE THAN SIX MONTHS FACE-TO-FACE, and yet he loves me and thinks I am a great dad to him, and who radiates that information, the fact of his love, to me as often as his sensitive heart allows him.”

          • Shalom, John;

            I want to express my gratitude for sharing so much about yourself, and for the heartfelt expression of solidarity and understanding.

            I want to share as much in return as I can muster, however, I am in the midst of a very busy process of moving and dealing with a real estate transaction. When it is not so hectic, I want to read over what you have written again, and give everything the measure of thoughtful response that it merits.

            For the present, I hear your “non carborundum illegitimi” loud and clear, and greet you with a sign of peace. The community that Celi has created here is something that I sense with certainty that I am destined to be a part of, and I extend my most humble hand to you, and to the others.

            Yours truly,


          • Many years ago, I. too. was one of those in society who believed a gifted child was one who simply did well in school. A lucky kid who had been read to often, brought to museums and other educational places, and likely attended preschool– all which led to their success in school and being identified as gifted. I never knew giftedness was a trait, an inborn condition that really had no connection to school. And sadly, I see, over and over, how parents struggle to raise their gifted children and strive to build resilience in their children so they can successfully navigate through a world where they are envied, shunned and bullied for their above-average intellect–parents just trying to keep their tall poppies from being crushed.

            But, like you said, John, “Don’t let the bastards defeat you. Letting them win would be a disaster. Be stronger than them. Show them your strength by being better than they are” is really the only choice we have. I don’t know who said this, but the best form of revenge is success.

            Also, we are all responsible, as gifted adults, to advocate for gifted children and work towards dispelling the myths and misunderstandings about giftedness. Society needs to know that giftedness, especially in children, is something to be nurtured and celebrated otherwise the child would not only be neglected but emotionally crushed. No child, no adult, should have to suffer because they were born gifted.

            Thanks, John, for once again sharing your experience and wisdom!

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