Overexcitabilities - heightened intensity and supersensitivity
of the nervous system - play a central part in Dabrowski's theory
of advanced development.
Michael Piechowski, who worked with Dabrowski, explains the overexcitabilities
as an abundance of physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and
emotional energy that can result in creative endeavours as well
as advanced emotional and ethical development in adulthood. Michael
says that the overexcitabilities feed, enrich, empower and amplify
Overexcitabilities are assumed to be innate: a genetic predisposition
of the nervous system to respond more and more intensely to life's
stimuli. This causes those with strong overexcitabilities to have
more intense than usual experiences.
These overexcitabilities describe the unusual intensity of the
gifted as well as many of the ways in which they look and behave
unusually. Not all gifted people have all excitabilities, however,
highly gifted people tend to have all five.
Dabrowski believed emotional overexcitability to be the energy
center from which all the excitabilities are generated.
The different forms
Overexcitabilities appear in five forms:
Psychomotor - surplus of energy: rapid
speech, pressure for action, restlessness impulsive actions, nervous
habits & tics, competitiveness, sleeplessness.
Sensual sensory and aesthetic pleasure: heightened
sensory awareness eg sights, smells, tastes, textures, sounds, appreciation
of beautiful objects, music, nature, sensitivity to foods and pollutants,
intense dislike of certain clothing, craving for pleasure.
Intellectual learning, problem solving: curiosity,
concentration, theoretical & analytical thinking, questioning,
introspection, love of learning and problem solving, moral concern,
thinking about personal and social moral values.
Imaginational vivid imagination: creative & inventive,
a rich and active fantasy life, superb visual memory, elaborate
dreams, day dreams, love of poetry, music and drama, fears of the
unknown, mixing of truth and fantasy, great sense of humour.
Emotional intensity of feeling: complex emotions,
extremes of emotion, empathy with others, sensitivity in relationships,
strong memory for feelings, difficulty adjusting to change, fears
and anxieties, inhibition, timidity, shyness, self-judgment, feelings
of inadequacy and inferiority, heightened awareness of injustice