Too intelligent?

Can you be too intelligent? And if so, too intelligent for what?
Too intelligent for elementary school?
High School?
The university?
Too intelligent to get a job?
To find friends?
To feel good?
Or too intelligent to be happy?

Most would answer no to all the questions. How could it be too much of something sought after and good as high intelligence? And how could high intelligence bring some disadvantages at all?

Seven, eight years ago I had answered yes to all questions. Partly because I have stumbled upon my intelligence so often, and partly because I saw many children and young people who had major difficulties in school because of it. Difficulties due to the fact that their knowledge base lies well before others at same age, nor do they have social exchange with peers their age.

Nowadays, I know that high intelligence, does not have to be an obstacle. Okay, elementary school and high school are inflexible institutions but that it is possible to find stimulating jobs, make close friends, feel good and being gifted, I know

Content in blog Too intelligent?
This blog addresses you who find that your high intelligence is more an obstacle than an opportunity. The content is not directly rocket surgery, most just basic knowledge. But with a twist. Because there are some differences in how you function as gifted. And those differences you must take into account to be able to feel good and create the life you want.

To feel good it’s important to know yourself, understand how you function as gifted, find fellowship, meaningfulness and live your values. It is also important to understand the environment in which you live.

The first posts I’ll publish will be about what giftedness is, definitions and how high intelligence can express itself. I will provide you with links to scientific articles, thesis and books. If you recognize yourself (you do not need to recognize you in everything – of course we are different as individuals) you are likely to be talented.

Feeling so wrong
To me it was absolutely crucial to understand that I am highly intelligent. And yes, you can live for many years without understanding that about yourself. More than forty years for me. When the results of the IQ test came and I saw that my IQ-level was higher than 99% of the population, I got a shock. A regular shock reaction, with crying attacks, denial, processing and after a long period of time, I accepted it.

Certainly, I had seen signs that I had easier than most to understand and learn. But those signs weighed lightly in relation to the feeling of being wrong as I carried with me since I was little. Maybe it’s for you too? That you most of all feel that something is wrong with you? Or just too different? For some reason you are looking here now.  If someone has hinted you or you found yourself.

My purpose of blog is to provide access to knowledge, experiences, methods and tools that you can benefit from in your life. Small, but perhaps crucial hints on how your life can become more as you wish.

Take care – see you!
Vera

 

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The brain needs stimulation

I have been part of a network for parents of gifted children for several years and have been able to share the experiences of other families through the network. Here are quotes from what some of the highly intelligent children said about schooling:

“It’s like sitting and waiting on the bus all day and it never comes.”

“I have read and understood the papers our teacher delivers already before she distributed it to everyone. Then I have to wait and wait until everyone else has understood. It can sometimes take the whole lesson. So I work actively for 30 seconds and then sit bored for 39 min and 30 seconds.”

“All the years I’ve just been listening to things I already can. Imagine if I had learned something instead. Then I would have known a lot now.”

Bus stop

I recognize what the children expresses. To me it took many years before I realized that my high intelligence had to do with the matter. For a long time I was only convinced that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Because I understood that the others worked differently. It felt a bit like being surrounded by turtles.

Turtle

Easy to like but slow. A little indolent. Satisfied with the explanations they received and did not seem to want to know more. Like they were not particularly curious. And I rarely understood what was difficult with what they said was difficult. However, I understood that they were as one would be. They were turtles. I was more a bouncing duck.

How can we work so differently?
How can that, what is the right work pace for many, be a single long wait to others? The short answer is that it depends on our brains. Depending on how our brains work, we need information in different amount and speed.

In order to understand what is happening around us, the brain needs information from the environment. It also needs information on what is going on in different parts of our body. The gathering of information is done by means of the different senses. The perception of the outside world is based on differences. Differences we get through our senses. A t-shirt does not feel the same as a flannel shirt against the skin. The cat’s spinning is different from the refrigerator’s low buzz. Chocolate with 72% cocoa flavor tastes different to one with 80% cocoa. Even small differences are perceived.

Is there no difference to perceive, there is nothing for the brain to process. Is there no new impression to sense, is everything status quo, our advanced communication system can not work. Place a person in a completely white room, without sound and without anything that differs from the white one, and it won’t be long before her brain gets big problems. Things that one can usually do automatically, distance assessment, color perception and reading ability can stop working. Please check out the movie clip I linked below. It is a well-known experiment about what happens when the brain is deprived of all stimulus.

When the brain lacks stimulus
For me it was like that, for a great part of school time. I found nothing new to process.

  • Imagine watching concentrated on a dot on the wall
  • Look so concentrated that everything around gets blurred
  • Finally, the dot you focused on gets blurred too.
  • Focusing on nothing becomes blurred

As in the lessons. It was almost possible to hear how the brain shut down. It would rattle and buzz for a while. Then it became completely quiet. The buzzing from the electrical signals in the brain had ended and I entered a state of emptiness. In one way, it was nice when the brain was extinguished. The perception of time ceased and the school became bearable. The downside was that it took several hours to wake up after the school day. A little like getting started a projector. You press the start button, but it takes time for the lamp to warm up before it starts to shine.

Closing the brain is no healthy way to deal with the situation. Instead, some gifted children choose to create the stimulus the brain need by themselves. Daydreaming can work to a certain limit. Start a quarrel, with classmates or teachers can be another way to get something to happen. It is healthier because the brain gets impressions to process, but in the long run it isn’t very constructive either.

What happens to you when you suffer from too little stimulation? Is it primarily in school it has happened or does it happen in other contexts as well?

Kindly
Vera

 

Links about what happens when man is deprived of stimulus

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140514-how-extreme-isolation-warps-minds

More to read:
Marylou Kelly Streznewski ”Gifted grownups, the mixed blessing of extraordinary potential” Chapter 2, pp. 25 – 34 provides good and more in-depth information on how the high-intelligent brain works

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Five tips for you who are gifted and have a hard time

But where are the tips, tools and methods that I declared should be in the blog? My thought has been that they will come a bit at a time. As I go into more detail in different domains, you will get more practical tools for those areas. However, you don’t have to wait too long for the promised, I’ll give you five tips today. Tips I’ve carried with me during the many stumbling years.

Before it’s time for tips, I’ll tell you about the blog structure. It’s both the practical tips and the composite whole of experience and knowledge you can benefit from. The blog is divided into five different areas.

The backpack
Wherever you go, jump or stand you have yourself with you. Like a backpack. It’s important to know what you have in your backpack and the first section are devoted to looking at giftedness, from every possible point of view. It’s essential to know how and why you function as you do. When you have lifted up and twisted and turned the parts of your luggage, it is easier to pack them in a more convenient and hiking-friendly manner. It may also turn out to be some heavy things you do not have to bring anymore. You can throw them away and move on easier.

Under the stars
Only you know what you dream about and what you value in life. To feel satisfaction, we need to live in harmony with our values. In the second section, I’ll show how you can do to dream freely. How you can do to find out your values, not just those you want and believe you have, but also those underlying the surface and affect your life choices.

Around the campfire
Necessary for my well-being has been to find people I can have mutual relationships with. Find the people who can be my friends. It does not matter if it’s 2-3 people or 20-30 people. It’s the recognition and understanding in the eyes of others that are important. I have usually preferred to be to myself, but I have learned about and experienced the importance of relationships with others who are gifted. Still I want to be alone, but now I’m looking for friends around the campfire more often.

Map and compass
To get the life you want to live, it’s a must to understand how the outside world works. It’s in the meeting with the outside world I’ve stumbled the most. I have not been able to read the terrain from the map I have had. Or if it’s just my compass that is calibrated differently than others, but I’m learning! If you learn to navigate around the world, your possibilities to live in harmony with your values increases.

Hiking boots on
Life can not live only in the head. Just as the body and the brain need stimulation to function, life needs movement to be able to live. Then at what rate you go, in what way, in what direction, it’s your choice. The good thing about life is that fastest, farthest and most, does not win in terms of satisfaction with life. You have all the conceivable choices for how you want to live your life. In this part of the blog, I will give tips, advice and also encourage you to take those first steps in the direction you want to go.

The structure is supposed to be something like this. Although after the first episode was published, I received feedback and questions about areas that I initially did not intend to address. If you will continue to give feedback, which I hope, the five different sections will be developed if needed.

Five tips for those of you who are struggling right now
These are advice I carry with me and remind myself of often.

  1. One day at a time. Today you can handle. Tomorrow is another day. I rest on the one-day-at-time-strategy that works for so many alcoholics and addicts. If it works for them to stay sober, it can work for me as well. Today I can handle.
  2. Stick to the lights in your life. Is there anything in your life that makes you feel better? Which gives stimulus? Joy? Or who in any case distracts so much that time passes? Stick to it. If it’s to play Civ, go long walks in the woods, or watch the all episodes of Netflix series doesn’t matter. See also the weakest of light in your life and let it shine for you.
  3. One worry at a time. Do you have much that worries you? Make a bullet list on a piece of paper. No essays or ruminating. Only short words. Then remove the paper. Now your consciousness has understood that you know everything you worry about and do not need to remind you all the time. Now you have given yourself some breathing space.
  4. Take ONE minimal step. Perhaps the small step in change may be to read the blog. Stick to the little hope that my story can bring. Minimal steps may look different, but regardless of the slightness, they mean change. Do not stay in bed in the morning but move to the couch and lie there. It’s a step. Opening the window and breathing outdoor air is one step. Take a minimal step. It is enough.
  5. Be kind to yourself! Do to yourself as you may treat someone you like. Be kind.

Take care. See you!

Vera

 

Tomorrow is another day….

The note on our fridge (if you can read the writing…)

The note on our fridge (if you can read the writing...)

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Gifted – definitions

Knowing what gifted is and how high intelligence works is a prerequisite for understanding yourself.

There are different definitions and their differences are largely due to the fact that they have been developed in different research environments and with different purposes.

The first Swedish definition
The first Swedish definition was created in the 90’s by a psychologist and professor of didactics at Jönköping University, Roland Persson. If I understand everything correctly, the purpose was to put a word on a group of people who had so far been taboo to talk about in research context in Sweden, namely those who have much higher intelligence than the average. The definition could be used to understand which children in preschool and school that belonged to the group. Here’s how Persson’s definition is:

“The one who is gifted amazes you repeatedly with its unusual ability in one or more areas, both in school and in everyday life.” (Persson, 1997) *1

The definition works well, but not on all children who are gifted. There are those who are adept at concealing their intelligence, for example by being rowdy, or deliberately underperforms to fit in or those whose disabilities hide the high intelligence.

Three-circle-definition
I have seen a definition that is used a lot lately, one that is made up of three circles. Only if characteristics from all three rings work together can high achievement or gifted behavior be witnessed. (Renzulli, 1990) * 2

  • Circle 1: Above average ability
    Abstraction, memory, learning, efficiency, verbality, logic, sense of numbers
  • Circle 2: Task Commitment
    Interest, determination, curiosity
  • Circle 3: Creativity
    Flow, originality, problem solving, flexible thinking

 

General intelligence
When I talk about intelligence, I’m based on what is called general intelligence. Here is a quote from Swedish author Linda Leopold

“Nowadays, intelligence is often described according to a hierarchical model where one considers that the g-factor is believed to be on top. Underneath there are several different general abilities – as verbal, spatial and numerical – which in turn are divided into more specific skills.”(L Leopold, 2013) *3

It is thus that your intelligence is connected to the rest of you and who you are. It affects how you perceive the world and process it. Therefore, your intelligence plays a major role in all areas of life.

I can recommend Leopold’s book Smartast i världen* and especially the chapter about what intelligence is. She goes through the history of intelligence research, diverse explanatory models and how intelligence is usually described.

IQ level – normal distribution
General intelligence is strongly associated with IQ level as measured in different tests. Viewed to the entire population, the intelligence is distributed according to the normal distribution curve. If we had chosen a precisely normalized group of 100 people, their intelligence level had been distributed as follows:

IQ level - normal distribution

In Sweden, intelligence is tested by psychologists in tests called WAIS and in the case of children WISC. In the field of health care, these tests are used only as part of the diagnosis of other, e.g. for neuropsychiatric diagnoses. Likewise within school health care.

If you want to find out your level of intelligence, you can do a supervised test administered by Mensa. Such a test is based on the raven’s matrices and is not as extensive as the tests the psychologists do. It is required that you are good at the test situation and can handle time pressure because the test is time-limited.

Most often people prefer the explanation model that fits their own view of the world, so do I. Therefore, I have done the selections above, and therefore I will adopt the thoughts of general intelligence and the fact that intelligence is normally distributed.

Does not it matter what definition you use? What definition or description do you prefer? If you want to tell me why, please write it below.

See you!
Vera

 

Links to more information about:

Spearman’s theory of general intelligence
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)

Vygotsky’s theory of dynamic development potential
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotskij

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Gardner

Renzulli’s three-piece model that integrates motivation, creativity and high ability
http://gifted.uconn.edu/wpcontent/uploads/sites/961/2015/01/The_Three-Ring_Conception_of_Giftedness.pdf

Sternberg’s model that integrates creativity, practical and analytical ability as well as wisdom
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framg%C3%A5ngsrik_intelligens

Professor Roland Persson, Jönköping University, Collection page with his publications
https://ju.se/personinfo.html?id=463

Mensa IQ-test. Find out how to join Mensa in your country here:
https://www.mensa.org/national-groups

 

References
1 Roland Persson (1997) ”Annorlundaland. Särbegåvningens psykologi”
2 Joseph Renzulli (1990). ”The three-ring conception of giftedness: a developmental model for creative productivity.” In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), Conceptions of giftedness (pp. 53-92). New York: Cambridge University Press.
3 Linda Leopold (2013) ”Smartast i världen, IQ-sällskapen från insidan”

 

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Gifted? No thanks! Not my children

The first time I came into contact with the concept of “gifted” I was just over thirty. One of the teachers at the preschool told me to check it out because my children, as she expressed it, were a little special and not like others, and she recommended that they start school early.

I googled and searched for facts. Found scientific articles and documents on how schools around the world work with Gifted Children. I read articles about high-intelligent people who often ended up in some kind of exclusion, bullying, truancy, depression, difficulties at work, hard to find friends and so on. Research pointed out how important it is for gifted people to get the stimulus they need to feel good at an early age.

Swedish research showed how it is for gifted children to attend school in an equal school system such as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. The egalitarian school system often confuses the idea of ​​everyone’s equal value and rights with the conviction that everyone should be the same. In combination with the Law of Jante, the result often becomes that those who in one way or another stand out, are forced into the norm. And if they don’t squeeze into the normal, they are punished with exclusion.

It was about me!

The evening and night after I read about gifted children I still remember. Despite the soothing breath of the man who slept next to me, I could not fall asleep. I lay on my back, my eyes followed the slits between the roof panels and the pages I read online were shown in repeat on the white-painted boards. Not word for word, but the content and some of the wordings. Brand new and intrusive thoughts about intelligence. When I closed my eyes to get rid of all I read, unpleasant memories from school time appeared and bothered. And I forgot that what I was reading was about the children. To me everything was about me. It was about me.

I slipped out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs. Cowered on the couch under a blanket and cried. Cried and looped the same thoughts over and over again.
About being gifted.
About the importance of stimulus in early age.
And about the familiar exclusion.

What I came up to during that night (except that it’s stupid to lie on your back and weep, for then you’ll get a kallsup*), were that high intelligence is the genetic rivet. In which case in Jantes Sweden. That night I decided that my children would not have to go through what I had gone through. No way.

Then you may think I started toil to enlighten the world of how gifted children function, work to make school fulfill special needs of my gifted children. But no. The logical conclusion of what I read about the situation for gifted people in Scandinavia, was that in order to have a good childhood here, you need to be normal enough. I decided to train my children to become normal!

I know. Not very smart to believe that you can change people. How can you even want to change your children? They are, as they are. Eventually, I realized that too. High intelligence can’t be disconnected. It’s there. No matter what.

Is this the first time you hear the concept of “gifted”? Or when did you hear it first? What did you think then?

See you!
Vera

*Kallsup is the Swedish word for an “involuntary gulp of cold water” which every kid playing in the sea at summertime in Sweden has experienced. “Kall” = cold. “Sup” = strong drink. You cough a lot when getting a “kallsup”.

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Why I have the blog Too intelligent?

If you meet me at the town, you probably do not notice me. I am one in the crowd. One of nine million inhabitants in Sweden. One of five billion on Terra. As common and unimportant as most. As peculiar and special as most. I live my life far away from the headlights, on the outskirts. Just like most of us do.

Nowadays I enjoy my life, but the road has been crooked. As for many. The reason my trip was so shaky differs from most people.

My name is Vera Varg. Welcome to the blog Too intelligent?

Very few believe that your own intelligence may be the leg you stumble over and over again. Perhaps when it comes to slower pace of learning than others and harder to grab abstract things. But could it be an obstacle to have unusually easy to learn and then remember for life? Who would imagine this?

Many highly intelligent people have of course used their talent from start and gained the life they wanted. It’s not for those I’m speaking now, but for you who stumbling forth. Perhaps my blog posts can make you hope that life as gifted can be really good. No matter how knobbly your bed was made from the beginning.

Share my experience and knowledge
I began blogging with the purpose that the experience and knowledge I collected will be of benefit to you. My dedication is based on the fact that I saw so many people, especially young people, feeling bad and where the main component seemed to be a high intelligence that crashed with the surroundings. I have also seen how some of the highly intelligent children and young people started blossom and feel good. This because they came to a new environment that worked better for them.

High intelligence – an asset or a burden?
The most annoying thing is that the youngsters do not feel bad because they are sick, but because of something that could be the sunniest of gifts in the right environment. The gift of having an intelligence high above the normal.

If you’ve been lucky, you did grown up in an environment that worked well for you as gifted. Maybe some adjustments were made at school to give you the opportunity to learn at your level? Perhaps you have had friends and family who are also very talented? Then your high intelligence is likely to be a welcome gift to you or simply something natural.

Those who have not had that circumstances during childhood, may feel that the high intelligence is more like a burden; The differently that erodes self-esteem, the barbed wire that make involvement impossible, or maybe just the glasses that make you look clearer than others do. Clearly how meaningless and banal everything is.

Find ways to live a good life as gifted
Whether you were lucky or not during childhood, you will sooner or later live in an environment that is not adapted to people who are highly intelligent. At various courses, at work, in community and social life, you will be different from most. Then it’s up to you to create the environment you need and learn how to handle the conditions so that you can live the way you want to live. I am convinced that it is possible to do. That you can do it.

 

In this blog I will share what research in relevant areas says, and you will get advice that have worked for me.

What I hope for most, is that you who listen or read will want to share your experiences. Something I have learned through the years is what benefit I have from knowing the experience of others. Especially from those who see things from a completely different perspective than I do. So give your experiences to others! And listen in your turn.

If you stumble on your high intelligence, are there any domains which are more troublesome? What would you like me to write about?

Type in the comment field below.

 

See you!

Vera

 

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