Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski explored what he called "overexcitabilities": essentially reactions to stimuli that are more intense than the norm. He identified 5 different kinds: psychomotor, intellectual, imaginational, emotional, and sensory. Two others have been identified later: intensity of soul and intensity of purpose. While these unusually intense reactions can be found in various combinations in any person, there's a definite correlation between talented people and intensities. Gifted people may have different combinations of these various intensities.

         People with emotional intensity feel more. Not only do they experience their own emotions more, but they also have high levels of empathy. The typical example is the boy who cries over a small recess argument or a dead dog in the road. We don't necessarily feel different emotions: they are also felt deeply. Anger, fear, elation: if the "dosage" is high enough, these emotions can flood our bodies and defy verbal expression. This also includes any physical symptoms: racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, shaking. This intensity in particular is both a blessing and a curse: while deep joy and caring can result in unusually symbiotic friendships, people with emotional intensity are also more prone to rage and overwhelming depression.

        Run-of-the-mill stress management tips can help deal with negative emotions: breathe deeply, stop and close your eyes, run a mile. Note that many artists use their art as a means of expressing deep-seated emotions; activists and scientists often feel deep attachment to their work.

        Psychomotor intensity is a love of movement. People with this intensity love movement for its own sake. Common indicators are an excess of energy, the need to pace, love of physical activity and chatter, and the need to move while doing work. This intensity can often be mistaken for ADHD in the classroom.
        If you have this intensity, perhaps you can negotiate with your teacher to be able to at least stand while you do your assignments, or have the space to pace as you think up your best thoughts. I myself prefer to pace rapidly while thinking deeply. Many with psychomotor intensity are commonly involved in some sort of sport.

        It's the stereotype of the gifted student: big glasses, too many questions and a nose buried in a book on some esoteric subject. Intellectual intensity is a love of solving problems and thinking deeply. Such an intensity also encompasses powers of endless concentration, because intellectual intensity is the passion for finding out how things work.  These are the kids who come up with the intricate, original solutions to problems or unique viewpoints on subjects during classroom discussions.
        Note that intellectual intensity is the love of thinking and solving, while IQ is the ability to think and solve (convergent-style problems, in the case of IQ, mind). I have definite intellectual intensity. Most of my thoughts I keep to myself in the classroom. It's actually somewhat rare that I choose to share an idea, but when I do, it's because I've kept it for at least five minutes before sharing. Usually.

        Intensity of soul is a bit difficult to describe. It's related to spirituality and "big questions". Humans with intensity of soul contemplate questions such as "Why am I here?" "If God made the world, then what made God?" "What happens after death?". We are constantly asking "Why (not)?" and questioning everything, usually from an unusually young age. Such people are often described as having old souls in young bodies, something that should be regarded as a compliment. We don't see the world in terms of absolutes: every solution has an equally plausible opposite one, leading to a life and being in a state of eternal limbo. Perhaps those with soul intensities are interested in theology, philosophy and ethics.
        I myself definitely have this intensity. I can tell you firsthand that it is different from intensity of intellect, although the two can go together. Intellectual intensity is about the love of solving difficult problems, drawing unique conclusions and multiple points of view. Soul intensity is more about the search for meaning and purpose in life. This usually concerns itself with morality and theology. I used to be obsessed with religion when I was about 9 or so, far later than when I started to wonder what death is all about.

Intensity of soul, nicely illustrated by the Soul Nebula.

        Intensity of the senses refers to the five senses being easily stimulated: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. People moved to tears by a song or a painting are a classic example of this type of intensity. Perhaps individuals love the feel of satin or can't stand bright lights. One person I know always covers his ears and grimaces when ambient noise gets too loud for him.
        There's a reason why I love good music, art museums and like to smell my food before eating it. While sensory (also called sensual) intensity can enrich your life, it can also be a hindrance during loud concerts or in amusement parks. Perhaps you can move your seat away from glare, or get earplugs during fireworks. As a little kid, I couldn't stand fireworks.
        People with this type of intensity are the daydreamers, J.K. Rowling and similar world-builders, and inventors of complex worlds and theories like Albert Einstein. A rich imagination livens the mind, and is typically vivid and sensual in nature. People with imaginational intensity often construct detailed paracosms (alternate universes) and are usually creative. In fact, imaginational intensity is the key to creativity. The world's greatest artists, scientists and inventors all undoubtedly had imaginational intensity. For example, aside from being a fantastic artist, Leonardo da Vinci kept countless journals of inventions far ahead of his time: helicopters, tanks, submarines...
        Imaginational intensity often results in a love of fantasy, daydreaming, the tendency towards unusually vivid dreams and inventions, and something called "poetic and dramatic perception", which I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. Perhaps it has something to do with symbolism and personifying everything.
        If you have imaginational intensity, my main piece of advice: keep a journal. Paste stuff, draw stuff, make diagrams, write down all your wacky stories and dreams. This is especially important for me: I sometimes have problems differentiating between what I made up and what actually happened. This can lead to problems when I'll want to tell people elaborate stories as if they actually happened. Then I'll tell imaginary friends all about my day. Note that imaginational intensity can be used to deceive people and trap them in webs of lies. Not that I do this, it's just something interesting.

        Intensity of purpose is the quality of stubbornness to the next level. These are people that quite simply do not give up. While other people prefer to reach far and wide, those with intensity of purpose hunker down in their seats and see projects through to the very end. Whether it's a novel you started in the 3rd grade, a charity website, or the novel ideas of Steve Jobs, these people have the impressive capacity to finish what they start. Think Mahatma Gandhi's policy of non-violence. He worked practically his whole adult life preaching and living his purpose.
        Those with intensity of purpose can accomplish great things because they have the ability to produce something that involves astounding dedication.


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