What is an overexcitability?
Overexcitabilities are basically a word for how a person may perceive their world with more intensity. The Polish psychologist, Dabrowski, identified these intensities that are passed down through the generations.
Each child may have a different combination of these overexcitabilities. Some with just one and some carrying many, making each sensitive child unique. Dabrowski’s overexcitabilties are carried into adulthood, however many adults have learned to ‘dull’ them down, to fit into society.
Through working with children, I have found many of these overexcitabilities can either be turned to the positive characteristics or to the negative ones.
For example, a child may reach their amazing potential with the psychomotor overexcitability if they use their extra energy for their important activities in life. However, food, chemicals and stress can shift this overexcitability to impulsivity and hyperactivity. And thus, the child does not reach their true potential.
Another example is, a child with the imaginational overexcitability with the right balance of food (and limited chemicals and stress in their lives), may create wonderful things with this imagination. However, a child eating a food that they are sensitive to (and may not know about), can bring vivid nightmares or anxiety.
By removing sugar and food additives and addressing food sensitivities, we get closer to helping our children turn on the positive characteristics and turn off the negative sides.
Take a look below to see which overexcitabilities your child might have. And under the overexcitability, do they show the positive characteristics? Or do you need some help to work out how to address the less-than-ideal ones? You can register below for a free Clear Path to Vibrant Children phone session to get clarity.
Whilst Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities can make it more difficult to fit into the world, they can also bring amazing gifts to each child. When understood and nurtured, these children can truly shine and achieve their amazing potential.
The primary sign of this intensity is a surplus of energy. Children with a dominant psychomotor overexcitability are often misdiagnosed with ADHD since characteristics are similar.
- Rapid speech
- Impulsive behavior
- Compulsive talking
- Compulsive organizing
- Nervous habits and tics
- Preference for fast action and sports
- Physical expression of emotions
The primary sign of this intensity is a heightened awareness of all five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Children with a dominant sensual overexcitability can get sick from the smell of certain foods or as toddlers will hate to walk on grass in their bare feet. The pleasure they get from the tastes and textures of some foods may cause them to overeat.
- Appreciation of beauty, whether in writing, music, art or nature. Includes love of objects like jewelry
- Sensitive to smells, tastes, or textures of foods
- Sensitivity to chemicals and pollution
- Tactile sensitivity (bothered by feel of textures on skin or even foods in mouth)
- Craving for pleasure
- Need or desire for comfort
This intensity is the one most recognized in ‘gifted’ children. It is characterized by activities of the mind, thought and thinking about thinking. Children who lead with this intensity seem to be thinking all the time and want answers to deep thoughts. Sometimes their need for answers will get them in trouble in school when their questioning of the teacher can look like disrespectful challenging.
- Deep curiosity
- Love of knowledge and learning
- Love of problem solving
- Avid reading
- Asking of probing questions
- Theoretical thinking
- Analytical thinking
- Independent thinking
- Concentration, ability to maintain intellectual effort
The primary sign of this intensity is the ‘free play’ of the imagination. The person’s vivid imaginations can cause them to visualise the worst possibility in any situation. It can keep them from taking chances or getting involved in new situations. It can also lead to wondrous creativity.
- Vivid dreams
- Fear of the unknown
- Good sense of humour
- Magical thinking
- Love of poetry, music and drama
- Love of fantasy
- Imaginary friends
- Detailed visualisation
The primary sign of this intensity is strong emotional sensitivity. People with this overexcitability are sometimes mistakenly believed to have emotional problems and disorders. They are often the children about whom people will say, “He’s too sensitive for his own good.”
- Extremes of emotion
- Anxiety, Depression
- Feelings of guilt and sense of responsibility
- Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority
- Timidity and shyness
- Concern for others
- Heightened sense right and wrong, of injustice and hypocrisy
- Strong memory for feelings
- Problems adjusting to change
- Need for security
- Physical response to emotions (stomach aches caused by anxiety, for example)
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In love and support