Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

What Might Exceptional Giftedness Look Like in Kids and Adults?


photo courtesy of Graham Hunt, Unsplash

When Carol was three years old, she taught herself to read. At age six, she gave her Barbie a lobotomy. At seven, she picked Rembrandt as the person she respected most, because of his use of light. When she was eight, she refused to say the pledge of allegiance in school because she didn’t agree that all people were united under God. And who was God, anyway? At nine, she was reading Ray Bradbury. At ten, she insisted that she volunteer at a home for the elderly.

Growing up in an abusive environment, Carol worked out elaborate plans to calm her fears, including siding with the “bad guys” to ease their loneliness. In sixth grade, OMNI magazines were her entertainment. Her dreams were often vivid and at age 12, she taught herself to lucid dream. She thought often about the effects and influences of patterns and cycles in life and in nature and philosophized with Sartre and Nietzsche. She explained, “I didn’t want to be another person endlessly repeating cycles of suffering in a world where truth and beauty were so mangled and abused.”

Carol won many contests in school and her work was held up as an example for others. But that didn’t matter to her as much as standing with the children who were bullied or ignored. She was curious about religion and the paranormal and, at a young age, took a bus to church on her own. Her empathy and intuition were finely tuned. She would pick up accurate information about people that they didn’t openly share with her but would confirm later.

In high school, Carol experimented with goth/punk, poetry, art, tarot, photography, philosophy, sexual identity, and LSD. One of her favorite books was Ideas and Opinions by Einstein and her preoccupation was with finding true meaning. She always had a strong sense of spirituality. Recently, she said, “I believe no goal is higher than manifesting ultimate love and compassion. All I have done in my life has been ultimately in the name of opening my heart…It’s important to me to keep pushing the boundary, exploring my connection to the unseen and the energy that connects all things.”

Carol has a rainforest mind. She’s managed to continue to be compassionate, sensitive, intuitive, and productive in spite of growing up with serious abuse and neglect. Carol will tell you that she’s not special; that she’s not particularly unusual.

But she is. Unusual. Gifted. Exceptionally so.

Carol, now in her late 30’s, is beginning to understand that her quirks, her obsessions, and her constant questioning of the status quo, is not pathological. Not something to hide. She’s starting to use her talents to design a unique career path. To fulfill her long-time desire to create a better world.

Shall we join with Carol?  Open our hearts? Manifest ultimate love and compassion? Explore our connection with the unseen and the energy that connects all things?

How could we not.


To my bloggEEs: Do you resonate with Carol’s profile? How are you like her? How are you different? There is a spectrum when it comes to giftedness. And, of course, great variety and complexity. Where might you be on the spectrum? (You will notice that Carol hasn’t won a Nobel prize or invented the newest electric car. And, yet, she is still exceptionally gifted.) What’s your experience with “the unseen and the energy that connects all things?” Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Thank you to the client who inspired this post.

(Note: My book publisher may be closing its doors so my plan is to take back my rights and become an Indie Press! This is not absolutely confirmed yet but is most likely. The book won’t be available soon while I figure out the logistics but I’m hoping that won’t take too long. I’m going to redo the cover, which I’ve never been crazy about, but not make many other changes. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see the updates.)

(Book update: The publisher is trying to stay afloat so nothing is changing right now. This could be a good time to stock up! 🙂 )

Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019.

26 thoughts on “What Might Exceptional Giftedness Look Like in Kids and Adults?

  1. Aspects of Carol’s profile definitely resonate with me, especially the part about energy. As an intuitive energy healer and spiritual guide, energy permeates my life everyday. I am able to literally see energy, as well as transform it. In my experience, energy is everything. It is within all people, places, things, and experiences, and informs how we feel and act. Energy is something many do not consider, yet it holds the key to unlocking change and transformation on every level. We respond to positive energy and negative energy, not always realizing that it is what is behind our inclinations. But, when we understand energy and how it is intertwined in our lives on a physical level, we may better utilize our thoughts, feelings, and actions for our highest good and potential. In the rainforest mind population, much of our complexity is tied to the unseen, making for a rich, and at times, challenging experience- but one that I, for one, would not trade!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Paula, Thank you so much for this blog and the attention for extremely gifted people. I think it is important for them to know that giftedness is a range too. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society and members there all were very surprised and happy when they found out and joined TNS and met other people like them. It really makes a difference.
    Our Gifted Adults Foundation also published a leaflet on exceptional and profound giftedness in adults:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the link, Noks. Wonderful to hear from you. It will be good for my readers to learn more about your organization that’s based in the Netherlands.


    • Hello Noks, thank you so much for the link. I very recently discovered IHBV and your leaflets, it’s awesome all the work that is being done in the Netherlands. You are onto very interesting topics that I haven’t met with before, for example unemployment among the gifted. I’ve come across that problem myself, and also now in my job coaching gifted people. Looking forward to following you and the IHBV on the web!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Noks. Thanks for the links. Some of the leaflets and presentations of IHBV were interesting. I joined the TNS, but haven’t found it very interesting so far. What I’ve seen of it (Vidya and the Yahoo list) seem to be dominated by a couple of people who are nuts. It’s not easy to have a conversation about anything of substance without someone butting in with bizarre conspiracy theories. Maybe it’s easier to get together in person where you are, and the nuts don’t come.

      You could count me in the category of “gifted and not working,” but I like to think it’s because I was clever enough to structure my life that way on purpose. I prefer taking care of my children over any job I’ve had.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It can be difficult with groups to find the folks you can relate with. People have different experiences with TNS or Mensa, for example. But, they are places to start to find other gifted humans. It still might take time to find the one or two that you resonate with. I have some posts about finding friends and am writing one right now specifically about loneliness that might help. Thanks, Bostonian.


      • Hi Bostonian, Sorry that you did not find what you looked for in TNS. I found out that you have to put in some personal effort too. I went to European gatherings and to one annual gathering (this year in Denver). Speaking in person is different from mailing lists. When traveling I look for a TNS member where I will stay and try yo make an appointment for a personal meeting. That turned out very good.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Some of this reads like my journal from childhood/teens…and other parts are definitely more accomplished/inspiring than my own life experiences (we are all of us unique after all). What a beautiful and rich soul she is! Thanks for sharing her story and thanks, Carol, for being a light in the world. More love, more compassion, more openness, YES!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. May we all know ourselves in our truest form and replace what has been laid upon our backs with wings. May we all have guides with generous hearts and rainforest minds who tenderly show us where our greatness lies. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, that actually resonates a lot. That was me with the Ray Bradbury books, noticing things that weren’t being said. Wow. I know I am more willing to acknowledge it now because I have my two poppies who are following a similar path, with test results to show it’s not all in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The intersection of the multiple spectrums which make up any individual’s giftedness may have converging and diverging looks of commonality when observed. This observation seems an unreliable gauge to discern one’s spectrums and positions on them. The deeper point is in how giftedness feels. Unfortunately, language and artistic expression are often lacking to describe fully the depth of those feelings, so we discuss how it appears.

    I’m sure, most, like me felt and expressed a frustration of sorts. When you say you’re frustrated to someone, like a parent or teacher and they are not gifted or don’t understand giftedness, they often don’t grasp the uniquely nuanced form it takes for us.

    For example, no one that heard me say I was frustrated understood the core of my frustration. They believed it was a rather typical lack of grasp for the materials. They didn’t understand, how I was deeply frustrated that Dad had a few years earlier sold the bulldozer, so I did not have access to a proper tool by which to flatten the high school building. I mean, hasn’t everyone who’s gifted had that experience with feelings of frustration about their Dad selling the bulldozer just before you really needed it?

    Doesn’t, the blend of chemistry, wiring, and experience in the mind of giftedness make you want to taste, hear, smell, and feel the resonant commonality? The look is just one small part.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just an update on my book. It continues to be available as usual on Amazon and can be ordered through your independent bookstore. The publisher is trying to stay afloat. So, now would be a good time to get your copies! Sorry for the confusion!


  8. I wasn’t a high achiever in school. So I didn’t believe it when my parents told me I was an underachiever. I thought they were crazy. I thought I was crazy. Sometimes I still think I’m crazy. I’ve structured my life intentionally to be able to stay home with kids as well. They’re getting to the point, and the age, where I think I can wander out and be a little more productive, and also support my husband’s efforts more. But I’m terrified. It’s a big step. So far, my children are high achievers. I like to think that the difference between them and me is that they have had the love and support of someone who understands them. But maybe I’m just flattering myself. Regardless, they don’t have a lot of the hangups that I did/do and I’m grateful for that. I find it difficult to find like minds…I think the problem with Mensa and the like is that having a high IQ in common doesn’t equate to having enough interests in common to forge a relationship. I have friends on Facebook from high school who have a similiar IQ to mine. We don’t necessarily agree on issues or share interests in common. Ditto with the friends IRL. I find friendships very difficult with most (thankfully not all) people.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: What Might Exceptional Giftedness Look Like in Kids and Adults? — Your Rainforest Mind – Goddamn Media

  10. Pingback: Some of My Best Friends Are Introverted, Sensitive, Introspective, Smart, Empathetic, Overthinking, Perfectionists | Your Rainforest Mind

  11. I was given the answers to all Carol’s questions from Day One – the King James Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: The Many Faces Of Giftedness — Beyond Sheldon And Sherlock | Your Rainforest Mind

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