Underachievement in Exceptionally Gifted

Underachievement in Exceptionally Gifted Adolescents and Young Adults: A Psychiatrist’s View

Jerald Grobman writes this report on a group of exceptionally gifted adolescents between the ages of 14 and 25 who were each treated in individual psychotherapy over the course of a number of years. They were referred for symptoms of anxiety, depression, self-destructive behavior, and underachievement. Each phase of their gifted development was accompanied by particular anxieties and conflicts. In adolescence they developed a powerful personal vision, a sense of destiny, and a charismatic personality. Their inability to resolve conflicts about these particular gifted traits led to their most dramatic forms of underachievement and self-destructive behavior.

‘In 34 years of psychiatric practice, no clinical problems have been more intriguing to me than underachievement and self-destructive behavior in exceptionally gifted adolescents and young adults. Early in my career as an associate clinical professor in Tufts University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, I was stimulated by the challenge of establishing a community-based mental health service (Morrison, Shore, & Grobman, 1973), organizing and running a psychiatric clinic in a municipal court, and developing and supervising the extensive clinical work in a group psychotherapy training program (Grobman, 1978, 1980, 1981). Later, as a senior staff psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital, I had the opportunity to learn about and treat patients whose depression and anxiety were caused by cardiac surgery (Collins & Grobman, 1983). In addition to these activities, I have always maintained a private practice. It has been in this setting that I have encountered the 15 exceptionally gifted adolescents and young adults who are the subjects of this paper.’

Read more here: http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10421