My Overexcitable Hair

Photo on 12-9-14 at 12.37 PM
My hair

Admit it. You exude effervescence, exuberance and ebullience. Maybe it’s in the way you talk. Or the way you write. Maybe it’s in how you gush over photos from the Mars Rover. Or how you swoon over Sherlock.

In my last post, I briefly explained “overexcitabilities.”  (OEs) The expression comes from psychologist K. Dabrowski‘s research on giftedness. He says that gifted folks have lots of them. Like when your imagination takes you into mysterious universes where you create new worlds with complex languages. Or when you must obsessively research NASA’s potential study of manned blimps in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Or when your sensitivity to the sound of people chewing makes you want to cry.

If you don’t feel so effervescent, exuberant and ebullient right now it may be because you were raised by chainsaw parents or had painful schooling experiences. Or perhaps it’s because you read the newspaper. I understand. But I’ll bet you anything that before you were slowed down, quieted down and dumbed down, overexcitable was your middle name.

Now, I know I’ve told you in another post that I’m BG. (barely gifted) Even so, I do have some overexcitability.

See what I mean?
See what I mean?

It’s in my hair.

My hair is effervescent, exuberant and ebullient. Overexcitable. And let me tell you, I’ve tried to control it, contain it and dumb it down. To no avail.

But I’m done with that.

No more hiding.  No more shrinking. No more hair-obliteration.

Let my curls be seen. Let them express themselves. In all of their giftedness.

Are you with me?


To my bloggEEs: How are you hiding and self-obliterating? How can you allow more of your rainforest hair mind to shine? This may seem to be in contradiction to my last post when I talked about a type of loving containment. It’s not. What I’m writing here is about finding your true Self and living your authentic hair life. What are your thoughts, feelings and questions?


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. 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 is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

36 responses to “My Overexcitable Hair”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. A Quick Guide To Living With Uncertainty For Super Smart Overthinkers, Perfectionists, And HSPs | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] irritable, frightened, and responsible. You are embarrassed to admit that you are secretly hoarding hair gel because just in case your future boyfriend finally appears which is well near impossible […]

  2. Managing Your Young Gifted Child’s (And Your) Emotional Intensity | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] heard about Dabrowski’s study of giftedness and his explanation of overexcitabilities (OEs). He said that it is part of the nature of a gifted person to have intensities in many areas, […]

  3. Raz Avatar

    So I was searching in your blog about strange OEs and came across this older post. It’s only somewhat related but since I can’t find what I’m looking for, I thought I’d comment here and see what you think. I have always, always felt like I was “too much of everything” my whole life: Bed sheets couldn’t have any creases, my clothing always properly adjusted, some types of acrylic clothing make my skin crawl, noises, visual stimuli, smells, emotional intensity, overdeveloped sense of justice, etc., etc., etc. But another particular thing I have never heard anyone mention about OEs is feeling like your entire body is sort of on overdrive (even internal organs) and being finely attuned to one’s own body. For instance, I can become instantly hungry and will nearly pass out if I don’t eat immediately, I can pinpoint the exact second when I know my body is slightly off and I’m getting sick, I knew with certainty that I was pregnant before I was even late, I know exactly when I ovulate (sorry if some of this is TMI), and so on. And lately, I have (finally) come to realize that I am exceedingly, exceedingly sleepy whenever I eat white carbs. Now, this may simply be something entirely unrelated to my OEs, but somehow I kind of doubt it. Am I maybe a bit/pretty crazy? Would love to know if you’ve ever heard of anything like this. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      First, you are not crazy! I haven’t heard this level of body awareness described in the OE literature and I haven’t seen it in my experience. But it certainly could be included. That said, it could be that what you’re describing is less common than the more typical OEs you mention in the first part of your comment. I’d be inclined to say that you’re extraordinarily tuned in to your body and possibly your intuitive abilities are also advanced. This might not be an OE per se but more your rainforest mind’s greater perception, awareness, sensitivity, intuition… You might want to check out Jessie Mannisto’s blog. She writes in depth about OEs and Dabrowski. You could also contact her and ask her this question. I’m guessing she’d get back to you and enjoy a conversation! Thanks for asking!

      1. Raz Avatar

        Oh, thank you so much for your insight. You may be right! The distinction would make sense. Though the sleepiness after carbs has a more objective feel to it – I have been diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia. But after having recently cut carbs to lose weight, I am finding that the daytime sleepiness has almost disappeared (at least for now)! I wonder why.

        On the awareness/intuition side of things, I would add the intensity of my dreams. I have (and remember) such intense dreams that I sometimes wake up and spend hours feeling like I have actually lived through the dreamed experience. In fact, it will sometimes occur to me that one of my “memories” was actually a dream. Plus, I’ve had a few lucid dreams. One in particular was such a magical experience that I hope to have another like it one day. Some of my dreams can be troubling but others leave me in awe.

        Interestingly, I am also very intuitive when it comes to other people as well. Though in that case, it has more to do with their emotions, but sometimes it’s also their physical energy.

        Thank you for the reference to Jessie Mannisto’s blog. I’ll check it out!

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I’ve read that simple carbs and maybe particularly wheat or gluten can have this effect on some people. You might want to read more about that. Gifted folks can definitely have vivid dreams.

        2. Jessie Avatar

          Thank you so much for flagging Third Factor, Paula! And Raz, I’m so happy to hear that you found it useful. I was monitoring referrers for some other purpose today and happened to see that some traffic had come from Paula’s site…how cool to pop over here and see that someone had found all this OE stuff I go on about useful. I knew I couldn’t be the only one!

          And Raz, I very much relate to what you said about about stimuli and even sensing internal organs. I also need the bed made, am sensitive to smells, get immediately hungry, etc.

          Hope you find some more interesting material on our site!

          1. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            My pleasure, Jessie. I’m glad I have somewhere to send folks. Congrats on the launch!

      2. Raz Avatar

        Omg. I just went to her blog and this was one of the first things I saw:

        Overexcitability, moreover, is not merely mental, but physiological—an all-encompassing property of the central nervous system. Consider this fun fact: if an average person closes her eyes and someone presses on her eyelids, her heart rate will fall ten percent. If someone does this to a highly excitable person, hers will drop fifteen to twenty percent, according to this presentation by Bill Tillier at the 2016 Dabrowski Congress (jump to about 16:30).

        I am utterly blow away.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Great, Raz. Jessie’s writing/research may be just what you need!!

  4. Don’t Give Up On Yourself And Your Rainforest Mind | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] never learned how to build rocketships and send them to the international space station. Even if your hair is curly and free range. Even if you don’t look like George Clooney or […]

  5. Your Precocious Kid Was So Adorable. Now, At 15? Not So Adorable. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Notice if you have your own set of OEs and learn how to nourish yourself, soothe your soul and get your own intellectual needs […]

  6. How Can Sensitive Souls Change the World? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Once you get a teensy weensy glimpse, you’ll want to expand your connection. To do this, you’ll need to understand that: Your magnificence is something you are, not something you do. And: recognizing your magnificence is not the same as conceit or arrogance or self-centeredness or grandiosity. It’s actually the opposite. It’s finding that place within you that’s all about love. Love and compassion. Love for yourself: your mistakes, your failures, your successes,  your disabilities, your persnicketiness, your idealism, your sensitivities, your intuitions, your overexcitabilities, your obsessions, your perfectionism, your loneliness, and your bad hair days. […]

  7. Chrissy Avatar

    Thanks Paula, I will check them out

  8. Chrissy Avatar

    Our son has overexcitabilites wanting to ‘prove beyond doubt’ why things are so in terms of life and existence. I have to say that I have struggled at times to support him as those overexitiibilties at times have lead to anxieties when the research didn’t match the concept particularly around thoughts of faith and a higher being. Others(well meaning) view is to squash and bring back to the reality of a certain ‘normal’ where he doesn’t fit so well. Any advice or direction would be really helpful as we attempt to navigate our way with him.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Chrissy, There are some great resources at (You don’t have to be a homeschooler.) Look for their blog hops. Lots of very knowledgable parents writing on a topic. (Then you can follow the blogs of the ones who speak to you.) Also and All great websites for parents of gifted kids.

  9. Kamala Quale Avatar
    Kamala Quale

    I love it. Great post and great hair! Kamala

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks, Kamala!

  10. Antarmukhi Avatar

    I love the analogy with hair & your picture brings out the individuality of the gifted mind of much! Thank you for sharing it. I can resonate with it. I have always said my hair has a mind of its own. Even after a haircut, it still looks different everyday. Most of my life i have yearned for manageable, straight hair! How telling it seems now…

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      And isn’t it true that we rainforest types have minds of our own, are different every day and are unmanageable! Thanks for writing, Antarmukhi.

      1. Antarmukhi Avatar

        So true indeed!
        Wish you a merry christmas & a happy new year!

  11. aurorarememberAurora Avatar

    Ha ha! Love it! My boyfriend definitely has overexcitable hair!

  12. kathleen lillard Avatar
    kathleen lillard

    Haha–“sound of people chewing”–
    reminds me of the time. . .watching a play . . .woman in front of me opening a package of mints . . the sound . . .the smell . . .but no that belongs in the HSP forum.
    Thanks for reminding me of my natural effervescence
    which is easily flattened in
    the pnw winter.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I think there’s lots of overlap with the HSP and the rainforest-minded, Kathleen. Do you find that to be true?

      1. Kathleen Avatar

        How is that that you keep reading my mind!!
        Yes, I almost wrote: “don’t you find there’s an overlap” etc.
        Probably both groups have problems with christmas music in chain stores, among other things.

  13. holbart Avatar

    “Further, during mixed contacts, the stigmatized individual is likely to feel that he is “on,” having to be self-conscious and calculating about the impression he is making, to a degree and in areas of conduct which he assumes others are not.”

    Goffman, Erving (2009-11-19). Stigma:Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity” (p. 10). Simon & Schuster, Inc. Kindle Edition.

    I just started reading through Goffman’s classic work on stigma because I have been thinking about stigma and giftedness (and stigma and race and stigma and gender and stigma and religion, etc). Stigma takes all the fun out of overexcitabilities. It’s like having gifted hair in Mississippi.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Holbart. Can you explain this a bit more? “Stigma takes all the fun out of overexcitabilities…gifted hair in Mississippi.” Tell us more.

  14. Anna Avatar

    Happy holidays!

  15. darleensaunders Avatar

    Oh how I remember feeling things so intently as a child, the beauty of the sunset could make me cry and lose track of time. I got so absorbed in it that I missed getting back in the car on Route 66 traveling with my family across country. Luckily I was only six and they missed me a few miles up before I even knew they were gone. But things like this happend all the time. No one seemed to understand the intensity of my feelings including myself. Beauty make me happy, especially sunsets. Funny thing is I don’t feel that way anymore.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I wonder if you felt like you had to minimize your sensitivities when you were younger (no one understood) so that you don’t feel them now. I think you could revive them again if you wanted. They probably aren’t too far away…

  16. Mary Avatar

    Oh yea… And the sound of chewing, or cutting food, or the level at which my boyfriend talks. SO many things are ear piercing! Does light sensitivity fall under this at all too?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh yes. Sensitivities and overexcitabilities can be auditory, visual, tactile, and more.

  17. Mary Avatar

    Haha! This is so on the $ for me. I’ve always had several “overexcitable” traits. My fashion sense, my thoughts, my interests. I finally gave in to the fact that I have wild WILD hair! In the past I would typically straighten it. Occasionally I would wear it curly but I put so much product in it and touched up certain cowlicks with a straightener. Around a year ago I started “letting go” and put a little colonizer in my hair but just let it air dry and be wild!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes to letting go and getting wild!

  18. Caitie Avatar

    “Or when your sensitivity to the sound of people chewing makes you want to cry.” <—- Oh yes to this. My hair has some OEs going on today, too, as do my children. Happy New Year, Paula!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks Caitie! Happy New Year to you and your family.

%d bloggers like this: