You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted.

photo courtesy of Joanna Kosinska, Unsplash, CC

You obsess over commas. You freak out at the mall. You rage at the sound of a leaf blower. It’s been four years and you still haven’t found the right color for your bedroom walls. You remember violent movie images for weeks. You know what emotions strangers are feeling. You have a gazillion ideas in your head, especially at 3am. You’re reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the ninth time. You’ve been enraptured for years with the search for gravitational waves. You cry listening to NPR. You remember the time you smashed Robert’s lego airplane when you were five. And you still feel guilty.

What does this mean? Are you crazy?


You’re gifted.


I know how you dislike that word. It’s awkward. Everyone is gifted. Yada yada yada.

I know that you don’t feel gifted. All of those other people are so much smarter than you are. Your Uncle Charlie? Now, he’s gifted. You’re a daydreamer, a procrastinator, a slacker, maybe a little crazy.

Sorry, no. You. Gifted.

Here’s why it matters. I admit it. I have an agenda.

If you will stop labeling your gifted traits as craziness, then you’re more likely to find your way to self-acceptance and purposefulness. I’m not pressuring you to save humanity from self-destruction, mind you, although that would be nice. I’m just saying, if you admit that you might have some smartness, maybe a lot of smartness, then, you’re more likely to not be distracted from your path this time around. And we need you to be on your path.

And, of course, you can tell people that you have a rainforest mind. That’ll make it easier for you and them. It’s a lovely analogy, if I do say so myself. It fits. You are so darned intense, colorful, complicated and teeming with mosquitoes possibilities. Am I right?


To my dearest blogEEs: Let us know if you’ve felt “crazy” at times. Certainly, it’s possible to be both gifted and mentally ill. Some of you may be both. We’d love to hear from you, too. That said, there are many examples of gifted folks who’ve been misdiagnosed. You are all welcome here.

Have I mentioned that I so appreciate you? Well, I do. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may have noticed that I’m not blogging as frequently as I was. That’s because I’ve been working on the latest draft of MY BOOK. Yes, you heard that right. My publisher (GHF Press) says it’ll be released some time in the later spring. So you can imagine that I’ve been a little bit busy. But I haven’t forgotten you!

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.

94 responses to “You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted.”

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  1. Are You Crazy or Are You Just Gifted? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] When you have a rainforest mind, this is your life. […]

  2. Crystal Avatar

    I feel as though this passage was meant for me, coming at exactly the right time in my search/journey. Thank you!
    And my uncle Charlie was brilliant.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober


  3. How Will You Know a Gifted Adult When You See One? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] tell you. In fact, they may not even know themselves. They may just think that they’re weird. Or a little crazy. Or a lot […]

  4. Ben W Avatar
    Ben W

    Hi Paula,

    Again re-emphasizing how weird I feel using the word gifted. I’m writing this post because I have a hunch that I may be gifted. I’m a 26 year old man and work as an attorney and recent circumstances have brought me to this realization. I was a unique child to say the least. Everyone thinks they’re unique, and they truly are, but I mean unique in the sense that I was a nightmare for my mom, not because I was a bad kid, but because I had major ADHD characteristics with an endless motor/curiosity.

    A little bit about me as a kid, so you can see my thought process and how I got to this point: I was disorganized and often completely oblivious to the situation around me. Teachers thought I was “out to lunch,” but I was secondarily paying attention. I call it secondarily paying attention because I could always recount and repeat a general gist of what the teacher had just said. Therefore, the teacher couldn’t catch me for not paying attention, even though I really wasn’t. I was primarily thinking about the overwhelming amount of thoughts that until just recently (like in the last 2 years) caused a fog in my head. It was like my mind was in a cloud at all times. I didn’t pay attention because school was incredibly boring and there were so many other things I had prioritized to think about. Also, I excelled at all subjects academically. I would get straight A’s on tough assignments that I tried at at the beginning of the year and then towards the middle/end would lose interest, stop studying and that resulted in me mainly ending up with A’s and B’s instead of straight A’s. However, I would always do jussstttt enough to accomplish what I wanted. My family says I fall “ass backwards” into really good situations (I ended up getting to William & Mary Law School and passing the bar).

    I was able to focus, I often was just not interested in the things at school. I can still recount how over the top invested I got into the subjects of dinosaurs, animals evolutionary traits, the theory of evolution, what it means to be funny, philosophy, and religious origins and theology (to name a few weird topics). The problem was that I would primarily be thinking about those topics while I was supposed to be listening in school. No matter how smart you are, you can’t know information that you haven’t learned.

    Some other weird characteristics: 1. Extremely gifted at logic and math. Some examples (I scored a perfect score on the logic section of the LSATs. I also taught myself how to tell time.) 2. Oblivious to the point of ridiculous: Couldn’t walk a straight line because I would not be paying attention, always had my shoes untied, extremely disorganized and not “unclean” but always had a messy room/work station/life, would constantly lose things and just generally not paying attention. 3. Extremely ideally orientated – justice/right and wrong is something that is probably overemphasized in my personality and life. 4. Extremely sensitive – My mom has often told me I feel things “deeper” than other people. It has caused me to be susceptible to depression during tougher periods in my life. 5. Extremely socially gifted. This is a major part of my personality. 6. Really good memory, I only had to study for tests in college for about 2 hours to get an A. 8. Great athlete. Able to do pretty much any sport well without much practice or preparation. (Was on my college club swim team, made states in high school for tennis, good basketball, soccer, football, etc. player). 9. Extremely driven when focused (can’t emphasize this enough). Intense focus is how I would define it.

    I feel so weird writing this because all it sounds like is me bragging and that is not my intention. I’m genuinely trying to solve a problem that arose when I talked to a co-worker about two weeks ago. She was telling me how frustrated she was with her 11 year old son who had just started middle school. Her son had failed a quiz on European Capital Cities and Rivers. She told me her son had memorized the 100 European Capitals in about an hour and had aced that part, but had failed the quiz because he completely forgot to write down that Rivers were on the quiz. She said it was so frustrating because no one can relate to what she’s dealing with or understand the level of obliviousness and disorganization and she was really worried. It dawned on me that she sounded exactly like my mom sounds when she describes what it was like raising me. I started asking her more about her son. She named just about every characteristic I listed above about myself to a T. Like every single one. It was eerie.

    This kid was raised by a single mom 20 years after my childhood in a completely different area of the country in a Christian household. I was raised 500 miles away by a two parent home in a Jewish household. For that many rare characteristics to occur in 2 individuals raised in very different environments and very different time periods it dawned on me that it had to be occurring as a cognitive abnormality. So, feeling another motivated tangent coming on I went to my computer and researched cognitive disorders with those characteristics. I landed on gifted children. Pretty much every characteristic they listed seemed to coincide with my coworker’s son’s attributes and my attributes. And that is what brought me to here.

    Paula I’m writing to ask if you can tell if I’m gifted off of this description or if I just have delusions of grandeur. And whichever diagnosis arises, what is my next step? What should I do with my life.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      No delusions of grandeur, Ben. Gifted. In fact, if you would give me permission, I’d like to read your comment at an upcoming talk that I’m giving at Portland schools. I’ll be talking to educators and parents. Your comment will help teachers see some of the traits they don’t understand and will help parents feel relief that even if their child is disorganized and a “nightmare,” they can still be successful as an adult. (i.e.. get into law school) Let me know if that’s OK with you. And finally, it’s hard to say what your next step might be without knowing more about you. Perhaps, if you read more of my blog or my book, you’ll get some ideas. And, if you go to “About Me,” you’ll see that I do consultations via Skype with rainforest-minded adults and would be happy tp “meet” you that way. Thanks for sharing, Ben. I’m sure that your comment here will inspire others.

      1. Ben W Avatar
        Ben W


        First, thanks so much for all the work you do and for responding so quickly! Absolutely you can read this! I’m happy to help in any way I can, especially if it will help some children avoid or better understand the confusing emotional difficulties that arise from having this cognitive abnormality. Thanks so much for all your work!

        Also, I’ve done a deep dive into this webpage and have read a large amount of your articles. Every one hits so deeply and accurately with my personal experience it is currently blowing my mind. I would love to meet and have a Skype consultation, please let me know how this would be possible!

        I have a feeling once I figure out if this world is real (because what is the likelihood that I would be gifted, that this societally valued attribute would be given to me?) it’s going to inspire a lot of understanding, changing, and necessary adjustment in my life. Again, cannot thank you enough for your work!


        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I’m glad that you’re reading more and finding it to be applicable, Ben. Thanks for your permission to read your comment. I’ll probably just read parts. And I’m sure it will help parents and educators help these kids. I received your email and will respond soon.

          1. Ben W Avatar
            Ben W


  5. pan Avatar

    you have no idea (+really intention 2 offend you fair Madam) how much i can realte to THESE.

    –also with struggling with the logical vs sentimental vs socio-expected development, no have NO idea how many hundreds of pills i’ve been forced to take for various pseudo-diagnoses (while NEVER having any really bizarre experiences) merely feeling out of synch with 9/10 people

    gifted? no, i believe the word different defines me More (no idea if it makes a difference, i hope it will, that in the future, pages like yours will help other people in the same position as me and the rest that posted here to save time+brain cells!)

    Best of luck anyways,

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for writing, pan. As you read more, you may find that you fit the profile of someone with a rainforest mind. And it might make a difference because it could help you understand some of your struggles.

      1. pan Avatar

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, i really Honestly DO appreciate it.

        As for finding people of similar emitting wave lengths, well, i gave up on that a long time ago on that 1, yes i do lack some social skills as a result, true, yet, it appears that the more i try to open up, i get either laughed (not understood thus laughed, may even think of me as stupid initially = +having to explain a billion things= much effort +probably not even worth it overall which then either makes them more defensive altogether (when you explain something that was 4 steps ahead and run -Again- all the various possibilities+their outcomes) thus then beginning to armor themselves most often than not or get not understood straight (looking me in awe for no apparent reason, to me no apparent anyway) or having to all of these together

        the toll of all these are poor social skills–&i think i can tolerate that-can pay the price (thank god my family somewhat understands +supports me in case of the need of, now the real question (+the apparent 1) is whether 1 wishes for connecting with people in general to just kill his/her time, or people of similar interests but really go deeper+beyond the obvious+the superficial –apparently if i have (still) to choose between just small talk + be subjected to various nasty stuff too (after all most people when small talking ARE poisonous for some bizarre reason–makes no sense for me even for the scenario of internal deloading from them via this petty manner anyway–i mean, in other words, why getting so inhuman if you can just channel that to physical training or forgiveness? after all life is time, and how does that make sense to spend the most precious thing you have for such a pity matter? –really can’t grasp this 1) vs alone time but with reading finding interesting stuff own my own, there is not even a question in reality, obviously i roll with the latter.

        Meaning that i do not wish to live on a cave but not wishing to sacrifice almost my entire being for having something that i don’t even enjoy (really that simple, not egoistical not whatever, plain practical stuff)

        In any case, thank you again for your suggestions + tries to inform people.. maybe it does not change the world (+the particular problem) but even if it can help some tortured souls out there.. i mean what more to ask someone–that would be Worthwhile + i salute your effort with all of my poor self.-

        I hope that you live long enough so that your vision for helping people of similar sensitivities will flourish and grow so that many more have a better understanding overall and thus moving forward more efficiently (+perhaps even more important so, STOP thinking that there is something wrong with them but really get it, accept it, take the time to digest it, and really then, move forward (after all no forward motion makes little or no difference whether you are around or not, meaning that only the dead not move) so all the above (2 not repeat myself +become tiring)..



        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Thank you, pan. I’ve heard others talk about how frustrating it is to communicate their ideas because people have trouble understanding what they’re saying or they lose interest. It can appear to be poor social skills but it might just be differences in depth of knowledge or abilities. I’m glad to hear that you have family that understands you. I hope to keep sharing this information as long as I can!

  6. biancavanbeugen Avatar

    For sure I have felt “crazy”…Even the reading of, and responding to a blog that has been posted “such a long time ago”,gives me some of that feeling already…and then even the blog of someone who actually wrote a book on giftedness….
    What am I doing here, and are you sure when telling people “you are not crazy, but you are gifted!”this will be true for everyone reading it?

    I did meet someone in a psychiatric hospital, who believed to be gifted, but most likely he just had a manic episode.

    And what about myself? My father is intellectually gifted, and member of Mensa (but otherwise refuses to do anything whatsoever with it) ; my mother was very intense, sensitive and creative, but was never attracted to IQ testing; They said I was gifted in elementary school, where I skipped 2 years, intellectually pretty effortlessly but at high cost in the social- emotional dimension. Now I can’t do any good in IQ tests, which a psychologist who tried to test me, ascribed to extreme anxiety. But I am still afraid I am not gifted, after all. Or just not anymore, maybe. Although other people who identify as gifted still often seem to recognise me as being of their same species…One of them gave me your book to read btw…

    But I am not sure. After I was misdiagnosed and nearly died from it because this exact diagnosis and the way it was explained to me, seemed to either deny, obstruct or distort exactly everything of what I felt was my essence and strengths, and rescued from this by an interpretation of my troubles as being an anxiety- and personality disorder, I am just not sure what is left of me…and if everything that “should have been” there, was really there in the first place…
    I went very deep down in psychiatry, and like I wrote: I nearly died, and this in the physical, social, personal, spiritual, nearly every possible sense. There was only a very tiny little spark surviving it all.

    And everything that happened during that time, all the medications I had and all…I am just not sure if it did not do irreversable damage to any “giftedness” that could have been present before…

    The fact I am still (to some people) recognisable as a “rainforest mind”, I am afraid does not necissarily mean that my potential is unaffected and can still be fully realized?
    Even if there were no real brain damage (which I am not even sure of), there is still the high anxiety and the personality “disorder” that I have serious struggles with and that still seem to prevent me to be able to be truely creative or anything else that could come close to the true purpose of the gifted life…

    I like the “rainforest” analogy by the way. Although….as a child I was very enthousiastic about my discovery of the existance of rainforests. I definetely wanted to go there! They were the greatest places on Earth! Although I also admired vulcanos. So the best would be a place that had both.
    My parents said: well you can go there when you grow up. But it is not just beautiful, it is also dangerous…(and they summed up a huge array of dangers awaiting me out there), so when you go, don’t go unprepared! Unprepared tourists often get killed in such places!
    So you see, now that I have “grown up” I don’t dare go there anymore, although I would still want to…but who could I trust to teach me everything I need to know to survive in such places? When I hardly manage to survive in safe and boring cultured society? And when I am not even understood by people who speak my mother language?

    Anyway, I am quite sure even if I am gifted, I am still even more neurotic and crazy than I am gifted. “Gifted”, if I didn’t know English, from my mother language that could be taken as “poisoned”! Maybe some of these snakes and spiders in my rainforest have me bitten then… But I still have some hope though, maybe some of my inquiries into the traits and intricacies of giftedness and the people I meet with this, might have some of the antidotes with them….

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hear your concerns and thanks for writing. One post can’t really explain anything in depth, much less something like giftedness or what “crazy” might be. My hope is that readers will read my blog and, perhaps, my book, and use the information to help them unravel the complexities of who they are. In this post, I’m suggesting that some of the traits of rainforest-mindedness can be labeled as “crazy” or felt as craziness, when they aren’t. That said, gifted folks can have mental illnesses and personality disorders. So it’s complicated!

      1. biancavanbeugen Avatar

        It is indeed. However I also hope these concerns are not the only thing you read from my post…Otherwise I am afraid everything else I wrote was just one big demonstration of my insanity, that stated: “See, you even attract true lunatics with this and tempt them to think they are gifted! Look at me, I am the prototypal insanity and the purest possible incorporation of neuroticism! You don’t want people like me to think they are gifted!”……Because that was definitely not what I wanted to say…( even though I just did…)

        I still find it difficult to decide what part of my “abnormal” behavior comes from mental disorder, and what not. In fact some say this personality- and anxiety disorder I am diagnosed with, would also just be a name given to some intensified experience of the human condition, with enhanced negative emotions due to being often misunderstood and not having had true peers ( while already being “unsafely attached”, given some circumstances around my birth), not fully a “true mental illness” and maybe even more connected to giftedness than to mental illness. In fact my last psychiatrist said I was not at all crazy, although neurotic for sure. He liked to say I “suffered from the delusional idea of being a psychiatric patient”…!

        But: this “delusion” was not made up by myself. While already seeded by society and my life before I searched for help, it was planted and passionately grown by some of his collegues! A mostly confusing situation…!

        Still, I loved that phrase, it was so wildly paradoxical, and still I understood what he wanted to say by that. I also hated it, because I loved it so that I am tempted to tell it to other people, already knowing they hardly ever understand what he really means and just think it is nonsense or I am trying to fool them and/ or myself while I must be seriously crazy…

        Writing this, I do feel crazy again. I am not sure what makes me write stuff like this, and I consider it to be: too much and too deeply about my self, reckless to put it on the internet, incoherent, self-defeating, socially inadequate, and going under in remarks that aren’t actually “relevant”…

        I suspect I do it out of some dark emotional pressure, but at the same time in hope to be understood, without the need to simplify and sedate it all down, without having it neatly censored for the general public…..In hope for this time, at this place NOT having it interpreted as nonsense and insanity pur sang, although already interpreting it that way myself…. I suspect I fell just slightly on the wrong side of the imiginary line between genius and madness…just so slightly that I might be able to learn to walk the line, or even get over it, and come to the “bright” side? Or maybe not, because the abyss of insanity is deep and perversely tempting…I might even desire to jump into it to escape the overwhelming responsibility felt when acknowledging “giftedness”….

        Indeed, it is complicated…

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I so appreciate what you’re saying here, as will many of my blog’s readers. They will relate. If you read other comments, you may see some of your concerns reflected. My frustration with the blog is that we can’t really go deeply into all of the complexities so my responses may be inadequate and you may feel misunderstood because of it. When I see clients in counseling, one of the things we do, is sort out what is giftedness and what are the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family. It take time to sort it all out. It sounds like your last psychiatrist was a good one who was able to see your giftedness. I think that if you read other posts (and comments) you’ll find some of your questions answered. I don’t think that giftedness goes away, although, with trauma, the coping strategies that are developed may send it underground. It likely makes it harder to achieve your “potential” but it’s still possible. (although, then, there’s the question of how to measure potential…)

          When you say, “in hope to be understood, without the need to simplify and sedate it all down, without having it neatly censored for the general public….” this is one example of the challenge of having a rainforest mind. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Most Popular Posts of 2016 — Plus A Special Podcast Interview | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted […]

  8. Barry W. Kennedy Avatar
    Barry W. Kennedy

    The other big change in myself and my life since my wife died in February 6, 2014 is I no longer look to my wife to be my flood gate keeper who regulates, navigates, and generates the flow of my creative energy (Dabrowski’s “Overexcitabilities”) but I look to the Lord and myself through meditation, journaling, and creative expression. In other words, I have to be my own flood gate keeper for when my wife died it created a vacuum in my heart that caused a storm to blow. This storm flooded me with potential energies that I had to learn to use or they would use me. I could no longer look to my wife to be my flood gate keeper but had to learn to manage my own flood. I learned how to be a good flood gate keeper of my hydroelectric like internal power system I call Barry’s Power System by trying and practicing ideas that applied these Bible verses, Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, and my “I Won’t Let Her Die” and “Flow On, Barry, Flow On” paintings.

    John 7:38 (NKJV)

    “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

    2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

    “for your exclusiveness and fear of losing close friends, for your creativity and ecstasy,

    for your maladjustment to that ‘which is’ and adjustment to that which ‘ought to be’, for your great but unutilized abilities.”

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Barry. So sorry for the loss of your wife.

  9. Gifted or Impostor — Living With Asynchrony In Your Kids and Yourself | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Validate your child’s feelings: You understand that he’s frustrated and upset right now. You can see that she’s confused and angry. Validate your own feelings: No wonder I feel crazy sometimes. […]

  10. Lynda Carter Avatar
    Lynda Carter

    I was literally today and earlier this week doing these things. Commas are driving me crazy since my new employer doesn’t believe in Oxford commas. The neighbor’s leaf blower was making me go mad about an hour ago! How timely was this post for me. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad it helped, Lynda. Thanks for writing.

  11. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Great post, Paula. You really nailed it! Such a clear picture of gifted intensities and how people don’t see them as a sign of giftedness – but, instead as a disturbance. But now, I can’t get Paul Simon out of my head…”Still crazy after all these years.” 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Gail. Actually, I’ve mentioned you a few times lately in my blog posts! I suspect that you’re getting a little traffic from it! Hope so. Thanks for the posts on Twitter!

      I actually have a post titled: Still Gifted After All These Years.

  12. Blacksheep Avatar

    My black and white brain wants a black and white test that says definitively yes “giftedness” is the answer. It is the answer for all the times I didn’t fit in, all the times I felt lonely in a room full of people, why i am so easily frustrated trying to communicate or feel like I always have to find and alternate explanation, the rare times I have met someone and instantly connected to for no apparent reason but later realize we think alike. I mean yes I have a gifted kiddo…. highly at that…but I never accomplished anything. I never even really tried to. Unless you count trying to fit in which I fail at miserably most of the time.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      For some people, it does help to have “proof” such as an IQ test. Or some amazing accomplishment. (although even those folks can question their giftedness) Could raising a gifted kid qualify as an accomplishment? And, there are so many reasons that gifted folks might not achieve in traditional ways. Or perceive themselves as not accomplishing anything. It’s complicated! So, not black and white! But if you’re reading this blog and my descriptions fit for you, well….

  13. epicpenzzz Avatar

    I get this. I feel emotions as strongly as I did at first, even if something happened years ago, so that’s rough.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes. I’m sure you’re not alone on that one. That would be very rough. You’d feel crazy. You’re not crazy.

  14. hksounds Avatar

    Let me know if you want a gifted editor as I just got my MFA in creative writing and I think I would be a good editor or proofreader for a book on this topic, if it is on this topic. Hope I am not speaking out of turn but there’s gifted and then there’s Gifted.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, hksounds. The publisher has their editor on it. But thanks for the offer. Yes, it’s on the topic of the rainforest mind. Working title is: Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth.

  15. Gabi Montoya-Eyerman Avatar
    Gabi Montoya-Eyerman

    Great post as always, violent images stay for years . . if anyone brings up the name of the movie, I cringe. I can remember a bad dream I had about a sibling, whom I love very much, in my dream I committed horrible violence on my brother. I must have been angry at him but I can never get that damn dream out of my head. It just surfaces every once in a while, it was a dream, not real, I would never hurt anyone or anything. I do admit to smashing some mosquitos though.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be hard not to smash mosquitoes! Thanks for the comment, Gabi.

  16. JQ Avatar

    Paula, you know a little of my story. I’m going to share some of it here, as well… for others…

    I am gifted. I also grew up in an extremely abusive home. It was one of those middle class homes where everyone learns to keep up that picture perfect image, so no one had any idea my family was that far from perfect. I wasn’t allowed to be tested for gifted… my family was afraid I’d get a big head, so when they found out how intelligent I was, they started taking measures to ensure my humility, like reminding me that I was not any better or smarter than anyone else, that I needed to learn to slow down to everyone else’s level because no one would ever speed up for me, and there were even some very bizarre humbling punishments I will not mention in case it may trigger someone here.

    The situation was compounded by being a mixed race child in a “white” family in a “white” town.

    And of course religion had its own part…

    I should mention, the way I found out about myself was a sympathetic teacher that paid out of her own pocket for my IQ testing so my family wouldn’t find out. I also went on to make a close to perfect score on the ACT when I was 12 years old, earning official recognition by several colleges as one of the smartest kids in the southeast region of the US. The ceremony was amazing… my first time ever meeting other gifted kids, and we got along perfectly from the start… I was completely floored to find other kids like me.

    Anyhow, I survived the abuse from family and bullying at school through living inside my head and my books. And later on down the road, I did my own recovery work through researching scholarly materials on psychology – specifically, the dysfunctional cycle, the different ego states, childhood ego state development, codependency/counterdependency, the different disorders listed in the DSM-IV and diagnostic criteria… you get the gist. I was trying to fix myself… and…

    Mostly through learning to identify my ego states/inner voices etc and work with my own neural network i.e. programming, along with a few good self help books like The Psychology of Happiness by Najemy, I actually got pretty far in recovering. I eliminated all the abusive people in my life and completely started fresh. I learned the hard way how to deal with various tough social situations on the way, and a whole new world started opening up to me.

    I still didn’t really know myself though. That took a lot longer. I knew everything that was wrong… but I didn’t know what was RIGHT. I tried to gauge through other people, but other people were completely inconsistent and often a little nuts, lol.

    Additionally, I still got hit with a flurry of flashbacks every winter that sent me down in to a deep depression and serious issues with anxiety. This past winter I decided to try therapy… again. Same story as before, and I walked out on my second appointment.

    My problem with therapy in a nutshell: they always want to say I’m crazy. I’m bipolar, I’m schizo, etc. And I believed them for a long time. I let them turn me in to a virtual vegetable with anti-psychotics, convinced that was what it took to be ok. I couldn’t even cook or dress myself at one point… and drooled constantly….

    The best decision I made was that I was a lot more mentally/emotionally healthy than they wanted to tell me I was.

    When I came across your website, Paula, in a search for material about gifted children for my own son, it left me in tears. To this very day I can only handle reading a little at a time here because I get to crying so hard. It’s good crying though… relief… astonishment… validation… release. But along with it comes a final dawning realization of just EXACTLY how steep that curve between me and “them” really is. No wonder I’ve always had problems communicating with people despite being a natural pro at formal communications and writing! No wonder people constantly think I’m lying if I even begin to be honest about myself. -_-; They cannot fathom what I think, what I feel, what I see…

    What do I do? Keep roughing it out as always? Or keep looking for that golden therapist? LOL

    I’ve only had one that ever really made an impact on me. She definitely gave me “a wide container” lol. She was like a slightly older big sister (I was a teenager at the time and she was still in college). She accepted me wholly and fully, and helped me figure out a diagnosis for my mentally ill mom (who would never tell anyone what her diagnosis was) as well as helped me run through all the different DSM disorders to figure out if I was mentally ill myself. Like, she literally walked me through all the diagnosis criteria and talked with me about it in depth. It was great. Helped me get over my fear of “being crazy like my mom”. She was sympathetic to my plight at home and school, and pumped me up with encouragement to hang in there until college, promising that college would be when I would REALLY be able to be me and be free.

    THAT is the kind of therapist I need, lol. Saying goodbye was hard of course because there was transference involved, but she prepared me well for the farewell and even gave me a mix tape at our last appointment full of emotion releasing, joy inducing songs she loved (and I grew to love them as well… I listened to that tape any time I felt down for a long time).

    SORRY for writing this big long book here. But… I’m hoping maybe it struck some chords with someone here. Paula, thank you so much for this gift of a website. And thank you for showing some of your motive here in this article. 😉 I agree 100%. We all need to somehow gain the courage to stop hiding in the shadows and fight for our world. Unfortunately, too few “normal” people even REALIZE how bad it really is… or… care? 🙁 (this concept still shocks me… that some people wouldn’t care…)

    I’m sure we all help out in our little individual ways. But I guess what I’m saying is that we need to start spreading the word… somehow… some way… figure out a way to inspire more people to join in the effort…

    1. Ed Avatar

      Gosh. There are times I feel sorry for myself, then I read about people that have had such challenges in life. There are a lot of us out here pulling for you. You really were blessed having that one therapist that helped. Thanks for sharing, that took a lot of courage.

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So many layers in your rainforest, JQ. I do think it’s possible to find a therapist who understands giftedness. There is a link in this post, as I mentioned to you. Hopefully someone is near where you live: Don’t give up! The rainforest mind needs a very large safe loving container, for sure.

  17. CJ Avatar

    Wow, I loved this article! I just stumbled on your blog while trying to find a counselor in my area who “gets” gifted. Know anyone in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area? ‘Cuz it’s an issue for me 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hi CJ. There’s a link to a list of counselors around the world who specialize in giftedness in this post: I hope you find someone in Santa Fe. Thanks for reading!

  18. Brandi Dilling Thompson Avatar
    Brandi Dilling Thompson

    I always love your blog. It hits home every single time. But wow, this one got me today “You remember the time you smashed Robert’s lego airplane when you were five. And you still feel guilty.” – I had an experience when I was 8 or 9 where I shunned a girl based on her physical appearance. It was ALL internal and it was very unlike me, even to this day I am a very pro-loving everybody regardless of looks/etc.. But that one time, in my head I shunned her because of her appearance and now 25ish years later, I can STILL feel a pang of guilt in my stomach over it when I think about it. I’m just so ashamed of an action that was completely internal as a child. I wasn’t even rude to her. I simply did not choose to go with her into a new church class. Yet I’ve never been able to forgive myself for it. And yes, I feel like a crazy person. I wish I could go back in time and change my actions because I feel like it’ll haunt me forever.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sending hugs to that 8 year old Brandi.

  19. Lex Avatar

    Seriously needed this today – I constantly feel like I am going crazy, especially when I get an idea for a project and can focus on nothing else. When I don’t have a project then my head feels cluttered – I think about everything at the same time; things from when I was about a year old all the way up to something from a day ago… Today is a day where I am trying to get my head together and this article was shared on Facebook – most definitely a Godsend. Thank you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad that you’ve found us, Lex. It sounds like you’ve got a rainforest mind for sure!

  20. Annette Avatar

    Thank you. I’m 51 years old and I am just beginning to accept the way I see the world and myself. It took having three gifted kids and accepting them as they are to even consider that I, too, might be gifted. The good news is they won’t spend all those years trying to fit into things that are wrong for them.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think lots of folks discover their giftedness when they have kids, Annette. Thanks for sharing.

  21. the glimmering girl Avatar
    the glimmering girl

    Ugh, it’s like you’re inside my head. Again. Thank heavens! The timing is amazing…here I was thinking and talking about sensitivity and shame and justice and isolation. And reading about an incredible woman activist and thinking I’m obviously not as smart or accomplished as I should be, I’m clearly to broken and strange. Thanks for this. Always.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yep. Inside your head. And what a lovely head it is.

  22. Stephanie Avatar

    When I first read this title I thought, where was this seven years ago? Back when I was actually afraid to talk about things because I was certain someone would figure out that I needed to be locked up. Now I’m much more comfortable with myself and even confident, and while I still felt crazy sometimes, I always find my way back and it’s usually by realizing, oh yeah, that’s because of my perfectionism/overexcitabilities/sensitivity/rainforest mind. (And yes, that is my most favorite analogy ever, of all the analogies.) 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to hear that you’re feeling more confidence, Stephanie!

  23. Anonymous for this Avatar
    Anonymous for this

    Sincere question: how secure is the link between giftedness and overexcitablities/”craziness”? I tested into a gifted program in early elementary school (about 30 years ago; I don’t recall my IQ score, if I ever knew it). I’ve had some demons and difficulties over the years, obviously, or I wouldn’t have found my way to your blog while Googling the challenges of gifted adults. But, while I consider myself sensitive in some ways, I don’t relate to many of the extreme, debilitating traits and experiences you and your commenters describe here and elsewhere. I navigate the world with relative ease, and it’s leading me to question, not affirm, my claim to a “gifted” identity. Does mild/moderate sensitivity mean that I’m likely in the “barely gifted” camp–or perhaps even “just bright” after all? Or could I be “legitimately” gifted with solid coping skills and/or a tendency toward impostor syndrome? I don’t know why it matters, really, except that I don’t want to continue to claim an identity I’m not entitled to. I hope some of this makes sense.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      In my experience, there are many variations on these gifted traits. If, for example, you were raised by loving, sensitive, attentive parents and you had positive schooling experiences, you may find it easier to “navigate the world.” There are so many other factors, too. Temperment, physical health, socio-economic status, racism, learning disabilities, etc. All of these and more can contribute to how your giftedness shows itself. Then there are folks who excel in mathematics but not humanities, for example. So there’s no one size fits all. I’ve found that many of my clients are highly sensitive and maybe the greater the giftedness, the greater the sensitivity. But I don’t think it’s that simple. Sorry I don’t have a clearer answer for you!

  24.  Avatar

    I enjoyed reading this Paula. I’m looking forward to your book!

  25. Jen Curtis Avatar
    Jen Curtis

    I love the “rainforest mind” & am sharing this on my blog – check it out in you*ahem* spare time 😉

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for posting it on your blog, Jen. I just went there and couldn’t get either of the links to work. You might want to check it. Your blog looks great!

  26. Annonymous Too Avatar
    Annonymous Too

    I got the “gifted” label early, by 3rd grade it was official. But in my family it was only okay, indeed expected, to be “smart” in a very conventional and conformist way. And so only as a middle-aged adult have I come to consider that some of the “strange” things I do & feel are part of the “gifted”. Mostly I wonder, if i had known 40 years ago, if it had been ‘okay’ and ‘part of who I am’, perhaps I would not have spent the time between so alone & isolated. And angry. Thankfully there are animals I do relate to, and enjoy time with. Not doing as well with the one human I found who has the gift of trying to understand me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, I’d say it’s important to get to our gifted kids as early as possible and explain things. So sorry you spent so much time isolated. I’m glad that you’re here now!

  27. Tara Husband Avatar
    Tara Husband

    How do I make an appointment? I need help. I have a 12 year old daughter whom I adore but Lord have Mercy the rest of the world is having trouble with. Please tell me we can do skype or telephone. Thx.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Tara. I only am licensed to do counseling in Oregon. I can do consulting long distance but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you need. I also don’t have any openings right now. If you email me through the About page, I can give you contact information of someone who might help.

  28. marsha Avatar

    I would never have considered myself gifted. I always thought gifted people were brilliant and advanced in all subjects. I can barely do math. But everything you described is me. And two of my children. I am homeschooling my youngest rainforest brained child. I will be looking for the book.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Marsha. Gifted folks definitely do not have to be advanced in all areas. Welcome to your rainforest mind!

  29. Dragonwyst Avatar

    …but I AM teeming with mosquitoes! They love me to bits! And of course I’m crazy. Sanity is so over-rated!

    Regarding those gravitational waves, I’ve been warning people at work for the past 10 years. Every time there are no drugs of a particular kind in the cupboard, and someone accidentally writes a line in the drug register for counting them, and I am forced to count something that doesn’t exist, I’ve been telling my colleagues it doesn’t sit comfortably with me because we are creating warps in the space-time continuum. They didn’t want to believe me – and now they’ve found them – all gathered around a couple of black holes! That’s what counting something non-existent does! I warned them…

    Thanks for the reminder. Paula. Just yesterday I was cursing how easily I feel that stab in the gut when when someone mocks me for my concern about environmental matters. It’s bothersome when one knows cognitively that it’s meant as a light-hearted jibe, and Australia is all about not taking yourself too seriously, but it still hurts because something one cares deeply about is being made light of. And yet, one doesn’t retaliate, because one still prefers not to hurt the other. It takes conscious effort to step into my stronger and higher self everyday to be less easily affected by these things and get a sense of perspective working – sort of.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Maybe knowing that you have our support will make it a little easier, Dragonwyst. And, just for the record, I wrote this post before hearing the news about the gravitational waves today! It was one of those synchronicities. I didn’t know what they were!

  30. FredB Avatar


    Gravitational waves!

    and a Prober book!

    On the same day!


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yeah! How cool is that, Fred? 🙂

  31. Emily VR Avatar
    Emily VR

    Paula, you write the most wonderful posts, and this is one of my favorites! I am looking forward to reading your book. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m starting to get excited about the book, Emily. Thank you.

  32. Jens Lyon Avatar
    Jens Lyon

    I don’t feel like I am “crazy”. “Neurodivergent” or “not neurotypical” is more accurate, although I don’t seem to fit the criteria for the autism spectrum.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I like the word “neurodivergent,” too. It may not just apply to the autism spectrum.

  33. helenjnoble Avatar

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble.

  34. Angie Avatar

    After reading this I feel like someone actually understands me! Can’t wait to read your book.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Angie!

  35. Ro Avatar

    When I was 5 years old it was a painted Easter egg of a classmate that I broke. We were coming back in from playing sport, and the teacher even warned us not to touch any of the drying eggs… but I saw one in particular and it was so beautiful that before I knew it my hands reached out and touched it. It cracked, and I was mortified that I’d broken something so beautiful. I began crying and the teacher requested I say sorry to the boy whose egg it was. I did – but distinctly remember feeling my ‘punishment’ was inadequate for breaking something so beautiful. I couldn’t reverse what I’d done. Yeah. I still think about that sometimes 🙂
    I am gifted within the top 1% and also have C-PTSD. When institutionalised in my teens, I was initially misdiagnosed with – and heavily medicated for – paranoid schizophrenia. This stole my education, youthful body, and friendship opportunities from me during a critical time in development.
    Perhaps my rainforest mind lead to ‘creative’ responses to trauma. In some ways this could be considered a blessing, but I also suspect it has created a bigger mess than I might otherwise have ended up in. The intense drive to problem-solve has been focused on futile pursuits in my memory for many years now. What I’m trying to say is my C-PTSD hijacked my intellectual drive and used it in ways that have created further harm; kept me tied to the trauma. My goal is to unravel myself now, and move forward in life. Overall, I wonder if my high IQ might not impede this progress more than it assists. I’d love to have the opportunity to work with a very smart therapist who could get in behind my thought process and point out all it’s ridiculous flaws. It would be nice to feel understood with relation to the trauma. As that is just a dream (due to circumstance) I will continue trying to heal myself – clumsy intellect and all.

    1. Ed Avatar

      All I can say is that I’m sorry. You are double challenged. Just know that there are a lot of people out here pulling for you.

      1. Ro Avatar

        Oh thank you Ed, that is very kind. 🙂

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I also wonder how giftedness and trauma interact. Often, I see that my clients seem more resilient when you’d think that the sensitivities would make the trauma even worse. So it looks like the giftedness helps. But I’m not aware of any studies of trauma and giftedness so don’t know. It sounds like you feel like your complex thinking abilities get in the way. From what you’ve shared on this blog, Ro, it sounds like you’re doing a fine job of unraveling.

    3. Lex Avatar


    4. Ben W Avatar
      Ben W


      First that is terrible and I am sorry for what you have been through, truly. Second, you are not alone in your dilemma. Frequently, I get overtaken by a moment of drive and emotion to choose options that I know are statistically improbable over ones that I know are rational and probable. I phrase it as “my brain is fighting itself.” Good luck with the healing in the future from one clumsy intellect to another!”

      1. Ro Avatar

        Best wishes for you too, Ben! 🙂

  36. Lisa Swaboda is Atlas Educational Avatar
    Lisa Swaboda is Atlas Educational

    Weird, cool, happy. You and I and all of the crazy gifted people. I always smile reading your posts, Paula!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to get you smiling, Lisa. And thanks, as always, for posting on Facebook!

  37. Karen Avatar

    I loved this post and shared in my local group:) SO true!!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for getting the word out, Karen.

  38. Karen Avatar

    Do I feel crazy at times? How about the shorter list of times I don’t feel crazy? Parenting my rain forest child is about the only time I don’t feel like I’m zigging when everyone else is zagging. (parenting ‘makes’ me crazy sometimes, but that’s a universal sort of ‘parenting crazy’) Specifically, how about when the person at the checkout can’t figure out change if you give them a different amount then what they entered in the register? How about when your kiddo’s amazing bit of prose is returned as unacceptable because it isn’t punctuated to 4th grade standards? When I bring my car in to have the mechanic hear a noise that sounds like sonic booms in my world, but only after the third visit they finally listen hard enough to find something broken? Don’t even get me started on odors and fragrances. And clothing tags. And sock seams. and, funny you should strike them out, but mosquitos and their bites…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, yes, the “zigging when everyone else is zagging” phenomenon. Thanks for sharing, Karen.

  39. Julie Avatar

    I often feel crazy. My own family doesn’t really get me even though they say they love me. It often feels lonely but luckily I like spending lots of time with myself (and my dog).

    Good luck with your book! That’s very exciting!

    1. Angie Avatar

      I understand

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Julie. Solitude can be so nourishing, particularly with an animal companion!

  40. Ed Avatar

    This is so awesome. I used to feel I was “psychologically broken.” But now that I know what I am, I can give myself the grace I need. Great post as always.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes. Grace.

  41. sknelson Avatar

    So I guess you could say we’re crazy gifted!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ha! 🙂

  42. andysuth Avatar

    “I’m not pressuring you to save humanity from self-destruction” – I AM!

    I’m fed up of hearing “we need Elon Musk / Bill Gates / James Dyson to do something about _________” on (e.g.) Mensa Forums.

    I am not saying these people shouldn’t be working on the world’s problems, but so should we. Mensa requires you to be in the top 2% of IQ ranges (1:50). It’s not particularly exclusive. But were do we draw the “Elon Line” above which people place their hopes on you?

    Should we be leaving it to “Prometheus Societey” “Giga” or “Triple9”? or should we man up?

    It’s understandable for someone who is in the lower half of humanity to leave the comnplex stuff to someone else better qualified, but I’d say first off, these problems can be broken down. Second off, once broken down the “Elon Line” on them gets lowered too.

    There comes a point when we must say “I can’t solve world hunger, but I can make sure no one goes hungry again in my local town” – we realise we’re on the same side of the “Elon Line” as the actual Elon. These are problems we can permit people to look to us to solve.

    Please all, find something you are passionate about, and just start putting stuff out there. The partial solutions will add up and we can beat these problems.

    Have a look at some of the things I’m doing, by sacrificing social media time (30minutes a day) to spend that time in the Engineering Design / 3D Printing community.

    Kind regards,

    Andy (the one with no concentration levels!)

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Andy. “There comes a point when we must say “I can’t solve world hunger, but I can make sure no one goes hungry again in my local town” “– Yes, indeed.

    2. Llewella Avatar

      I want to save the world, I’m a little philosopher since I was a 4 y/o or so. I always felt different or insecure because of that; not crazy but less. I heard so many things, too kind for this world, naive. If I would thinking out loud to be able to be a tiny part in a solution that can save the world; I must be crazy; full of myself, a lot of ego, why needs the world even be saved? A lot of people seem to be comfortabel in their lives just being normal and not have to stick your head out. If you stick your head out; you must be crazy.

      I just want to be normal, not having this strong mindset and perfectionism and urge to make things better and more harmonious; I dont want to do that, people can be scared by that; I just want to be nice, not even that all people will like me, but that they are not are bothered by me.

      And I dont feel particarely crazy; but so lonely and left out from time to time. I know people think I can be a little odd (or crazy) with the passions I have in live; I can be passionate about almost anything that I can learn from and feels good, it is not just one thing; I learn fast and dive into things fast and deeply, with a wide range of soaking up information. That must be crazy, or autistic, adhd, or just weird. Passions can be weird; thriving can be weird.

      My passions of this moment are advocating for gifted kids, spd, twice exceptional kids, raising kids naturally in general (attachement and unconditional parenting), raising horses naturally, clean organic food, raising ourselves naturally 😉 It is not just one thing; I had other passions in the past; computer science, animals, being creative, knowledge in general. I must be crazy. (The one who was/is daydreaming quite often).

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Liewella. Surely our world needs a lot of saving.

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