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What are Over-Excitibilities? 

Overexcitabilities are processing intensities a person is born with that indicate a heightened ability to respond to stimuli (Dabrowski, 1972), These processes are found to a greater degree among gifted individuals and are demonstrated via increased sensitivity, heigthened awareness, and degree of intensity of a person's experience. 

Dabrowski identified five areas of intensity: Emotional, Psychomotor, Imaginational, Intellectual, and Sensual. A person may possess one or more of these, and it can be helpful to identify which ones are the most active for you. 



•heightened, intense feelings

•extremes of complex emotions 

•wide range of feelings

over-identification with others’ feelings 

•strong affective expression of feelings

•physical responses like stomachaches and blushing  

•concern with death processing 

•remarkable capacity for deep relationships 

•strong emotional attachments to people, places, and things  

•compassion ,empathy, and sensitivity in relationships 

•acutely aware of their own feelings 

•carry on inner dialogs 



•heightened excitabilityof the neuromuscular system 

•capacity for being active and energetic 

•love of movement for its own sake 

•boundless physical and verbal enthusiasm/activity 

•May have rapid speech 

•May talk/act compulsively/impulsively 

•Show intense drive (tending towards “workaholism”) 

•May compulsively organize 

•Can become quitecompetitive.  

•May talk constantly 


•Frequent use of image and metaphor 

•Facility for invention and fantasy 

•Detailed visualization 

•Elaborate dreams  

•Ableto visualize end results 

•Enjoy daydreams 

•Create private mental worlds 

•May embellish truth to make stories more exciting 

•Reality can mix with fiction (memories and new ideas become blended in the mind)   

•Find mundane tasks boring 

•Low tolerance for trivial conversation (creativity and imagination are not beingstimulated) 

•May be tangential in conversation (some incredible idea may seem more important) 

•Maybe misdiagnosed as mania, bipolar disorder 


•Seek understanding and truth,  

•Need to analyze and synthesize  

•Very active minds 

•Intensely curious 

•Usually keen observers 

•Prolonged intellectual effort 

•Tenaciousin problem solving  

•May relish elaborate planning 

•Can have remarkably detailed visual recall 

•Love thinking about thinking 

•Moral thinkers 

This is helpful because overstimulation on any one or more OE can be both joyful and frustrating; joyful because of the depth and breadth of processing ability available to the person. frustrating because others do not seem to understand and the flow of information can be overwhelming in some critical ways. 

Understanding the issues better allows OE individuals to create some stategies to self sooth and better manage their brain function. Here are some of the ways OE's work and the issues they activate, as well as some soothing stragies for each:


•Differentiate between imagination and reality by placing a stop sign in mental videotape 

•Write down or draw the factual account before embellishment occurs 

•Use imagination to function in the real world and promote learning and productivity 

•Capitalize on the Now  

•Learn to compensate for loss of interest 

•Detach from your own ideas  

•Empower yourself to find the answers to questions (respects need to analyze,synthesize, and seek understanding). 

•Act upon your moral concerns (deals with moral outrage, empathetic overload) 

•When you feel perceived as overly critical or too outspoken to others, look atlanguage as a game or puzzle to solve (utilizes problems solving, humor) 

•Compensate for passionate fixation to an idea (need to be right) with a focus on relational priorities (can be viewed as amoral obligation) 


•Appreciates comfort, preferring soft or natural fibers, specific colors, harmonious sounds, or certain weather conditions or temperatures. 

•Appreciates beauty in the natural world, artwork, literature, music, or everyday scenery/objects. 

•Becomes absorbed in noises that others don’t, for instance, a clock is ticking in another room. 

•Discerning senses of tastes and smells and may enjoy fine food, cooking, and dining. 

•Attention to detail and can discern nuances in odors, textures, sounds, etc.  

•You might enjoy being the center of attention, whether in informal groups or on stage. 

•Takes great pleasure in feelings but may have a narrower range than others of what conditions allow you to feel good. 

•Takes great pleasure in feelings but may have a narrower range than others of what conditions allow you to feel good. 


•Identify situations or stimulation that trigger meltdowns and prepare ahead time to have soothing strategies

•In some settings, decrease the need for the use of seclusion or restraint via positive self talk, acceptance of sensory overload, and asking for what you need 

•Try supportive sensory strategies (e.g., Wear ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones ,rocking chair,quiet space, aromatherapy, weighted blanket) and materials (e.g., sensory kitscontaining music, stress balls, items for distraction).  

•Provide opportunities to dwell in positive sensory experiences likesmelling  theroses or watch thesunset or enjoying literature/art 

•Try desensitization training: Use a loofa sponge when showering to decrease skin sensitivities or Improve attentional control with braintraining games 

• Make environmental modifications when possible such as lighting, use of white noise machines, wall murals, and other types of furnishings and equipment to increase or decrease the sensory stimulation aspace provides.  

•Educate individuals, family members, caregivers, administrators, and policymakers about sensoryprocessing issuesinadults and how to minimize their negative impact on function 



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