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Strategies for Coping with Impostor Syndrome

gtchat 11162017 Impostor

What is Impostor Syndrome? It’s feeling like you’re going to be found out that you are a fraud. You can never accept or enjoy success or accomplishment. Impostor Syndrome is at the crux of social anxiety; always feeling inadequate. “At university, impostors realize that there are many exceptional people; their own talents and abilities are not atypical. Often dismiss own talents; conclude they’re stupid when not the very best.” (Clance, 1985)

“Impostor Syndrome is when you are (mistakenly) sure that soon it will be obvious to all that you do not really belong in the gifted group.” ~ Jo Freitag, Coordinator – Gifted Resources, Victoria, Australia

Impostor Syndrome can manifest in many different ways such as perfectionism, the person who doesn’t ask for help (go it alone), or setting oneself up as an expert. Impostors can be workaholics (if they just work hard enough, they’ll succeed) or the profoundly gifted (setting the bar even higher).

Those dealing with Impostor Syndrome experience a negative impact on their psychological well-being. Burnout, emotional exhaustion, loss of intrinsic motivation, poor achievement, including guilt and shame about success are reinforced by the Impostor Cycle (Chrisman et al., 1995).

“I see a lot of the self-deprecating imposters. People that talk down about themselves to beat you to it.” ~ Kate Faulkner, Intervention and Enrichment Coordinator for Elementary Science in Sugar Land, TX.

How can family dynamics affect Impostor Syndrome? Family messages about the importance of being naturally intelligent are assumed to influence ambitions and expectations of Impostors from early childhood. (Clance ’85) Impostors have a strong need to please (Bussotti,‘90); may cause children to alter their behavior to prevent loss of affection from parents (Clance,‘85).

“Giftedness manifests in many ways. Some siblings’ gifts fit the academic paradigm, while others’ gifts may go unrecognized.” Jeffrey Farley,M.Ed.,  Principal of Odom Academy, Beaumont ISD, TX.

Perfectionism is a trait that is believed to have a marked impact on the development and maintenance of impostor fears. Impostors set “excessively high, unrealistic goals & then experience self-defeating thoughts and behaviors when they can’t reach those goals” (Kets de Vries, ’05).

There are coping strategies that can be used to overcome Impostor Syndrome. Realize you’re not alone. Many experience Impostor Syndrome; few talk about it. Consider a mentor. If you or someone you know feel overcome by Impostor Syndrome, seek professional help. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2 PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


The Five Types of Impostor Syndrome and How to Beat Them

Feeling like an Impostor? You Can Escape this Confidence-Sapping Syndrome

Is Imposter Syndrome a Sign of Greatness?

The Impostor Phenomenon (pdf)

The Dangers of Feeling Like a Fake

You’re Not Fooling Anyone

The Impostor Phenomenon: Differential Effects of Parenting and the Big-Five Personality Traits (pdf)

7 Coping Strategies to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It (Amazon)

Beating the Impostor Syndrome (Amazon)

The Curious Case of Impostor Syndrome

What Is Impostor Syndrome?

Sprite’s Site: Gifted Island – Testing, testing …

Sprite’s Site: Pleading the Pink Slipper

7 Ways Teachers Can Push Past Imposter Syndrome


Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Creative Commons

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.


Dąbrowski’s Overexcitabilities

Dabrowski Quote


Overexcitabilities was a topic that had not been discussed on #gtchat since October of 2012, and obviously one that needed revisited considering the overwhelming number of votes it received in our weekly poll.

Kazimierz Dąbrowski is a familiar name in the gifted community as well as in the field of psychology. His theories of Positive Disintegration and Overexcitabilites, although not originally posited for gifted individuals only, were adopted by gifted advocates and academics as a way to explain many of the behaviors they saw in the gifted; particularly the concept of overexcitabilities.

Dąbrowski died in 1980, but two men who worked with him, Michael Piechowski and William Tillier, are closely associated with his work; albeit with significantly different interpretations. For a historical perspective, links have been included with this post to more fully cover this debate as it was not covered during the chat.

So exactly who was  Kazimierz Dąbrowski and how did his theories come to influence the gifted community? He was a Polish psychologist, psychiatrist and physician who lived from 1902 to 1980. His theories, as mentioned above, serve as a framework for understanding certain gifted characteristics. Dąbrowski believed ability/intelligence plus overexcitability predicted the potential for higher-level development. (Lind) For an excellent review of his influence on gifted theory, see this article by Sharon Lind at the SENG website.

Interview with Dąbrowski recorded in October 1975 in Edmonton (Canada) by PJ Reece

Concentrating on overexcitabilities, there are 5 types: Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational, and Emotional. Creative and gifted individuals appear to express overexcitabilities to a greater degree through increased intensity, awareness and sensitivity. These characteristics can often lead to misdiagnosis in gifted children by professionals unfamiliar and untrained in recognizing these traits.

Strategies have been developed for coping with overexcitabilities. Talking with and explaining the concept of overexcitabilities with those experiencing them tends to be a good coping strategy. In the case of children allowing them to ‘move’ and expend their energy in a safe and caring environment can be a huge benefit; especially in classroom settings. Provide stimulating and challenging coursework in educational settings for children with intellectual overexcitability can affect their lives in dramatic ways as well as prevent underachievement and boredom.

For a transcript of this chat, visit our Storify site.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZDT/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Interview with Prof. Kazimierz Dąbrowski 1975 (YouTube 22:38)

Five Unexpected Traits of Gifted Students  from Byrdseed Gifted

Dąbrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration & Giftedness: Overexcitability Research Findings (pdf)

Living With Intensity: Understanding Sensitivity, Excitability & Emotional Development of the Gifted (Amazon)

Dąbrowski’s Over-excitabilities A Layman’s Explanation by Stephanie Tolan

Identifying Gifted Adolescents using Personality Characteristics: Dąbrowski’s Overexcitabilities (pdf)

Overexcitabilities & the Gifted Child from Duke TIP

Living with Intensity Understanding Giftedness through Dąbrowski’s Eyes

Overexcitabilities & Why They Matter for Gifted Kids

Overexcitabilities A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Your Gifted Child (pdf)

Dąbrowski’s Theory & Existential Depression in Gifted Children & Adults (pdf) by Dr. James T. Webb

Relationships between Overexcitabilities, Big 5 Personality Traits & Giftedness in Adolescents via @sbkaufman

Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities or Supersensitivities in Gifted Children

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Amazon)

Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration (Amazon)

Overexcitabilities & Sensitivities: Implications of Dabrowski’s TPD for Counseling the Gifted

Foundations for Understanding Social-Emotional Needs of Highly Gifted from Davidson Gifted

Mellow Out, They Say If I Only Could: Intensities & Sensitivities of the Young & Bright (Amazon)

Dąbrowski 201: Intro to Kazimierz Dąbrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration by William Tillier (pdf)

Point-Counter Point Piechowski and Tillier: Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

Response to William Tillier’s “Conceptual differences between Piechowski and Dabrowski” (pdf)

Can Giftedness be Misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder? Empirical Evidence (pdf)

Thank you to Leslie Graves (President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children), Dr. Brian Housand (NAGC Board of Directors, #gtchat Advisory Board, Amy Harrington (SENG Board of Directors), Jo Freitag (Gifted Resources), Corin Goodwin (Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum), Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis (SENG Director and Medical Liaison) , Amanda Morin, and Jerry Blumengarten (Cybraryman).

The OEQ 2 Inventory (pdf)

Gifted Articles: Overexcitability on Livebinders

Educating the Educator – Gifted Education (AUS): Overexcitability

Dąbrowski’s Theory of Overexcitabilities

Photo of Kazimierz Dąbrowski

The Intellectual and Emotional Experience of Being Gifted and Talented

Overexcitabilities and Asynchronicity and Perfectionism! Oh, My!

Gifted: Overexcitabilities and Asynchronicity

Nurturing the Gifted Mind: Intellectual Overexcitabilities

Save the Gifted

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Brochures

Reducing the Risk of Medical Misdiagnosis from SENG

How to Help Your Grade-Schooler Manage Overexcitement

How to Help Your Middle- or High-Schooler Manage Overexcitement

GHF: Tips from an Occupational Therapist

Overexcitabilities on Livebinders from Leslie Graves

Cybraryman’s Coping Strategies Page

Cybraryman’s Yoga Page

WCGTC World Conference 2015

Sprite’s Site Do You Know the Dabrowski Dogs?

Sprite’s Site Doggy Classroom Dynamics

Sprite’s Site Travelling with the Dabrowski Dogs

Sprite’s Site Critical Thinking

Sprite’s Site Be Creative with the Dabrowski Dogs

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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