What is being Gifted?

Five years ago, I discovered that I was a Gifted person. I had absolutely no idea of what “giftedness” meant.

Neither do you ? Come on, we’ll try to find answers together!

Definition of HIP, High Intellectuel Potential

To understand Giftedness, let’s try to definite it!

Is being High Intellectuel Potential is being gifted?

Yes, being HIP or High Learning Potential is a synonym of being gifted but also zebra or overachiever.

Is a precocious Child is Gifted?

Yes, when a child is detected or identified as being gifted, they are often referred to as a precocious child, indicating a future gifted adult. High Learning potential is a physiological functioning.

The brain of a gifted individual reacts faster to stimuli and re-establishes faster the information.

Can we become HIP?

No, you cannot become gifted. It is a neuronal function that develops in the foetus and is present at birth. You are born gifted, you grow up gifted, you die gifted.

This is why we are able to identify gifted individuals at a very young age (from 6 years old). Some characteristics can even be identified before that:

  • An advance in motor skills
  • A great elocution
  • A rich and varied vocabulary
  • A mimicry modelled on adult behaviour

Is Giftedness a disease?

No, High Learning Potential is not a disease. It is a unique cognitive functioning that requires no treatment. When we refer to High Learning Potential we are talking about above-average cognitive abilities.

Are we necessarily good at school if we have High Learning Potential?

There are many clichés about gifted people. In 2021, I asked readers of Suivez le Zèbre about the most common stereotypes they faced when discussing their High Learning Potential.

The first answer is often the same! ‘Oh, you’re a little genius, aren’t you?’

Does being gifted mean being a little genius?

I guess you already know the answer, but no… It would be an incredible superpower otherwise! 🙂

Yes, some gifted people are brilliant and accomplish exceptional things. Others are extremely talented in school and in studies in general, while some struggle to adapt to the school system…

Others are gifted but do not consider themselves brilliant and may not be… Could they be Middle-earth HPs?

This is where it gets tricky. Each gifted person has its own story and you can’t categorise someone only on this trait. Additionally, it’s guilt-inducing for people with High Learning Potential. If they are identified as gifted and do not achieve anything exceptional, what then? Are they missing out on life ? Do we necessarily have to do something exceptional when we are gifted? Of course not.

Extract from the comic book HPI, Une Vie Haute en Couleur

Why do people associate Giftedness with being a little genius?

I realised there are two types of clichés, those before the trend, and those now!
I realised there are two types of clichés, those before the trend, and those now! You can find all the clichés about giftedness and how to overcome them : How to overcome Giftedness clichés.

In the past, only those who excelled in school were identified as gifted. Later, only those who felt bad about themselves and sought help from therapists were identified.

Gifted people are geniuses vs. Gifted people are maladjusted, depressed and insecure.

Mel Poinas

What about the others? Well, yes, those who are not geniuses but who have found their feet?

The influence of media on the interpretation of Giftedness

Since the release of the TF1 series HPI (Audrey Fleurot / Madhi Nebbou) High Learning Potential has become a news topic.
A media tidal wave has ensued, propelling HP and giftedness into VERY popular and visible topic in 2021 and 2022.

Even though medias are trying to democratise the subject, they cannot help but convey deep-seated clichés about HIP people! Which also made me wonder if our blog Suivez le Zèbre was a relay of some of these clichés? Maybe it is… (nobody is perfect!)

Understanding the clichés about Giftedness

One year ago, I have asked the blog’s readers via Facebook and Instagram, what were the clichés gifted people were stuck with (Nowadays, the term HIP is in vogue in France).

Here are their answers:
– Little geniuses
– Brilliant at school
– Gifted in scientific subjects
– Haughty
– Know-it-all
– Tiring, annoying, exhausting

No, being Gifted is not what you just read! Let’s try to put things right together and to understand : What does it mean to be gifted? 😇😇😇😇😇

So what does it mean to be gifted, then?

Honestly, whenever I am asked this question, I always feel uncomfortable! In my head, alarm goes on: alert, alert, tricky subject!

  • It is not a social status
  • It is neither a strength nor a weakness
  • It is neither a goth nor a burden
  • It is neither a assurance of happiness nor of misfortune

Scientifically, being gifted is:

A person identified as gifted has an IQ above 130 on the WAIS test (scale of 160). He is one of the 2 to 3% of the population to be in this range of 2 standards deviations above the French national average (90 to 110) on the Gaussian curve.
The WAIS test is administered by a psychologist or neuropsychologist specialised in Giftedness.

Neuroscientists and neuropsychologists agree that High Learning Potential (HP) can be detected from an IQ score of 130 on the Weschler Scale (WAIS test). In France, a person can be considered HP from an IQ of 125. However, while the IQ is an essential factor in identifying HP, the person’s history (anamnesis) and the exchanges with the psychologist on his cognitive abilities can complete the detection.

Weschler's curve and scale

In philosophy, being gifted is:

Fundamentally, what we are talking about is the relationship to the Law, not in the legal sense. I’m talking about the set of norms that codify the world and aim to give meaning. The Law is what protects us from anxiety. Faced with the abyss of death, our only defence is to believe that life has a meaning. For most people, this meaning is not constructed on an individual scale, they rely on the norm.

Take the average student who is bored in class. When he complains to his parents, they will say that it is normal, that they too got bored at work. Life is not thrilling, they say, but thankfully there are sales to entertain themselves, etc. Boredom would be acceptable because everyone says ‘that’s just how it is’. The ‘gifted’ individuals, on the other hand, are unable to accept this norm.

If they fail to construct meaning on their own, then, they are prey to anxiety and depression. But conversely, those who succeed are fully realised, fulfilled and radiant individuals.

Carlos Tinoco

There is no only one philosophical view of giftedness, but I particularly like this part of Carlos Tinoco’s interview.

Being gifted, in a certain way, is going straight to the point. Not wanting to take detours, not wanting to put any formalities. Living life to the full whenever it is possible. Not wasting time! Not being able to do nothing, because doing nothing is guilt-inducing when you are gifted. And above all, giving meaning!

But, how can we avoid falling into clichés one again? Are all gifted individuals really like that?
What is the meaning that we give to our lives? We all have our own sense of justice, of the world and of humanity.

In psychology, what is being gifted?

There is no consensus, and there are several different perspectives. Giftedness remains a central subject for neuropsychologists and psychologists.

HP validation is based on two criteria:

  • An IQ around or above 130
  • An increased sensitivity to the world (to be interpreted in the sense of an increased consciousness)

However, this doesn’t provide much clarity. If you want more specific characteristics, you can find them here: 20 characteristics of Gifted people.

Extract from the comic book HPI, Une Vie Haute en Couleur

Intensity: The trademark of giftedness

It’s strange to use this expression: ‘trademark’! Nevertheless, that is what comes to mind when I think about the functioning of gifted profiles: intensity!

It’s as everything goes faster, everything is stronger, more powerful, higher, bigger. There is a form of excessiveness in gifted people that can sometimes go to extremes.

There is a quickness of mind and an ability to make connections all the time, everywhere, with everything and everyone. There have extraordinary abilities, but not in all areas, and that’s where it gets interesting.

Environment, a key factor in identification?

Each individual identified as gifted remains unique despite this common singularity. These abilities are particularly expressed where gifted people have affinities. There is a learning process that is often very rapid. There is usually a very good memory which allows the storing of a lot of information and a great ease in expression.

HIP individuals are often interested in a wide range of subjects. They have multiple passions. In the fields they love, they are generally talented and can stand out. On the other hand, they often have a hard time with failure, and when they succeed, they may experience what is called impostor syndrome.

To be identified as gifted, taking a test is a necessity

To know if you are gifted, only a test can show it (In France, as we saw before, it is the WAIS test).
I strongly advise you against all paid online tests (which are generally scams: see our article on the subject). You can reassure yourself by taking the almost free test on Suivez le Zèbre: I’ll try the test!

Is it necessary to take the WAIS test?

If you want to be detected, then yes, but if you don’t feel the need, then no.

If you are still looking for information about High Learning Potential, there are plenty of more complete and accurate articles on different topics here.

Remember: Giftedness is a way of functioning, not a destiny!


To go further, you can read

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