Summary of Fiedler article

Due to their level of empathy, gifted children may choose to avoid saying anything that may anger or hurt another, choosing to keep their silence.

  These children may lose their “voice” in an effort to keep the peace and avoid “uncontrollable” feelings such as anger.  

Gifted children often resort to rationalizing and dealing with problems on an intellectual level to avoid having to deal with emotions.

 Gifted children may attempt to avoid anger because they see it as a negative emotion and they wish to be positive and accepting people.

Levels of Emotional Development according to Dobrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration:

1. Primary Integration: Egocentric, lacking in empathy. Quick to blame others when something goes wrong. Often attains power through “ruthless means.”

2. Unilevel Disintegration: Influenced primarily by their social group and mainstream values OR are morally ambiguous. Often experience conflicts between competing value systems.

3. Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration: Person develops an ideal and works to bring their behavior to meet higher standards. Can experience dissatisfaction with self.

4. Organized Multilevel Disintegration: Effective leaders who have found a way to achieve their own ideals. Show responsibility, empathy, and self-awareness.

5. Secondary Integration: The goal. Life is lived in service to others, individual has a high level of compassion for every individual.

Lovecky Summary

 Gifted children often have a higher level of concern about moral issues, including the concepts of fairness, justice, and responsibility.

Theories of moral development are difficult to compare due to the “lack of a consistent definition.”

Kohlberg (1984) focuses on the use of reason to determine how fairness can be achieved, and considers elements such as compassion & empathy less important.

Dabrowski’s theory focused more on adults & adolescents. Therefore, his theory requires life experience to be included, along with the ability to evaluate concepts, in order for a person to develop “in emotional and moral complexity.”

Highly gifted children may need more attention, involvement, and intense stimulation from parents.

The problem of Asynchrony

Gifted children may be years above age-level peers in intellect, but closer to peers in social & emotional range.

With this intellect may come a higher level of sensitivity to moral issues. The child may question rules that age-level peers follow without question, but that they see as unjust.

These children may not be ready to deal on an emotional level with the stress caused by this heightened sensitivity to issues of justice & fairness.

Many young gifted have trouble with moral issues because they see too many possible exceptions. For example, a child may know that stealing is wrong, but may have trouble with condemning someone who stole food to feed his or her family.

Highly gifted children need to learn strategies for dealing with their empathy and concern for moral issues and the pain these can cause.


Fiedler, Ellen D. (1998). Denial of anger/denial of self: Dealing with dilemmas. Roeper Review, 20

    (3), 158-161.

Lovecky, Deirdre V. (1997). Identity development in gifted children: Moral sensitivity. Roeper

    Review, 20(2), 90-94.




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