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The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius

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Are you relentlessly curious and creative, always willing to rock the boat in order to get things done . . . extremely energetic and focused, yet constantly switching gears . . . intensely sensitive, able to intuit subtly charged situations and decipher others' feeling? If these traits sound familiar, then you may be an Everyday Genius--an ordinary person of unusual vision who breaks the mold and isn't afraid to push progress forward. . . .

As thought-provoking as Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, psychologist Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's Gifted Adults draws on a wide range of groundbreaking research and her own clinical experience to show America's twenty million gifted adults how to identify and free their extraordinary potential. Gifted Adults presents the first practical tool for rating your Evolutionary Intelligence Quotient through an in-depth personality-type profile. Demystifying what it means to be a gifted adult, this book offers practical guidance for eliminating self-sabotage and underachievement, helping Everyday Geniuses and those who know, love, and work with them to understand and support the exceptional gifts inherent in these unique personality traits.

416 pages, Paperback

First published November 2, 1999

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Mary-Elaine Jacobsen

4 books20 followers

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5 stars
200 (37%)
4 stars
168 (31%)
3 stars
115 (21%)
2 stars
36 (6%)
1 star
14 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 3 books83 followers
July 31, 2007
Practical and fabulous. My favorite chapter deals with the Ten Criticisms of Gifted Adults and how to counter them with grace. "Why Don't You Slow Down?" becomes: "Going Fast is Normal for Me." "Can't You Just Stick with One Thing?" is answered with: "No, Probably Not." :)
Profile Image for Beverly.
445 reviews18 followers
May 16, 2011
In the late 1970s, I was enrolled in my school's Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. We were taught different ways to explore topics and ideas, and the time spent in the program was my favorite. I was bored in school (my oldest sister liked to play "teacher", so for years I was doing the same work she did...she's 4.5 years older than I am) and curious. I was a day dreamer. Before I hit high school in the early 1980s, the program was over. It simply didn't extend beyond middle grade years.

I rarely gave TAG much thought after that, until a Twitter friend, upon reading angsty tweets from me, asked if I had been labeled "gifted". Yes, but...was my reply. She recommended this book, and it has helped me to learn a lot about myself. All those years of fighting my "natural" ways of thinking and being are over. I see why I can process a lot all at once, why I can think around problems, why I am never satisfied, why I so often feel different.

Was this a life changer? Hard to tell, but at the very least, it is a meaningful book for me. If you were a TAG kid that was cut loose before you were taught how to cope with your differences, this is a worthwhile read. If you were never "labeled" but suspect you ought to have been, again, this is a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Ceratia.
12 reviews1 follower
August 11, 2017
So I finished reading 'The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius' from Mary-Elaine Jacobsen last Wednesday. I read the book because my psychologist and psychiatrist seem to be convinced that I'm 'gifted.' Personally I'm not convinced that I am gifted but I do have a bunch of problems that gifted people seem to have and because of this I figured it wouldn't hurt to find out how others deal with these problems.

Before I start ranting about this book I should say that I got a 'very high' score on her test so I'm not annoyed about this book because of any bitterness of scoring low or anything.

In short, of the 378 pages maybe 50 to 60 pages (absolutely not more than 80) were sort of useful although not necessarily just for the gifted adult. It could partially be because of the book being from the year 2000 but the author seems to have some strange and outdated ideas about what gifted means. She gives it her own definition. The book feels as a way of trying to convince herself that she is gifted and in the beginning of the book basically everyone seems to be 'gifted.' The author contradicts herself quite a bunch of times and she is convinced that believing in the 'divine' is a sign of intelligence. (This even influences your score in her test!) According to her a balanced gifted adult, I quote: 'Utilizes integrated extrasensory abilities' too. Claims like this make it very hard to take this book serious. It doesn't help that a very big part of the book is just endless quotes of supposedly gifted people (doubtful) and sadly in most cases no actually useful info is provided on how they deal with some problems and life in general. It took almost 300 pages to actually arrive at a part which had some ok info in it. I was hoping this would stay like that until the end of the book but apparently that was wishful thinking. I really tried my best to take this book serious despite the strange claims but I cannot recommend this book. If you need help with your 'giftedness' there must be better sources.
Profile Image for Bridgett.
656 reviews120 followers
July 22, 2009
I was originally hesitant about this book because the term "gifted" sounds so elitist. I was pleased at the focus on multiple intelligences and personality traits of highly sensitive individuals. I definitely have been told I'm "too intense" by a variety of people, so I could relate to having lots of intensity, complexity, and drive. Though my drive has lagged the past couple years due to depression and anxiety (hoping to correct that!) A fun book, and helpful in understanding one's differences and personal problems.
45 reviews4 followers
November 20, 2011
This book is a very dry read, but it's a forgivable flaw. Jacobsen has written one of only two books on adult giftedness and the *only* book on adult giftedness aimed at helping us function better in a world that doesn't understand us. More than a self-help book, this is really more of a text book, the missing operator's manual for a gifted life. If you *know* that you're a deeply intelligent person and yet your struggling to function in a world where the rules of conduct seem both stupidly simple and yet infuriatingly difficult at the same time, you should definitely check out the ideas in this book.
Profile Image for Carla Hahn.
72 reviews3 followers
May 30, 2016
SHE NAILED ME. This book is about me, in almost every way - good and bad.

Though a gifted adult, I've often made a mess of my life. Dr Jacobsen explains why and offers practical tips to help me from making the same mistakes I've made over and over, despite knowing better.

Parts of this book are repetitive, but maybe that's a good thing. I apparently need to hear the message multiple times.

A good read for those of us who have difficulty understanding why the rest of the world isn't like us.
Profile Image for Benoit Lelièvre.
Author 8 books137 followers
November 10, 2019

Just no.

This was an extremely frustrating read. It starts off fine enough setting up what is the most clinical definition of giftedness I heard yet and setting up pillars for the gifted person's identity (Intensity, Complexity and Drive) but it QUICKLY falls off a cliff and swerves DEEP into new age woo woo territory.

Everyone who reads this book can tell themselves they're a gifted person. Literally everyone. Once this book settles on a definition of giftedness, it become just any self-help book with a boring, unearned elitist edge. I didn't feel like I was talked to like an intelligent person by Mary Elaine Jacobsen. I didn't need anyone to tell me how to express myself or set boundaries with others. I'm still struggling with the idea of giftedness and I was looking into some insight to help me accept it and move on.

If you're looking for a good book on giftedness for adults, I suggest YOUR RAINFOREST MIND by Paula Prober. It's written with the same sweetness and empathy, but with a lot more respect and a deeper knowledge of how gifted people think.
Profile Image for Sarah.
55 reviews19 followers
July 1, 2016
This book could have been 1/3 of its total size. While there is some really great insight, it tends to get buried under inordinate amounts of anecdotes, seemingly endless repetition, and a little bit of preachiness surrounding her concept of a "mandated mission." The last of these was disclosed as not being a religious concept, however it sounded just like one in practice, even using the phrase "from the Divine" a few times.
Profile Image for Simon Rebsdorf.
Author 5 books9 followers
January 12, 2018
Very eye-opening for me. I you can confirm the following questions, go read this book:
- Do you always have an insatiable curiosity?
- Do you set high standards for yourself and can you be your own worst critic?
- do you have a powerful need to know and are you a seeker of ultimate truths?
- Have you been criticized for being "too much" of just about everything?
- Have you always felt deeply wounded by injustice and human suffering?
- Can you see many sides to nearly every issue and love a good debate?
- Have you got a lot of energy and often feel driven by your own creativity?
- Are you often seen as the "idea person" in a group?
- Do you love puzzles, mazes, paradoxes, complex ideas and words?
- Do you often feel responsible for problems that don't actually belong to you?
- Many times, have you felt different and sometimes do you feel like a minority of one?
- Are you a dyedin-the-wool perfectionist?
- Have you been criticizd for not "sticking with one thing"?
- Honesty, integrity and authenticity are very important to you?
- Do you have a history of questioning rules and challenging authority?
- Do you seem to be bothered by bright lights, aromas, and noises that others ignore?
- Do you have a well-developed sense of humor that is somewhat offbeat?
- Have you maintained your childlike sense of playfulness and wonder?

In this book, you can consult the Evolutionary Intelligence (EvI) test, which is very interesting, and beased on a large population of testees mainly in the US. The narrative is based on numerous case-stories too. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Zooey.
18 reviews2 followers
November 11, 2019
I started reading this book (30-50 pages in or so, I think) a few years back and what stuck to me most was Jacobson focussing on how high achieving and effortlessly valuable the gifted's contributions were to society and how this was their true life mission blabla. When I read that, and there was definitely an elitist ("we are so special and privileged in our ultimate mission") air in there, I thought I was not gifted. I thought: well, I'm obviously struggling, underachieving and not effortlessly contributing to society's expectations in amazing ways (lol). Let's move on then.

Misleading! I realize now that in society there is a split between what giftedness exactly is, one group likes to focus on achievements/eminence (human doing - what can the gifted do for society?) while the other likes to focus on the psychological differences and special needs of the gifted person (human being - how can we help gifted people lead more healthy and happy lives?). I have not finished Jacobson's book. But from what I did read, I felt like I was not acknowledged in my "kind" of giftedness (the underachieving), and even if she did talk about it later on, the first few chapters were very offputting and invalidating to me.

For a nuanced and very insightful book about giftedness I would totally recommend Linda Silverman's Giftedness 101! I'm 1/3 in and it's terrific.
Profile Image for Laura Rehfeld.
2 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2007
This is a great book for understanding the motivations, penchants and challenges of smart people. I felt like everything in the book helped me understand either myself or someone I knew. It outlines three main differences between gifted adults and the general population: intensity, complexity and drive. Talk about hitting the nail on the head! I recommend this to anyone who works, live or knows someone extraordinary. And if you're like me, and you think "I'm not gifted", read the book. I had gotten this book as a gift 5 years ago and never read it until last year. As soon as I did, I realized that there's much more to it than I had thought. Happy reading!
Profile Image for Juanita.
11 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2009
For the unacknowledged gifted adult, this book is the permission you needed to see yourself as the talented individual God created you as.
Profile Image for Melissa.
44 reviews
December 11, 2016
This book is appropriate for adults who previously have not know they were gifted or those who like myself were in gifted education their entire childhood, but did not realize how much their giftedness defined them. After years of gifted education, I still never understood just how different I am. My experiences as a child and adult are markedly different from those who are not gifted. I always just felt that I was overly sensitive or defective in some manner because I was different from others. Being an introvert, exquisitely sensitive, and intelligent was not really prized in my world as a child. Reading this book and doing some research on giftedness has really improved my self image. Now I realize that I am different due to something that is essentially positive. I am not just defective and out of step with society. It's amazing to see how many gifted characteristics I had as a child and continue to have that were just deemed to be abnormal in nature by others. I believe this book does a great job of bringing giftedness into focus as a difference in how one experiences life. Giftedness is not necessarily correlated with what society deems to be successful. Life is experienced differently by those who are gifted.
Profile Image for Andy.
74 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2020
Utter trash.
If you enjoy reading about arbitrary magical concepts like Mandated Missions and Evolutionary Moments, by all means go ahead. I still suspect this book is a parody, or an undercover pamphlet for Scientology.

The advice is disappointing too. It makes all the usual pop psychology / self help mistakes like telling the reader to “just do XYZ”. (Jordon Peterson does this too if you’re curious — “be honest”.)
Psychology doesn’t work this way. You can’t just tell someone to “do XYZ” and they magically change their mind and all problems are gone. I would have expected someone with a career in the field to know better (but academics usually are not very good at this kind of thing anyways so...).

The book can be summed down to three lines:

- you’re different so be aware of it
- practice emotional intelligence
- keep doing your own shit
Profile Image for Sippy.
223 reviews8 followers
September 28, 2017
Found myself skipping large parts with too much irrelevant storytelling in the beginning and the final chapter, but also found myself underlining large parts that did make a lot of sense. Don't agree with some opinions of the author, nor do I like the writing style in which the reader is addressed as "we", but hey did pick up more than a few good pointers, so 4 stars for those parts of the book.
Profile Image for Frank D'hanis junior.
179 reviews13 followers
October 29, 2019

No, it actually does, it has tons of them. The central irony of this book might be that it's written as one would for a child, while the so-called everyday genius, an apparent oxymoron, longs to be taken in ernst. Admittedly, the book contains some good insights (involving spirituality as a marker of intelligence not being one of them) but it's far too long winded and at times pseudo-scientific (eg different types of people, kinesthetic, visual, auditive,... that old spiel) to stay interesting. Towards the last part (Liberate yourself) which mostly consists of anecdotes of the life of famous smart people I really had to struggle to finish.
Profile Image for George.
73 reviews2 followers
July 7, 2020
The book contains a number of interesting remarks in order to identify damaging behaviors and how to deal with them, but these is too little content from the totality of the book.

The most helpful for me would be some practices on how to deal with high standards and procrastination, which although didn't provide with much new material, reinforced my confidence in some practices I've already started in the recent past.

The main reason I'm rating this book with 2 stars, is that it pissed me off with all the religious and god references. Phrases like: "ideas are gifts from god", "Creator’s blueprint for evolution", and "the Divine purpose for which we were created", were too much for me to deal with in a repeated basis.

Additionally, (as you can also deduce from the second phrase), I highly suspect that the author doesn't understand evolution and is supporter of intelligent design.

Given these two reasons, I can't really accept her "Evolutionary Intelligence (EvI)" which she promotes as a replacement to IQ. I understand the motivation and reasoning behind it, and also think it could provide a good side metric for some general reference. But the author is trying too much to connect it to evolution and "hard-science" terms, which end up having the opposite effect.

(She's also using the term "quantum leap" a number of times, but given that this a term that the wrong meaning has been established as the right, I'll give her a pass on it)

I'm very new to this literature and read this book due to a recommendation / request, so I don't know how fares compared to others. My suggestion would be to skim through it the first time and note down the essential parts, and then review and think about them later.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book522 followers
November 9, 2020
Highly, highly recommend this book! Mary Jacobsen has created a thorough assessment that measures 15 traits that measure Evolutionary IQ----a new way to look at multiple intelligences.

Her book addresses the Ten Criticisms that gifted adults commonly hear throughout their lives:
* Why Don't You Slow Down
* You Worry About Everything
* Can't You Just Stick With One Thing
* You're so Sensitive and Dramatic
* You Have to do Everything the Hard Way
* You're so Demanding
* Can't you Ever be Satisfied
* You're so Driven
* Where do you get Those Wild Ideas
* Who do you Think you Are

Fascinating read about personal and professional navigation.
Profile Image for Emna.
177 reviews5 followers
October 13, 2014
Excellent reading that conveys several positive messages to gifted adults. The originality of the book is related to the way giftedness is defined, that is people whom the main characteristics are high intensity, drive and complexity. Instead of identifying giftedness based on IQ scores (or similar metrics), the book provides an interesting and original survey that enables to scale oneself intelligence based on those 3 features (intensity, drive and complexity). Also, I loved the idea of the necessity for gifted people to find self’s our own mission/call.
Profile Image for Abby.
120 reviews26 followers
July 30, 2019
3.5 stars. Not my favorite book on giftedness but it did have some valuable insights and information. Sometimes it got a lil mystic for my liking and some things I didn't fully agree with, but on the whole there were good nuggets of wisdom in here.
Profile Image for Brittany.
50 reviews
February 11, 2023
I wish I would have found this book sooner. I was recently reminded of my experience in gifted classes as a kid. The gifted students were removed from the standard class to a different room for instruction. Considering we were completely separated from our standard class, this made me wonder two things. First, what was the point of gifted instruction? Second, why isn’t there a gifted place for adults if it was so important as kids?

To the best of my recollection, I was told gifted students thought differently than others. I never asked for further explanation because the class discussions were sufficient to demonstrate a distinction. However, there are pros and cons to hearing “you think differently” (to put it mildly) as an adult. This book acknowledges that a gifted person is different (not better, not worse), identifies the ways in which a gifted person may be different, and guides the reader toward self-acceptance with a goal of self-actualization. Basically, the book is the familiar and exciting feeling of a gifted class, but for adults. I am sure I will be revisiting this book again.
Profile Image for Beth Gea.
Author 2 books37 followers
October 15, 2020
Me cuesta bastante hacer una valoración de este libro porque lo he leído en momentos sueltos y, al contener tanta información, cuando recuperaba la lectura muchas veces no me acordaba de lo que había leído antes. Qué bien que me puse a tomar notas en Word cuando empecé a leerlo y que ahí tengo lo que iba pensando en el momento.

Es un libro interesante del que he sacado muchas ideas para valorar, investigar y compartir.

Aunque es cierto que hay momentos en que parece que a la autora se le vaya un poco la olla con lo de que los Everyday Genius hemos venido para salvar a la humanidad de sí misma como si fuéramos unos súper héroes. Pero bueno, si te lees el libro con espíritu crítico y sin tomarte muy en serio las partes en las que parece que se le va la olla, puedes quedarte con ideas y ejercicios interesantes y con una nueva mirada sobre el giftedness en adultos.
5 reviews
February 27, 2022
The very book that helped me to stop doubting myself and my innate intellectual and emotional abilities. When this book was recommended to me, I believed that I was nothing more than a lazy human being who was more of a con-artist than an intelligent person. I never truly believed that I was gifted despite a multitude of contrarian experiences throughout my history of formal education. After reading the first chapter of this book, I wept like a child. I had never felt such relief, or understanding, in my life, as I felt while reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone who struggles with: ADHD; molding themselves to fit into the public education system; being bored with school; High School dropouts; Dark-Horses (those who made their own way in life and successfully); and everyone in-between.
Profile Image for Sofia.
94 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2022
Fantastic book defining giftedness. I was recommended this book by a friend who was going through the same frustrating period as me. I felt a bit unchallenged and different from others and this book really helped me feel "normal" if there is such a thing. The book tells many stories and suggests some strategies that gifted adults can employ to get the best out of their lives and feel happier.
4 stars as it was a bit long-winded and can be made shorter.
Profile Image for Amanda.
271 reviews240 followers
May 20, 2017
Taught me a lot about myself. As pretentious as it feels to identify with something involving the word 'gifted,' this book clarified a great number of things I'd noticed but not had the words to express.
Profile Image for Maria.
100 reviews6 followers
February 1, 2020
This is a very good book. There are other books on the topic that may be more clear and straightforward, but this book has some very sophisticated material that is very useful and really makes you think.
Profile Image for Natasa.
4 reviews
May 16, 2021
What an eye-opening and empowering ride this was. As an undiagnosed gifted adult it provided me with the insights and directions I needed. Would call it a must-read for others out there.
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