Conversations on Gifted Trauma Podcast

Listen in for a podcast series of Conversations on Gifted Trauma with InterGifted founding director Jennifer Harvey Sallin and InterGifted coach & community leader Karin Eglinton. "Gifted trauma" is the trauma that gifted people can experience if they feel ridiculed, ignored, rejected, misunderstood, out-of-place, left out or left behind, pressured to conform, or excessively groomed or exploited as a result of their unusual minds. Gifted people's experiences of other non-gifted specific traumas are also unique, as their extreme mental and often emotional intensity and complexity bring so many extra questions to the "unanswerable why" of trauma. We explore all this - and hope and healing - together from a personal development point of view. Listen below or on


Summary of Episode 1:

Episode 1 looks at what gifted trauma is, as well as the shame gifted people often feel for carrying their usually unidentified gifted traumas.

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Summary of Episode 2:

Episode 2 explores what we need in terms of gifted-specific understanding and mirroring to begin to heal from our gifted-specific traumas.

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Summary of Episode 3:

Episode 3 ventures into into the often underexplored territory of the relationship between (gifted) trauma and our bodies. It is a complex and sometimes daunting relationship, but also rich and hopeful in terms of the doors for healing that open through body-based approaches.

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Summary of Conversation 4:

Episode 4 explores our knowledge (and lack thereof) of our gifted-specific needs. To do so, we explore how in response to gifted-specific trauma, we often use symbols to represent ourselves to ourselves, and thus we get distanced from a present-moment awareness of our gifted-specific needs. It's a negative feedback-loop, and here we explore how it happens, and how to exit the loop and become aware of and dynamically responsive to your own gifted needs.

Here's a part of our episode that summarizes our exploration quite well:

"The main symbol that comes to my mind when I think about gifted trauma is the word 'alien'. 'I feel like an alien' is the most common gifted thing that I hear in terms of unmet needs. Symbolism can often be very comforting for us because it allows us to put a name to the pain and any of us who have practiced mindfulness know it's hard to sit with pain, especially when you have no idea how you're going to solve it. When you're not able to be aware of your gifted-specific needs, you don't know how to solve them. Getting your needs met requires that you be able to be aware of them first, and then you're able to take steps, you're able to identify resources, you're able to have courage to reach out, there's room for experimentation and failure. It's a long process, so if you can't even be aware of them to begin with, then there's no hope for getting them met. And that's where you start to see this hopelessness, or whatever immediate feeling, that gets into this habit of using symbols to explain the situation, like 'I'm an alien'. And it's a very accurate symbol, because how am I supposed to know what my needs are if I'm an alien? You can see how you enter into this symbolic representation of your own existence, of your own self, and it becomes this loop in your head: 'what does an alien need? I don't know'. So you go back to that hopelessness, but instead of having to feel it in your body consciously, you can just mentalize it into this image. And it's this weird mix of comforting and terribly tragic.
This is something organizationally that I've been really committed to in my personal work and theoretical work on giftedness, and in creating and cultivating the culture of InterGifted: because of my own journey, it's been really important to have a strong philosophical stance that it's not cool to stay in the 'we're aliens' mentality because it's very dehumanizing. It can be an adaptive coping strategy during a time when you don't have resources to come back into your humanity and figure it out in a comfortable and safe way. But one of the issues in the rhetoric and dialog around giftedness is that there's been to some degree a cultivation of this idea that 'we're aliens', and I think that's a harmful stance to take because of the dehumanizing aspect.
A lot of the work in coaching is about getting out of the symbolism of 'alien' and saying, 'yeah, I know that's how you've represented yourself because that's been to some degree comforting, but the reality is: you're human and you have human needs - you just have this extra other thing that is not commonly defined in regular human experience, and that's the gifted set of needs."

And then of course in the the episode, we go about exploring how you can discover what that gifted set of needs is and how you can be aware of them and meet them.

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Summary of Episode 5:

In this episode, Karin and Jen venture into an exploration of how gifted trauma predisposes us to strong and painful - and sometimes debilitating - reactions to the climate emergency. Karin shares her personal story of how she was affected by this and worked through it, and we explore together what a gifted person can do now to heal from the inside as well as contribute to the healing of the planet. It is a raw and real, and honest and hopeful conversation.

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Summary of Episode 6:

In this episode, we explore an essential topic to gifted relating and gifted trauma: cultivating healthy boundaries. Specifically, we explore the roles of aliveness, coherence, and organization in helping us create sustainable relationships with our gifted and non-gifted peers. In this discussion, we especially focus on our quality of aliveness; what it means and how it can become distorted through trauma, as well as how to (re)learn to cherish and value our aliveness and use it actively as a solid foundation for cultivating healthy boundaries. You'll also get an update from us on what we've been working on since our last episode. Our work on climate response education and environmental regeneration and healing provide another important avenue to cultivate aliveness within ourselves in and in our connection to the world. We hope you enjoy this episode and stay tuned for our follow up conversations on the role of organization and coherence in cultivating healthy boundaries.

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Thank you for listening. We will add additional episodes here as they become available.

To ask questions or give feedback on this series, you can email us at





Jen is the founding director of InterGifted. She's a psychologist, coach and mentor who specializes in providing training & mentoring for coaches and other helping professionals who support the gifted population. She also performs giftedness assessments and mentors profoundly gifted adults. She writes extensively on giftedness and self-development and you can find her articles here on InterGifted’s blog and on her own blog at Rediscovering Yourself. Her climate emergency initiative is I Heart Earth. She is based in Switzerland and works with gifted adults throughout the world. You can learn more about her here.



Karin is InterGifted's community leader. She's a mentor, coach and teacher for gifted adolescents and adults, providing individual sessions, courses and workshops for gifted people who want to weave their gifted cognition into concrete and creative action, harness their potential, and thrive in the world. Her climate emergency initiative is I Heart Earth. She is based in Germany and works with clients around the world. You can learn more about Karin and get in touch with her here.


  1. Andrea Pellegrino
    | Reply

    Let’s see, where to start. I have had a very complicated question I’ve been pondering for years, and have asked several specialist Including geneticist and all but one blank stared me. The one who did not simply admitted she did not have an answer.

    Through dealing with my own mystery of chronic health issues, and subsequently researching physiology & genetics, I learned that by enlarge metabolic processes regulate auditory processing & catecholamines regulate functions such as fluid reasoning and visual-spatial … from a battery of testing as a child I knew a tested low in auditory processing but very high both visual-spatial and fluid reasoning. I also knew from at home genetics test results cross compared to a whole slew of genetic databases that my COMT gene in theory produced a higher rate of catecholamines. …. so I started thinking about the genetic components of what actually made brains work “differently” or “quicker” and it also got me thinking about the whole 2e thinking and masking. and how strengths can hid weakness and vise versa and how some can both mask each other.

    i have been tested for a collection of metabolic disorders because many of my systems appear to be related to fatty acid oxidation issues or glycogen storage … yet all the test have not show the algorithm results the doctors expect to see so things are dismissed.

    I have also been aware of how I can hyper focus and almost get into a hyper engaged, hyper focused state of concentration where everything gets tuned out, and i am so focused and it’s so fun … but it drains me too.

    It is not lost on me that both of these aspects deal with the way the body uses energy sources … particularly when it comes to Dabrowski’s theory of overexcitabilities.

    The major question I have pondered and proposed to doctors is like how 2e traits can mask each other in terms of identify intellectual ability, can the same genetic components that control those aspects of a person mask what would be expected results in terms of physiological manifestation of diseases in the body as well.

    Still pondering. Still waiting for an answer. But I LOVE that someone else is thinking about this stuff and talking about it! I thought o was alone!

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