The Curse of Being Special

Mary H/ August 19, 2013/ Paul Brenner, MD, PhD

(Original Post from Dr. Brenner’s personal Blog, August 19, 2013)

Over a number of years I have had clients who demonstrate the curse of being told in childhood, how special they are.  Special comes with the shadow: anxiety, pressure to succeed, perfectionism, isolation and failure to meet expectations; and in time can lead to illness. “The gifted” may either burnout or self-sabotage to prove authority wrong.

The beauty in life is found in its imperfections, the source of difference and ordinariness.  The expectations placed on the special children are not only unrealistic, but impossible to achieve.   Post childhood, these children find out that they are not alone.  There are individuals who are just as intelligent, just as successful, just as intelligent, just as athletic, just as creative……..even more proficient.

The now adults become filled with a sense of failure, and they tend to sabotage themselves.  Too often they may have illnesses that are difficult to diagnose and usually associated with their gastrointestinal tract.  Most recently, the gastrointestinal tract is referred to as the “second brain”.  The gut produces the same bio-chemical substances in response to stress, fear and pain, as does the brain.

In parenting, we don’t need to do anything other then love our children and realize they, like all children, are love made visible.  We should teach them to accept their ordinariness and follow their dreams.  We should teach them that there is no such thing as perfection.  We should teach them that there is no such thing as “the perfect job” or “permanent success”.   We should teach them to mimic life by living in the present and embracing uncertainty, for the only constant in life is change.

Paul Brenner, M.D., PhD