[See Part 1]
“My whole life has been about trying to heal the rift between the two sides of my personality, the feeling too much and the knowing too much.”
That is a comment by Actress / Producer / Director Jodie Foster, from an interview about her film “Little Man Tate” in the book: Great Women of Film.
Her perspective is one I certainly can relate to – what about you?
The idea of “too much” – or at least unusually intense – thinking and emotion has been articulated by psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski, MD, PhD, who described creative and high ability people having over-excitabilities or intensity in five areas: intellectual, psychomotor, imaginational, emotional, or sensual.
In her article Highly Sensitive Persons – High Sensitivity and Creative Ability, psychologist Susan Meindl, MA writes that the three areas of emotional, intellectual, and imaginational excitability “have been theorized to be most indicative of developmental potential and creative expression.”
But, she notes, “Sometimes over-excitability can cause difficulties.”
Giftedness consultant Lesley Sword describes Overexcitabilities as “an abundance of physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and emotional energy that can result in creative endeavours as well as advanced emotional and ethical development in adulthood. Overexcitabilities feed, enrich, empower and amplify talent.”
For more, see my information page Dabrowski / advanced development.
Optimal arousal and performance
One of the key concepts in sports psychology, the idea of optimal arousal has been widely applied in other areas of performance and health.
Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD explains in her book Find Your Focus Zone that the inverted U diagram (such as this one) “illustrates the Yerkes-Dodson law… that performance (or attention) increases with arousal (or stimulation) but only up to a certain point. When arousal level gets too high, performance decreases.”
“That Good Feeling of Control”
In her TEDx presentation on that topic, Dr. Cheryl Arutt notes a lot of people “think that creative artists have to be self-destructive, but I believe that if you are your instrument, the more access you have to yourself and your internal world, the greater range of motion you have as a creative person. So learning self-regulation allows creative people to visit those emotional extremes without getting stuck there.”
She also comments, “Self-regulation is so important that some experts like Dr. Allan Schore believe that every mental disorder involves some sort of problem with self-regulation.”
Dr. Allan Schore is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. [His website.] He is author of a number of books including Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development.