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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My 7 year old daughter who appears to be gifted, possibly on

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My 7 year old daughter who appears to be gifted, possibly on the profoundly gifted end of the spectrum. Her father (my ex husband, to whom I was married for almost 10 years) has a genius IQ and always had emotional outbursts that were always very extreme and inappropriate for the given situation. This all culminated in a domestic violence incident for which he was arrested. My concern is that my daughter, despite not having any regular contact with her father is exhibiting this very same behavior. Several therapists have assured me that being the iron-fisted mom is the way to go... But I still see her struggle with what looks like manic attacks of emotion. This behavior only began within the last 3 years... Should I consider taking her to a psychiatrist.

Hello and thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be answering your question tonight.

Just a quick question first.....when you said inappropriate social behavior, it caused me to wonder about Asperger Syndrome. Has this been definitely ruled out? or are therapists thinking this is Intermittant Explosive Disorder or Mood Disorder or Anxiety disorder?


Edit at 11:30 PM....I see you are offline now and I will be soon. I will look for your response in the AM and give you some thoughts about the psychiatrist.




Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Dr Bonnie,
Thank you for your reply... No Asperger has not, nor have the other disorders you mentioned been addressed. Honestly, I have felt that the therapists we have been to have focused more on *my* anxiety related to this. I am terrified she will turn into a sociopath like her father. He is/was an expert at 'fooling' everybody.
At any rate, its suspected not to be a chemical issue only based on the fact that her behavior is somewhat predictable - meaning she doesn't have a 'swing of the pendulum' at inappropriate or unprovoked times... It is just that the intensity of her emotion/reaction is not appropriate for the relatively minor event that occurs. I hope this helps clarify...
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Other.
There was a link offering to ask another professional that is currently online...
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Has your daughter exhibited any problems with lying, lack of fear/anxiety when it would be appropriate and self centeredness?

Thank you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hello Kate,
Thank you for your interest. Those are intersting questions; she is an only child, so I do see a bit of self centered ess, but I chalked that up to age and little exposure to other children outside of school. Lying does not seem to be too big of a problem, however she's already mastered 'playing to the crowd.' She knows exactly what people want to hear, which I find rather unnerving. As for lack or fear/anxiety when appropriate...that is an excellent question. I can't say I've made that correlation consciously, but now that the idea has been posed, I do recall times that I have been surprised that she seems unphased by dramatic events. An example is when she was a passenger while I had my first car accident - a fairly minor crash, but as I was very shaken she seemed to not realize what was going on. Also we had to rush a friend to the ER while he was having a heart attack- pretty dramatic while going down... She seemed to be in LaLa Land.
Thank you for the information.

It could be that your daughter just reacts differently to events and that is why she doesn't show much fear or anxiety. Some people react with shock or even laughter when they see something traumatic or are part of a serious situation, such as a funeral. And shock can present as being detached and unresponsive. So she may be completely normal in how she seems after a trauma.

The problem with playing to a crowd is a possible issue. But at her age, it could be that this is how she learned to get what she wants. She is young and at that age, both environment and personality play a part in how children act with others. That is not to say this is something she is picking up at home. It could be that she sees it in school or has been exposed in some other way. To test it, you can try to redirect her behavior and see how she reacts. Talking to her directly about it may help (in a gentle and non confrontive way). Give her examples of how to handle her feelings and her need to please and see if she responds.

Self centerness is very normal for an only child. They are used to the attention being on them all the time and there is no competition. This may be easily addressed just by socializing her more than you normally do.

Sociopathic behavior is very rare and it is unlikely your daughter inherited it from her father. Much of sociopathic behavior is developed during childhood during severe neglect and other abuse. There are hereditary factors, but there is no guarantee that because your child has a father who is sociopathic that she will be as well. There are many children born in families with sociopathic parents and they turn out very normal. More likely, your daughter is either reacting to her father's issues or she is exhibiting some symptoms of either adjustment problems or possibly this is just her personality. It may help to work on her issues through behavioral changes (with a therapist helps) just as you would any other behavior issue and see what occurs. At this point, her behaviors can be addressed easily and effectively.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. I have heard most of what you say before, I suppose that should be reassuring. Is there not a common issue with children who are extremely gifted though, affecting the merging of emotional and cognitive intelligence?
Not necessarily. Some gifted children are able to use their skills to "get around" others and manipulate. But with behavior modifications, they can change. There is some evidence that sociopaths can be highly intelligent and therefore exhibit these symptoms, but that is not true in all cases and is unlikely to be true for your daughter. So being a gifted child, your daughter can have different issues than other children, but these problems can be dealt with as they are with other children, with maybe more attention paid to how her intelligence affects her behavior.

TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
I thought these resources might be helpful:

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings by Christine Fonseca

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children by James T. Webb, Janet L. Gore, Edward R. Amend and Arlene R. DeVries


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