Most people experience strong feelings occasionally, unless they are depressed. But for some, their emotional reactions are especially intense.
Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902 – 1980) developed a theory of personality that is often used to understand gifted children and adults.
One of his ideas is Emotional Overexcitability (or Excitability), which can include intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, empathy with other people, vivid emotional memory, and strong reactions to injustice and social issues.
Hilary Swank, it seems to me, is a wonderful example. She makes use of emotional excitability in her work, and expresses herself with deep feelings in these two interview clips in the video below.
[Photo above – “You only have one life and if you’re not doing what you love, what’s the point? #changethepathofasoul ” – from her Twitter page.]
In her interview for Inside the Actors Studio, she talks about a very difficult scene in Boys Don’t Cry, and her feelings about the hatred often shown toward transgender people.
In the clip from a 60 Minutes interview about her film Million Dollar Baby, she is distraught about not being able to save a man who suffered a heart attack.
Journalist Mike Wallace makes a nice comment at the end: “Her emotions are always close to the surface. It has helped make her one of Hollywood’s best actors.”
In an interview, Swank commented about the power of facing and living her feelings:
“When I told you I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, it’s not because I’m getting a divorce.
“It’s because I’m living in truth now. My happiness has stemmed from being brutally honest with myself, facing the truth every single day, no matter how hard it is.
“It’s not happiness like I got the Christmas present I wanted. It’s that I’ve grown up; I’ve become a woman.
“I’ve spent a lot of my life running from my feelings. I’m not running from the truth now.”
The Lady’s on a Roll by Leslie Bennetts, Vanity Fair July 31, 2006.
~ ~ ~
Some of the many related articles:
Celebrities including Hilary Swank and Mariska Hargitay are rendered ‘Speechless’ with emotion in new PSA to raise awareness about domestic violence, By Erin Clements for MailOnline 17 December 2014. – “The campaign, which also stars Tim Gunn, Jemima Kirke, Mary J Blige and other famous faces, was launched by the organization No More.”
Overexcitabilities in Gifted Children, By Lesley Sword
Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals, By Elizabeth Mika
“Children with high emotional OE [Overexcitability] show an early development of a strong affective life. These are the children who cry easily, are easily frightened and anxious, exhibit strong attachments to people, places and objects; as well as strong envy and anger.”
Crying and our high sensitivity personality – Elaine Aron, one of the leading writers and researchers on the personality trait of high sensitivity (sensory processing sensitivity; present for about 15 to 20 percent of us), declares that HSPs (highly sensitive persons) “do cry more readily than others. It was a strong finding in our research.”
Mellow Out, They Say. If I Only Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright, by Michael M. Piechowski
Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults. Susan Daniels, Michael M. Piechowski (Editors)
Dabrowski’s Theory Of Positive Disintegration, by Sal Mendaglio.
Social / Emotional Aspects of Giftedness [multiple articles, links]
Article publié pour la première fois le 12/11/2009