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The existential concerns of talented children

The existential concerns of talented children

Every person, in the face of a major life crisis, may suffer from the so-called "existential depression." When we face large vital losses (health, loved ones, work, etc.) we are more inclined to reflect on the meaning of life, what it is and what is not important, for example. However, children with high capacities or gifted, often suffer from these existential crises in a spontaneous way, without any reason to start them.

According to Irvin David Yalom, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and psychotherapist, existential depression occurs when the person raises certain basic questions about their own existence: concerns about death, freedom, isolation and lack of meaning:

  • The death: an inevitable fact.
  • The freedom: Are we really free in our society? Where does the person's freedom begin and end?
  • The isolation: Here it is called into question that no matter how close we are to someone, there is always a chasm between them, and in reality we are alone.
  • The lack of meaning: This concern actually derives from the other three. If we have to die, if we build our own world and each of us is alone, then what is the point of life?

According to Yalom, one of the great paradoxes of life lies in the fact that becoming aware of oneself causes anxiety. And we imagine for a moment human existence without any thought about death. Life would lose part of its intensity and become impoverished. Only in this way do we get in touch with the creation of ourselves and come to grasp the power inherent in our own capacity for change.

Apparently children with high abilities are more likely to suffer from a type of depression called "existential depression"

But this positive role of death is difficult to accept. Although we generally consider it as such a terrible evil, that any contrary opinion seems even in bad taste.

Why do existential questions appear before in talented children?

It seems that children with high abilities have a deeper level of reflection and abstract thinking, and often instead of focusing on the superficial aspects of everyday life deeper approaches are made than other peers of his age. They are able to take into account the possibilities of how things could be and are very idealistic. It is for this reason that it is not surprising that they suffer from higher levels of frustration and disappointment when they realize that the world is not what they would like it to be or when their ideals are truncated. They also detect more quickly the inconsistencies or absurdities of society and the arbitrary behavior of those around them.

Also, when these children try to share their concerns, they usually encounter reactions of perplexity or even hostility among their peers. They discover that other children their age do not have the same concerns, which makes them feel different, which is why they tend to isolate themselves.

Children with great talent also often feel frustration after discovering these existential limitations of death, freedom and lack of meaning in life. The normal reaction may be anger. But they soon discover that their anger is useless, so it quickly evolves into the so-called existential depression.

Accepting and assuming our own death is always more than difficult and we cannot lie to these kids, it is an inevitable part of one's life. However, we can help these kids feel understood and find ways to control this type of thoughts and their sense of isolation.

It seems that playing is a great therapy. Touching the other person breaks with the feeling of isolation: a hug, a playful push or even a “clash those five” can be very important for a young person, since it establishes a physical connection with the other.

In general, having contact and enjoying a hug is not only beautiful, it is a necessity. And it shows our love and affection for someone, and love manages to eliminate self-awareness and eradicates anxieties. In addition, scientific studies support the theory that contact stimulation is absolutely necessary for our physical and emotional well-being.

Ana Echevarría
Psychologist

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