"The Gifted Adult" is an excellent book, and provides one of a few lone voices drawing attention to "A Group Society Would Rather Pretend Doesn't Exist:" The Gifted Adult.
Adult Giftedness is one of the "Ugly Stepchildren" in the field of Psychology. Whereas researchers, psychologists and society in general go to great lengths to study, understand and help those who dwell a long way below the mean intellect, those living their lives an equal distance the opposite side of the mean often find themselves living in a void of confusion, misunderstanding-- and misinformation. Their lives are perhaps complicated by a "split personality" support system that provides tools and special programs to gifted children, but then vanishes into thin air once the gifted individual is deemed "Adult"-- in some cases providing an abrupt perception change from giftedness as having positive "value" to suddenly being a reason for discrimination and sneers.
Gifted Adults are "statistical outliers." As such, they often have special issues, living in a world whose actions are centered around accommodating the "norm." At best, a Gifted Adult seeking to have his/her needs understood, may hear the words "Well, we're ALL gifted, in our own special way." At worst (and more frequently) they will hear "How can you have problems, if you're so smart?"-- words that reflect a popular view that giftedness is a "privilege" that exempts a person from having any difficulties in life. Yet, Gifted Adults discover that working harder, seeking answers, seeing therapists and trying to contribute often leaves them with a sense of "emptiness" and lack of fulfillment.
Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's book is a much-needed tool to help gifted adults understand themselves, and accept the fact that their brains work a little bit differently. Real differences, I might add, that change the way a gifted person views their interactions with the world, their road to self-actualization, or considerations for seeking therapy.
In Part I of the book, Jacobsen starts to define her own view of giftedness, and addresses some of the Societal Myths (Giftedness = High IQ), and influences (Gifted adults' tendency to deny their giftedness) established by conventional thinking.
In Part II, she presents her alternative theory for measuring giftedness-- a broad system she has named "Evolutionary Intelligence" (or EvIQ). Although Jacobsen "borrows" heavily from the "Multiple Intelligences" theory originally set forth by Howard Gardner at Harvard, she adds a number of new facets, presented in a 240-item "self quiz" in Chapter 7 of the book. Unlike "standard" IQ tests, this is NOT a timed exercise with "right" and "wrong" answers, but rather a self-evaluation. Of course, honest self-scrutiny is central to obtaining a "valid" result-- which may present difficulty for some.
Part III explores most of the common "misunderstandings" gifted adults encounter in their interactions with daily life. Topics include "self mis-diagnoses;" the issues associated with "Failing to Fit In;" rewriting personal history and past events through understanding "common criticisms" often heard by gifted adults ("Can't you just stick with ONE thing?" "Where do you get those wild ideas?" "Can't you just slow down?"); the "False Self" and dumbing yourself down; as well as the "Impostor Syndrome" gifted adults often experience.
Parts IV and V offer a series of tools and possible solutions to help gifted adults reorient their energies in an effort to create lives that let them be "true to themselves"-- while still fitting into the "normalcy" of their surroundings. In part IV, Jacobsen explores both career issues and personal relationships, however, I found this section to be a bit general and "pep-talkish." The final section deals with summarizing and then applying the lessons learned in the book.
Observations: My general inclination is to say " Buy this book! Buy it NOW! Read it! Learn!"
However, the potential reader should understand just what the book will do for them. "The Gifted Adult" (Formerly published under the name "Liberating Everyday Genius"-- the name change is a GOOD idea!) is long on presenting Jacobsen's theory of Evolutionary Intelligence, and long on providing self-understanding for the gifted adult-- but somewhat short as a "How-To" guidebook on how to live life. If you're looking for "connect A to B" solutions, you'll find only a limited number here.
The author is also quite "liberal" with her use of the designation "gifted." Normally, the term is used to describe approximately 2% of the population. Jacobsen's definition may include as many as 10%-- and whether this is merely a technique to sell more books, or a figure backed by scientific research, I do not know. It doesn't detract materially from the value of the information presented-- but at times the writing does become a little bit "fluffy" and lacking in focus.
Some personal thoughts (Caveats): Society is engaged in a long-term love affair with the idea of "pathologizing" any behavior not tightly clustered around a narrow definition of "Normal." Incorrectly diagnosing and medicating giftedness as ADHD or Bipolar Disorder responds to a popular need for "A Quick And Easy Fix." If AT ALL possible, we want a "magic pill" rather than "hard work." And whereas disorders certainly DO occur, Adult Giftedness-- and the psychological makeup specific to it-- is NOT a pathology.
Overall rating: Outstanding (9.5 bookmarks out of a possible 10), not only for the gifted adult and anyone living with a gifted adult, but the book also should be required reading for any psychologist/therapist who's been asked if they are "familiar with the psychology of Adult Giftedness."