Finding the Others: Groups for the Gifted

One issue that gifted individuals find themselves in is how to cope with loneliness. Having unique quality and degree of perspective is by definition a difference, can be a lonely existence. Finding others who have also had to cope with this difference, building and exploring language related to it can set you on a path to deeper self-understanding.

Where to begin? I have had experience in three groups for the gifted:

  1. Mensa. This group is by far the most well-known and the largest. I have been a member for over 20 years. In the United States (where I reside), it’s relatively easy to get tested locally or to attend local events, depending on your geography. This group tends to focus on the social side, and while there are special interest groups, I haven’t found them as accessible as I would like. I strongly recommend this group, and consider many of the people I have met there to be dear friends.
  2. The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry. This society is for the highly gifted (and rarer); I have been a member for about 20 years. This group has a membership structure which promotes accountability for development: interaction among members, simple service to the group (such as being an elected officer to the group), and achievement. What achievement means is up to the individual (and the advancement officer), so it’s a bit on the honor system, but if the achievement is meaningful to the individual but not society writ large, that’s okay. This simple concept forces the isolation-prone (not uncommon among the exceptionally gifted) and unchallenged (also not uncommon) to work toward a life worth living. I have found this structure to be effective in helping me think about how I want to live my life and what I want to have done, and can heartily endorse this group.
  3. Intergifted. This community offers a Facebook groups for gifted individuals, as well as affiliated coaching and assessment services. I have received coaching training from two of the main officers of this group. What sets this group apart is the focus on psychological health, development of a gifted identity, and dealing with gifted trauma. The last of these is not to be underestimated or overlooked, and I heartily recommend this group as well.

I should add that just because I have not joined any other groups, this doesn’t mean I have negative things to say about them. I just don’t have enough information to speak to them. The main takeaway I have is that it can be valuable to think about these groups’ different emphases as speaking to different aspects of the gifted experience. While many complain that these groups are elitist, this has not been my experience in the least, any more than a group for other neurodivergent people is elitist.

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