Geniuses versus gifted
& talented children and adults are discussed in
Therivel's GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity.
(High GxA) Will/Should Become Successful Professionals;
Challenged Children (High GxAxM) Will/Should Become
The above is the title of chapter 1 of volume 3 of
William A. Therivel's The GAM/DP Theory of Personality
and Creativity (G stands for genetic
endowment, A for assistances of youth, M
for misfortunes of youth, DP for division of
power, UP for unity of power). For an introduction
to the GAM part of the theory click "Introduction
to GAM"; for an introduction to the DP
part click on "Introduction
In this website, the reader is also offered a shortcut:
The GAM/DP Synopsis
and an expanded version, The GAM/DP
Summary of volumes 1 through 4.
This is a long (116 pages) and important chapter of
which I report the table of contents and some pages.
This chapter is divided into the following sections
1. Introduction: Genius and giftedness/talents are
3. Creativity (definitions and proposed classification)
4. Nature and nurture
5. The challenged youth
6. When and why can the misfortunes be creativogenic
8. Hard work
9. Achievement motivation
10. Qualitatively or quantitatively different?
11. Implications for educational practice
12. The relative importance of fit
13. Which kind of creativity? Les Demoiselles d'Avignon?
14. Adolescence, graveyard of G/T creativity
15. The stigma of giftedness
16. The difficulties of managing giftedness in the peer
17. Reinventing oneself, or being challenged?
18. Evidence for the GAM theory: Klee's miner personality
19. Fruitful asynchrony?
20. How important is creativity in childhood?
21. Gifted persons should court the field; challenged
22. A funnel problem?
23. Creativity versus eminence
24. Are the gifted children pulling the short straw?
25. Are chance encounters important?
26. The importance of character
27. In the end
Appendix 1. Paul Klee: GAM miner
1. Introduction: Genius and giftedness/talents are
Dean Keith Simonton's
chapter in the International Handbook of Giftedness
and Talent (2000) is entitled: "Genius and
giftedness: Same or different?" Early in his chapter,
Simonton asked: "Does giftedness necessarily transform
into genius? If not, why not? And on the other side
of the coin, does all genius display giftedness in youth?"
(p. 111). Simonton then restated this same problem at
the end of his chapter "as two absolutely essential
Why do so many gifted children fail to realize their
potential upon becoming adults? What are the places
where the development trajectory is most likely to
veer off target? What are the most common blind alleys?
This is the problem of the 'nipped bud'.
Why is it that many highly successful adults managed
to display no clear signs of giftedness in their early
years? Does the developmental trajectory for these
unpromising youths differ in some qualitative manner
from that which guides the precocious child to adulthood
achievement? This is the problem of the 'late bloomer'"
(ib. p. 118).
My answer, as explained in this chapter, is precise:
and giftedness are different.
(high GxA) is not the potential for genius but for
is no reason why giftedness should transform into
genius (i.e., realized high GxAxM); Challengedness
(high GxAxM) is the potential for genius.
peer relations are important for the gifted-->successful,
but not of much importance for the challenged-->genius.
gifted suffer of the Stigma of Giftedness Paradigm
(SGP); practically no challenged suffer from
should not talk of buds and nipped buds, nor of early
or late bloomers, but of a potential that is realized
or not in adulthood. A "bud" has in itself
everything it needs for blooming; a potential needs
much more, for instance long years of focused hard
work, pruning, and a dynamic DP environment.
the impact of a major misfortune(s) of youth (the
M of GxAxM) on personal script formation (see in Introduction
to GAM) it is nearly impossible to fight an
important war of the scripts with society,
and consequently to develop a new valid vision (the
conditio sine qua non for sustained high creativity).
gifted/talented children (high GxA) will/should become
successful professionals; challenged children (high
GxAxM) will/should become highly creative (i.e., geniuses).
The above does not exclude the fact that, in a few
cases, the same person can be first a gifted child not
yet affected by major misfortunes, then a challenged
youth, because of major misfortunes of youth, and finally
a genius in adulthood. This was the case with Mozart
and Picasso. In reference to Picasso's evolution, from
gifted to challenged we read the following:
this time Pablo [aged 12 to 13] must have realized
that, compared with other bourgeois families, his
parents were poor and déclassé, and
that his beloved father was a pathetically bad teacher
and painter. This realization would have dealt Pablo's
pride a grievous blow. His response was embodied
in a determination to exorcise the stigma of paternal
failure by a triumphant display of his own gifts,
something that can only have increased his guilt
toward his father. (Richardson, 1991, p. 48)
In parallel, young Pablo--like young Mozart and young
Goethe (and all three became challenged personalities)--must
have realized that in order to exorcise the stigma of
the paternal failure, he had to be different from the
father in many more things than painting techniques:
he had to face life differently, he had to refuse many
of the paternal scripts, and, instead, build his own.
Picasso's evolution from gifted to challenged had already
begun before (in a process which parallels that of Goethe,
and his strong interest for the French language and
more the father came to loathe Corunna, the more
the son came to love it--so much so that he eventually
learned enough dialect to recite poems by Rosalia,
the Galician laureate, and to sing songs in Galego.
In old age Picasso chided the Galicians for forgetting
all about the formative years he had spent in their
midst--at the outset such happy years. (ib. p. 41)
However, the problem was not only the father:
the family was obliged to live on the father's miserable
salary as an art teacher, they were never in actual
want, thanks to a network of prosperous relatives.
However the stigma of being a poor relation permanently
bruised Picasso's pride. He remembered charity,
above all the niggardly charity of his rich uncle
Salvador, the benefactor who stood for the bourgeois
hypocrisy and stuffiness that Picasso associated
with Málaga. (ib. p. 14)
This same evolution from gifted to challenged can
be seen in young Charles Dickens:
father and mother accepted the offer very willingly,
and on a Monday morning only two days after his twelfth
birthday Charles started to work. The event left him
stunned, sick with despair. [Later he wrote:]
is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily
cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me,
that, even after my descent into the poor little
drudge I had been since we came to London, no one
had compassion enough on me - a child of singular
abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt,
bodily or mentally - to suggest that something might
have been spared, as certainly it might have been,
to place me at any common school. Our friends, I
take it, were tired out. No one made any sign. My
father and mother were quite satisfied. They could
hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years
of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going
to Cambridge" (Johnson, 1977, p. 31).
Then, after five months, a small legacy had enabled
the father to pay his debts, emerge from prison, and
a little later--after a quarrel with the manager of
the warehouse--he announced that the boy should cease
working and be sent back to school. "[Charles's]
mother was appalled. Probably John Dickens's affairs
were not yet straightened out.... How could they afford
to throw away even the seven shillings a week Charles
had now been earning?.... But John Dickens had taken
a stand. Charles, he said, should go back to the blacking
warehouse no more, but should go to school. On the boy
their divergent positions made a deep impression. He
do not write resentfully or angrily for I know how
all these things have worked together to make me
what I am: but I never afterwards forgot, I never
shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother
was warm for my being sent back. (ib. p. 40)
The time that Charles had spent in the warehouse amounted
to no more than five months, but the lonely anguish
he endured had made it seem an eternity of suffering.
The wound was so deep that its emotional scar remained
with Dickens forever. All the remainder of his life
he lay under the double shadow of the Marshalsea [where
his father had been gaoled for debt] and the workroom
dungeon where he had toiled in despair.
The experience was crucial for Dickens's entire future
course. It is hardly fanciful to say that in the blacking
warehouse that unhappy child died, and into his frail
body entered the spirit of a man of relentless determination.
Deep within him, he resolved that he should never again
be so victimized. He would toil, he would fall prey
to none of his father's financial imprudence, he would
let nothing stand between him and ambition. He would
batter his way out of all the gaols that confine the
human spirit. (Johnson, 1969, p. 45)