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Mootsibling
Mootsibling asks:
Q:

I am an alleged genius who is growing up in a suppressive environment that should have strangled my development years ago; please explain how.

My siblings and I are all at the very least gifted
(or even geniuses, according to some tests of dubious practical value), however we grew up in a passive aggressive environment that gave rise to many emotional and social problems within us and our family members. According to "Growing Your Child's Intelligence" the following, countering theory is that "Genius indeed cannot "will out" in spite of circumstances, but must be developed, perhaps even created." But if that is true, my siblings and I should not be nearly as capable as we are now. I want to know whether or not this means I am simply mistaken or the theory is faulty.

- A Confused 14 Year-Old
In Topics: Cognitive development, My gifted child
> 60 days ago

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bob
bob , Parent writes:
Someone forwarded your question to me...probably knowing I'm full of opinions on this topic!

There are some aspects of your issue that are best left for scholars (which on this topic does not include me) but I believe in the African proverb, "smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."  But I also know that severe seas can drown sailors.  The image I have from your words is a moderate storm.  Not bad a training ground (or sea) for the real world.

I have worked with and managed many "99.9th percentile" people over the years and know very well that creativity and genius (which to me is the application of "gift" and not an inherent attribute itself) is more easily squashed than developed.  A passive-aggressive environment is, by definition, not seeking to actively suppress anyone and is easily overcome with the self-confidence and striving for independence that can often accompany adolescence.

Warning:  Focusing on the negative aspects of your environment can become an obsession.  Don't fall into that trap.  If you do, you become your own oppressor and possibly the oppressor of others.  If you let it pass through you and catch none of it, you become free to accomplish just about anything you want to achieve - not just yourself but on teams surrounded by other shockingly talented people.

Swing into action.  Turn your giftedness into genius by doing something with it that makes a positive difference in the world, benefiting even those around you who you see as holding you back.  Accomplishment trumps adversity just about every time.

As for any theory of nurturing or suppressing talent, there are no blacks and whites, only shades of gray.
> 60 days ago

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Reader1
Reader1 writes:
I truly believe that genius can be developed in any environment, but the emotional and social background of an individual will shape how he/she decides to use his or her capabilities, and how much success the person will have in his or her endeavors.
It is not uncommon for a certain weakness either emotionally or socially to be an asset to those of outstanding intelligence.
A wise friend once advised me, "your parents (or background) do not determine who you are. You do."
> 60 days ago

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jaimeesmom
jaimeesmom writes:
Fiddlesticks!
There are geniuses of every stripe, given every advantage, who have squandered their lives living in gutters and sabotaging anything of value that chanced to come their way. And then there is Mozart, whose father developed AND abused his talent by basically using him as a show dog across Europe to raise money, while irreparably damaging his psyche. And yet, his music haunts and delights us still. All of which he wrote before his death at age 35.
The resilience of the human spirit is a remarkable thing, even under the most horrific of stressors. In fact, it often rises to the occasion and finds new wisdom that informs its wisdom under conditions much worse than yours. Concentration camp survivors come to mind.
Bottom line, no one has a perfect life, with perfect parents. Not even Einstein. It is what we take from the experiences that shape us that determine how we will eventually face the person we are constantly becoming.
Genius can be developed, but generally the heavy lifting is over by the age of four or five, according to the latest brain research. The rest is self discipline, which is all you. Congratulations. You seem to be doing fine. Forget the theories.
> 60 days ago

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147JS
147JS writes:
Ah, the forest for the trees!
I am qualified to answer your question on two points:  I am a genius (147), grew up in a dysfunctional home (narcissism/passive aggressive/abuse).  I am now an adult with a family of my own.
As you are likely aware, IQ is not an accurate measure of intelligence; rather, it is a better measure of adaptability.  Your confusion comes from recognizing the difference between your emotional capability vs. your intellectual capability.  There are individuals in the world who are "emotionally smart" but intellectually average (for example) or vice versa, or any combination thereof.   The fact that you are able to identify the social/emotional "adaptations" your childhood left with you, bodes well for your personal future: if you can identify these adaptations in yourself, then you can either augment or eliminate them.  Depending upon whether or not you were the object of the passive aggressive controller will, in large part, determine the amount of damage imparted to you from that unhealthy personality(ies).  I urge you to read "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward and refer to it often during the next 10 years as you grow into adulthood and into relationships.  Genius is not a mechanism of survival.  
Your question on theory boarders on an age-old question “nature vs. nurture”.  Did your environment create or subdue your intellectual capacity? I believe psychology, sociology, and neuroscience have far to go in reconciliation of exactly where and what makes a genius.  In order to answer if the theory is sound, I suggest undertaking first a study in informal logic, followed with fundamentals of critical argumentation.  Afterwards, a philosophical study:  Self and Identity; Contemporary Philosophical Issues (Daniel Kolak/Raymond Martin).  At that point, you will be in better position to determine your standing on the question asked.  
As for my position on the theory: I believe that there are many and varied organic mechanisms of genius (nature), and environment for the genius is limited in its scope of affect (nurture).  If the environment is lacking, genius seeks stimulation and model.  If the environment is supportive (stimulation and model are provided), genius assimilates and scaffolds to the next level or topic of interest. (Be careful not to confuse morality, nor cultural normative, in the environment for environment itself. Environment, in and of itself, carries neither positive nor negative affect; rather, environment is the substrate upon which any variable of human behavior contributes either positively or negatively.)
> 60 days ago

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