“Many gifted adults do not realise or acknowledge that they are gifted, and are therefore not aware of the impact of their over-excitabilities. When a person goes through life feeling out of place without knowing why they can easily draw the conclusion that ‘something is wrong with me’. This can mark the beginning of a vicious, depressive cycle, and escalate to a point where the natural tendency to feel things intensely really become a ‘clinical disorder’.”
Emotional intensity is a form of neuro-diversity that is most often misunderstood by our culture.
It is characterised by heightened and intense feelings, a constant stream of both positive and negative feelings — pain, distress, despair, fear, excitement, love, sadness or happiness — sometimes a mixture of many at the same time. Sometimes, feelings can become so powerful and compelling that the person would feel out of control, losing the ability to think straight, or to the point where it feels unbearable.
Emotionally intense people have a capacity for compassion, empathy, and sensitivity in relationships, they show strong emotional attachments to people, places, and things. They may identify with or absorb other’s emotions, and be overwhelmed by what they see and perceive in the social world. Many also experience existential depression and feeling grief over the meaninglessness of life, death, and loneliness.
They are often acutely aware of their internal world, which can manifest as incessant internal dialogue, obsessive thought patterns, or even self-judgement. Other manifestations of emotional intensity include physical responses as symptoms such as migraine headaches, nausea or skin allergies.
A lot of people who first approach therapy are worried that they will be attached with some kind of clinical label, or be deemed as so ‘ill’ that they will have to be in therapy for years. Yes, on one end of the spectrum someone can experience emotional intensity in a way that constitutes a clinical diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder (which has been suggested to be more accurately described by the term emotional intensity disorder), bipolar disorder or ADHD. Your experience may or may not find its roots in developmental and attachment trauma. However, there are many healthy and functioning individuals who are tremendously resourceful and managed to find a way to manifest their intensity and creativity in ways that are congruent with who they are. These individuals may still experience the stab of intensity-dysregulation at certain times, but through developing self- knowledge and awareness as well as having a healthy relationship with their intense emotions, they realise that they do not have to be ruled by them. They can live with and ride the waves of life with both passion and peace.