Conversation 12: Giftedness, Positive Disintegration & Mental Health -- with Christiane Wells


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In this episode, Jennifer Harvey Sallin talks with psychologist and founding president of The Dabrowski Center, Christiane Wells, on the topic of giftedness, positive disintegration and mental health. Chris became an expert on Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration after learning in her 30's how much the theory positively reframed her experiences as a child and young adult struggling with what she thought -- and was told by mainstream psychiatry -- were various mental illnesses. Through the frame of overexcitabilties and advanced personality development, Chris realized that the traits she had considered proof of her "brokenness" were actually full of developmental potential and gave her a unique and meaningful perspective on what life is and what makes it worth living. As a profoundly gifted person, Chris had never fulfilled conventional expectations of what a "genius" should do and be, but with this new understanding, she realized that her combination of giftedness and overexcitabilities were calling her to a life of meaning far outside of the stereotypes of the competitive, successful gifted overachiever. Her giftedness is best expressed in deep emotional connection and bringing complex information about healing and wholeness to people in a way they can understand and deeply benefit from it. That's what she does now through The Dabrowski Center, via her Positive Disintegration Podcast, and in her private practice supporting gifted and overexcitable clients.

In addition to hearing Chris's story, Jennifer and Chris discuss the the limits of mainstream views on mental health, the harm of normative stereotypes on gifted people, the differences between the intensity of overexcitabilities and the complexity of giftedness, how not all gifted people have overexcitabilities and not all overexcitable people are gifted, how gifted trauma and trauma from being overexcitable and misunderstood are different from each other, and advice and resources for listeners.


You’ll find the complete list of this episode’s reading recommendations, including links to Chris's bio, at


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