Overexcitability in Actors

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Abstract

Overexcitability (OE) is a key term used in the theory of positive disintegration by Kazimierz Dąbrowski (1964). The author distinguished 5 types of OE (psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual, and emotional) and showed that they are correlated with outstanding talents and creativity. Dąbrowski (1964) believed that OE may be responsible for emotional imbalance, adaptation difficulties, and mental disorders in some artistically and intellectually gifted individuals. The aim of this study was to explore whether there are any differences in OE between artistically talented individuals (here, actors; n = 40) and the control group (n = 30). The Overexcitability Questionnaire–II (OEQ-II) was used to measure OE. We found differences in OE between the study groups: Actors scored significantly higher on sensual, imaginational, emotional, and psychomotor OEs compared to the control group. Because the previous study (Thomson & Jaque, 2016) has shown that emotional and imaginational OEs significantly predicted shame, anxiety, and depression, the actors’ results (n = 40) were compared with the sten norms (Standard Ten) for OEQ-II, developed in a normalizing study (n = 784), for these 2 types of OE. It was found that actors scored significantly higher than did the general population.

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