Friday, 24 May 2019

Gifted children and adults: The Albatross Complex (Inhibition of Intelligence)

Gifted adults and children Section

The Albatross Complex (Inhibition of Intelligence),

When the child loses the freedom of flying in the heights of splendid landscapes...

The "albatross complex" is the expression coined by Dr. Alain Gauvrit, a psychiatrist in Toulouse, who detected the process of intelligence inhibition in some children with academic difficulties or even existential issues. This study was exposed in his 2001 conference under the auspices of the GARSEP (Academic Research Group on early childhood education) in Toulouse. According to him and colleagues, some children believe that their faculties are forbidden and to banish, as they feel shame or ridicule. The process is thus compared to the albatross that gives up on flying in the heights and stops admiring the splendid landscapes, as if such natural ability were cursed.

To defend oneself or to forbid oneself? This is the question asked by Dr. Alain Gauvrit.

I discovered this process in 2008 on the Internet, hence my development as follows.

The "albatross complex" was identified in relation to some gifted children's behaviours. They seemed to inhibit their intellectual faculties, trying to hide their intelligence by putting sort of a mask of ridicule. This process is symbolized by an albatross that, flying too high in comparison with the other birds around, crops its wings in order to be at the same height as the others. Except that, without his wings, where could it head for? Only the fall awaits the albatross. The bird is neither albatross nor little bird, it is nothing, because it is forbidden to be the albatross it used to be. And it is very difficult to get bored in narrow spaces, as well as it is difficult to explore vast landscapes when you have not learned to fly for a long time.

Where does the prohibition come from?
On the one hand, the reason of that could originate from the family that incarnates affective problems of some sort. On the other hand, the school plays a major role in either letting the children express themselves or hindering them because of an established status quo and sense of so-called normality. By the way, what is normal? What should be? The problem is experienced by many, not only by the gifted children.
Anyway, as a result, it turns out that these "albatross children" break their self-esteem.

How to describe the existential and identity complex?
It is comparable to a wounded bird that has crucified itself. He is deeply hurt from not being able to discover his intrinsic beauty, believing himself ugly, and consequently resentful and bitter. This ends up as a devastating narcissistic injury indeed : we well know how much the thoughts and sensitivity of these children are particularly keen, exacerbated, and therefore devastating when their emotional world is shattered. It is like a violent cataclysm happening in the brain, since it is a keen and vivid thinking machine.

What happens next ?
From his cage, the bird secretly hopes that others will see who he is, so as to free him, save him and encourage him. He does not know how to find his own strength. His vital energy is trapped in the net of  narcissistic failure and rupture. The latter looks like a canyon. If the bird does not find help, his strong system of negative beliefs can annihilate his energy for a long time, if not for good. His life becomes a reflection of his own thinking and emotivity: a complex world. The prediction of an adult life doomed to failure. Indeed, if he does not remember who he is at the bottom of the heart, if he never develops his faculties, he finds himself stuck, disabled in a way, and at the same time he aims for ideals that he cannot reach. As a result, he is uprooted from his deep self. The present escapes him, since his eyes are like broken prisms: they are mental brewings conditioned by psycho-emotional complexes.

What a mess !

It is common for these children to lose interest and develop attention disorders, with or without hyperactivity (ADHD). This deficit is not necessarily genetic, it can develop when a malaise is underlying. Indeed, emotional intelligence directly influences the intellectual faculties and self-realization. A wobbly emotional life leads to a more or less accentuated fatigue of the limbic system and cognition. As a consequence, the lucidity and the vital libido are diminished, this latter signifying the desire to live, the desire to be alive and in movement.
We can also talk about anxiety disorders which are more or less difficult to manage.
Fortunately, they can be cured. High potential children are recognized today. They receive help from some associations for gifted children, and more and more psychologists are trained to respond to this population.

What about the intelligence quotient? It has been proven that these complexed children lose a lot of concentration and memory capacity. It follows that the I.Q. does not correspond to real faculties. The results generally show trends, for example heterogeneous results, that is to say high in some areas and lower in the exercises requiring more concentration. Of course, we do not define a person by his or her I.Q...

What matters is  when they are helped out of their bird cage and given an environment conducive to their development, so that they reconcile with life and gain confidence. As a result, they would put their abilities of mind and heart in motion. Later on, ,I.Q. tests then show a significant increase, sometimes a leap in the results that demonstrate that these children are truly gifted. This has been proven by Dr. Gauvrit's team.

If all the children had the chance to be detected and accompanied ... But this is not the case.

What happens when an individual maintains this inhibition complex in his adult life? Existence seems to him to be an insurmountable mountain. He grows up without growing up. His or her inner child remains stuck under the ruins of collapsed pebbles. Sometimes he motivates himself, invents reasons for living, without being able to estimate his substance. Sometimes he drowns, his hand erected out of the water, just in case a savior passes by.

No recognition. The feeling of being ugly. The rejection syndrome. A desire to die. Ideals too big for an untrained mind and ignorant of its true nature. A job that bores him. A life of unemployment. The intellect is disjointed? He did not do any major studies? The frustrated remains on the sidelines, he does not enter the high potentials club.
Get out of the dead end ? Yes, because the subject of giftedness is no longer taboo. Nowadays, the media talk about it. Internet networks bring together those who are alike. And the exponentially growing business makes a good profit on this too...

But too many still remain isolated, alone in this vast world.

Of course, healing is possible, even if you have to face old demons and fight. There is also the urge to enlighten your view upon your old beliefs, hence the courage to stop clinging to them. For even sadness or melancholy are security clinging. To leave them is to risk delusion and fall even lower. There was already this canyon...

What key can open the bird's cage? The knowledge of vast landscapes seems to be the key. But I'd recommend small moves. These beautiful landscapes secretly lie within the self, in some inner mystery, and in its grandeur. This is self-knowledge and acceptance of all that is. At this point the wings can unfold, even if it's scary to jump into the big void. Taking the first step to be who we are, just as we are, sets the stage for more…

But there is something stronger than oneself: the choice between living and dying. And when one chooses life and finally trusts in one's destiny, the wings unfold. This is freedom exploring.

There may still be struggles, temptation to give up. The refusal to head to the light. But as soon as human understands that in life everything is possible, then things become clearer and simpler.

I do not pretend that the road suddenly becomes easy, because life is a test. At times, we even say that life is a battlefield. And as you feel lighter and willing to risk everything to go higher, life becomes a game or a challenge.

The marks of the past are indelible, it's a fact, but the individual can always deal with who he is, with his past, present and future.
Then there is this good news: although albatrosses are rare specimens, they are not alone, they meet and hold out their hands.

Now what about education?
Many children are deprived of the full expression of their talents, their natural gifts, their potentials. High potentials, divergent or other birds, children shape the world of tomorrow. Let us make sure that the wings of freedom can be deployed in each of the children. After all, who does not run the risk of being a bird with forbidden wings?
The educational task is a noble task.

My conclusion
All in all, each individual is like a singular book. When you become aware of that, you can create new adventures for your character. Although your novel may be a tragedy in your early chapters, as the creator you can take the pen and invent the course of the story by choosing the scene and the characters you'll want around. The writing of the last chapter could be like a conclusion signed by the hand of the author. I imagine the writer could even take with him some co-signatures from those whose love has made him real.

I sometimes heard that our books were written in advance. Is this really true? There is only one way to find out, by putting life to the test!

Baudelaire's Albatross poem  (

Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew
Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds
That indolently follow a ship
As it glides over the deep, briny sea.

Scarcely have they placed them on the deck
Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed,
Pathetically let their great white wings
Drag beside them like oars.

That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is,
So beautiful before, now comic and ugly!
One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe;
Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew!

The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky
Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman;
When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers,
His giant wings prevent him from walking.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

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