by Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D.
Foreword by Nicholas Colangelo
Part One. A Matter of Heart
1. Emotional Development: The Great Unknown
2. The Even Greater Unknown:
Emotional Development of the Gifted
3. Excitable, Spirited, Very Alive
Part Two. Energy, Sensorium, and Intellect
4. Five Channels
5. Personal Energy
6. Sensory Aliveness
7. Intellectual Aliveness
Part Three. Imagination
8. Imaginary and Imaginal—A Universe
of Unlimited Possibilities
9. Absorption and the Power of Imaginal Experience
10. Invisible Friends
11. Imaginary Worlds
Part Four. Emotional Life
12. The Primacy of Emotion and Feeling
13. Emotional Aliveness
14. Bonds of Affection
16. The Specter of Death
17. Identity and Solitude
Part Five. Emotional and Spiritual Growth
18. Two Types of Emotional Growth
19. Gifted at Heart
20. Personal Growth
21. Spiritual Giftedness
Coda. Experiencing in a Higher Key
Michael M. Piechowski tells us in his first sentence “The purpose of this book is to give voice to the emotional life of bright young people, to show how their intensities and sensitivities make them more alive, more creative, and more in love with the world and its wonders.” This is a most revealing opening sentence because the book is a voice for the emotional and spiritual life of gifted children.
I first knew Michael when he was in transition from the study of molecules (molecular biologist) to the study of people’s hearts (counseling psychologist). It was always the emotional world that most interested and inspired him. And in turn he inspired those around him. It was also he who made that hard to spell and pronounce name, Kazimierz Dabrowski, part of our lives and now a significant part of the field of gifted education.
Positive disintegration, multilevelness, and overexcitabilities are part of the lexicon of giftedness today and it is primarily due Michael’s philosophy, passion, and perseverance. Michael is a wonderful writer with a sense of humor that is, well, unique. Those qualities are in vibrant evidence here. This book is an “easy” read, but it’s also subtle and complex. Michael is at his best when he writes about the lives of people who have great heart and spirit. This is evident throughout the book.
I find it uncanny that he chooses quotes from the comments of children and teenagers that not only capture a message, but more importantly, capture the essence of the child. Michael is effective with biographical material because he believes this is the “window” to the heart.
While I was honored when asked to write the Foreword, I hesitated. I have a strong allegiance to the importance of emotional and spiritual growth but I have not always seen these issues discussed and written about in ways that are profound and instructive. I find some writings are more personal about the author and not about the subject. Not so with Michael. Michael takes us through the landscape of emotional development and spirituality. This is a landscape he has dedicated his professional life to understanding, respecting, and bringing to bear his best as a scientist and as a person. We have an excellent guide in Michael.
-Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D. Myron & Jacqueline Blank Professor of Gifted Education, The University of Iowa