As season 2 of the HPI series is nearing its end, we take stock with psychoanalyst Hlève Vecchiali of what a high intellectual potential, also called “zebra”, is. These atypical profiles are often stigmatized, and yet they do not seek to distinguish themselves. Who are they and how to spot them?

HPI: what is a “high intellectual potential”?

A “gifted” person has an intelligence quotient (IQ) above the average (100), i.e. 130 or more. But its “difference” is not limited to a number. The zebra has, at the same time, an intellectual, emotional, sensory and creative intensity.

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precocious child

His natural moral sense can sometimes surprise. He is in search of justice at all costs, total sincerity, absolute truth, unfailing loyalty. He can’t stand boredom and keeps questioning everything. From an early age, a zebra will ask itself existential questions. He wonders about death, illness, loneliness…

Contrary to what some may think, an HPI is not a fairground beast. He has not seen everything, read everything, heard everything. He may even find himself in a situation of failure.

Can HPI be detected in adulthood?

Yes, it’s never too late to take psychometric tests or to discuss it with specialists. I would even say that in case of doubt, it is important to do so. The fact of being gifted induces differences that we do not always understand.

>> What are psychometric tests? In France, the most common tests are based on the Wechsler intelligence scale. There is one for children from 2.5 years old to 7 years old, one for children and teenagers from 6 to 17 years old and one for adults. They are carried out during a psychological assessment with a specialized psychologist.

How do you know if you are HPI?

We sometimes feel out of step, we feel deep anxieties, we spend our time thinking, we are able to go from laughter to tears in the space of a few seconds.

In adulthood, these characteristics may suggest that one is “bipolar”. It is not so. Getting detected is a way to understand yourself better, to be at peace with yourself. This also allows the zebra to adapt to others and its environment. It is essential that he learns to spread his wings when possible and learns to reduce them when necessary. His singularity is often perceived as a weakness, but it is in fact an asset provided he knows how to use it.

What challenges do IPH women face?

Because of this high emotional intensity, zebras have the particularity of wanting to bond very quickly and very strongly with the people they meet. They don’t bother with protocols, polite formulas. The relationship is direct and intense. This behavior is sometimes a source of misunderstanding.

Neurotypicals may take it for flirting when it’s just intellectual curiosity. Unfortunately, in the world of work, this can be misinterpreted, especially when this attitude comes from a woman.

Our expert: Hélène Vecchiali, psychoanalyst and author of Un Zèbre sur le divan (ed. Albin Michel)

Read also :

How to recognize and manage intellectual precocity in children?

Testimony: my hyperemotivity prevented me from living for 27 years

Hypersensitivity in children: what are the risks?

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