icon emotional overexcitabilityPeople with an emotional OE experience extremely complex emotions, both positive and negative. Feelings can be intense and they have strong emotional connections with other people, places and objects. Being compassionate, empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others they often feel what others feel, find it hard to make a distinction between their own and others feelings and have a tendency to put these feelings above their own needs. They may have deep concerns about their behaviour in relationships and the well-being of people important to them. They can also be very self-critical and experience feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

The emotionally OE have a deep need for connection and intensity with others, often leading to conflict over the depth of relationships. Children and teenagers and even young adults can feel very lonely as it is often hard to find such connections.
Being idealistic, they want to help others or animals and can be sad and deeply disappointed when they realise that not everybody feels so passionately.  Being overwhelmed by those intense emotions and not knowing how to be in charge of yourself and your extreme sensitivity can be daunting.

One mother described how, as she was driving hurriedly, her daughter cried, “Stop! Slow down!” When the mother asked why, the daughter replied, “We’re killing bugs on the windshield, and I’ve already seen too much death for my age!” (Webb et al, 2005).

Emotionally tense children can act out with extreme anger tantrums, become greatly upset when they lose a game or mourn for months when a new friend stops wanting to play. They are often seen to be overreacting and think that an emotion will last forever. They can have difficulty with change and adjusting to new environments, be extremely shy and timid and are prone to being bullied. To protect themselves, these children frequently learn to hide their sensitivity. They may experience deep feelings of guilt, depression and suicidal thoughts from a very young age.

“My mother threw out my favourite red sweater, I tried very hard but I didn’t manage to get it back and I felt so deeply bereft as if I was mourning, which is silly really over a sweater, but I did feel it like that.” Melissa 15 years

Somatic expressions can also be extreme: tense stomach, sinking heart and blushing, which might add to the tension. They often remember  precisely how they and others felt in certain situations.

Dabrowski saw emotional OE as the most important. People with this excitability will have the drive to make the world a better place, not just for themselves but for everyone. Developing deep emotional bonds with family, friends, animals and charitable goals, they have a rich interpersonal life that is often used professionally.
Read more about the other areas of intensity: Psychomotor, Sensual, Intellectual, Imaginational and Emotional.

Further Reading


Lucinda Leo’s blog: 15 Things Your Child With Emotional Overexcitability Might Say


SENG:  The gift of emotional overexcitabilities
Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents and Adults (Book edited by Daniels and Piechowski)
Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults (Book by a.o. James T Webb)
Jade Ann Rivera – How to identify and cope with overexcitabilities, part 1 of 5: Emotional overexcitability

Find out if you or your child has OE as well

PowerWood’s Community

Find understanding, tools and strategies that work in an understanding, respectful and compassionate Community.
PowerWood can be your and your families advocate and your second family.

Join our Community

Book a Free Introductory Talk with a Professional*

Your Free Introductory Talk of 45-60 minutes by Skype or FaceTime will be with Senior Consultant Simone de Hoogh.

You can read more about PowerWood’s Consultancy Sessions,  the Benefits of a Free Introductory Talk and PowerWood’s Consultancy Services Tiered Fee Structure.

During this Free Introductory Talk, you will get the chance to assess if you think or feel if working with Simone would be the right path forward for you.

For Simone de Hoogh this talk is a chance to get to know you a bit and collect information about you and your situation and to assess if she or PowerWood can be of help in any way or if she better refer you to someone else or another organisation.  Simone de Hoogh will explore together with you what the issues are that you or your family feel challenged by and explore the bigger picture. At the end of your talk, she will share if she thinks she or PowerWood current services can be of help and if yes how.

*Free Introductory Talks are available to FreeBee or Friend members of PowerWood.

Explore how joining our PowerWood community by becoming a member benefit you and what types of memberships are available.

I allow this website to collect and store submitted data.