Gifted Lives : What Happens when Gifted Children Grow Up book cover
1st Edition

Gifted Lives
What Happens when Gifted Children Grow Up

ISBN 9780415470094
Published September 8, 2010 by Routledge
328 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book reveals the dramatic stories of twenty outstandingly gifted people as they grew from early promise to maturity in Britain. Recorded over the last thirty-five years by award-winning psychologist, Joan Freeman, these fascinating accounts reveal the frustrations and triumphs of her participants, and investigates why some fell by the wayside whilst others reached fame and fortune.

These exceptional people possess a range of intellectual, social and emotional gifts in fields such as mathematics, the arts, music and spirituality. Through their particular abilities, they were often confronted with extra emotional challenges, such as over-anxious and pushy parents, teacher put-downs, social trip-wires, boredom and bullying in school and conflicting life choices. Their stories illustrate how seemingly innocuous events could have devastating life-long consequences, and confront the reader with intriguing questions such as: Does having a brilliant mind help when you are ethnically different or suffering serious depression? How does a world-class pianist cope when repetitive strain injury strikes, or a young financier when he hits his first million? What is the emotional impact of grade-skipping?

Joan Freeman’s insights into the twists and turns of these lives are fascinating and deeply moving. She shows us that while fate has a part to play, so does a personal outlook which can see and grab a fleeting chance, overcome great odds, and put in the necessary hard work to lift childhood prodigy to greatness. Readers will identify with many of the intriguing aspects of these people’s lives, and perhaps learn something about themselves too.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ideas of Gifts and Talents, and Description of Study. Part 1. So Many Gifts. 1. Maths Prodigy to Saint. 2. Spoilt For Choice. 3. Stark Odds. Part 2. A Dominant Gift. 4. Opera Star. 5. Two Davids and the Goliath of Art. 6. A Good Samaritan. 7. The Gift of Integrity. 8. Musical Chairs. Part 3. Challenges to Gifted Potential. 9. The Label of ‘Gifted’. 10. Barriers in The Mind. 11. A Gifted Gambler. 12. Gifted Women. Part 4. Beyond Gifts and Talents… 13. Genius. References.

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Professor Joan Freeman, PhD, is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, which has also honoured her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the gifted and talented. She is Founding President of the European Council for High Ability. She has published 14 books, 2 government reports, many scholarly papers, and is invited to lecture around the world. She has a private psychology practice in London. (


"Again and again in this book, the stories surprise and confound. No one reading this book could possibly come away with simple prejudices unchallenged. ... These true stories contain lessons for us all about what it is to have, and respond to, special qualities." – John Stoboda, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Keele University, in The Psychologist

"Freeman’s writing throughout is disciplined and carefully objective, without sacrificing any narrative power. ... Gifted Lives—with its many twists and turns—is captivating, inspiring, and educating. I want to recommend the book to parents and educators everywhere. It seems to me it will be easy to find a nugget of information that you can utilize almost immediately." - Joseph Cardillo, Psychology Today

"At last, an honest picture of what really happens to the gifted. Joan Freeman understands the psychology of having gifted abilities and its challenges, and has brought a breath of fresh air to this area of human development. I learned a lot and highly recommend it." - Lewis Wolpert CBE, FRS, FRSL, Emeritus Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine, University College London, UK

 "A sensitive, probing and revealing analysis of the super-bright from childhood to middle-age by Britain's leading analyst of gifted children."   - Brenda Maddox, biographer and winner of the Los Angeles Times Biography Award, the Silver PEN Award, the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, and the Whitbread Biography Prize.

"Joan Freeman has written engaging and often surprising portraits of 20 of the 210 gifted children she has followed into adulthood. This book will inform not only parents, teachers, and scholars of giftedness but all those interested in the unpredictable course of individual lives." - Ellen Winner, Professor and Chair,  Department of Psychology, Boston College USA  & Author of Gifted Children: Myths and Realities