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Terms

Although many of the terms used within Bright Insight's website and programs are defined elsewhere, we find it helpful to also address them in one place for easy reference. Unlike glossaries and definitions in some spaces, however, this will be a list of definitions and meanings as we use them. That is, these are definitions in our words offered here so visitors might better understand how terms are used throughout the organization. Googling and cross-referencing terms may also be helpful.

Glossary of Terms Seen Within Bright Insight

If there is a term you are looking for and cannot find, send us a message and maybe we will add it here! At a minimum, we can discuss this term and offer support as appropriate!

Alexisomia: Sometimes called introspective alexithymia, this psychological neurodivergence may present as a difficulty in identifying body sensations and somatic experiences.

Alexithymia: A psychological neurodivergence characterized by difficulties in identifying, describing, and expressing emotions, sometimes presenting as a limited emotional vocabulary and struggle to articulate feelings or understand the emotions of others.

Antarctic Flamingos: Atypical anomalies, not to be confused with elite entities.

Aphantasia: The inability to create or difficulty with creating mental imagery that can also make it difficult to readily visualize or recall images in one’s mind's eye. It is common for aphantasic individuals to rely on verbal or conceptual memory.

Asynchronicity: A phenomenon where different aspects of an individual's development progress at varying rates or occur independently of each other. With asynchronous development, cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth may progress in a way that seems out of sync. It is important to understand, however, that what is considered typical in relation to development is based on majority standards. 

Asynchronous Development: Development that is judged as uneven with seemingly rapid or precocious gains in some domains and what may seem like slower, delayed, or difficult development in others.

 

Autopsychotherapy: A self-guided journey of introspection and personal development that can be a valuable tool in gaining self-awareness, achieving personal transformation, and nurturing one's unique abilities and talents.

 

Big T Trauma: Events or experiences that are immediately intensive and generally more singular in nature, such as war, school shootings, a serious car crash, an injury or attack, being involved in a natural disaster, or experiencing a major loss/death. Read more about different types of trauma, here.

 

Bilateral Stimulation: Stimulating the left and right side of the body alternatingly. Examples of bilateral stimulation included watching an EMDR light bar, listening to tones or music that alternate in left and right ears, alternating taps on each temple, knee, or shoulder etc., galloping on a horse, knitting, and so on.

 

Blunting (Psychological): A phenomenon where individuals experience a reduction in emotional responses or a dulled affective experience involving a diminished range and intensity of emotions, resulting in a decreased ability to feel and express emotions compared to what would be considered typical or expected. Psychological blunting can manifest as a decreased capacity for joy, sadness, empathy, or other emotional states. It can also present as physical in nature where people feel disconnected from their bodies or experiences.

Bottom-Up Processing: Treatment and processing approaches that focus on the body, its sensory receptors, and psychodynamic elements such as childhood experiences and personality development.

Classical Conditioning: A type of learning that involves pairing a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to elicit a conditioned response such that the once-neutral stimulus causes the same response as a previously more meaningful stimulus. (Remember Pavlov’s dog?)

Compensation (Gifted Compensation): When a person uses strengths or adaptive/creative problem-solving to overcome or work around asynchronicity, presumed weaknesses, or difficulties.

Complex Trauma: Trauma that is often identified as a mix of both big T and little t trauma or different types and combinations of little t trauma, resulting in a complex developmental profile and trauma history. Read more about different types of trauma, here​.

Coping Skills: Skills that are developed or otherwise obtained to help individuals cope with distress.

cPTSD (or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder): A type of post-traumatic stress disorder that presents when a person is significantly (and diagnosably) impacted by complex and developmental trauma. Read more about different types of trauma, here​.

 

Cumulative Relational Trauma: Seemingly minor, inconspicuous psychic wounds that are collected gradually, eroding an individual's self-esteem, distorting their character, and compromising their ability to connect with others. 

Dabrowskian: Doing or framing something in a way that considers Dąbrowski’s theory of positive disintegration, inclusive of its five levels, the five overexcitabilities, many dynamisms, and concepts such as positive maladjustment and psychoneurosis.

Developmental Trauma: Similar to (and often used interchangeably with) complex trauma, this is trauma that impacts developmental tasks and outcomes. It generally emerges during childhood and often results in cPTSD. Read more about different types of trauma, here​.

Dysautonomia: A condition characterized by imbalance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which regulates vital bodily functions including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature control. Dysautonomia can manifest as a range of symptoms such as orthostatic intolerance, dizziness, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, and cognitive impairments, along with the more frequently diagnosed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or POTS.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS): A group of genetic connective tissue disorders that affects the integrity and strength of collagen, the main structural protein in the body. EDS leads to hypermobility, joint instability, skin fragility, and other symptoms.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): A therapy modality used by highly trained mental health professionals to process trauma, triggers, other difficulties, and developmental topics. EMDR is also used to conceptualize trauma and trauma treatment.

Emotional Overexcitability (EOE): An overexcitability that manifests through heightened intensities of feelings and emotions, and the experiencing of extremes of both desired and difficult emotions.

 

Existential: Of or relating to deep topics involving one’s very existence, including life-and-death considerations, the meaning of life, personal value, and moral contemplation, action, and injury (to name just a few).

 

Experiencing: The gerund form of experience, used to explore a process of undergoing or encountering events, sensations, emotions, or situations. Experiencing represents the actual lived occurrences or instances of personal involvement in various aspects of life.

 

Experimentation (Therapy): A therapy tool used to help clients work around perfection, extreme expectations, fear, psychological resistance, and demand avoidance by suggested skills or behaviors as experiments rather than mandates or goals.

 

Flow/Flow State: A state of being where a person experiences an influx of energy related to the value of a task in relation to personal values and authentic presentation. More about flow and giftedness is written here.

Folx: An alternative spelling meant to queerify the word folks, as a way of being inclusive and gender non-conforming. 

 

Giftedness: A neurodivergence and measure of identity inclusive of qualities such as advanced cognitive abilities (sometimes seen as creativity or creative problem-solving), rapid pattern-finding and meaning-making, seemingly asynchronous development and compensation, and overexcitability/heightened intensity that all lend to a qualitative difference in depth and when compared to neurotypical experience and presentation. See also Antarctic Flamingos. You can read more about dimensions of giftedness, here.

 

Gifted (2e) Identity Development Theory: A theory developed by therapist, author, and researcher, Patricia Gently (formerly Williams) that originally considered the process of navigating adolescence for 2e individuals, resulting in a more broadly applicable identity development theory. This theory involves four stages, and an alternate fifth stage that explores what just is, what happened, what I did, who I am, and what I do.

Goodness of Fit: The idea that optimal development and even behavior, processing, and healing takes place where there is an appropriate match between a person, their unique personality and needs, and their environment (ecological systems). Read more about goodness of fit, here.

Grounding: A skill used to experience a physical/somatic calming of the nervous system that is obtained by engaging with one’s environment in a way that helps an individual also remain present and secure.

HPA Axis: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis is a system in the body that helps regulate the response to stress. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol, the "stress hormone." Cortisol helps the body cope with stress and returns to normal levels once the stress is resolved. Chronic activation of the HPA axis can have negative health effects.

Imaginational Overexcitability (ImOE): An overexcitability characterized by unrestricted imagination, vivid imagery, and talent for detailed visualization that can also contribute to intensifying emotional responses and anxieties.

Impostor Syndrome: The experience of high-achieving individuals who, despite their evident accomplishments, struggle to internalize their success. They might constantly doubt themselves and fear being exposed as frauds while finding it challenging to accurately attribute their achievements to their genuine competence. You can read more about impostor syndrome, here.

Intellectual Overexcitability (InOE): An overexcitability characterized by a heightened activity of the mind and displaying intensified intellectual engagement that may include a natural curiosity, deep concentration, and an increased capacity for sustained intellectual effort.

Intensity: Used sometimes interchangeably with overexcitability, intensity is a measure of psychological presentation that exceeds what is considered a typical level of function or experience.

Just Fine: When a gifted, masking, or compensating individual is judged as not struggling academically, emotionally, socially, or otherwise. “Just fine” is an assertion and label used to suggest a person who may be in need of support does not require the attention and effort needed to supply it. 

Levels of Giftedness: Five levels coined in some spaces as: mildly, moderately, highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted or moderately gifted to gifted, highly gifted, exceptionally gifted, exceptionally to profoundly gifted (4th form), and exceptionally to profoundly gifted (5th form) with distinct differences residing in individuals’ behaviors and experiences.

Little t Trauma: Events or experiences that can be grouped under the umbrella of adversity. The term refers more to undesirable life experiences, such as chronic criticism, shaming, neglect of emotions or physiological needs, lasting health impairments, frequent discrimination and oppressive actions, chronic harassment or bullying, and sometimes childhood difficulties that result in developmental or complex trauma. Read more about different types of trauma, here​.

Lived Experience: The direct interactions, observations, and insights individuals acquire as they navigate their personal journeys and engage with the world. It encompasses the subjective dimensions of an individual's existence, including their emotions, cognitions, convictions, and recollections, all influenced by their distinct background, cultural context, identity, and environments.

Marginalized Population: Any population that is considered atypical or a minority in relation to the typical and socially acceptable mainstream culture and population. Marginalized populations experience marginalization by governments, societies, and other structural entities, in a way that restricts their access to privilege.

Masking: When a person conceals their traits, disguises their behaviors, or experiences some combination thereof. In relation to the neurodivergent (ND) population, masking is typically discussed as a thing ND people do to conceal something from neurotypically (NT)-normed society. Sometimes it is to conceal a behavior that seems socially unacceptable, such as a stim or excitement about non-typical interests. Gifted individuals (another type of neurodivergence) might mask overexcitability, intelligence, difficulty (disability), or otherwise. For twice-exceptional (2e) persons, sometimes the giftedness masks the disability and the disability masks the giftedness in such a way that the individual is not identified as either.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: A frequently used psychology model, often depicted as a stacked triangle, that considers a person’s needs and how they motivate behavior, cognition, and development.

 

Meaning-Making: A desire to ascribe a significance or purpose to something while seeking connections between it and other experiences and patterns. 

Mindfulness: A meaningful awareness, presence of mind, and state of being that can be applied purposefully.

Misdiagnosis: When a neurodivergent or positively maladjusted individual is diagnosed with a mental health disorder or condition that they do not have. (For example, when an emotionally overexcitable individual is diagnosed with depression because they experience an injustice deeply.) 

Missed Diagnosis: When a neurodivergent or positively maladjusted individual is not diagnosed with a mental health disorder or psychological profile/label that they align with and that they could benefit from. (For example, when a gifted individual has cPTSD that is missed because they compensate and seem “just fine.”)

Neurobiology: The cross-section of a person’s neurology and biology that specifically considers the brain-body connection.

Neurodivergent: A term for those with a mind and neurology that diverges from what is typical in a way that is innate, acquired, or both. Neurodivergence is a way of functioning that is considered different from the norm in relation to learning, processing, feeling, interpreting information, or thinking otherwise. 

 

Neurodivergence: The reality of being neurodivergent. 

Neurodivergences (Neurodivergencies): More than one neurodivergence in a population or within one person. For example, I have several neurodivergences including ADHD, giftedness, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and an auditory processing disorder. As a group example, we may notice several neurodivergences in the online communities including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and communication differences. 

Neurodiverse: A term used to describe two or more people (a group) with different neurological function. This can be two neurotypical people, two neurodivergent people, a neurodivergent and neurotypical person, or a group of all sorts of people. What we need to understand is that although not all people are considered neurodivergent, every brain is different. 

Neurodiversity: The natural diversity that exists within the human population in relation to how people function neurologically. 

Neurodiversity-Affirmative: When we work, live, learn, lead, teach, parent, coach, and otherwise think, feel, and behave in a way that affirms the reality of neurodiversity and each individual’s identity as valuable and valid. Being neurodiversity-affirmative generally involves using identity-first language, avoiding ableist activity, decolonizing our language, and being multiculturally competent and effective. This also involves offering unconditional positive regard to people with different neurorealities. 

Neurodiversity Movement: A social justice movement that advocates for accepting and celebrating neurological differences in individuals while rejecting the view of these differences strictly as disorders. The Neurodiversity Movement promotes inclusion and supportive environments for neurodivergent individuals (and all people) to thrive in.

Neuromajority: The majority population in relation to neurological functioning or a term used to refer to the majority of people as having a typical neurocognitive profile, though the actual majority may be more diverse. 

Neuronormative: A term used to describe the societal norms, expectations, and attitudes that favor or are biased toward typical (non-neurodivergent) behavior and processing. Use of this concept suggests that certain neurological traits or cognitive processes are "normal" while other neurodivergent traits are marginalized or stigmatized. In a neuronormative society, neurodivergent individuals may struggle with acceptance, accommodation, and being included. 

Neurotypical: A term used to describe individuals with typical neurological development and cognitive functioning. That is, a neurotypical person's brain and cognitive patterns conform to the majority or standard neurocognitive profile in society.

Operant Conditioning: A method of learning that uses rewards and punishment to modify behavior, based on the idea that the consequences of a behavior determine the possibility of it being repeated. (Think, B.F. Skinner.)

Overexcitabilities (OEs): Of or related to multiple OEs and often, more specifically relating to the five identified OEs including psychomotor, imaginational, intellectual, sensual, or emotional types.

Overexcitability (OE): The manifestation of neurological capacities or psychic tension as reactions to stimuli, sometimes referred to as increased psychic excitability, intensity, or superstimulatability. OE is also often identified as an indicator of growth potential.

Pathological Demand Avoidance or Persistent/Pervasive Drive for Autonomy (PDA): A psychological profile initially seen as a subtype of autism that is sometimes more broadly applied as a tendency for impacted individuals to neurologically perceive a demand placed on them as a threat that launches a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response. Read more about PDA, here.

Pattern-Finding: A tendency to look for patterns both mindfully and subconsciously as a means of rapidly learning and coding new or theoretical material. 

PDAer: A person with a PDA profile or belief that they live and present with significant demand avoidance.

Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG): The positive psychological changes that individuals can experience following a traumatic event or upbringing. It encompasses personal transformation, increased resilience, and the development of new perspectives and values. 

Psychomotor Overexcitability (PmOE): An overexcitability that involves a notable surplus of energy and the psychomotor expression of emotional tension.

Radical Acceptance: The practice of fully and completely accepting reality as it is, without judgment, resistance, or attempts to change it. It involves acknowledging and embracing the present moment, including painful or difficult experiences, without attempting to deny or avoid them. Radical acceptance also involves letting go of the struggle against what cannot be changed and finding peace within oneself. It does not mean approving of or condoning the situation. Instead, it means choosing to accept it as an undeniable reality.

Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD): A disruptive manifestation of emotional dysregulation (severe emotional and physical pain) experienced by individuals when faced with real or perceived rejection, criticism, or teasing.

Resourcing (Mental Health): The process of seeking or providing individuals with tools, strategies, and support to enhance their emotional well-being, coping skills, and overall resilience. It also involves helping individuals access and utilize internal and external resources to effectively manage their mental health challenges and promote overall psychological well-being. Resourcing techniques may include relaxation techniques, self-care practices, social support networks, therapy, and other interventions aimed at building emotional strength and resilience.

Risk and Resilience Framework: A theoretical framework that maintains that there are both risks and protective factors in one's life that can either promote or hinder resilience and growth. 

 

Skill Building: Learning and trying new skills that reinforce one’s ability to cope with and resolve psychological distress.

SMART (Goals): An acronym used to conceptualize effective goal setting, generally understood as goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Sensual Overexcitability (SOE): An overexcitability that encompasses a heightened experiencing of sensory and aesthetic pleasure and a deep appreciation for various senses, such as sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, and even sexuality. SOE may manifest while finding delight in beautiful objects, the melodic sounds of words, music that resonates, captivating forms, vibrant colors, and harmonious balance. Furthermore, sensual overexcitability also manifests through the sensual expression of emotional tension.

 

Somatic Sensations: The sensory experiences that arise from the body's nervous system and through the tissues, that are essential for our perception of the external world and for our awareness of our bodies' internal states. The somatic sensory system allows us to feel and respond to various stimuli, providing us with information about touch, temperature, pain, and proprioception.

 

Stim/Stimming: Repetitive physical actions or sounds that might form a behavioral pattern and are frequently observed in neurodivergent individuals. This phenomenon, also referred to as self-stimulation, serves various purposes like offering comfort and aiding emotional expression.

Synesthesia: An experience where stimulation in one perceptual pathway leads to experiences in another perceptual pathway. Some synesthetes, for example, report smelling colors, seeing music, or feeling a sensation of emotion that is then pictured as a wavelength.

They/Them Pronouns: Pronouns commonly used by gender non-conforming, two-spirit, genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender-neutral individuals, as well as by those who do not wish to align themselves with the traditional gender binary. The use of they/them pronouns allows people to express their gender identity and experience in a way that goes beyond the traditional he/him or she/her designations. 

 

Titrate/Titration (in Trauma Processing): A chemistry term that refers to the process of adding a substance gradually and in controlled amounts to achieve a desired effect without overwhelming the system. In trauma processing, titration involves approaching traumatic material or memories in a gradual and manageable way. Titration can take place with a slow build-up over time. It can also take place such that a trauma therapist and client move in and out of engagement with traumatic material and ground or disengage between sets or sessions. This process offers balance and a sense of safety and control to the processor.

T.I.C.E.S.: A model used in EMDR that provides a structured way of identifying and processing the different components that contribute to a person's traumatic memory or distressing experience. Each letter in T.I.C.E.S. represents a specific aspect of an experience including the triggering stimuli or target (T), associated imagery (I), an associated negative belief or cognition (C), activated emotions (E), and bodily or somatic sensations (S).

Top-Down Processing: Treatment and processing approaches that focus on the cognitive and logical aspects of the brain along with stabilization and affect management.

Trauma: A pervasive problem that results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being. Read more about trauma and it's definitions, here.

Traumatic Contamination: When trauma informs any categories, patterns, or meanings that impact the otherwise healthy mental coding process. 

Trigger: Stimuli or reminders that elicit powerful emotional and physiological responses in individuals with past traumatic experiences. Triggers can bring forth distressing memories, intense emotions, and physical sensations connected to the original traumatic event.

Twice-Exceptional (2e): A designation that allows a person to identify as being both gifted and neurodivergent in at least one other way. Many 2e people have several neurodivergences. Read more about twice-exceptionality, here

Underachievement: A label meant to identify gifted individuals who do not meet an expected level of accomplishment, especially when they are 2e and/or experience asynchronicity with a notable disparity between their presumed abilities and actual exploits. Gifted individuals who are judged as underachieving are also often accused of not applying themselves or being lazy. Labeling someone as underachieving bases their value on an ability to produce. 

Whole-Person Approach (to Giftedness): Rather than considering a person as being gifted in one or two areas (i.e. a gifted writer who cannot understand math), a whole-person approach looks at giftedness in an identity-first manner and considers how giftedness impacts the entire person from head-to-toe (mind, body, spirit) and permeates their identity. 

Wise Mind: An integration of "emotional mind" and "rational mind" processing that allows individuals to find a middle path or balance where their emotions and logic agree. In other words, it is the capacity to acknowledge and integrate emotions while also considering logical reasoning and objective facts. When someone is in their wise mind, they can potentially make more thoughtful and effective decisions.

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