Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults

ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders



James T. Webb, Ph.D., ABPP-ClEdward R. Amend, Psy.D., Nadia E. Webb, Psy.D., Jean Goerss, M.D., Paul Beljan, Psy.D., ABPdNF. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D.


Triple Award-Winner!
Gifted children and adults are being misdiagnosed and given medication for disorders they don’t have. This book is your guide to help prevent that. Some of our brightest, most creative children and adults are misdiagnosed as having behavioral or emotional disorders such as ADD/ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or Asperger’s Disorder. Many receive unneeded medications and/or inappropriate counseling. How can this happen? Many physicians, psychologists, and counselors are unaware of characteristics of gifted children and adults that mimic pathological diagnoses. Six prominent healthcare professionals describe ways in which parents and professionals can distinguish between behaviors that are pathological and those that are “normal” for gifted individuals.

Topics include:

  • Diagnoses most commonly given to gifted children and adults
  • Traits of diagnoses incorrectly given to gifted children and adults
  • Parent–child relationship problems
  • Issues for gifted adults
  • Advice for selecting a counselor or healthcare professional

50% of the royalties from the sale of this book go directly to Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to gifted children and adults. You can find more information about SENG at www.sengifted.org.


Want more information on misdiagnosis?
Take a look at our blogpost Join the Misdiagnosis Conversation!


Also available as an eBook! On Barnes&Noble Nooks and Amazon Kindles!


Length: 308 pages

ISBN 10 digit: 0-910707-64-2
ISBN 13 digit: 978-0-910707-64-0


Available new in hardcover only

Price: $34.95


Available paperback only for the bruised book sale

Price: $26.95



Dr. Webb and his colleagues have made a significant contribution to the literature that supports the optimal development of gifted individuals. Ideally, Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults will be considered an invaluable reference for professionals in practice and in training, such that the ongoing mislabeling and mistreatment of gifted individuals will decrease dramatically. In addition, given the compassionate and comprehensive nature of the text, it is highly recommended that parents utilize to the benefit of their children, as well as for the purpose of better understanding themselves.
– Davidson Institute for Talent Development review

I am delighted to see this book published. Congratulations on this timely book. My advice to parents would be, read this book before your child is misdiagnosed and mistreated.”
– Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D., President The Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health; Former President, American Psychological Association

These authors have brought to light a widespread and serious problem—the wasting of lives from the misdiagnosis of gifted children and adults and the inappropriate treatment that often follows.”
– Jack G. Wiggins, Ph.D., Former President, American Psychological Association; Co-Founder, Council for the Advancement of the Psychological Practices and Sciences

This book weaves together rich clinical evidence and case studies to show not only how certain kinds of disorders are more prevalent among the gifted but also how gifted children are so often misdiagnosed as having a disorder. Parents, educators, psychologists, and physicians will find this an eye-opening book.
– Ellen Winner, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Boston College; Senior Research Associate, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Author of Gifted Children: Myths and Realities

These clinically experienced authors have created an accurate and illuminating depiction of the range of traits which may accompany giftedness. I recommend this book to all parents, teachers, and professionals who interact with gifted children and their families.”
– Drake D. Duane, M.D., Director, Institute of Behavioral Neurology; Past-President, International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities; Past Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board, The Dyslexia Foundation

This well-organized book describes how giftedness can be confused with some psychiatric disorders, obscure other disorders, and how it often needs to be included in treatment planning. It does not make the mistake of explaining away or indulging maladaptive behavior, as if gifted children need not conform or adjust. But it helps us grasp the internal states that drive what may seem like seriously disturbed behavior.”
– William H. Smith, Ph.D., ABPP-CL, Former Dean, Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and Mental Health Sciences

Parents, teachers, physicians, counselors, and therapists, as well as the gifted individuals so empathically described in this book, will find a wealth of practical knowledge here. Gifted people can be baffling to others.  Especially in recent years, they have too often been hastily and simplistically diagnosed with psychiatric syndromes they may or may not have, in the absence of a sensitivity to their giftedness and its implications.  As the poignant vignettes in these chapters attest, such mistakes, especially with children, can be disastrous. The authors’ vast erudition informs this readable, lively work, which has the potential to right some important wrongs.”
– Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., Author, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: A Practitioner’s Guide, Professor, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

This is an impressive and comprehensive text and focuses on critical issues in gifted education. It is well written and the content is excellent. The authors make a compelling case for caution when diagnosing children (and adults) for disorders. This book makes a powerful statement that many behaviors associated with giftedness may be misconstrued as behaviors associated with disorders. I highly recommend this book to both professionals and parents.”
– Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., Professor of Gifted Education and Director, Belin-Blank Center, The University of Iowa

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults is a must-read for anyone caring for a child or a partner who is suffering the consequences of giftedness. It offers family members and educators a thorough and compassionate guide to behaviors of gifted children and adults that are sometimes mistaken as psychiatric symptoms, and to the psychological trauma that can result for these extraordinarily intelligent youngsters and adults. The authors—a team of psychologists and physician—provide a useful resource list and offer practical coping strategies.”
– Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D., New York

This book is an invaluable resource for professionals and parents. The direct comparisons of diagnostic criteria and characteristics of gifted individuals bridge a gap that has long existed, to the detriment of many gifted children and adults. The many vignettes bring to life the pitfalls of misunderstanding, mislabeling, and mistreatment of gifted children and adults. This compassionate and comprehensive work combines the knowledgeable perspectives of professionals and parents to clarify the often-misunderstood experiences of gifted children and adults.”
– Colleen M. Harsin, M.A., M.S.W., Manager of Family Services, Davidson Institute for Talent Development

As primary care providers, we are continually asked to prescribe medications for difficult cases, some of whom are gifted children or adults. It is often easy to medicate, but difficulty to treat, persons who present an unusual or complex clinical picture. This book clarifies important and relevant characteristics of gifted children and adults, and provides direction for further evaluation of these complex individuals.  This concise, informative and readable volume will fill an area of the medical library that was hitherto void.”
– Richard M. Clouse, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Associate Professor, University of Louisville School of Medicine

This timely and important book deals incisively with issues we encounter daily in our practice with gifted, but learning challenged, children.  The authors clearly describe issues that are crucial for understanding and caring for these special children, but rarely touched on elsewhere in the literature, and nowhere in this depth. This book highlights the dangers and shortcomings of simplistic checklist-based approaches that purport to explain a child’s psyche on the basis of behavioral criteria stripped from the context of that child’s life experience and cognitive profile. It points out the widespread tendency to pathologize the differences in outlook and approach that may become the gifted child’s greatest strength, and will almost certainly lie behind that child’s greatest contributions. The authors take a balanced and fair-minded approach to determining when these children do need special help. This book should be required reading for every professional who cares for children and every parent with a bright, but behaviorally perplexing, child.”
– Fernette F. Eide, M.D., Neurologist, and Brock L. Eide, M.D., M.A., General Practitioner, Eide Neurolearning Clinic

This book is not just “the missing link” but the “cornerstone” that is paramount to the evolution of the field of counseling the gifted. It is critical and imperative for the field of mental health providers to finally become aware of the serious and damaging effects that misdiagnosis can have on gifted individuals.”
– Andy Mahoney, M.S., L.P.C., L.M.F.T., Mahoney and Associates, Herndon, VA

Parents will find great information and detailed vignettes describing many dual exceptionalities and misdiagnoses.  Professionals, whether medical or psychological, will find the differential information that will enable them to stop pathologizing normal behaviors of the gifted, and stop missing real diagnoses that were previously excused as characteristics of giftedness.  And gifted adults will find confirmation of the differences that they’ve struggled with, that no one could ever explain before.  While the book does not replace professional counseling, it does offer great steps towards dealing with both the frustrating characteristics of giftedness, and the symptoms of dual exceptionalities. It’s a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and professionals from both psychological and medical communities. I wish I had it years ago.”
– Carolyn Kottmeyer, Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page ; Hoagies’ Kids and Teens Page

The authors are thorough in describing the most salient factors and issues associated with misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses of gifted students.  This book is a significant contribution that should greatly reduce the difficulties in making an appropriate diagnosis, as well as help students receive the services they need to thrive.”
– Tracy L. Cross, Ph.D., George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Gifted Studies, and Editor, Roeper Review



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