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Observations placeholder

Link between depression and academic self-esteem in gifted children



Type of Spiritual Experience



A description of the experience

Encephale. 2007 Jan-Feb;33(1):11-20.  [Link between depression and academic self-esteem in gifted children].  [Article in French]  Bénony H1, Van Der Elst D, Chahraoui K, Bénony C, Marnier JP.

INTRODUCTION: Studies of the psychology of gifted children frequently refer to their relatively immature affective development in terms of their intellectual capacities and the relational difficulties they experience with regard to their peers, teachers, close acquaintances and sometimes their parents. From a psychopathological viewpoint, various types of problem have been observed such as depressive symptoms, motor instability coupled with hyperactivity, attentional deficits, impulsivity and a fall in self-esteem.

OBJECTIVE: In this study, we wished to verify the links between self-esteem and psychopathological symptoms in these children.

METHOD: The total population studied consisted of 58 pupils taken from two teaching establishments in Dijon who were subdivided into two groups (gifted children and adolescents versus control children and adolescents).  Of these 58 subjects who took part in the tests, 8 were eliminated; …..23 gifted children, referred to as GC (10 girls, 13 boys) aged between 9 and 13 years took part in the study.  The pupils had no record of any neurological or physical antecedents, were all French-speaking, were not taking any toxic substances and had never consulted a psychologist or psychiatrist. They were all in advance by one to two years in terms of academic level. They were matched with the control subjects by real age and not mental age and as a function of their parents' socio-economic level.

The [control] group consisted of 14 girls and 9 boys. It was similar to the target group in terms of age, gender, key childhood experiences, divorces, separations and the death or illness of close relations. They had never consulted a child psychologist or been hospitalized for related problems, were not following any psychotherapy, were neither behind nor advanced in terms of academic age and came from normal classes. The following tools were used:

1) The Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL),

2) Carré's "self-esteem inventory" (SEI)


RESULTS: The comparison of the 23 gifted children with the control group … revealed that the scores for academic self-esteem, total self-esteem and lie-scale were significantly lower … and that the depression scores were significantly higher in the gifted children.  The correlation analyses revealed that the lower the general self-esteem, academic self-esteem and total self-esteem …. the higher the depression…, hyperactivity …and total psychopathology scores were. Similarly, the lower the general and total self-esteem scores, the higher the aggression scores. Academic self-esteem was the only value to be negatively correlated with communication disorders and somatization symptoms……The regression analyses indicate that academic self-esteem is the variable that explains the depression scores.

DISCUSSION: ….. This study suggests the need to verify whether similar results are observed in gifted children who do not attend special classes and children who have not yet been identified as gifted. Furthermore, our results indicate that these children are liable to a specific vulnerability in the emotional and behavioral domains that needs to be emphasized. They stress the need for early preventive measures to combat the emotional and behavioral difficulties experienced by gifted children and emphasize the importance of continuing to conduct this type of study in order to explain and specify the origin of these difficulties.

PMID:  17457290

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