Giftedness as Disorder: Examining the Dimensionality of the Debate

11 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2023 Last revised: 27 Apr 2023

See all articles by Robb Elton

Robb Elton

National University ; Northcentral University

Date Written: February 17, 2023


Determining what must be included in a common description for what constitutes disorder is a crucial task for resolving the debate over whether giftedness is a disorder, and if ethics/responsibility demands its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Without a clear and agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a disorder, it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons between different conditions or to assess the relative costs and benefits of including certain conditions in future DSM editions. Moreover, it is important to establish clear criteria for what constitutes a disorder non-illness (DNI) and disorder underlying-illness (DUNI) as spectral in the context of mental health, education, and intelligence research, drawing on the insights and expertise of researchers, clinicians—including the gifted. By doing so, we can promote a more productive and evidence-based conversation around the inclusion of giftedness in the DSM and whether giftedness demands heightened, and just attention, which would invigorate the perspectives of social inclusion and social acceptance thereby. Using thematic analysis to evaluate arguments has contributed to the suggestion that a resolution to this argument already exists.

Funding Information: None to declare.

Conflict of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: Giftedness, Mental health disorder, Social disorder, Gifted diagnostics, Gifted intelligence

JEL Classification: Z18, C18, I31, I24, I21, I14, I1

Suggested Citation

Elton, Robb, Giftedness as Disorder: Examining the Dimensionality of the Debate (February 17, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Robb Elton (Contact Author)

National University ( email )

9388 Lightwave Ave
San Diego, CA 92123
United States

Northcentral University ( email )

United States

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