Episode 33

Published on:

23rd Jul 2021

33 - Beyond the ‘Gifted’ Label: A Conversation w/ Jessie Mannisto

Stella and Sasha sit down with Jessie Mannisto, the Editor in Chief of Third Factor Magazine, a publication for and about uncommon people and their uncommon paths through life. Jessie expands on the many overlapping experiences of gifted, creative, intense, and gender dysphoric individuals. They explore some critiques and uses of terms like ‘queer’ and ‘asexual.’ Stella and Sasha ask Jessie about androgyny, loneliness, ordinariness, and exceptionalism in dysphoria people. And what’s up with anime and fan fiction amongst gender-questioning youth? 


Jessie Mannisto on Sasha’s YouTube Channel 

Disintegration as an Opportunity for Growth:  

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGBcqT6h0Pw&t=1081s  

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFKpuoR9-zg&t=2s  


Where Intensity and Gender Dysphoria Meet:  


Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals:



Rainforest mind - Paula Prober:  



Hilary Jacobs Hendel - https://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-Always-Depression-Authentic/dp/0399588140 





Third Factor Magazine: https://www.thirdfactor.org/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thirdfactormag?lang=en 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThirdFactorMag/ 



Extended Notes

  • A little bit about Jessie and how she got involved in the field of giftedness and overexcitability.
  • Jessie noticed a connection between gender dysphoric people and giftedness.
  • What is the definition of “giftedness”?
  • There are five domains or key areas where you can be gifted: Intellect, imagination, psychomotor, sensory, and emotions.
  • How do these domains manifest into those who are extremely gifted?
  • Although not a reliable measure, overexcitability is often linked to giftedness. One of the ways people tried to test for giftedness was through overexcitability, but it was not conclusive.
  • What is the “hedgehog dilemma”?
  • The more that you’re an outlier, the more you try to seek out people who are like you to confirm that you’re “okay” and not abnormal.
  • Belonging is the biggest issue for these types of people.
  • What is a “magnet” school?
  • Most gifted people know they’re difficult and can be hard to manage. Jessie believes some of these gender rules and norms are a reaction to them needing order and relatability in the world.
  • Overexcitable people often feel very alone and like there’s no one out there who shares their pain.
  • Putting people together in “gifted” rooms is not the answer. It’s the ability to share common interests together that makes it valuable.
  • The search for meaning and the search for happiness is too vague.
  • This is an age-old problem, people want to find someplace they belong.
  • Jessie was told at a young age to “not intimidate the boys or they won’t like you.” She understands why falling into an androgynous category was so appealing.
  • Giftedness is such a problematic word, but Jessie didn’t know what was the best word to use at the time. Really, she likes to use “questioner.”
  • Why is there such an obsession with anime and other fandom among these groups?
  • Stella wonders if gender, asexuality, and sexual progression are all linked together.
  • When you don’t fit the perfect image of what a “wife” or “husband” is supposed to be, people look for alternative ways to explain their uniqueness.
  • Creative individuals are often gender fluid or genderqueer. They often don’t fall into the stereotypes.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:


Learn more about our show: Linktr.ee/WiderLensPod

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About the Podcast

Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast
Two therapists explore the expanding concept of "gender" from a psychological depth perspective.
Gender dysphoria has become a minefield for public discussion, with many afraid to express their views or question the narrative. Our mission is to examine this important and complex topic from a range of perspectives, but always through a psychological lens. By openly considering and examining gender identity, transition, and the transgender umbrella, we hope to give all interested parties permission to engage these fascinating topics with less fear and more honesty. Interviews and discussions will involve clinicians, medical professionals, academics, transgender people, parents, detransitioners and other interesting individuals whose lives have been touched by the concept of gender.

Conversations between two practicing therapists give listeners an opportunity to contemplate gender from a depth perspective not currently taken up in most of today’s accessible debates. As a result of their work with gender dysphoric therapy clients as well as their personal divergent experiences with gender, Stella and Sasha hold a refreshing and informed perspective.

Is gender identity a facilitation of development and expression of creativity, or can it be a defense against painful existential realities of living in a human body? What can we discover about masculinity, femininity, identity, gender performance, and sexuality when we peer beneath the surface and dive into a deeper psychological exploration? What is the relationship between body, mind, identity, culture, and psyche?

This podcast engages listeners in an intimate and fascinating behind-the-scenes inquiry about a topic as taboo as it is salient today.

* We are sponsored by ReIME and Genspect.
Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics (ReIME) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving long term care for gender variant individuals. To learn more, visit https://rethinkime.org/

Genspect is an international alliance of parent and professional groups whose aim is to advocate for parents of gender-questioning children and young people. Parents are concerned that their kids are not receiving appropriate treatment and support; many do not feel free to speak out about their concerns.
To learn more, visit https://genspect.org/
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About your hosts

Stella O'Malley

Profile picture for Stella O'Malley
Stella O’Malley is a psychotherapist and author who works in private practice in Ireland. Her work focuses on parenting, family dynamics and working with teenagers.

Much of Stella’s counselling and writing focuses on mental health and the importance of well-being and she is a regular contributor to the media. She is also the resident psychotherapist for the current TV series, Raised by the Village, a family programme that helps troubled teenagers reconnect with themselves and their families.

Stella's first book, Cotton Wool Kids, was released in 2015 while Bully-Proof Kids: Practical tools to help kids grow up confident, resilient and strong was released in 2017. Stella’s latest book Fragile, was released in 2019 and focuses on overcoming anxiety and stress.

Stella was the presenter of the documentary Trans - Kids: It’s Time To Talk broadcast on Channel 4 in November 2018 and she contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, Inventing Transgender Children and Young People.

The Jungian analyst, Lisa Marchiano, and Stella launched Secrets of the Motherworld in September 2019, offering thoughtful exploration of the most intimate aspects of motherhood in a bid to help mothers feel less alone.

Stella is a Clinical Advisor for the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners. She is also the lead facilitator for the Gender Dysphoria Support Network.

Stella holds a B.A. in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a M.A. in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Sasha Ayad

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Sasha Ayad is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in private practice, and has treated adolescents for over 10 years. Her work focuses on teens and young adults struggling with issues of gender dysphoria and gender identity.

She became interested in the sharp rise in teenagers who declare a trans identity for the first time during adolescence. She discovered, through working with hundreds of families, that many teens were developing gender dysphoria only after adopting a transgender identity. She questions the practice of medical transition for children and teenagers, and her clinical work focuses on developmentally appropriate, least-invasive-first talk therapy.

Sasha is also a founding member and Clinical Advisor in the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners.

Sasha’s previous work experience includes:
- School counselor for middle and high school students at a charter school for underserved communities

- Behavioral therapy with children on the autism spectrum

- Individual and group counseling for women and children impacted by domestic abuse and sexual violence

- Developed and ran the first counseling program at a large state supported living facility for adults with intellectual disability

Sasha holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology.