Overachieving and Underachieving

Two Misunderstood Children
  • Karen Zelan
Part of the Perspectives in Developmental Psychology book series (PDPS)


The learning styles of overachieving and underachieving youngsters deserve close study. Although many similar psychological processes contribute to these two very different learning styles, the psychotherapist must begin with the child’s manifest behavior and must empathize with the different routes to approaching and retreating from learning that overachievers and underachievers select. Both children described in this chapter created impersonations. One child began to take on the characteristics of an adult, whereas the other took on the characteristics of a fool. The compelling question about children like this is by what cognitive processes do they manufacture fake self-presentations to satisfy projecting family members? And by what processes do they keep their knowing selves secret from everyone? These two questions also apply to the case narratives of the school phobic youngsters that will be presented in Chapters 7 and 8.


Young Brother Nursery School Formal Thought Concrete Operation Difficult Word 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Zelan
    • 1
  1. 1.BerkeleyUSA

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