Book Review: Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment and Hope

Dec 22, 2013 by


The only thing I can say is that it is the best book on gifted children and adults that has been written in the last ten years.

Title : Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment and Hope

Author : James T. Webb Ph.D.

Publisher : Great Potential Press

I am often asked to review books, and while I enjoy some of them, I typically end up saying, what I call ” blah, blah ” stuff. I comment on the topic, the way in which it was presented, and the style and substance.

I can’t do any of that for James Webb’s book. The only thing I can say is that it is the best book on gifted children and adults that has been written in the last ten years.

In fact, it could be the best book ever written for understanding the emotional life and issues of children that are bright, gifted and talented.  This book is not just for any select audience- but really serves many, and I would like to elucidate and clarify.

First, this book should be read by those who have been identified as gifted, and know that they are dealing with a great many exasperating, problematic and frustrating things in the world. This book will help them understand that yes, they are different, but there is a good different, and a different that is searching for meaning, hoping for hope and coping with disillusionment.

Second, this book should be read by parents- particularly parents of gifted children so that they understand that the ” sturm und drang ” or the storm and stress of adolescence is understandable. These parents need to understand what is baffling and befuddling their kids. These parents need to understand that they will weather the storm and that the storm is real- and understandable and the storm may result in a later insightful, meaningful life and existence.

Third, teachers of gifted need to have this book to refer to again, and again, to remind them of the inner emotional life of gifted kids. It is not all about learning facts, and knowledge and information and theorums and quadratic equations. It is about developing values, attitudes, philosophies, beliefs and a commitment to care and concern – about others, a meaning, a goal, a purpose, and or and ideal .

Fourth, counselors need to read this book in order to provide a balm of Gilead to their clients and to help them thru the therapeutic process of self-examination, self-exploration and help them as they take a long hard look at the chaos and quagmire that surrounds them in this world today

Fifth, mentors should read this book as they are key, crucial, critical players in this game of life today. They are the ones that provide a lighthouse of sorts to ” show the way “and to help their protégés grasp the challenges of the road ahead.

Any human being would benefit from this book. We live in an age fraught with peril, with changing cultural values, with things that shock us, with events that make no sense, and with happenings that would ” try men’s souls “. Dr. Webb provides us with some solace, and some guidelines and barriers for those who are engaged in any kind of self reflection.

The book should be read several times, and even studied. Yes, I say ” studied ” and I use the word ” studied ” intentionally because all too often, we skim through things, and aim for the gist. This book should be studied. It should be studied for the wisdom in it and it should also be studied for the beauty of language that is utilized. The book should be studied as Dr. Webb has  congealed and accumulated the wisdom of many prior therapists and integrated them with the research of Dabrowski and Piechowski and their work on the elements of those labeled as gifted and overexcitable. Those in the field will recognize these terms and gain an even greater understanding of the process and problems eminent in this realm.

At one point in the book, Dr. Webb shares some wisdom from a minister ” Listen to my sermons like you eat fish; swallow the meat but spit out the bones ” Dr. Webb is saying ” So take from this book what is meaningful to you and your life and discard the rest”.

Jim, I have this to say to you–there were no bones- everything, every sentence was meaningful. Well done.

In this day and age of failed hope and change- there is hope- there is this book.

The book is available from Great Potential Press at as well as at local bookstores.

Reviewed by Michael F. Shaughnessy

Education News
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  1. Michael Shaughnessy
    Michael Shaughnessy

    Let me give you a few concrete reasons why the aforementioned people should read the book. If you are concerned about the enhancement of human potential, specifically gifted kids ( although kids with high potential would also benefit), then you should read this book to grasp an understanding of how the gifted mind works- why some are depressed, why some are disillusioned, why some are pessimistic about the state of the country and the state of the world. The book explores the high expectations that gifted kids have for themselves and others. The book will help advisors, counselors to convince kids that their behavior does matter- and that there will be a ripple effect. If you want to understand the emotional needs and concerns of gifted, then you should read this book. If you are teaching a child that perhaps is underachieving, this book may help you to understand WHY they are underachieving. If you are teaching perhaps talented or creative kids, this book will provide some guidance and assistance in terms of coping with those kids on a daily basis. And lastly, it may in fact make you a better person. I can’t guarantee it, but I certainly FEEL it.


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    After reading this review, I know all the people that should read it, but not a single concrete reason why.

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