Back in the ’90s, we heard a lot about the Indigo Children, a group of special children being born around the world that were being called the next step in human evolution. They were supposed to help lead humanity to our next level.
The term was actually coined in the 1970s by Nancy Ann Tappe, a synesthete. Synesthesia is when one of a person’s senses is perceived by one or more additional senses. A very common form is colored numbers. A synesthete might see the number 7 as purple. You can read more about it here, a very good site explaining neuroscience for children. Hey, I found it helpful to take baby steps! It’s good science in easy terms.
Tappe saw a certain type of child with an indigo aura, more or less. She went on to explain it in later years. Tappe has passed on, but a website in her name is full of a lot of information about her original observations and how she developed her thoughts.
In the ’90s her work was picked up and expanded upon by Jan Tober and Lee Carroll, who published the book Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived in 1999. This book more or less brought the concept to more general attention.
The most common traits of an indigo child are
- Difficulty with authority, especially if it has no explanation
- They don’t respond to discipline based on guilt.
- They let you know what they need with no problem
- They have a sense of deserving to be on earth–some people see it as a sense of entitlement or even royalty.
- They have no problems with self-worth.
- There are some things they won’t do, end of story. (This was called bull-headed when I was a child.)
- They often do see better ways of doing things.
- They often come up with creative solutions and they prefer to do things that need creative thought.
- School is often difficult for them, and in spite of high intelligence, they don’t always flourish in school settings.
Many parents recognized these traits in their children and claimed the label for them.
But during the 90s, there was another label being applied more and more: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), both of which are seen as disabilities and are often treated with medication. And the list of ADD/ADHD symptoms could be seen as a version of the Indigo children traits.
Some scientists believed that parents preferred the idea that their children were special and new instead of disabled and in need of medication. Many therapists believed that parents calling their children “indigos” instead of “ADHD” was detrimental to the children who then did not get the therapies and skills needed to deal with the differences in their brain.
Others said that the definition of Indigo children was vague enough to have a Forer effect (also called the “Barnum effect,” after PT Barnum, the showman). The Forer effect refers to people’s tendencies to relate general statements to themselves personally. It’s often cited as the reason people see themselves in their astrological sign descriptions. The descriptions sound “just like them,” but they are actually so broad as to include most people.
I admit, when I read the description of indigo children, a lot of it describes me. Or, it describes the me I would have been as a child if parents hadn’t used corporal punishment back then. Many times I gave in when I didn’t want to because a smack was immanent.
And as an adult, I was told by doctors that I have ADHD.
But do Indigo children exist? Are they a real phenomenon or is it just another bit of New Age quackery foisted on desperate parents?
Or is ADD/ADHD just science’s way of categorizing Indigos without the “new age” factor?
And my biggest question: are the indigos actually something new?
I am breaking this up into a few days because I like to keep this blog on the shorter side as it is something I write daily. Tomorrow I’ll start addressing these questions and giving my two cents (knowing me, it’ll be more like my 20 cents!)
If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments. Hopefully, I’d like to see some discussion.