Wednesday, 1 June 2011
CASE 293 - Indego children
Indigo children is a pseudoscientific label given to children who are claimed to possess special, unusual and/or supernatural traits or abilities. The idea is based on New Age concepts developed in the 1970s by Nancy Ann Tappe. The concept of indigo children gained popular interest with the publication of a series of books in the late 1990s and the release of several films in the following decade. A variety of books, conferences and related materials have been created surrounding belief in the idea of indigo children and their nature and abilities. These beliefs range from their being the next stage in human evolution or possessing paranormal abilities such as telepathy to the belief that they are simply more empathic and creative than their peers.
Although there are no scientific studies to give credibility to the existence of any indigo children, or their traits, the phenomenon appeals to some parents whose children have been diagnosed with learning disabilities and parents seeking to believe that their children are special. This is viewed by skeptics as a way for parents to avoid proper (and generally pharmaceutical) pediatric treatment or a psychiatric diagnosis which implies imperfection. The list of traits used to describe the children has also been criticized for being vague enough to be applied to almost anyone, a form of the Forer effect. The phenomenon has been criticized as a means of making money from credulous parents through the sales of related products and services.
The term "indigo children" originates with parapsychologist and self-described synesthete and psychic, Nancy Ann Tappe who developed the concept in the 1970s. Tappe published the book Understanding Your Life Through Color in 1982 describing the concept, stating that during the mid 1960s she began noticing that many children were being born with "indigo" auras (in other publications Tappe has said the color indigo came from the "life colors" of the children which she acquired through her synesthesia). The idea was later popularized by the 1998 book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, written by husband and wife self-help lecturers Lee Carroll and Jan Tober. The promotion of the concept by Tober and Carroll brought greater publicity to the topic, soon their book became the primary source on "indigo children". They describe the goal of indigo children to be a remaking of the world into one lacking war, trash and processed food.
In 2002, an international conference on indigo children was held in Hawaii, drawing 600 attendees, with subsequent conferences the following years in Florida and Oregon. The concept was popularized and spread further by a feature film and documentary released in 2005, both directed by James Twyman, a New Age writer.
Susan W. Whedon suggests in an 2009 article in Nova Religio that the social construction of Indigo Children is a response to an "apparent crisis of American childhood." Whedon explains that the crisis is evident in the increase in "diagnoses of ADD and ADHD in American children", and that "heightened awareness of youth violence" caused parents to "take matters in their own hands." Parents began medicating and diagnosing their offspring as Indigo Children as a means of "redeeming" them for their improper behavior stemming from ADD and ADHD.
Descriptions of indigo children include the belief that they are empathetic, curious, strong-willed, independent, and often perceived by friends and family as being strange; possess a clear sense of self-definition and purpose; and also exhibit a strong inclination towards spiritual matters from early childhood. Indigo children have also been described as having a strong feeling of entitlement, or "deserving to be here." Other alleged traits include a high intelligence quotient, an inherent intuitive ability, and resistance to authority. According to Tober and Carroll, indigo children function poorly in conventional schools due to their rejection of authority, being smarter than their teachers, and a lack of response to guilt-, fear- or manipulation-based discipline.