What are “indigo children”? Or, to be more precise, do they really exist?

As a child, were you more empathetic and aware of your emotions than others? Did you enjoy music and art – even though your potential in these areas was never fully realized? Were you a free and independent thinker, an outsider, sometimes feeling hemmed in by outside authority? If so, some may have labeled you an “indigo child” – not, as your parents and teachers might have thought, a little terror who should be in detention four days a week, but nothing less than the next step of humanity.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what exactly is an indigo child? How do you know if you are one? And – most important of all – isn’t this just pseudoscientific hokum designed to get ableist parents to deny or feel better about their children’s neurological disorders?

What is an “indigo child”?

According to Nancy Ann Tappe, the self-proclaimed “synesthesia” (more on that later) who coined the concept, “indigo children” are a group of “highly evolved” individuals, who all share certain psychological traits that mark them as existing. outside – perhaps even above – the norm.

“Signs that a child may be ‘indigo’ include strong intuition, creativity, and a stubborn, passionate and questioning character,” wrote James Taylor, recounting his own experiences with the term in an article for Glasgow. University Magazine last year.

So far so good – but for some proponents of the concept, things didn’t stop there. Indigo kids “could also be a bit psychic,” Taylor explained. “In one story I read, a child diagnosed as ‘indigo’ described himself as ‘an emperor from another planet’ who had accidentally fallen into his mother’s womb; another girl casually talked to the gnomes.

To be clear, this is not one of those things like the hygiene hypothesis, where legitimate (though ultimately flawed) scientific thinking has been twisted by overzealous, undereducated parents and media. The idea that “indigo children” were not only unique, but semi-magical, was encouraged by some of the concept’s leading original proponents.

“To me, these children are the answers to the prayers we all have for peace,” Doreen Virtue told The New York Times in 2006, when the “indigo children” phenomenon was at its height. Now a born-again Christian who denounces all of her previous work as heretical, Virtue had previously worked as an adolescent psychotherapist, but in the beginning she was one of the leading authorities on indigo children – in fact, she literally wrote the book on the phenomenon, penning The care and feeding of indigo children in 2001.

According to Virtue, an indigo child exhibits most or all of a long list of characteristics, including strong will; born in 1978 or later; stubborn and independent – ​​“even though they constantly ask you for money,” Virtue noted; Creative; prone to addictions; easily bored; to be thirsty for friendships, even to be able to create links with animals or plants; who sometimes has trouble falling asleep and who may be used to seeing “angels” or “dead people,” she wrote.

Indigos are nothing if not hard to pin down. They can be overly aggressive, but also fragile and introverted, writes Virtue; they may either have low self-esteem or have delusions of grandeur. They may show signs of depression, but also know they’re important to the future of the world – and if you’ve ever taken them to a mainstream counselor, chances are you’ve heard the letters “ADHD” float around at some point.

Indigos are “vigilant to cleanse the earth of social ills and corruption, and to increase integrity,” Virtue said. “Other generations have tried, but then they became apathetic. This generation won’t do it unless we put them into submission with Ritalin.”

Isn’t it just ADHD/autism/mental illness/being a kid?

Ah – you noticed that too, huh?

The turn of the century was something of a golden age for medical paranoia — even despite today’s ivermectin ropeworms and widespread misinformation about vaccines. It was the era that gave us “vaccines cause autism”: the baseless conspiracy theory that even today is the cause of countless preventable child deaths; it was the time when thousands of medical professionals were pushed to write the Durban Declaration to tell people that, yes, in fact, HIV causes AIDS, please stop saying that it’s not the case ; and we weren’t far from the dawn of the impossibly dark “drink bleach” pediatric medical school.

And in tiny pill bottles around the world, something else was happening: a massive shift in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological and neurological disorders. Between 1996 and 2008, the number of children prescribed stimulants for ADHD increased by almost 50%, as did rates of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

There were many reasons for this, including improved diagnosis and more readily available drugs – a number of patents for mental health treatments ran out in the early 2000s, suddenly making them much cheaper for those who needed it. their.

This improvement in diagnosis and treatment was accompanied by a flurry of panicked comments, troubled by what people saw as the overmedicalization of society. The kids didn’t have a disease they needed to take drugs on, people said – it’s just called ‘being a kid’. After all, you wouldn’t cure Bart Simpson, would you?

Seen through this lens, “indigo children” can be seen as another reaction against the idea that your special little guy or girl might be anything but perfect. Indeed, that is precisely what some experts have warned: speaking to How Stuff Works recently, clinical psychologist Monica Vermani said she saw “the red flag[s]in the concept.

Parents who buy into the idea of ​​the “indigo child” “might view their child’s symptoms and problem behaviors — such as inattentiveness and disruptive or defiant behaviors — through the prism of their status or identity. indigo child,” Vermani said — and that, she added, “could cause them to reject, resist or delay addressing issues through traditional routes of proper diagnosis and treatment.”

How do I know if I am an indigo child?

With so many signature traits, it seems like it wouldn’t be hard to tell if you – or your little one – were one of these extra-evolved humans. But here’s the thing: when we rolled out this list at the start, did you think we were describing you? Or just, you know… any kid?

This is another great criticism directed at those who promote the concept of the “indigo child”: the so-called “indigo” characteristics are so broad and so generalizable that they apply to almost everyone. It’s called the Barnum Effect, after Phineas Taylor Barnum, the showman and Wolverine lookalike who supposedly coined the phrase “a sucker is born every minute” – which might tell you where we’re going with this .

Simply put, the Barnum Effect is what happens when you hear a description or statement that sounds incredibly accurate compared to your personal experience – not realizing that it actually applies to almost everyone. . This is how psychics and psychics make their living; this is why astrology is still much more popular than you think; and according to indigo skeptics, this is why so many people feel vindicated in their diagnosis of indigo.

“According to Tober and Carroll [two of the most famous indigo proponents]indigo children may perform poorly in conventional schools due to the child’s rejection of authority, being smarter or more spiritually mature than their teachers, and failing to respond to guilt, fear or manipulation. Skeptics article.

“However, child psychologists point out that no evidence for any of these specialties has been revealed and that many of these attributes may apply – to varying degrees – to all children,” they continue. . “When you google the term, there are plenty of websites to help you diagnose your child. They all contain ridiculous Barnum statements such as ‘You feel empowered’ or ‘You are questioning authority’ or even ‘You you are destined to be here”.

So maybe a personality test is out of the question – but luckily there is one trait that every indigo child has, no matter how well they identify with all the other supposed characteristics.

They all, without exception, have a blue aura.

Wait what?

Ok, some of you may have read this far who thought we were being unnecessarily harsh. So allow us to dispel those apprehensions: the concept of the “indigo child” rests entirely on one woman’s claim that she could see mystical colors emanating around children’s bodies.

Do you remember how Nancy Ann Tappe called herself “synaesthesia”? It was this aura detection – not the real meaning of synesthesia, which is much cooler because it’s been proven to actually exist – that she used the word to describe. In the late 60s, she started claiming to see more and more children who had an indigo aura – hence the name.

By the way, indigo children are not the only ones to be so diagnosed. There are also “Crystal Children”, named for their supposed crystal-colored auras (and conveniently invisible to the human eye) – but this concept, even more than that of Indigo Children, seems to be a reaction against the diagnoses of ‘autism. Meanwhile, the ‘Rainbow Children’, the Gen Z of the trio, are said to have rainbow auras – and if their parents are to be believed, they’re all basically psychic levels of Jean Grey.

Auras. So this is nonsense, then?

Well yes. Unless science can prove the objective existence of personality-based auras, it will be very difficult for anyone to provide a rational defense of the whole concept of “indigo children”.

Even though everyone on the planet really is surrounded by a giant mood ring, you’ll still have to counter the fact that, well, autism and ADHD do exist. Both also have much more precise definitions than that of the diagnosis “indigo child” which, as we have seen, can apply roughly any child at some point in his life.

Listen, we’re not saying your child isn’t special – but they are. Most likely no “next level of humanity” special. They’re far more likely to have a neurological disease (which is fine, by the way, being neurodivergent isn’t much worse than death!) or even just being a bit imaginative and quirky.

If so, it’s important to give them the attention, medical or otherwise, that they really need. Otherwise, you just make things worse for everyone.

“We would all rather our children not be labeled as suffering from a psychiatric disorder, but in this case it is a false diagnosis,” psychiatrist Russell Barkley told The New York Times. “There is no science behind this. There are no studies.

All “explanatory” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at the time of publication. Text, images and links may be modified, deleted or added later to keep the information up to date.

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