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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Friday, January 13

mood indigo

"You ain't been blue till you've had that mood indigo..."
~ sinatra

I've been tracking this quintessential New Age "development" for a couple years now, but it's so weird, and so depressing, that I haven't known where to begin trying to describe the phenomenon.

Yesterday, the New York Times saved me the effort by running an article on the so-called Indigo Children -- Are They Here to Save the World? by John Leland, 12 January 2006 -- and it's drawing comments from around the web, for instance, this note on boingboing.

Annette Piper, right, in her store, Spiritual Freedom, with her daughter Alexandra, 10, said she realized she could tell what's wrong with people by touch.

Rollin Riggs for The NY Times

In The Indigo Children, Mr. Carroll and Ms. Tober define the phenomenon. Indigos, they write, share traits like high I.Q., acute intuition, self-confidence, resistance to authority and disruptive tendencies, which are often diagnosed as attention-deficit disorder, known as A.D.D., or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D.

Offered as a guide for "the parents of unusually bright and active children," the book includes common criticisms of today's child rearing: that children are overmedicated; that schools are not creative environments, especially for bright students; and that children need more time and attention from their parents. But the book seeks answers to mainstream parental concerns in the paranormal.

The paranormal, right. But note the focus on IQ. This is inherently related to the material I've been developing here on the eugenics movement, in which intelligence testing played a major role. (See previous post on Abraham Maslow's mentor, E.L. Thorndike.)

Fortunately, not everyone is looking through the same rose-tinted glasses...

To skeptics the concept of indigo children belongs in the realm of wishful thinking and New Age credulity. "All of us would prefer not to have our kids labeled with a psychiatric disorder, but in this case it's a sham diagnosis," said Russell Barkley, a research professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. "There's no science behind it. There are no studies."

Dr. Barkley likened the definition of indigo children to an academic exercise called "Barnum statements," after P. T. Barnum, in which a person is given a list of generic psychological characteristics and becomes convinced that they apply especially to him or her. The traits attributed to indigo children, he said, are so general that they "could describe most of the people most of the time," which means that they don't describe anything.

But now, thanks to self-appointed angel guru Doreen Virtue, we're on to the second generation: The Crystal Children.

By laying these harebrained expectations on kids, the New Agers are building a whole generation of narcissists. I don't mean stuck-up egotists. We're talking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), in which the child never develops a genuine sense of self because he or she is too busy attempting to live out the fantasies of a delusional and psychologically abusive parent. This requirement to embody by proxy the parent's own grandiose "spiritual" dreams of power and glory almost invariably results in lasting damage to the child -- and often to the people that child will come into contact with as an adult.