As someone who has struggled with being diagnosed with ADHD, I found this book extremely helpful in reframing my gifts as a blessing.
This eye was eye-opening for me to be able to have gratitude for my innate talents.
ADHD and the Edison Gene: A Drug-Free Approach to Managing the Unique Qualities of Your Child by Thom Hartmann
There were the passages that stood out to me.
“Thom and I approach the concept of the Edison gene from different directions. I am the author of Dreamers, Discoverers and Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who Is Bright, Bored and Having Problems In School. The original title of my book, when it first appeared in hardcover in 1997, was The Edison Trait: Saving the Spirit of Your Non-conforming Child. My approach stems from my interest in cognitive science and the study of divergent and convergent styles of thinking. Divergent thinking is spontaneous, nonlinear brainstorming. Convergent thinking is logical, sequential reasoning. People who have the Edison trait are divergent-thinking dominant. Like Thomas Edison, they are resourceful, inventive, individualistic, in the minority, and at odds with traditional classroom learning.”
The Edison-trait personality endures. Read the biographies of successful artists, athletes, inventors, entrepreneurs, and pilots and you will recognize their lifelong divergent thinking styles. Like Thomas Edison, however, they developed convergent thinking skills too, and learned to keep their balance. Thomas Edison was the most prolific inventor in the history of America. At the same time, he acquired enough bean-counting skill to found and run our largest utility companies, some of which still bear his name today.
Keeping in mind this fact, as well as an understanding of the normal plasticity of a developing brain (the term used by neuroscientists to describe the fact that the structure of the brain changes and grows, especially in children), it is wrong to assume that a child with ADHD will have ADHD for life. If we do assume this, we risk creating a harmful self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a well-known fact that stimulation is required for brain growth:
Further, a child’s confidence determines how much effort he or she makes: If we believe we can do something, we’ll try our best; if we don’t believe we can do it, we’re less likely to try. For a child, a parent’s or teacher’s belief can be pivotal. In one longitudinal study, the only factor that determined whether a child with ADHD became successful as an adult was whether he or she had at least one adult who believed in him or her as a child. As we believe in our children, our children believe in themselves.
Curious about how they viewed our children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I asked, “Are you familiar with those types of people who seem to crave stimulation, yet have a hard time staying with any one focus for a period of time? They may hop from career to career and sometimes even from relationship to relationship, never seeming to settle into one job or into a life with one person—but the whole time they remain incredibly creative and inventive.”
“Ah, we know this type well,” one of the men said, the other three nodding in agreement. “What do you call this personality type?” I asked. “Very holy,” he said. “These are old souls, near the end of their karmic cycle.” Again, the other three nodded agreement, perhaps a bit more vigorously in response to my startled look.”
“This is a man very close to becoming enlightened,” a businessman added. “We have great respect for such individuals, although their lives may be difficult.”
“Another businessman raised a finger and interjected. “But it is through the difficulties of such lives that the soul is purified.” The others nodded agreement.”
“In America they consider this behavior indicative of a psychiatric disorder,” I said. All three looked startled, then laughed. “In America you consider our most holy men, our yogis and swamis, to be crazy people as well,” said the physician with a touch of sadness in his voice. “So it is with different cultures. We live in different worlds.”
The long history of the human race, as we’ll see in this book, has conferred on us—some of us more than others —a set of predilections, temperaments, and abilities carried through the medium of our genetic makeup. These skills were ideally suited to life in the ever-changing world of our ancient ancestors and, we have now discovered, are also ideally suited to the quickly-changing modern world of cyberspace and widespread ecological and political crises that require rapid response. I will call this genetic gift the Edison gene, after Thomas Edison, who brought us electric lights and phonographs and movies and—literally—ten thousand other inventions. He is the model for the sort of impact a well-nurtured child carrying this gene can have on the world.”
“When Edison’s schoolteacher threw him out of school in the third grade for being inattentive, fidgety, and “slow,” his mother, Nancy Edison, the well-educated daughter of a Presbyterian minister, was deeply offended by the schoolmaster’s characterization of her son. As a result, she pulled him out of the school. She became his teacher from then until the day he went off on his own to work for the railroads (inventing, in his first months of employment, a railroad timing and signaling device that was used for nearly a century). She believed in him and wasn’t going to let the school thrash out of him his own belief in himself. As a result of that one mother’s efforts, the world is a very different place.”
“Ah, but we musn’t coddle these children!” some say. Consider this: Edison invented, at age sixteen, that device that revolutionized telegraph communication. It started him on a lifelong career of invention that led to the light bulb, the microphone, the motion picture, and the electrification of our cities. Would the world have been better off if he’d been disciplined into “behaving himself”?
What exactly defines those bearing this genetic makeup? Edisongene children and adults are by nature: Enthusiastic Creative Disorganized Non-linear in their thinking (they leap to new conclusions or observations) Innovative Easily distracted (or, to put it differently, easily attracted to new stimuli) Capable of extraordinary hyperfocus Understanding of what it means to be an “outsider” Determined Eccentric Easily bored Impulsive Entrepreneurial Energetic All of these qualities lead them to be natural: Explorers Inventors Discoverers Leaders
Those carrying this gene, however, often find themselves in environments where they’re coerced, threatened, or shoehorned into a classroom or job that doesn’t fit. When Edison-gene children aren’t recognized for their gifts but instead are told that they’re disordered, broken, or failures, a great emotional and spiritual wounding occurs.
This wounding can bring about all sorts of problems for children, for the adults they grow into, and for our society. their brains are wired to make them brilliant inventors and entrepreneurs—and our schools, which are set up for children whose brains are wired to make them good workers in the structured environments of a factory or office cubicle.
But could it be that ADHD, this psychiatric “illness,” has a positive side? I proposed in 1993 that these behaviors and temperaments—often misunderstood in schools—were once, in fact, useful skills for hunter-gatherer people (which, throughout the book, I’ll refer to simply as hunters), and also have a place in the modern world of emergency rooms, police departments, entrepreneurial businesses, and sales, to which the skills of the hunter can been transferred.
To engage in such early farming activity, three basic behaviors—which we now know are genetically determined and are related to brain dopamine levels—would have to be minimized: distractibility, impulsivity, and risk-taking. These three behaviors, however, would have been assets to hunters.
Yet people with ADHD can pay attention, even for long periods of time (it’s called hyperfocusing) but only to something that excites or interests them. It’s a cliché—but true—that “there is no ADHD in front of a good video game.”
ADHD experts often noted that it’s not that those with ADHD can’t pay attention to anything; it’s that they pay attention to everything. A better way to characterize the distractibility of ADHD is to describe it as scanning. In a classroom, the child with ADHD is the one who notices the janitor mowing the lawn outside the window instead of focusing on the teacher’s lecture on long division. Likewise, the bug crawling across the ceiling or the class bully preparing to throw a spitball is infinitely more fascinating than the teacher’s analysis of Columbus’s place in history.
If the hunter were chasing a rabbit through the forest with his spear, and a deer ran by, he wouldn’t have time to stop and calculate a risk/benefit analysis. He would have to make an instant decision about which animal to pursue, then act on that decision without a second thought.
It probably accounts for the high percentage of people with ADHD among prison populations and plays a role in a wide variety of social problems, from the risky driving of a teenager to the infidelity or job-hopping of an adult. Yet for a primitive hunter, risk and high-stimulation were a necessary part of daily life. If a hunter were risk- or adrenaline-averse, he’d never go into the wilds to hunt.
If a farmer were a risk-taker, however, the results could lead to starvation. Because decisions made by farmers had such long-ranging consequences, their brains would have to have been wired to avoid risks and to carefully determine the most risk-free way of going about his work. If a farmer were to decide to take a chance and plant a new and different crop—ragweed, for example, instead of the wheat that grew so well the previous year—the result might have led to tragic dietary problems for the tribe or family.
for instance—this role was even institutionalized into a caste system. History is replete with anecdotes about the unique personalities of the warrior castes such as the Kshatriya in India and the Samurai in Japan.
I’ve worked among indigenous hunting societies in many parts of the world, from Asia to the Americas. Over and over again I see among their adults and children that constellation of behaviors we call ADD. In those societies, however, these behaviors are highly adaptive and actually contribute to the societies’ success.
Among the members of the tribes of northern Canada, such as the caribou hunters of the McKenzie Basin, these adaptive characteristics—constantly scanning their environment, quick decision-making (impulsivity), and a willingness to take risks—contribute every year to the tribe’s survival. These same behaviors, however, often make it difficult for tribal children to succeed in Western schools when we try to impose our Western curriculum on them.
So for six million years our ancestors were hunters, and then, suddenly, in a tiny moment of time (ten thousand years is to six million years what less than three minutes is to a twenty-four-hour day) the entire human race veered in a totally new direction.
“In reframing the child who has ADHD as ‘response ready,’ experience-seeking, or alert,” they wrote, “the clinician can counsel the child and family to recognize situations in modern society that might favor such an individual, both in terms of school environments, as well as future career opportunities, e.g., athlete, air-traffic controller, salesperson, soldier, or entrepreneur.”6
While popular culture portrays the lives of hunter people as harsh and miserable, the ones I’ve met and known on four continents enjoy high-quality lives. Indeed, according to anthropologists, hunters represent the original leisure society, typically working only two to four hours a day to secure all their food and shelter needs, and spending the rest of the time playing with their families, talking, singing, and building community. (Dr. Robert Wolff wrote one of the best books on this, titled Original Wisdom, about his time with the Sng’oi hunter people of Malaysia.)
During ancient hunter times, it was the creative nonconformists who broke with one hundred thousand years of tradition and invented ostrich shell beads to exchange with other tribes as a way of sealing mutual deals for hunting rights. During more recent agricultural and industrial times, it was the creative nonconformist Thomas Edison who brought us electric lights, movies, and a thousand other inventions.
“Gift-giving is most intense between hunter-gathering groups who live in the most severe environments,” Ambrose said, pointing to research conducted across the world on hunter people. The Bushmen of the Kalahari desert give gifts over long distances and have many gift-giving partners. This allows them reciprocal access to each other’s territories in case there’s a drought or something like that that makes them run out of food. The Australian Aborigines—especially in the desert—do this. The more reliable the environment, the less likely they are to have these reciprocal, long-distance-exchange relationships.
ADHD and Creativity ADHD is associated with higher levels of creativity, according to a study published in 1991 by researchers Geraldine Shaw of Georgetown College and Geoffrey Brown of the University of East Anglia in England. They found “a stable pattern of characteristics associated with ADHD and high intelligence.”7 Because of their “distractibility,” these children often keenly notice things in their environment and think divergently.
they are able to process and use large amounts of relatively scattered bits of information which appear to overwhelm, or to be ignored, by more verbally oriented [normal] children.”
“In summary,” Caramond wrote, “there is evidence to support the hypothesis that both creatives and those classified as ADHD show greater indications of mixed laterality and anomalies in cerebral dominance, more spontaneous ideation, higher levels of sensation seeking behavior, and higher energy and activity than do normal populations.”
The book offered a new perspective for high-energy, stimulation-seeking children and their parents who were, as I was, uncomfortable with the medical-model diagnosis of a brain “disorder.”
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority. THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
The “Novelty Gene” The gene most closely associated with hyperactivity, sensation seeking, curiosity, and ADHD was thoroughly researched for the first time in the 1990s. It’s called the DRD4 gene,*2 and it apparently contributes to these behaviors by controlling the brain’s level of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical that’s responsible for the sensitivity of our thalamus and cortex to sensory stimulation. Variations of the gene mean that different people have different levels of dopamine.
People whose dopamine levels are genetically low seek out stimulation in the world. People with genetically high levels of dopamine tend to be more passive and less sensation- or novelty-seeking in their behaviors.
As the journal The Scientist noted,3 they found a variation on the dopamine receptor gene among such people and therefore concluded, “These people tend to be extroverted, impulsive, extravagant, quick-tempered, excitable, and exploratory.”
Industry, sensing profit in these findings, got on the ball, and by the next year scientists had discovered that people with a particular variation of this gene were more likely to become addicted to tobacco, presumably because they enjoyed the “novelty” or sensation that the drug nicotine produces.7 Thus the industry determined that tobacco ads should feature people being athletic, taking risks, and behaving in an extroverted fashion if it wanted those who were most easily addicted to identify with them.
7R (seven repeats) allele (al-LEELE), or variation, of the DRD4 gene with ADHD,8 and other recent research linking it with traits such as curiosity, inventiveness, and a willingness to take risks or strike out in unorthodox directions.
Change is the nursery of music, joy, life and Eternity. JOHN DONNE
But in the past thirty years in the United States, starting largely with George H. W. Bush’s “New World Order” of international “free trade” replacing historic notions of “fair trade,” and accelerated by Bill Clinton’s support for General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA), those jobs are gone. American and European factory workers no longer compete with each other in the world labor market; they now compete with fourteen-year-old girls in Indonesia, eight-year-old boys in Pakistan, and slave labor in China.
But the ability of genes to change in response to their environment provides an enormous flexibility—what geneticists call plasticity—to living organisms, and makes the functions of our immune system plausible.
While we know that the actual genetics of our immune system are capable of changing throughout our lives in response to our environment, as of this writing nobody has looked at whether the nervous system or other bodily systems are capable of such changes. If they are, it may help to explain why it’s so much harder for a forty-year old to learn how to operate computer systems than it is for a ten-year-old: Each generation shifts slightly its genetic data that allows it to adapt to the world in which it’s growing.
While the DRD4 gene is still considered the major one, others color or shade the type of ADHD a person has, pushing them more towards hyperactivity or impulsivity or scanning behaviors.
People of Asian ancestry from North American arctic regions generate more heat than their cousins of Asian ancestry from southern Asia, even though the two groups share many similarities in physical appearance and a common ancestry prior to the crossing of peoples from Asia to North America between ten thousand and thirty thousand years ago.
Although you probably had the D4 gene and were seeking novelty, you still had to learn to wait for the test pattern to go away and for Mighty Mouse to come on, and those cartoons were slow and had a plot to them. But today they are so very, very different. Today the kids don’t have to wait or learn to wait. Things were slower then, we were slower to develop, slower to feel rewarded, slower to get to the reward, so we had to learn to inhibit or control our restlessness, whereas today kids just don’t.
The first was that some groups had more people with the gene variation than others. The differences weren’t defined so much by racial groups as by culture. For example, people in Asia had a low frequency of the gene variation, while Native Americans, whom we now know descended from Asian populations ten to twenty thousand years ago, had generally higher frequencies of the gene variation.
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I told Dr. Moyzis that I’d suggested in the early 1990s that kids (and adults) with ADHD actually carried a genetic toolbox of useful behaviors for a people, but that those behaviors weren’t useful in an agricultural
society. He agreed it was possible, saying: When I saw this result, I got quite excited because I’m a molecular geneticist and it’s always been a dilemma why high-frequency genetic disorders even exist—why do 3 percent or so of kids have ADHD—you would think these things would have been eliminated from the population. So when I saw this, it fit a general idea that a lot of us are beginning to have that the reason this disorder is so common is that the genes that predispose to them are doing something good. They have been under positive selection, and so now it’s only in the context of a different environment or in combination with other genes that you have something that’s considered to be detrimental.
This, they say, would account for why the Asians who left Asia and moved to North America tens of thousands of years ago, becoming what we call Native Americans now, have a high proportion of the 7R allele variation of the DRD4 gene, while the Asians who stayed in Asia have a very low number of people carrying the gene variation.
The result is clear: The gene most closely associated with ADHD is also associated with what scientists call novelty seeking and many lay people would call a dimension of “insatiable curiosity.”
Some men acquire learning by the process of saturation, others by welding. Franklin belonged wholly to the former class and “did not remember when I could not read.” At the age of eight he first went to grammar school, and the next year to a school for writing and arithmetic, where he found that he “made no progress.”
Thus, “at ten years of age he was put to his father’s trade of soap boiling,” and that was the end of Franklin’s formal education. Over subsequent years, this public school failure would come to be known as one of the world’s greatest scientists, statesmen, and public servants. He was inducted into the highest scientific societies of Europe, was referred to during most of his later years as “Dr. Franklin,” and was one of the Founding Fathers of his nation.
Yet he never held a job for more than a few years: Interested in all that concerned the welfare of his fellow men, to the extent of making that interest his living creed, he founded in 1728 the Junto as a debating society; in 1731 he founded the Philadelphia library; in 1732 he began publication of Poor Richard’s Almanac; in 1736, observing the appalling destruction of property by fire, he organized the Union Fire Company of Philadelphia; in the same year he was chosen clerk of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and the following year he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia. Four years later, in 1741, he published a monthly magazine. In 1744 he established the American Philosophical Society; and in 1747, against all the tenants of pacifist philosophy and the entrenched forces of Quakerism, he persuaded his unprotected city and province to drill a militia and arm itself against all foes. . . . In 1752, being made a member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania . . . out of the troubles of the young state with the Indians he forsees and draws up, far ahead of other minds, a plan for the union of the colonies.
In 1757 he went to London as a [trade] agent from Philadelphia . . . [then returned] to America to reorganize the post offices of the colonies and to act on various commissions, and then again, is dispatched to London to arrange governmental changes in his state. . . . And always through these years, wherein the Occident shook, with the coming cleavage of the English-speaking nations, his ceaseless energy and vivacious mind were feeding the printing presses of England and America with pamphlets of politics and dissertations on science which changed the mental aspects of an age.4 Franklin became Pennsylvania’s delegate to the Continental Congress, one of the draftsmen of the Declaration of Independence, and a minister to France as the new nation entered the arena of international affairs.
In today’s world, a child failing school at the age of ten would be diagnosed, medicated, forced into a behavior modification program to “take charge” of his different learning style. Then, his spirit broken, he would either learn to conform and fit in or be shunted into special education.
Had Franklin simply “fit in,” King George III would have been very pleased—it’s possible the American Revolution would never have happened. And the world might not have electricity or bifocal glasses or Franklin stoves, or even a public library or postal system.
Shortly after development of the neural tube, the spine, brain stem, and earliest brain form, mirroring the brains found in reptiles. For this reason, this earliest and lowest of complex brain structures is often referred to as the reptilian brain or R-brain. It contains the components necessary for the fight-or-flight response, pursuit of food, and reproduction.
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NACCNI) notes regarding the neurological impact of child abuse, “One example of the effects of early maltreatment on brain and body functions involves the chemical cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body prepare to cope with stress through its effects on metabolism and the immune system.”
A fully developed child at this point has a deep sense of time, excellent self-restraint, and a powerful notion of self, or what in pop parlance is called self-esteem. Their ability to learn and to respond to the environment is as optimal as is genetically possible. And so the stage is set for the second phase of prefrontal development, which begins at about the age of fifteen.
The experiences of the baby at breast or the toddler are absolutely necessary to prepare the ground for the “magical child” stage of ages four through seven, but we don’t remember these experiences because it isn’t until about age three or four that the brain reaches a stage of development that provides a place for the storage of such “intellectual” memories.
Even the years from four to seven are remembered only as a magical, dream-like time, because the wiring of the prefrontals to the rest of the brain isn’t sufficiently complete to give us access to intellectual processes approximating those experienced by an adult and thus memorable in an adult context.
Our sense of practical and human “knowing” all happens after the age of seven, more or less, a point made by Rudolph Steiner (the founder of Waldorf schools) in arguing for why children shouldn’t be “force taught” until at least the age of seven so as not to stunt earlier developmental processes that are not yet ready for the rigidity of a classroom. This is why schools in Sweden don’t begin teaching children to read until they’re about seven years old and is probably one reason why Swedish children—who graduate from high school at about sixteen— consistently outperform American children who have spent many more hours and years in classrooms.
process he described using the terminology of what Pearce calls transcendence. Just as Mozart said that symphonies came to him in a brilliant flash, fully and completely formed (leading to days of hard work transcribing them from memory), Einstein also relied on his intuition rather than on rationality for his insights. He wrote, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Why have so many modern people lost access to what Einstein called the “gift” of our intuitive minds and are thus less capable of critical and deep thought? Why is our society rich in intellectual rationality but seems too often to be lacking in compassion, insight, and understanding?
These children grow up to be adults who easily accept violence and even find appeal in quick, violent answers to complex problems. This may account, in large part, for why the twentieth century was the bloodiest in history, with over one hundred million humans killed in wars worldwide.
We see this vividly in the statistics on child suicides, crimes committed by children, and the consumer culture, barren of meaning—particularly on television—that is projected at our children.
Exhaustive research presented by Schore, Pearce, and others shows that part of the reason has to do with both a lack of time-critical nurturing (a function, in part, of hospital births, bottle feeding, day care, early entrance to grade school, separation from family, long work hours for both parents, and divorce) and a cortisol-rich environment (ranging from the dangers of the ghetto, stressed parents, the constant cortisol-inducing flicker of a television in the house, and the daily ingestion of cortisol-producing stimulant drugs such as caffeine and amphetamine, to—perhaps most significant—stressful situations in school when a child’s neurologically-defined learning style doesn’t match the teacher’s and school’s teaching style).
It’s not surprising that hierarchical, power-based cultures, from warrior tribes to feudal societies to modern empires, are stressful places for most of their inhabitants. Even those individuals who rise to the top of the power and wealth structure experience regular stress because of their constant need to defend what they have.
When a society or nation goes into decline because of a loss or lack of resources, and fighting over the crumbs begins, the stresses in the culture produce more and more children whose brains defer to the survival mechanisms of the reptilian brain. These children, in turn, grow up to produce cultures that are less feeling, less intuitive, and more power-oriented—and, as is seen in both ancient and modern feudal societies, very stable and persistent. The culture feeds the neurology, and the neurology then sustains the culture.
Spock didn’t have the benefit of the knowledge we now have about the impact of stress on the developing brain. He didn’t realize that the growth of the uniquely human prefrontal lobes can be slowed or even stunted simply by angry words or regular spankings from Mom or Dad. But he intuitively knew that for children to grow to their full potential, they must, from the earliest age, have recognition of their humanity and personhood.
If you want to do a study that will probably conclude that giving schoolchildren drugs is a good idea, I can get you cash tomorrow from a dozen sources, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry or the government agencies that respond to their lobbying. But even the people who criticize our schools as a device to support their advocacy of school vouchers don’t want anybody looking into how much it might cost if we were to really provide both teachers and children with a high-quality, stress-free educational environment. Forget it.
Some of the nation’s most well-promoted ADHD researchers have stated that people with attention deficit disorders have “stunted” frontal or prefrontal lobes, implying that these stunted prefrontal lobes are the cause of ADHD and similar problems involving self-regulation and self-control. They further suggest that the reason stimulant drugs help such people to increase their self-control is because they increase blood-flow to this particular part of the brain.
Scientists now know that when a child receives predominantly punishment, criticism, and other fear- and anxiety-inducing feedback from the world around him, the development of his brain’s prefrontal lobes is stunted. Research demonstrates that such cortisol-producing negative input causes a child’s brain to emphasize development of the survival-oriented R-brain and sacrifice development of the emotional and intuitive prefrontals involved in inhibition and higher function.22
find themself in a school environment that doesn’t tolerate these differences. Unlike the adult world, in school generally what is most valued is the ability to quickly memorize and instantly repeat things that may not even seem to have any value or context.
While a number of our schools emphasize rote memorization and test-taking, the real world rarely demands these as primary skills. Anyone who’s been to a twentieth high school reunion knows that there are many surprises—late bloomers as well as people who did well in school but went nowhere in life.
One result can be that the child who functions differently is criticized or condemned for their learning style. The condemnation produces stress in the form of the disapproval of the teacher, the jeers of classmates, and the disapproval or concern of their parents, and this stress increases cortisol levels.
After a few years of this daily stress in school, the child’s brain has been sculpted into something different from what it could have been: It’s more functional for survival—fight or flight—and less functional for deep or long lasting thinking processes. They now have attention deficit disorder.
The “different” part is something they were born with and, in another time and place, could be a great asset to them. But the “developmentally inferior” part is a tragedy: It’s the result of the mismatch between their learning style and the school’s teaching style, and doesn’t have to happen.
Breaking the Loop When Edison-gene children are misunderstood and endure years of stressful negative experiences, they are at particular risk for stress-induced developmental brain damage. When allowed to continue through school under such circumstances, it’s just common sense to infer that they’re at greater risk for drug abuse, promiscuity, antisocial behavior, relationship troubles, and a whole range of failures and problems in the teenage years and adult life—the range of problems that are usually attributed to their genetic difference, but in fact are more directly the result of that difference colliding with a hostile school environment.
It’s particularly critical, then, to break the cycle of damage to these children as early and as quickly as possible, so their normal brain development can continue through their early twenties.
As for putting a stop to any wounding an Edison-gene child may experience, when you catch yourself wanting to criticize or punish them for Edison-like behaviors, reframe their actions in terms of the positive message you’re trying to instill. Thus, “Johnny, quit running around knocking over the lamps!” becomes, “Johnny, you have a lot of energy! Someday you’ll use it to change the world. But your energy shouldn’t be indoors where there are so many things to break! How about going outside to play or finding some other way to let it out if you want to be inside?”
Similarly, fatty acid deficiencies (most of the brain’s mass is fatty acids) have been tied to learning problems and hyperactivity. For example, a study done at Purdue University and published in the April/ May 1996 edition of the journal Physiology and Behavior concluded, according to a news story issued by Purdue, “that boys with low blood levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids have a greater tendency to have problems with behavior, learning, and health consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.”
surgical instruments and imprisoning “witches” for competing with them, the underground of healing women knew that a moldy potato would heal a wound faster than draining out a pint of blood. Centuries later, that mold turned out to be penicillin. These women also knew that St. John’s wort helped ease depression, and three hundred years later, studies now show it performs as well as modern antidepressants such as Zoloft.7 Ginkgo, flax, and fish were, they said, brain foods, and likewise it turns out that ginkgo enhances cerebral blood flow, while coldwater fish and flaxseeds are rich in the omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids that the brain requires to operate efficiently because fats and fatty acids comprise about 70 percent of the brain’s total mass by weight.
To those outside mainstream American medicine, the relationship between diet and brain function is an area of interest. Although “research” funded by the processed-food industry claims to refute such a relationship, most
parents and all naturopaths will tell you that a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will bring about a big change in a child who’s previously been subsisting on fast food, processed foods, and sugar containing products.
This isn’t rocket science. The moguls of the fast-food industry would never consider putting regular gasoline into their top-of-the-line cars, but somehow think that humans can run on whatever is tossed down the gullet. Unfortunately, many of the directors of our nation’s largest fast-food and junk-food corporations also sit on the boards of directors of our largest media corporations and drug companies. Thus, while stories about very profitable drugs will make the news, stories about the value of the unprofitable benefits of the “eat healthy and take a few vitamins” lifestyle rarely make the news.
The main claims made for mateine are that it doesn’t elevate blood pressure, as caffeine does, and that it doesn’t lead to a “crash” after taking it, the way caffeine does. Its effects come on more gently and last longer, and it’s more mood-elevating and less likely to create nervousness. Little solid science has been done on this (most drug research is funded by companies who seek patents, and mateine is not patentable), although many people report this experience and it has been my experience over the years that I’ve been drinking yerba maté.
In contrast to this, the “special interest group” that advocates changing the child is the single most profitable industry in America. The pharmaceutical industry made over $30 billion in profits in 2001, all the time receiving so many government “research” subsidies and tax breaks that, according to Representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont, “the pharmaceutical industry pays an effective tax rate that is half of all other major industries.” Sanders adds:
I propose that it would be a better use of our money to go into our schools and make changes or add resources to make them more child-friendly, such as better pay for teachers to attract the best to the industry, smaller classrooms, more modern instruction materials, and innovative educational programs.
Their parents may not allow them to go outside for fear of strangers, while schools have cut back on physical education classes, and those that survive involve little in the way of pure play but are instead rigidly achievement-oriented in order to satisfy the demand for objective and measurable testing criteria.
Another form of biofeedback is the family meal. In traditional European and early American cultures, mealtimes —particularly dinners—required the entire family to get together, and children had to learn to monitor external social cues to control and calibrate their behavior. Because family approval is so much more essential to a child than is the approval of a teacher (or even a peer group, at least at early ages), children learned to notice their attention.
Since the era of television and the trend, begun in the 1980s, of exporting well-paying industrial jobs to developing countries, which has led to the necessity of two incomes per household, the family meal has all but vanished in most homes. Whereas in 1960 in most of the industrialized world, a single wage-earner could raise a family with the paycheck from a forty-hour-a-week job, today more than half of all families must have two incomes to maintain the same standard of living. Additionally, half of all children in America now live in a single-parent home, and that parent is usually at work during the day. The result has been an epidemic of latchkey kids who come home to an empty house after school and find the evening meal a hurried affair that exhausted parents squeeze in between coming home from work and beginning the evening’s round of household chores. The traditions of prayer, meditation, and after-dinner family time have been all but forgotten. The result is that our children no longer have opportunities to learn how to pay attention during boring times when they’re growing up.
Jefferson, Dickens, and Plato believed that daily moderate exercise made the mind work better, and all viewed that as perhaps even a more important benefit of exercise than the improvements in physical health. Modern science seems to be backing them up.
During the entire course of the therapy, all of the people exercising steadily moved from the beginning point of “quite a bit depressed” to only “a little bit depressed” at the end of ten weeks, and to “not at all depressed” when a follow-up study of the same people was done a year later.
By contrast, the people undergoing psychotherapy, particularly time-unlimited therapy, showed some improvement in the first two weeks of therapy, but by the ninth week of therapy had registered as being more depressed than when the therapy sessions had begun, and in the one-year follow-up study, were found to be still “moderately depressed.” At virtually every stage of measurement during the entire ten weeks of the study and during the following twelve months of follow-up, the people who exercised experienced greater improvements in their emotional and mental health than did the people undergoing either form of psychotherapy.
As the BBC pointed out in a 1998 program on the importance of play and physical activity for children, “In the U.S., one in eighteen school children suffers from ADHD and half are being treated with the psycho-stimulant drug Ritalin. The number of children with the disorder has risen by a huge 600% since 1990 and the U.S. has five times more cases than the rest of the world put together.”
Schools and activities that deny children physical play time stunt their physical, emotional, and mental growth. Although our public schools are steadily moving away from time set aside for play and more and more toward time spent on rote memorization for standardized testing, homeschooling parents and many alternative schools are placing strong emphasis on children getting the physical exercise and play time they need. This may well be one of the variables in why homeschooled students score so much better on college entrance tests and perform better overall in college. Perhaps their brains are more well-developed and they’re emotionally more stable and healthy.
I was taught to ask for proof, that it was good to distrust authority. You need to have the courage to disagree. There are times in your life when you should be a radical. JAMES D. WATSON
The agricultural Ngandu mothers held or touched their children 79 percent of the time, while the comparison group of American and European parents held or touched their children 18 percent of the time. The result, according to Hewlett, was twofold. First, the Aka children fussed and cried considerably less than did the Ngandu or the European and American children. But second, and perhaps most important, when Aka children grow up into Aka adults, they view the natural world and environment in which they live along with people they meet as safe and worthy of their trust.
In Stone Age Economics, Marshall Sahliins says: Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it, the original affluent society was none other than the hunter’s—in which all the people’s material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognize that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times.
Without exception, the earliest Europeans to catch a glimpse of traditional Aboriginal camp life noted the boundless joy, exuberance, and independence of the children. No other people seem to be as lenient or indulgent toward children as the Australian Aborigines, and many anthropologists have declared it to be the most child centered society they have ever observed.
While rewarding children isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, it prevents them from the deeper and more meaningful experience of being part of a family whose members depend on each other for the family as a whole to function well. If Johnny takes out the trash because he’s a member of the family, and being a member of the family means all members help in their own ways so life is better for everybody, then his sense of connection and meaningful interaction with the family deepens. Similarly, he receives
Whenever we react to a person’s behavior—particularly a child’s—we can do it in either of two primary ways. One addresses the individual’s personhood and ties it to his behavior, and the other addresses his personhood and disconnects it from his behavior. This is a critical distinction.
People who think they are their behaviors are caught in a continuous loop: In order to define themselves or to feel okay about themselves, they must continually bounce their behaviors off other people. Most people who start with this as children also become early and vulnerable targets for the advertising industry, whose primary message is that you are your possessions (when they’re selling consumer goods, a message more often directed at men) or that you are your body (when they’re selling cosmetics, clothes, and weight-loss programs, messages more often directed at women).
“Why are you encouraging that dangerous behavior?” I said, incredulous. “Because it’s something he’s good at,” she replied, demonstrating the wisdom that has made her such a great parent and coach. “He needs successes in his life right now, and he needs recognition for them. This is the only success he has, so I’m going to make the most of it.”
Her recognition of his skateboarding success corresponded—probably not coincidentally—with an improvement in his schoolwork. So look for areas of competence in a child’s life, and then honor, praise, and nurture them. Encourage a hobby, even if it’s collecting comic books (our children took up skateboarding and horseback riding, but many parents aren’t comfortable with such risky endeavors). Remember that Thomas Edison’s mother encouraged her seven-year-old son when he insisted he preferred to play with chemicals and electricity over going to school.
Now consider television in this context: Television presents a distilled derivative of real life. We see in ways that wouldn’t be possible in real life; we look down from the sky, then zero in on a face for a close-up, then zoom across a landscape. In real life, problems often take years to solve and sometimes can’t be solved at all, but on television, all problems are neatly wrapped up in a show’s thirty or sixty minutes. Our actual experience of reality is smooth and continuous, as we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell in a regular and seamless way. On television, however, reality is chopped into camera shots that rarely hold for longer than five to seven seconds.
experience of those who have a television in their home. Television can induce people to alter their lives significantly to maintain access to it, including changing their eating and sleeping patterns, foregoing social interaction, reorganizing their living space, and assuming debt to purchase bigger and better TVs and access to more channels. Think about it: For all practical purposes, television meets the same criteria as an addictive drug such as the nicotine in tobacco. Now consider the power the tobacco industry would have if their drug, in addition to addicting people, was also able to change those people’s opinions. If by smoking a particular brand, you could turn a person from a Democrat into a Republican, from a customer of Sam’s Diner into a habituate of McDonald’s. Television can do this. Interestingly, on television you rarely see people watching television, although if you were to go door-to-door in the developed world on any given evening, the vast majority of the people you’d find would be watching their screens. The television industry presents not only a distillate of reality, but a highly skewed one at that. We don’t see people doing those things that most of us do, and we are induced to feel or believe things that don’t reflect reality. Numerous studies have shown that the more television people watch, the more likely they are to be fearful, isolated, and convinced that crime is worse than it really is.
A report published by the American Psychological Association explicitly says that “Psychological research has shown three major effects of seeing violence on television: Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others; children may be more fearful of the world around them; children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.
Encourage Adler noticed that a child most often misbehaves as a way of trying to get or accomplish something, whether it’s a candy bar or simply to be noticed. As such, he concluded, this was a last-resort behavior, meaning that the child had given up on more positive ways of getting what they wanted because they’d observed that they weren’t working. It’s so easy to ignore children until they misbehave and then react by either punishing them or giving them what they want.
we teach them to trust and respect their own instincts for appropriate behavior, give them a sense of belief in their own abilities that will serve them for a lifetime, and help them clearly understand that misbehavior truly is a last-resort behavior, worthy of turning to only when all else has failed.
Foster Security In modern American culture, we tend to think that security comes from things—a good job, a home, a car that runs, the respect of our peers, a spouse or family who loves us. But these are actually externalizations of an inner security.
Without this inner sense of security, no amount of possessions, money, or even relationships with others will make a person feel secure. (Literature and movies are filled with the almost archetypal figure of the insecure rich person, desperately trying to fill their need for security by acquiring more and more things or compulsively going through serial relationships.)
A natural consequence to a child leaving his bike out in the rain is that it rusts and no longer works. A parent might say then, “I’m sorry you made that choice. Now you don’t have a bike that works.” And leave it at that. Children raised with natural consequences grow into responsible adults well prepared for the real world of our culture.
A logical consequence is an alternative to power-based parenting in that the parent’s response to the child allows the child to experience the logical result of his own behavior. If a child persists in playing a video game when it’s time to do his homework, the video game must be put away until the homework is finished. If a child throws a fit at the store, she’s removed from the store and can’t go back until she agrees to behave.
The key to administering logical consequences is never to let punishment-based, disappointment-based, or anger based emotions enter into the picture. Raw punishment, disapproval, and anger create confusion and fear in a child and will produce an adult filled with anxiety that unpredictable and terrible things may happen at any time for no particular logical reason. Edison-gene children are particularly vulnerable to this because of their experience, throughout life, of being a square peg in the round hole of our society.
I’ve observed that adults who seem paralyzed in life, who have a hard time getting up in the morning or difficulty undertaking new projects or relationships, are those who use “moving away from pain” as their primary motivation strategy. To get themselves to do anything, they imagine the worse thing that will happen if they fail to do it and then use that painful image to scare themselves into, for instance, getting out of bed. While this works over the short term, it’s exhausting and self-defeating over the long-term.
This is critical learning, particularly for Edison-gene children, and a parent who constantly intervenes on behalf of the smaller or weaker child prevents that child from learning adaptive strategies (including negotiation, withdrawal, and creating strategic alliances) for dealing with others who have more power.
Over the years I’ve talked with many high achievers and it seems they basically fall into two categories: those who are achieving for unhealthy reasons (and, thus, can never get enough money, power, or recognition), and those who are achieving for healthy reasons (and, thus, make positive contributions in the world but also enjoy their lives). My theory is that the former are still trying to impress parents who failed to acknowledge their childhood accomplishments, whereas the latter are those whose parents delighted in their accomplishments. (Those who rarely accomplish anything are often the ones who had life handed to them on a silver platter, or were those unfortunate children who were never encouraged or given opportunities to find their own areas of unique competence.)
Within the limits of safety and rationality, when we let our children push the boundaries of the world for themselves, we also help them to discover their own abilities. They’ll naturally discover, through their own trial and error, where their boundaries of capability are, and as they grow up, they’ll find that those boundaries change as their abilities grow.
When parents are overprotective, they stifle this natural, healthy, real-world learning process. Instead, children learn to look to authority figures to tell them what they can and can’t do, and in adulthood will be more easily swayed by authority figures in our culture who may not have their best interests at heart.
Allowing children to take chances—and praising them when they succeed—while giving them the space to learn their own lessons from their failures, will produce self-confident, responsible adults.
“I’m more interested in him growing up to be a person who’s responsible for himself,” the mom said. “If he flunks out of high school, he can always take a GED and go to junior college. Even Harvard will take kids from junior colleges if they do well enough. If he’s determined to get into college, he’ll do it. In the meantime, I want him to learn that he can do things for himself. And if he has to fail as part of that learning, so be it. Henry Ford had seven bankruptcies before he succeeded; Thomas Edison had thousands of light-bulb failures. Sometimes we learn the most from our failures, and I’m not about to deprive my son of this valuable learning opportunity.” Alfred Adler couldn’t have said it better.
Negative attention-getting behavior should be a red flag to parents that they need to spend more time with their children in ways that will give their children opportunities for accomplishment, win-win fun, and praise.
According to Adler and Stein, when a parent has unresolved issues around power, they’ll often act them out by creating power contests with their children.
Mistakes, after all, are essential to the learning process and one of our most important and valuable teachers. By behaving as if our own and our children’s mistakes are opportunities for learning (rather than opportunities for punishment), we create “learning machine” Edisonlike children who are unafraid to take on new challenges in the world because they now know that if they make a mistake they’ll learn from it and move on to a new, higher plateau. In NLP there are two famous predicating assumptions: “There are no failures, only feedback,” and, “There are no mistakes, only outcomes.”
One of the greatest gifts we can give our Edison-gene children is the knowledge that mistakes aren’t bad things, but instead are learning opportunities—thinly disguised gifts.
Our schools aren’t working, and are, in fact, wounding our children, as we can see by a doubling in the child suicide rate over the past twenty years. I’ve personally spoken with the parents of at least a dozen children who have committed suicide over the past decade—and every single one, without exception, had been failing in school. While this isn’t, of course, the only cause of suicide—and the failure in school is often a symptom of deeper problems—it’s nonetheless so clearly a factor that I hold our public schools responsible for many of our child suicides.
While on the surface this may seem like a good thing, two important points should be brought to the public’s attention. The first is that in 2001 over $400 million in tests and test scoring services were sold to schools nationwide by private corporations, the largest being a corporation that does hundreds of millions of dollars of business with schools every year and whose CEO is a generous contributor to political campaigns.
By no coincidence, most recent education laws have at their core one primary directive: Schools must buy more tests from this and other test-selling corporations. The “No Child Left Behind” law mandated more than $500 million in additional test purchases, doubling the revenues of the politically active testing industry.
Across Europe, too, educators were speaking out strongly against the system itself. In Italy, Maria Montessori developed an alternative system; in Germany, Rudolf Steiner came up with his Waldorf Schools; and parochial and private schools experienced a boom that has extended to today’s full-blown homeschooling movement in both Europe and America. All of these movements began in response to the exact same problems that Edison gene children face today in some public schools.
Maria Montessori In 1901 Maria Montessori, a physician born in 1870, was given responsibility for a school and institution for developmentally delayed children in Rome. Instead of treating the children in the traditional fashion, she demanded that the staff address them with respect and encourage them to explore their own interests.
The transformation of the children in her care was so dramatic it led Dr. Montessori to develop a philosophy of education that was largely at odds with the German system that had so recently been adopted across Europe and America. In 1907 she started her first “children’s house,” which became the model of Montessori education. She wrote the first detailed description of her techniques and philosophy in 1916 in a book titled The Montessori Method. In her 1949 book The Absorbent Mind, she brilliantly summarized the core of her educational philosophy: Ours was a house for children, rather than a real school. We had prepared a place for children where a diffused culture could be assimilated, without any need for direct instruction. . . . Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five, and no one had given them any lessons. At that time it seemed miraculous that children of four and a half should be able to write, and that they should have learned without the feeling of having been taught.
Like the Montessori movement, the Waldorf School movement has spread around the world. Like the Montessori philosophy, the system Steiner developed focuses heavily on the individual child and on building a relationship between teacher and pupils. And as in the Montessori system, many children with the Edison gene thrive in Waldorf schools.
Other parents around the country are forming their own networks for homeschooling their children. One that I know of in Baltimore, for example, has several groups of five families per group that meet in the home of one of the families each day of the school week. Thus, each family who is homeschooling plays “teacher” only one day a week. This dramatically reduces the time burden of homeschooling (particularly for two-wage-earner or single parent families), while exposing the children in the group to a variety of teaching styles and interests.
The adaptive nature of the Edison gene is often not as apparent in the early school years as it is in college, where students are more free to pursue their passions and control their own schedule and can pick and choose among instructors.
It’s often only in the last two years of pursuing an undergraduate college degree at a large university that students find themselves in classes that are smaller, especially focused on their areas of interest, and taught by people involved in and passionate about their topic and who are eager to translate their excitement to others.
Be a Good Girl In our culture, boys are rewarded when they do things—build businesses or buildings, fight wars, track down criminals, make money. Boys are defined more by what they do than by anything else. In fact, men often introduce each other by job description: “This is Bill. He’s a stockbroker.” In our society a man’s status is a function of how the nouns defining what he does stack up or compare with the those of other men. Girls in our culture, on the other hand, are rewarded for who they are or are perceived to be. Adjectives describing characteristics, such as sexy, beautiful, or intelligent, are more often applied to them than are nouns defining what they do, and their status and worthiness is most often defined by how desirable those characteristics are. Culturally defined gender differences are absolutely pervasive in our world. They fill our media, particularly our advertising images in which women’s bodies are used to sell everything from cars to beer to clothing. They fill our movies and television shows. They fill our literature and fairy tales. No matter how egalitarian or enlightened we try to be as parents, it’s impossible to shield our children from these cultural stereotypes, norms, and expectations.
First, many women say that they experience a deep sense of disempowerment in modern culture. My wife, Louise, tells how when she was CEO of a multi-million-dollar advertising agency in Atlanta in the 1990s, men would often call her “honey” or “sweetie” and use an adult-talking-to-child tone to establish who was in charge of the discussion.
“I learned to ignore it,” she said, “because if I confronted it I’d be labeled a ‘bitch.’ When men take power, they’re called ‘alpha dogs’ or ‘leaders’; when women take power they’re called ‘bitches.’”
For the Edison-gene people I’ve known over the years, spirituality tends to be intensely personal and experience based, often including a wide variety of religious institutions and philosophies and even the use of entheogens. For Edison-gene teenagers and children, however, this can present difficulties. Because they’re more likely to experiment and seek their religious experiences in unconventional venues, they’re more at risk for coming under the influence of destructive cults (those organizations demanding complete compliance with doctrine, practices, and authority) or for abusing drugs. Even within conventional religions, they tend to be drawn to the intense, experience-based fundamentalist or fringe sects and denominations.
On the other hand, because of their rich connection to the present, young people with the Edison gene often report an intensity of emotion and spiritual experience that’s startling or even alien to their more sedate peers. They’re more likely to be drawn to the mystical aspects of spirituality, and, indeed, among the ranks of the world’s best-known mystics—such as St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila—there undoubtedly have been many restless hunters.
And she took my hand and we went onto a path and followed this path, and I remember particularly that she sort of chatted along and said, “You know, sometime later, when you are more accustomed to our ways, then you will also see the animals that flit around us and that we walk through, on both sides of the path.” And I hadn’t noticed anything at all, and then I realized later that when I paid attention, I could see and the jungle was full of animals that were watching us. Anyway we came to this clearing in the jungle and in the middle was this huge, enormous plant. Very smelly. What I remember most was the smell—it smelled like rotten meat, you know, to attract flies. And the whole village was sitting around, when this girl and I sat down, and when I looked around I realized that everybody else was sitting around there, too. They didn’t say anything, they were just sitting there. Not exactly like a religious experience, but like, “I have to study this.” Really paying attention to the experience, to being there. And so we stayed for nearly an hour. It was a long time. As a Westerner I was impatient. I was ready to go home or do something else. But they stayed there, and then we all wandered back and nobody said anything about it. So in the evening I asked them about it, what is this flower, and they told me that it was very rare, and that only a few people had ever seen it before, but they’d heard about it. The flower was three feet high and there was no other visible plant part of it.
“You know, when you plant one thing, it grows for the life of that one plant, that one species, and afterwards the soil is dead.” And that’s all they wanted to say about it. And at that moment I didn’t even capture how profound that was. Because rubber trees will live for about forty years, and so what he said was that we’re not willing to get rich for forty years and then have to live with dead soil.
They showed me this piece of paper with all the trees on it, and I forget the exact number but I think they’d said there were seven hundred different species of trees in that hectare, and there were only two trees of the same species. And he gave me this whole lecture. He said, “You know, it’s absolutely true, because people think of the jungle as something very rich and very fertile, but actually it’s not fertile. It’s a very thin ground, the soil is so thin. It’s not the ground, but it’s the air and the moisture in the air that makes it so lush, because what one plant takes out of the soil, another plant puts back in.” Those were his words. He said, “It’s absolutely true. If you grow one species, a hundred acres of corn, it takes out of the soil certain nutrients and you want to plant something else after that corn is harvested, you have to put lots and lots of stuff back in.” And that’s one of the reasons why monoculture doesn’t work, but we [still] haven’t learned that in the fifty years since he said that.
Tame people, to me, are people who live by man-made laws. In America, particularly, we have a government that tries to control our morals. Wild people are controlled only by the laws of nature. There are lots of things you can’t do, but you can’t do them because nature tells you so.
Yes, of course. [For example,] the children that I remember, they don’t have games exactly. Their play is real life. How to get across a river, or how to get a boat into the water. The natural thing to do is to help each other, and the unnatural thing to do is to compete with each other.
Instead of working all day to make a small segment of their society “rich,” indigenous people—which is what your ancestors and mine were for most of human history—spend their time awash in a sea of knowing. They know their world, they know their relations, they know the deep and rich spirituality that is part of all life. They talk to their world, and it answers them. They’re so finely tuned to each other and the life around them that they sense when somebody may come to visit or somebody needs help. Their lives are a natural sort of harmony.
When Access to Personal Spirituality is Lost Our Edison-gene children don’t have the luxury of growing up in a culture like that of the Sng’oi and instead are bashed and bruised by the lack of fit between their neurology and the demands of our culture—particularly in school.
author of Angel Tech, redefined these “eight interactive functions of intelligence” as: “physical, emotional, conceptual, social, sensory, psychic, mythic/ imaginative, and spiritual intelligences.”
Purpose: I create an empowering context for curious and hungry people looking for fulfillment, experiences, and creativity. We do this by developing their growth mindset, introducing self-love, and powerful group experiences. It results in people with strong boundaries, resilient mental health, and practical life skills
People leave with the ability to land their dream job, have autonomy and flexibility with their lifestyle, travel the world, and create from their heart and soul.
Davidson was once broke, insecure, low-confidence, and frustrated by doing all the wrong activities. Addicted to drugs, validation, and wallowing in self-pity. No relationship to family, and at the mercy of other people’s suggestions and opinions.
It was hell.
After spending $100k hiring different coaches, traveling the world doing workshops around the world, reading>1000 books, and through curiosity, have created the most effective system to remove people from that situation. My life’s work is to bring joy and abundance to people who as on a similar path as I was and bring back the joy and abundance of their life.
Through shared experiences and storytelling, I inspire and model behaviors that lead to a richer, more fulfilled life full of joy, experiences, passion, and ecstasy from the richness of relationships and being able to experience the depths of the human experience.