Anti-ScienceParenting

Where the Hell Did Indigo?

Before you all castigate me for using bad puns, I know that’s a silly title for a post, and according to The Simpsons, puns are just lazy writing. But remember, from silly you’re likely to get more silly, and the initial silly in this case is the concept of Indigo Children.

Now, Skepchick has covered the topic of Indigo Children before, but this is a topic that just keeps on giving. So I’m resurrecting the subject for yet another go round.

Just a little background to refresh your memory:

The Skeptic’s Dictionary says the term Indigo Child comes from psychic and synesthete Nancy Ann Tappe, who classified people’s personalities according to the hue of their auras.

Says Tappe,

. . . [E]ach universal age is accompanied by a preponderance of people with that life color. For instance now most adults are either Blue or Violet, the two colors with the attributes most needed in this the Violet Age of transition. During the next age, the Indigo Age, Indigo colors will be the norm (Understanding Your Life Through Color 1982).

. . . The Indigo label describes the energy pattern of human behavior which exists in over 95% of the children born in the last 10 years . . . This phenomena is happening globally and eventually the Indigos will replace all other colors. As small children, Indigo’s are easy to recognize by their unusually large, clear eyes. Extremely bright, precocious children with an amazing memory and a strong desire to live instinctively, these children of the next millennium are sensitive, gifted souls with an evolved consciousness who have come here to help change the vibrations of our lives and create one land, one globe and one species. They are our bridge to the future.

Now, I don’t have any children, but if I did, I’m sure I’d not only love them unconditionally, but I’d profess their brilliance to the world from every mountaintop. Hey, it’s what parents do.

See, we’ve evolved to have a strong emotional attachment to our children to ensure we don’t run away from them immediately after they are born. Nature has seen to it that we stick around to raise the little ones until they themselves can have children, thus propagating the species.

Their cuteness is essentially a survival mechanism that not only keeps us around, but draws a deep-rooted admiration from us that we know as parental love. Their little quirks — the way they learn, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they discover the world around them, the way they interact with other children — bolster that love, and in effect, cause us to see them as special, which further ensures that we protect them.

And that’s perfectly fine. Even though we know not every child is extremely special. In fact, most aren’t special at all. But a little parental delusion is easily palatable, especially if the survival of the human race depends on it.

But by all accounts, there are a lot of people who believe their children are these so-called Indigo children, as the many websites dedicated to the “phenomenon” would indicate. And according to these folks, their children are of a higher spiritual mind than most of the kids born some years before them. Oh, and they’re of a much higher spiritual mind than us lowly adults.

Now, I can’t speak for all you other “Blues” and “Violets” out there, but to me this whole idea simply sounds like a group of mothers who have taken the delusions about their children just a few steps too far. In their minds, their children are not only smarter and more beautiful than any other kid ever born, but “they are our bridge to the future”. They are the next phase in human evolution. They have achieved some form of divinity!

This notion does nothing if not imply that “Blues” and “Violets”, like you and me, are last year’s model. We’re not on the showroom floor anymore folks. We’re out on the back lot somewhere covered with rust and bird shit. The Indigos are the top draw now. Look, see how they shine. She how wonderful they are.

The sad truth is, this is more than just a simple case of parents exhibiting pride. It goes beyond bragging that little Johnny scribbled a novel on the pages of his coloring book and he’s only three years old. It runs deeper than entering little Suzy in the Tiny Miss Broward County Beauty Pageant because her dimples once brought a puppy back to life. According to proponents, Indigo Children are our spiritual betters. They are gifted souls. They are gods.

These deluded people would have us believe that when we walk down the aisle on an airplane and see an ankle-biter sitting in the seat next to ours, the tyke who’s going to keep us awake the entire flight and get sticky kid goo all over our clothes and in our hair has an evolved consciousness. In their minds, we are hardly worthy of breathing the same air as their children.

It’s pride run amok.

And if you’re wondering about the Indigo status of your own child, apparently there are ways to discern where your progeny falls on the color scale. Tappe indicates that parents can tell if their children are the next wave. She says if the children have “unusually large, clear eyes”, and if they are “bright, precocious children with an amazing memory and a strong desire to live instinctively”, they are Indigo Children.

Well, you can’t argue with that. I mean, the only kids I’ve ever seen that have big eyes and are fun-loving and impulsive are . . . umm . . . well, every kid I’ve ever met in my entire life.

But don’t be discouraged. That’s just my assessment, and I am admittedly just a Blue or Violet, according to aura-ology.

Unfortunately, there’s a new development where Indigos are concerned. We now have the first few waves of Indigos reaching adulthood. And so the question becomes, what happens to these kids when they get to be adults? After years of being told they are special, are they destined to fall on their faces?

Well, apparently not; at least not as long the crazy train keeps rolling.

There are those who continue to believe they are somehow special, and apparently there are enough older believers to perpetuate the delusions. The good news is, for those of us with our heads on relatively straight, this is not much of a problem. Folks swimming in this particular sea of delusion usually have no affect on us, so we don’t really care.

However, there are those out there that are now taking advantage of the foundations of crazy laid down by Tappe and the other Indigo originators all those years ago.

Check out Gary Mannion’s website. Mannion is a 19 year-old young man who claims to be a psychic surgeon, a clairvoyant medium, a hypnotherapist, and an Indigo Child specialist. According to a first person article from High Spirit Magazine posted on his About page, he says he is all these wonderful things today, because:

. . . . from a young age, [I] was seeing and conversing with entities that were not physically there . . . I was classed with A.D.H.D, put on Ritalin, and regularly sent to see a childhood psychologist. . . .[M]y parents saw a programme on the side effects of this drug and took me off it straight away. This left me able to understand the way my mind worked. . . This is what has given me all my firsthand experience on working with fellow Indigo Children . . .

So here’s a guy who didn’t discover his Indigo-ness until he got off Ritalin. He wasn’t just a little shit who couldn’t behave. He was special, too. By god, he’s an Indigo. And now just look at all the things he can do!

Hardly impressive or worth our time, right?

Well, probably not, until you consider that this guy has co-opted a set of bullshit ideas and now claims that path has led him to other wonderful abilities, like performing psychic surgery!

Am I the only one who smells a scam here? Am I the only one who can see how this can be dangerous?

Now, again I know I’m just a Blue and/or Violet, but it seems to me that it’s a bad idea to teach kids to think they are something special when they are not, irrespective of the New Age nonsense used to spruce it up. Far too often, the child treated as special grows up and, like the rest of us, discovers that he or she is indeed not very special. And dealing with that reality becomes a problem. A sense of entitlement is a difficult thing to rid oneself of, and the expectations that certain things will be automatically granted are rarely, if ever, met.

And of course there’s the possibility that, like Gary Mannion, some enterprising kid will get wind of this Indigo claptrap and use it to scam a lot of New Age believers out of some hard earned dough. Which isn’t too daunting a prospect, until some poor sucker decides to forego medical procedures so old Gary can cure his or her cancer with sleight of hand and chicken blood.

We at Skepchick understand that there are many of them, but I purposely didn’t remark on any of the parents who believe that their autistic child (or other handicapped child) is an Indigo Child because that’s a whole other level of denial.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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29 Comments

  1. The therapist that I went to as a teen classified me as an "Indigo Child." Luckily she didn't explain the parts about my highly evolved consciousness and aura color, which would have turned me off right away. Instead she claimed that I was more intuitive and sensitive to those around me (i.e. I could feel other's pain), and that was why I had difficulty associating with my high school peers. Indigos were supposed to be intelligent and artistic as well as intuitive, things which I valued in myself already. I felt like I fit really well into the Indigo crowd, and was anxious to find other Indigos who would understand me, someone I could finally be true friends with. I didn't see myself as better than others, just different, and extremely lonely. I guess I never really gave much credence to the entire idea, because I forgot about it pretty quickly, until I became part of the skeptical community and started running into the term again and I realized just how crazy the idea actually is.

  2. If Tappe's book was published in 1982, and she says that 95% of the children born in "the last 10 years" (ie, since 1972) are Indigos…then your problem is that you're just unfamiliar with non-indigo children. The reason they appear "average" to you is that, like in Lake Wobegon, everyone is above average (at least everyone under the age of 36).

  3. I'd wonder why, if 95% of recent children were supposed to be extremely bright with an amazing memory, we wouldn't have heard about it from schoolteachers.

    "Almost all the kinds I teach are brilliant" isn't something I recall hearing from schoolteachers, and thinking of the university lecturers I know, I doubt I'd hear them saying anything like that.

    Would doing psychic surgery not count as practising medicine without a licence, at least in vaguely civilised countries?

  4. Remember, It's all about the CRYSTAL children now. If indigo is the brand new ride, the Chrystal child is the pimped version with 50" chrome rims.

    Who also claimed her son was a crystal child (and she was an indigo?)

    Who removed all websites claiming this before her autism => vaccine book mommy instinct book came out?

    ooooh go on, guess!

  5. Questions:

    Am I alone in thinking that it would be more interesting if these kids were all indigo colored? A bunch of not quite blue, not quite purple kids running around would add an intriguing wrinkle to issues of ethnicity and race.

    If Ms. Tappe was a synesthete, she might very well have been perceiving some other sensory input as a visible "aura" when she looked at young children. So if she wasn't just trying to cash in on the tendency of parents to glorify their children, what other sensory input could she have been getting from these kids that she would have perceived in the visual as indigo? High-pitched voices? Sticky fingers? Laden diapers? What if the indigo aura was really the smell of poopy diapers?

  6. orDover said,

    January 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    The therapist that I went to as a teen classified me as an “Indigo Child.” Luckily she didn’t explain the parts about my highly evolved consciousness and aura color, which would have turned me off right away. Instead she claimed that I was more intuitive and sensitive to those around me (i.e. I could feel other’s pain), and that was why I had difficulty associating with my high school peers. Indigos were supposed to be intelligent and artistic as well as intuitive, things which I valued in myself already.

    Indigo? Poppycock. Actually, orDover, that description just sounds like a perfectly normal Aquarius to me (or possibly Pisces on the cusp).[/sarcasm]

    ~Wordplayer

  7. Rav – Your literally crystal children would make ideal football players, provided they were sufficiently mobile and had some mechanism which allowed them to grow to average adult size.

    COACH: Just give the ball to Quartzy and get out of his way.

    QUARTERBACK: Coach, Quartzy was just kidnapped by a bunch of weirdos in hemp bathrobes! They said his vibrations would cure cancer!

    COACH: There goes the state championship.

  8. Sorry for the delay in posting a further comment, but I had to get a quick workout in. Pardon my sweat.

    Yes, the Indigo stuff is old news. It's been criticized thoroughly and pretty much fell by the skeptical wayside. But if guys like Mannion are any indication, it may be a new basis to promote additonal irrational beliefs and/or to take advantage of those that feel they need magic in their lives.

    For example, traditionally, some psychics (not sure of the big names, but some) often claimed they got their "powers" from things like being struck by lightning or from being kicked in the head by a mule.

    Now, however, if someone in the proper age range were so inclined, he or she could instead claim their Indigo status as the initial cause or reason for their supposed abilities. And unlike lightning strikes and mule kicks, there is a nearly 30-year foundation — however stupid it may be — upon which to base those claims.

    Or, as is the case with Mannion, these folks can pepetuate psychic surgery and hypnotherapy scams and bilk people out of hard earned money, all in the name of Indigo mojo.

    It just never occurred to me that the Indigo crap could open the door for other scams.

  9. Struck by lightning or kicked in the head by a mule- ah, sounds like the good old "defining experience" needed to become a shaman in some cultures. Learned about that in high school anthropology and from then on, any injury was declared a "defining experience."

  10. "Indigo? Poppycock. Actually, orDover, that description just sounds like a perfectly normal Aquarius to me (or possibly Pisces on the cusp).[/sarcasm]

    ~Wordplayer"

    You're exactly right though! All of the Indigo stuff is vague enough to be applicable to hoards of children, especially considering the fact that all parents think their children are brilliant, intelligent, sensitive, special little beings.

    I'm a Libra, by the way. ;)

  11. Thanks for bringing this up again – it may be vaguely old news in the USA but it’s just started to gain popularity in the UK. Jon Ronson recently wrote an interesting article about it, I’ll see if I can find a link.

    Anyhoo, it’s spreading here along with creationism in schools, so it’s good to have current articles to link creduloids to.

    What really irks me is the blatant ego-pandering involved. I mean, if I had kids, I like to think I’d be a bit proud of them but also nicely strict and sort of cynical. Hey, I’m like that with my husband. And I certainly think I’d see through anyone’s attempt to butter me and my child up with this crap. But then again, I expect all parents think that.

    I know it’s a cliche, but “I blame the parents” is the truest thing I know. There is a child in my family who is nothing less than a spoilt little brat. She’s currently in therapy three times a week. She’s seven. Her parents hate each other and neither acknowledges that her behavioural problems might just be the result of giving her everything she wants whilst simultaneously yelling at each other. I’m just waiting for her mother to fall into the hands of the Indigo lot, it’s practically inevitable. If she does, I’ll send her your article. I’ll have to delete this comment first though :D

  12. Scientific communities in China, the US and other countries are now identifying small groups of infants and children that display rare abilities such as purging HIV,…

    Based on the deafening silence in the Real World, they'll be the shy kind of 'scientific communities' who are too averse to publishing anything, I guess?

    “junk” DNA is a collective label for the portions of the DNA sequence of a chromosome or a genome for which no function has yet been identified.

    Not quite. Junk DNA is the label for DNA thought not to code for proteins. There's a huge amount of non-junk DNA for which we're fairly confident there is a function, but for which the function has not yet been identified.

  13. Tkingdoll: Yes it’s egotism and all that, HOWEVER a hefty portion of indigo children are those which us normals would call “handicapped”, “ADHD”, “Autistic” and all other labels of our limited mind who just can’t see the superiority in them. Yes it’s narcissism by proxy but there’s also a huge chunk of “my kid isn’t developmentally disabled / delayed, he just speshul” denial going on, which is pretty sad considering the child won’t get adequate assistance and a detrimental “upbringing”. (Indigo children aren’t to be debated, you should give in to their whims and not chastise them).

    Of course the answer to my question was: Jenny McCarthy.

  14. tkingdoll – I agree with you about 1,000% on the “If I had kids, I’d like to think” line of reasoning. I swear that a good chunk of my desire to have children at all is to show people how it is done properly and stop getting the “oh, well, when you have your own little darlings you will think differently”. Because honestly is having kids going to make me suddenly an idiot?

  15. Scientific communities in China, the US and other countries are now identifying small groups of infants and children that display rare abilities such as purging HIV, advanced genius and psychic/telekinetic abilities and other extra-ordinary attributes. These are the identified Indigo Children. Indigos can display some or all of these qualities and others not yet identified. In Indigo Children, fragments of DNA science identifies as ‘junk DNA’ and other portions of the DNA chain that science has yet to identify.

    “junk” DNA is a collective label for the portions of the DNA sequence of a chromosome or a genome for which no function has yet been identified.

  16. It does seem that one positive development in all this is that Jenny McCarthy's web site "www.indigomoms.com" is down, and "will not be returning".

    I did a bit of reading of its content using the Wayback machine and it seems that it was written prior to her son's diagnosis of autism. She had great hopes off forming groups for parents of "crystal children" to share their experiences and cultivate all of the special qualities of their children. It is so sad for anyone who has to deal with the prospect of raising a child with a disability like autism, but it must be especially sad when one had such great hopes of raising a genius visionary. Autism can be misleading like that, it is typically characterized by an early brain overgrowth which can lead parents to believe that their child is exceptionally gifted at a young age.

    I wish her the best of luck with the difficult road ahead, but I more importantly hope that she gets off the anti-vaccine bandwagon.

  17. If 95% of the world’s population under 36 is an indigo, doesn’t that mean that there’s precious few “blues” and “purples” left out there?

    I mean, according to them, 1 in 20 of everyone under 36 is NOT indigo.
    Iit’s the one’s who AREN’T indigo that are the special ones.

    And that’s considering the fact that that pulled-out-of-the-ass statistic of 95% between 1972 and 1982 hasn’t increased to nearly 100%, and that it was almost 0% before 1972.
    If you’re working with a curve, I think it would be safe to say that pretty much 2/3 of todays people are “indigo children”.

  18. Yes it’s egotism and all that, HOWEVER a hefty portion of indigo children are those which us normals would call “handicapped”, “ADHD”, “Autistic” and all other labels of our limited mind who just can’t see the superiority in them.

    Yes, I purposely didn’t focus too much on those cases, though I have run across many where the child is “handicapped” and the parents wish Indigo magic for them. I just think it’s a whole other level of dnial.

    Jenny McArthy, who has been mentioned here before, had her Indigo Mom’s website, and I made fun of her a long time ago for a post about Indigos in another blog, because she’s a “celebrity”, and it’s easy because celebrities do so many dumb things. But otherwise, to me that dynamic is just really sad.

  19. What the hell is, "a strong desire to live instinctively?" Is it an instinctively strong desire to live? As in, the parents don't have to continually monitor junior's reckless tendency to cross the street without looking both ways? Or is a strong desire to live by one's instincts, as opposed to instruction and reason? I bet it'd be a bitch to potty train junior if that were the case.

  20. Well skidoo, it doesn't mean anything, that's the whole point. I think it just means the kids act however they damn well please, and the parents get to throw their hands in the air and say "oh well, nothing we can't do about it, junior is just being who he has to be", rather than doing some actually parenting and setting rules and limits, and punishing unacceptable behavior.

  21. exarch wrote:

    Well skidoo, it doesn’t mean anything, that’s the whole point. I think it just means the kids act however they damn well please…

    Erm, OK. I was just highlighting the silly ambiguity of Tappe's statement.

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