The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child

The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child

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by Thom Hartmann
     
 

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Explores how the ADHD gene is and has been critical to humanity's development

• Shows how artists, inventors, and innovators carry the gene necessary for the future survival of humanity

• Explains why children with the Edison gene are so often mislabeled in public schools as having a disorder

• 10,000 sold in hardcover since

Overview

Explores how the ADHD gene is and has been critical to humanity's development

• Shows how artists, inventors, and innovators carry the gene necessary for the future survival of humanity

• Explains why children with the Edison gene are so often mislabeled in public schools as having a disorder

• 10,000 sold in hardcover since August 2003

Thomas Edison was expelled from school for behavior that today would label him as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but his mother understood how to salvage his self-esteem and prepare him for a lifetime of success. In The Edison Gene Thom Hartmann shows that the creativity, impulsiveness, and distractibility that are characteristic of ADHD are not signs of a disorder at all, but instead are components of a highly adaptive skill set utilized by our hunting and gathering ancestors. These characteristics have been critical to the survival and development of our modern civilization and will be vital as humanity faces new challenges in the future.

Hartmann, creator of the “hunter versus farmer” theory of ADHD, examines the latest discoveries confirming the existence of an ADHD gene and the global catastrophe 40,000 years ago that triggered its development. Citing examples of significant innovators in our modern era, he argues that the children who possess the “Edison gene” have neurology that is wired to give them brilliant success as innovators, inventors, explorers, and entrepreneurs. He offers concrete strategies for helping Edison-gene children reach their full potential and shows that rather than being “problems,” such children are a vital gift to our society and the world.

Editorial Reviews

M.D. Edward Hallowell, M.D.
Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADHD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style.
— author of Driven to Distraction
Ph.D. Stephen Larsen, Ph.D.
Thom Hartmann is truly a visionary pathfinder in our sometimes confusing, labyrinthine world.
— coauthor of Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind
Publishers Weekly
In his new work, the author, a former psychotherapist who has written previously on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perspective), recommends techniques for raising children diagnosed with this condition. Although many of the specific strategies will be very useful to parents raising ADHD children, too much of the text is devoted to complex genetic and evolutionary theory. According to Hartmann, ADHD is a trait (referred to here as the Edison gene, because the inventor Thomas Edison is believed to have had the trait) rather than a disorder, because it once provided useful skills for functioning in a hunter-gatherer society. The hunter abilities contrasted sharply with the farmer trait, which carried the skills required in farming societies. For example, hunter children have a short attention span, beneficial in a dangerous world where the environment had to be constantly monitored. The innovative but impatient hunter child is usually placed in special ed classes and is looked on as a disciplinary problem; but Hartman believes that ADHD children should be thought of separately. He provides specific guidelines for parents, partly based on the work of Alfred Adler, which encourage mutual respect between parent and child. Hartmann is not an advocate of drug therapy, and he argues for educational reform and alternative schools or home schooling as better learning situations for ADHD children. Hartmann believes that creative outside-the-box thinking, characteristic of those with ADHD, is a real asset to solving many of the world's serious problems. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
John J. Ratey
"Once again, with tireless scholarship and a bit of poetry, Thom Hartmann helps take us to the edge of knowing ourselves, our brains, and our world."
Spirit of Change
"Offers concrete strategies for helping Edison-gene children to reach their full potential."
Kathy Heckler
"The Edison Gene is an impressively well-written and well-researched book."
AZ Net News
"Shows that, rather than being problems, such children are an important and vital gift to our society and the world."
Kerri Connor
"Hartmann shows the positive sides of ADHD and how as a society we have turned these same traits into negatives."
Jenny Richter
"Hartmann gives us a deeper explanation of ADHD, explaining its origins and characteristics and offering strategies to help."
The Midwest Book Review
“Thom Hartmann surveys new genetic evidence that kids with ADHD have gifts and unique abilities.”
Edward Hallowell
"Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADHD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style."
Manuel Mota-Castillo
"For those who believe that ADHD can be treated without medication, this book could be akin to another New Testament . . ."
From the Publisher
“Thom Hartmann surveys new genetic evidence that kids with ADHD have gifts and unique abilities.”

"For those who believe that ADHD can be treated without medication, this book could be akin to another New Testament . . ."

"Hartmann gives us a deeper explanation of ADHD, explaining its origins and characteristics and offering strategies to help."

"Once again, with tireless scholarship and a bit of poetry, Thom Hartmann helps take us to the edge of knowing ourselves, our brains, and our world."

"Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADHD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style."

"Thom Hartmann helps take us to the edge of knowing ourselves, our brains, and our world."

Stephen Larsen
“Thom Hartmann is truly a visionary pathfinder in our sometimes confusing, labyrinthine world.”
P.H.M Atwater
"Not only challenges majority opinion and does so effectively, but backs up each observation with real, authentic evidence."
May/June 2004 Spirit of Change
"Offers concrete strategies for helping Edison-gene children to reach their full potential."
Aug/Sept 2004 AZ Net News
"Shows that, rather than being problems, such children are an important and vital gift to our society and the world."
August 2005 The Midwest Book Review
“Thom Hartmann surveys new genetic evidence that kids with ADHD have gifts and unique abilities.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594778858
Publisher:
Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date:
01/14/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
976,614
File size:
713 KB

Read an Excerpt


From the Introduction

. . . The premise of this book is that children who have what we have come to know as ADHD are an important and vital gift to our society and culture, and, in the largest sense, can be an extraordinary gift to the world. In addition, for those adults who have been similarly diagnosed or defined, this book offers a new way of understanding themselves and their relationship to the world--a way that brings insight, empowerment, and success.

Genetics and Differences
The long history of the human race, as we’ll see in this book, has conferred on us . . . a set of predilections, temperament, and abilities 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 gave the teacher a piece of her mind, withdrew him from school, and 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. . . .

What exactly defines those bearing this genetic makeup? Edison-gene 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, and energetic.

All of these qualities lead them to be natural explorers, inventors, discoverers, and 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. . .

1993: The Hunter Gene
Dozens of studies over the years have demonstrated that ADHD is genetically transmitted to children from their parents or grandparents. From the 1970s, when this link was first indicated, until 1993, when my first book on the topic was published, conventional wisdom held that ADHD, hyperactivity, and the restive need for high stimulation were all indications of a psychiatric illness that should be treated with powerful, mind-altering, stimulant drugs.

But could it be that ADHD, this psychiatric “illness” has a positive side? . . . Here’s a chart from my first book, Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, that broadly summarized my 1993 view of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and that contrasts the hunter-gatherer skill set with the skills of the farmer:

The Hunter/Farmer View of ADHD
Traits As They Appears in the “Disorder” View:
1. Short attention span, which can become intensely focused for long periods of time
2. Poor planning, disorganization, and impulsiveness (tendency to make snap decisions)
3. Distorted sense of time; lack of awareness of how long it will take to do something
4. Impatience
5. Inability to convert words into concepts and vice versa; a learning disability may or may not be present
6. Difficulty following directions
7. Daydreaming
8. Acting without considering consequences
9. Lacking in social graces

Trait As It Appears in the “Hunter” View:
1. Constant monitoring of the environment
2. Ability to enter the chase on a moment’s notice
3. Flexibility; a readiness to quickly change strategy
4. Tirelessness; the ability to sustain drive, but only when “hot on the trail” of some goal
5. Visual/concrete thinking; clear sight of a tangible goal even if there are no words for it
6. Independence
7. Becoming bored by mundane tasks; enjoying new ideas, excitement, the “hunt,” or being “hot on the trail”
8. Willingness and ability to take risks and face danger
9. “No time for niceties when there are decisions to be made!”

“Farmer” Trait:
1. Attention is not easily distracted from the task at hand
2. Ability to sustain a steady, dependable effort
3. Purposeful organization; long-term strategy that’s adhered to
4. Awareness of time and timing; tasks are completed “in time,” on pace, and with good “staying power”
5. Patience; an awareness that good things take time; a willingness to wait
6. Playing on a team
7. Focusing on follow-through; tending to details and “taking care of business”
8. Taking care to “look before you leap”
9. Nurturing; creating and supporting community values; attuning to whether something will last

In 1996, the Journal of Genetic Psychology published an article titled “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: An Evolutionary Perspective,” in which they suggested that, “ . . . ADHD may have served an adaptive function and may have been selected by the environment for survival.”  

What People are saying about this

Kerri Connor
"Hartmann shows the positive sides of ADHD and how as a society we have turned these same traits into negatives."
John J. Ratey
 "Once again, with tireless scholarship and a bit of poetry, Thom Hartmann helps take us to the edge of knowing ourselves, our brains, and our world."
Kathy Heckler
"The Edison Gene is an impressively well-written and well-researched book.

Meet the Author

Thom Hartmann is the award-winning, bestselling author of over a dozen books, including The Edison Gene, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, and Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception. His groundbreaking work in ADD/ADHD and psychotherapy has been featured in TIME magazine, the New York Times, and in media around the world. He lives in Oregon.

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4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book, Thom logically progresses up an ¿abstraction ladder¿, from brain cells and parts, to the individual child and their genes. He then moves to our institutions and postulates that our modern schools are oppressive and are profoundly wounding our Edison Gene children by treating and labeling them as ¿disordered¿. Thom asks the reader to take a new look at methods for raising Edison Gene (ADHD) children and how the very survival of the human race may ultimately depend on these hyper-creative and novelty seeking brains. Thom believes that the millions invested by some interested parties to label these beautiful children ¿disordered have biased research. You may disagree with the conclusions, but there is enough proof provided here to convince even the most ardent skeptic that Thom¿s premise, that ADHD is a naturally selected trait and beneficial to society, deserves serious consideration. Thom illustrates in this book that the world will be losing something great if we don't learn to accept, love, and nurture our 'Edison Gene' children and their gifts.
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