Hope for the Fragile Orchid

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27 November 2009

Interesting article in the Atlantic Monthly, about orchid children vs dandelion children — to add to debates about nature vs nurture, and, possibly, “the psyche of the artist.”  Reminds me of something my friend Manuel and I agree about: “Writers seem to be missing a layer of skin.”

Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.

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