Child Prodigies and the Assault on Creativity

Flickr - Mozart - Girl flyerAndy Dilks, Staff Writer
Waking Times

When you think of a child prodigy, you usually think of an exceptional young talent which has been recognised in a person’s early life and nurtured by those around them, who encourage their latent abilities to blossom and grow. Mozart, of course, springs immediately to mind – a rare and gifted talent in music who, on account of the culture and environment in which he was weaned, was able to develop into one of the greatest composers of all time. And while it could be said that such an upbringing was overbearing and destroyed any chance of young Mozart leading a “normal” life, without it, it is highly unlikely that his incredible potential would have been fully realized.

The same can’t be said for the system in the present age. For some time now, the education system has been geared increasingly towards controlling children in an authoritarian environment (much research has been conducted into the comparison between schools and prisons), preparing them for a regimented series of arbitrary tests to make them suitable for a particular vocation – it’s hardly surprising, given that one of America’s wealthiest industrialists, John D. Rockefeller, was instrumental in the establishment of the General Education Board, which many believe was designed not to elevate the American people towards a position of creative, free-thinking individuals but compliant workers. G. Edward Griffin stated that “the goal was — and is — to create citizens who were educated enough for productive work under supervision but not enough to question authority or seek to rise above their class.” He continued, “True education was to be restricted to the sons and daughters of the elite. For the rest, it would be better to productive skilled workers with no particular aspirations other than to enjoy life.” Indeed, this is precisely the kind of stratification we see in contemporary education to this day.

  • By definition, child prodigies are not “normal” children – often, early age genius is intrinsically linked with conditions such as autism and Asperger Syndrome, and it is this intensity of interest in a particular subject or field which leads the child to excel. This higher function in one respect is often contrasted with other behavioral issues, particularly an inability to function in social circumstances. The psychiatric profession inevitably came to diagnose this as a disorder or disability, and despite a growing movement to have this removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostics and Statistical Manual, much in the same way that homosexuality was eventually removed, the identification of these personality and cognitive traits as a “problem” continues to this day.

    This over-identification of mental health issues as a problem which needs addressing, rather than something which needs understanding with a view to nurturing a person’s inherent talents and abilities, is increasingly being ascribed to children across the spectrum. For years, restless and agitated children who rebel against the boredom-inducing regimentation of the classroom are being prescribed powerful anti-psychotics previously only given to adults with extreme cases of psychosis. Not content with fabricating new disorders to justify this assault on the minds of children (a number of prominent researchers have gone on record to state that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is “not a real disease”), the American Psychiatric Association continues to expand its list of mental disorders, with each volume of the DSM significantly larger than the last.

    A far more troubling development came last year, when the APA introduced “oppositional defiance disorder” into the DSM-IV. ODD – which is characterised as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behaviour” – takes the notion of labelling childhood behaviour as a mental health problem to disturbing new extremes. With symptoms which include questioning authority the writing is on the wall – non-conformity and free thinking is taboo to the establishment. Free and critical thinking is a crucial component of any society or culture which wishes to progress, and many historical developments which have improved both our understanding of the universe around us and improved our condition have arisen from those who are willing to challenge orthodox thinking. But conformity demands compliance, and in defining non-compliance as a mental illness in children and proceeding to medicate them with psychotropic drugs, the social engineers ensure that their authority – be it intellectual, political or ideological – remains unchallenged.

    The rapid rise in mind-altering medication being prescribed to children, coupled with the effects of other toxic compounds found in food and water (a Harvard study recently confirmed what many have been saying about flouride for many years, that it reduces the IQ levels in children) can only lead to a diminishment of critical thinking, creative children in society. And the contrast between how the state react to such children compared to the individual couldn’t be much clearer than in the following two cases. Jacob Barnett was diagnosed by doctors as suffering from Asperger Syndrome who placed him on medication and into therapy – after being kicked out of school for allegedly not being able to learn, he went on to learn high school mathematics in two weeks before attending university.

    By the same token, another home-schooling family in Alabama recently opened up about their children, six of whom had began studying for their college degrees by the age of 12. Several of the siblings went on to become a doctor, a spacecraft designer and an architect. Their parents attribute their incredible success to focusing on what it was they were passionate about, much like the scenario for child prodigies throughout history. Remove a child from the education system, it seems, and their latent abilities will flourish, realizing their true potential.

    This assault on genuinely creative and original modes of thinking is inevitable, given that the ruling elites of the system are characterized by psychopathy, a personality trait which is inherently incapable of creative thought. This is ironically perhaps the most significant psychological characteristic when it comes to negative impacts on the well-being of any given society, but one which is rarely discussed and ultimately encouraged in the halls of political and corporate power. As long as a system which demands obedience to the state and conformity to its rules continues to exist, the assault on the free-thinking and creative spirit in children will continue unabated.

    About the Author

    Andrew Dilks writes on culture and politics at He is the author of Goliath and Flow. His newest book Prehistoric Highs: Mind-Altering Plants and the Birth of Civilization will be available in 2014.

    This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact. 

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