On the Trail of the Orchid Child

On the Trail of the Orchid Child

This article was written by  Wray Herbert and published in Scientific American, November/December, 2011. Drawing on a number of scholarly papers, the author draws attention to Swedish metaphors: the orchid child and the dandelion child:

Orkidebarn means “orchid child,” and it stands in contrast to maskrosbarn, or “dandelion child.” As Ellis and Boyce explained in their paper, dandelion children seem to have the capacity to survive—even thrive—in whatever circumstances they encounter. They are psychologically resilient. Orchid children, in contrast, are highly sensitive to their environment, especially to the quality of parenting they receive. If neglected, orchid children promptly wither—but if they are nurtured, they not only survive but flourish.

The article argues that orchid children and dandelion children react to their environment differently. Tagging a particular gene to explain that, the author offers some interesting ideas to interpret the way in which these children live their lives.