Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hunters Among Us

Tonight my husband and I went out for the first time in months and months. We went to a local pub and ate samosas and drank ale and it was fine. During that lovely time we started discussing the various articles and topics of the day and one of the major ones that came up regarded ADD. I had recently read an article that compared the mind of an ADD child with that of the ancient hunter mind. The author felt that the symptoms and conditions that a child, or adult, with ADD exhibits directly mimic what we know about hunter brains. Obviously, we can't study the ancient hunter brain now since those folks are all dead but there are still people living in the remotest corners of the earth who have been relatively untouched and not influenced by the creep of modern civilization. The Yonomamo in the Amazonian rain forest, for example, were not even discovered by Westerners until the twentieth century and until the 1960s had retained the same culture for thousands of years. Once contact was made, anthropologists were able to study them in depth and over a long period time; taking note of their culture, their habits, their lives. A documentary called Magical Death was produced in 1973 to present these paleolithic people to the world. Of course, once contact was made the Yonomamo were forever changed.
Still, their very existence allowed us to begin to understand not only who we are but also, perhaps, who we've been. Who we were. What we've lost and gained, for no change, no matter how positive and uplifting comes without grief and loss.
Make no mistake, we and the Yonomamo have the same brains. We have not physically evolved beyond that ancient hunter-gatherer brain and body. Being the highly adaptable life forms that we are, we have been able to adjust and adapt to our ever changing cultural landscape. Well, most of us have. Except, maybe people with ADD. The implication that folks with that diagnosis are not somehow disabled, not less than those of us without it is pretty huge. It means that, rather than drugging the shit out of every little boy who can't sit still during Fun With Dick and Jane in school but needs to be moving his body, outside, we have to take responsibility for what is appearing to be the fact that not everyone can be closed up in the box called school. Every day. All day long. That not everyone is designed for that task. That there are hunters among us still who long to move their strong, lithe bodies and use their smart, focused brains to chase and hunt and protect. How shall we accommodate those hunters? How shall we acknowledge and accept their differences? That is the question that we must pose to ourselves, our schools and our medical professionals. Perhaps these children need to be freed from the cages that hold them and given opportunities to use their ancient brains in the way they were meant to be used. But what those opportunities are I don't really know. Let's ask the hunters.

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