Interview with Dr. Doreen Virtue
by Diane M. Cooper
Diane: How long have you been in the psychotherapy field?
Doreen Virtue: Since 1982.
Diane: Was there something in particular that drew your interest toward human psychology?
Doreen Virtue: Well, my mother is a spiritual healer and was a Christian Science practitioner when I was growing up and that sparked my interest in helping people. But when I was young, metaphysics wasn't as acceptable as it is now and I was a very sensitive kid. I got a lot of teasing for being raised in this ''woo-woo'' family, so I decided to do my helping under the blanket of something more mainstream.
Diane: When did you begin to notice that there was something different happening with the children in your practice?
Doreen Virtue: Approximately ten years ago. Kids would come in, and I would look into their eyes and see a very old soul looking back at me. I had been doing hypnotherapy as part of the psychology, so I started using this to do research and sometimes found this child was a reincarnation of an elder in the family who had come back. So in some cases it was explainable from a past-life standpoint as to why they were old souls.
But in other cases, this was a new soul to the family structure, and it was as if an incarnated angel had been sent. What I noticed was that these were extremely intuitive, sensitive children. And if the sensitivity wasn't dealt with in a special way at home, it was causing problems in one of two ways: either the children became complete introverts and isolates, or they would become agitated and have attention and aggression issues. The introverts were mainly the ones I was working with in the beginning, because these were eating-disordered children, which was my clinical specialty. Later, I ran a teenage drug-and-alcohol program, and those kids were more often the extroverts.
Diane: So, they were having to cope with their sensitivity by using drugs and alcohol to block it?
Doreen Virtue: Well, they were coping with sensitivity and with not having creative outlets. These new children are extremely creative, not just in an artistic sense. They have so much energy that they need to express. They need to have it release in their body. The two easiest ways I've found to channel this are through something creative like music, writing, poetry, dance, photography -- anything artistic so that the energy releases instead of being all bottled up -- and through exercise. These kids seem to respond very well to Eastern forms of exercise like T'ai Chi, T'ai Kwan Do and yoga.
Diane: So ten years ago you began seeing these kids in more abundance?
Doreen Virtue: As I studied them, I obviously became more aware of their predominance, and began talking to teachers in school systems, asking if they had noticed anything different with kids. The first thing they'd say is that there was more immigration, which was affecting the school system. I'd say, ''No, no, nothing about culture or race-just in general.'' Then they would get it, and say that these were very aware students. That's the main term they tended to use, ''very aware.''
Diane: You were still living in California at the time?
Doreen Virtue: Yes, but I've been on the speaker circuit since the late '80s so I was able to talk to people across the country during this time.
Diane: Would you say that these children started to appear all over the place, sort of like the hundredth-monkey effect?
Doreen Virtue: Well, definitely during the '70s is when we started being populated with them. We consider Indigo Children to be of ages between zero and twenty-two right now. But there are definitely adults who have Indigo symptoms, so those age ranges, like all statistics, are very general
Diane: Would you say that someone could be as old as forty and be an Indigo?
Doreen Virtue: They could be-sure, it's possible. Just as bees send a hunter bee ahead to check out an area before they all go there, I believe there were forerunners for the Indigo Children, trailblazers.
Diane: When did you become introduced to the term ''Indigo Children''?
Doreen Virtue: Well, I was first introduced to the term ''Children of the Light.'' Then, as it got closer to the millennium, we heard the ''Millennium Children.'' I first heard the term ''Indigo Children'' popularized when I started to work with Lee Carroll. Through association, he asked me to be a contributing writer for a couple of his books. I contributed to Partnering with God (I think it's book four, the green Kryon book). Then he asked me to contribute to Indigo Children. Now I've been asked to do the follow-up to Indigo Children, so I'm currently researching and writing the book The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children. That will come out in the spring of 2001.
Diane: So you heard them called Children of the Light and then Millennium Children. Was this through your own personal work or were these phrases coined somewhere else?
Doreen Virtue: Well, I was doing so much research on these children that I would read articles that referred to them. I usually blend mainstream research, the different medical and psychological models, and the esoteric. I've always blended those different backgrounds because to me they don't fight each other or conflict-they converge. So right now, the book I'm writing follows the same route.
I'm really, really focused on alternatives to Ritalin more than anything. I think my particular mission is to create an awareness that you don't have to have your child on Ritalin, and if your child is diagnosed ADD or ADHD, do not stop there-seek second and third opinions. The educational system that breeds this diagnosis is too overwhelmed right now to provide individualistic care for these disruptive children and instead, almost has a factory-like approach to labeling and drugging them. I'm not putting the system down; I understand they are taxed to the limit, not by money but taxed with time. So they really don't have the time or the staff to investigate and provide treatment for each child. And parents don't have the money to afford a personal therapist for their kid. So the poor equivalent is Ritalin.
The Children of the Light are usually the ones who are mislabeled ADD and ADHD. Instead, they are actually highly gifted and creative children. Now I don't want to put any blame on anyone. These are not the easiest kids to raise, so I'm not pointing a finger of blame at the children's parents or teachers. What we need instead of blame is a new paradigm, a new model for looking at these kids. I'm even working with an astrologer right now who is looking at separating the children who are fire and air signs, getting them out of the classrooms away from the more placid earth and water signs. So, we're coming from a lot of different angles on this. We're definitely looking at supplements such as blue-green algae, which provide a lot of help. Definitely, there is a nutritional aspect. Across the board, one thing we can all agree on, no matter what background we come from, is that these children are hypersensitive. The medical model shows they are hypersensitive physiologically; in tests, they tend to show faster and larger brain-wave reactions to stimuli.
Diane: Do you have references for that?
Doreen Virtue: Yes, I'm gathering them for my book. So these are hypersensitive children-that's the reason they act out.
In my personal interviews and dealings with them, these children are naturally street-smart and intuitive. They know when they are being lied to. They are very sensitive to it and don't put up with lies, as perhaps our generation did. We dissociated from our feelings, in my opinion, as a sociological group. These children either don't have that ability or refuse to do it. If they feel in their gut that they are being lied to, they honor that feeling, which I think is very healthy.
A lot of the acting out is because of the overwhelm they feel from the energy of being lied to and put in situations that don't make sense to them. They are also hypersensitive to chemicals, especially chemicals in food. We've seen a lot of anecdotal incidents where parents will move their children to a more organic type of diet without preservatives and food colorings and without stimulants, such as sugar and caffeine. The child calms way down. I saw this in my own children when I switched them to an organic diet. They softened, as did my husband.
Diane: Several doctors now are saying that ADD/ADHD as a disease does not exist. Is that your feeling as well?
Doreen Virtue: You could say that about any psychological diagnosis, right? Because it's describing a nonorganic situation. It's describing a set of symptoms. So you could make that argument with any psychological diagnosis.
Diane: So ADD and ADHD are psychological versus organic.
Doreen Virtue: Yes, although there are many medical researchers who say they are on the trail of looking at neurochemistry that is different in ADD. But it's a chicken-and-egg question, isn't it? I mean, which came first, the unusual synaptic responses or the behavior causing those or the diet causing those? What frightens me is the label. Just on Saturday, I was giving a workshop in Nevada, and a man came up to me and said, ''Oh, I'm ADD.'' What I don't like is when people swallow the diagnosis and then start identifying themselves as that's what they are. So if a child says, ''Oh, I'm ADD, I'm ADHD,'' instead of saying, ''Hi, I'm Robert,'' it makes it more difficult to let go of those patterns, in my opinion.
Diane: Kind of like the new support groups: ''Hi, I'm Michael, and I'm an alcoholic.''
Doreen Virtue: Yes, and it works with alcoholism because it reminds you not to drink every day. But with ADD, you don't need that reminder, unless it's a reminder not to eat hot dogs and chase them down with cherry cola. I don't like the way it has become a badge that people put on their sleeve.
Diane: Somehow, I was under the impression that there was a clinical, chemical malfunction, but there isn't, right?
Doreen Virtue: Well, there's promising research, but my point is-it's a chicken-and-egg, not a cause-and-effect, result of these studies. You can say, ''Yes, there's a different amount of dopamine in a child who is ADD,'' but is that the cause of ADD or the result? That's why I don't want to look at that research and say this is the answer. Does that make sense?
Diane: Yes, I can understand that. Because what if we could automatically transform our world into a different school system and a different parenting mode? What kind of behavior would you get from these children?
Doreen Virtue: Are you familiar with the Waldorf schools? Waldorf wrote volumes and volumes on parenting and raising children naturally. At these schools, you aren't seeing ADD or ADHD. What you are seeing instead is cooperation and adjustment. The children are treated on a holistic basis. It's all natural foods. There's a lot of creative outlets for the children. They get hugs every day and are in smaller classes. It's very nurturing. If my kids were young, that's where they'd be going.
Diane: So you have a center that you are developing in the future?
Doreen Virtue: Yes, we're developing an outpatient center in Southern California-one initially, and then we'll see if we are going to have satellite offices.
Diane: The goal for this would be what?
Doreen Virtue: It would be treatment, number one, and number two, research.
Diane: Treatment of. . .?
Doreen Virtue: Treatment of children who seem to be causing problems at home, who in our opinion are Indigo Children. So there would be family treatment: educating the parents about alternative ways to deal with problems with their children, and providing supportive counseling for the children so that they will feel better about themselves and not feel judged or that they are different. Also, we would teach them skills to cope with peers who are aggressive.
Diane: Well, what can a person do who is not able to get to your center? Obviously there seem to be thousands and thousands of these situations. I've seen some of these kids and they are absolutely wild.
Doreen Virtue: Yes, they are.
Diane: And their parents are just red-eyed, strung out and . . .
Doreen Virtue: Well, the first thing to do is not procrastinate, thinking it will just go away with time. It is so much easier to treat this when the child is young, rather than waiting until they are in their preteens or teens and you just don't have as much space or control. The first thing is that while the child is at home, parents can have a tremendous impact. Parents often downplay how much they can influence a child versus the school system or a childhood friend. The first thing I always teach the parents is that they must be honest with their children. You have to do this in a balanced way so that you are not burdening the child as if they are your confidant. But if Mom and Dad are having marital problems, they can't lie about it. You can't lie that Daddy's a practicing alcoholic. The children feel when there are problems in the house, and if they are lied to and told, ''Oh, no, no, everything's fine,'' it bombards their central nervous system.
The second thing is, you have to provide creative and exercise outlets for these children.
A third thing we're finding, based on studies done on violent criminals, is that aggressive people very often have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. So the first thing is to clean up that diet. And I don't care how much the kids whine. From parents, I'm hearing, ''Oh, my kid will hate me if I take away cheeseburgers.'' Well, you have to take away cheeseburgers, but replace them with veggie burgers or free-range, hormone-free meats.
Diane: You mentioned ''organic.''
Doreen Virtue: Organic is essential. I can't tell you the difference this makes. Again, this is empirical research; it's not based on a large study. But there's a softening that happens when you get pesticides out of your diet. We become gentler. Pesticides have the energy of death in them. And we can do things like say grace at the table. It doesn't have to be about religion, but it calms and quiets the family before dinner.
Diane: What about the parents who are going absolutely nuts? I even know of a whole family with four kids, and they are all on Ritalin. Mom and Dad as well. The kids are brilliant, but they're destructive.
Doreen Virtue: Ritalin is a Band-Aid approach to a long-term problem. So what is this family going to do, stay on Ritalin the rest of their lives? There's no medical doctor I've ever talked to who would want that as a treatment protocol. The goal is always to reduce the medication and eventually get off of it. And so there is no cure-all or panacea that I've found, but there are three main areas of change that can make a big difference. First, holistic behavioral steps, like honesty with the children, and perseverance. Secondly, creative and exercise outlets. These change the neurochemistry. We have studies that show that twenty minutes of aerobic exercise increases serotonin more than Prozac does. So exercise has a calming effect. And, finally, clean up the diet. We find that these three steps, as pat as they sound, provide enough benefit to where the child becomes manageable.
Diane: The older Indigo kids are now twenty-three years old. So we have no idea yet how these children will be as adults.
Doreen Virtue: That's just the thing. Again, this is esoteric metaphysics now. But our contention is that these are children whose missions are to be adults at this very crucial time, 2011-2013-the shift when we become a more telepathic society and less dependent on verbal communication. Our contention, and this is also backed by scientific studies from Cornell and Princeton and Stanford that are going into my new book, is that the human mind is naturally telepathic. And these new children are more in tune with their telepathy. They are extremely intuitive.
When we become a more telepathic society, then we will not be able to lie to one another, right? And when that happens, this is literally the beginning of the new age of peace. The institutions that are built on lies or have lies in their foundations will necessarily fall or have to be quickly reshuffled as we learn from the Indigo Children to be less tolerant of dishonesty and to stop lying to ourselves and to each other.
It's going to create a tremendous shift in our society. Government, legal, educational, media and medical institutions all will be forced to have integrity. That's the mission of these children-to usher in the new age of integrity. My spiritual advisers have told me that this was actually supposed to be our generation's mission, and we slacked. We became scared and apathetic. A lot of us started that way and tried to clean up Washington, D.C. We had the intention, but it seemed overwhelming and we gave up. Well, these children won't give up. That's part of the aggressiveness you've seen in them; they have this ''rebel without a cause'' energy, a James Dean type of edge. This is a very positive trait of theirs, but we're seeing that when it's not supported or understood it becomes violent
Diane: But how does this pattern of violence happen? Is there a psychological pattern that you could explain?
Doreen Virtue: Well this, in my opinion, is a positive characteristic that these children have, this sense of indignation at something that needs to be fixed. They have more energy, a little like the flower children in the '60s who really, in my opinion, were effective at stopping the Vietnam War. They have that kind of fire burning in them, to eradicate dishonesty and lack of integrity. But that characteristic is kind of bastardized and goes in the wrong direction. That's when you see cases like Columbine occurring, children aggressing each other-a positive characteristic gone very wrong.
Diane: And we're seeing this a lot.
Doreen Virtue: This is esoteric, again, but I absolutely think that music played a part in Columbine, that Marilyn Manson's music is that dark. These are sensitive children, and diet is not only what we eat but what we hear and what's around us. I absolutely do think that violent computer games and very dark music can deeply affect these children.
Diane: So they come in sensitive but maybe without high consciousness?
Doreen Virtue: They do have high consciousness, but they are so sensitive that they become vulnerable to media or other influences that don't have that. I'm sure you've seen these computer games. They're very antisocial and absolutely heartless, with killing for the sake of numbers and points. How can we say that doesn't affect our children?
And none of us want to be prudes. You know, we want to be ''cool'' parents, accepting. A lot of it comes back to two parents working. They don't have the time to monitor their children's viewing habits and who they are hanging out with -- but they must. They absolutely must be involved. I mean, I'm as busy as anyone, yet I have daily interactions with my sons. I know who their friends are, even though they are grown now. I've simply made it a point to be very, very involved in their lives. So I know from personal experience that where there is a will, there is a way. A parent can do this. I was able to do this with my kids, to switch their diet, to teach them spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, and to be very aware of what they are doing and talk to them about it.
Diane: So what about the parent who is hearing about this for the first time-the one who has a rowdy kid she thought was probably ADD but hadn't gotten to the point of diagnosis yet? What would you say she should do now?
Doreen Virtue: Well, that parent will be surprised when he or she opens the topic of spirituality with the child. Usually you find these children are natural philosophers, that they have deep thoughts about the meaning of life, about one's purpose in life, about the universe in general and where God is. I mean, these children are deep thinkers, but they will not initiate that kind of conversation very often, especially in a materially focused household where that is just not talked about. So I think heart-to-heart discussions are the only way to go.
The parent should not approach it like he is going to be the child's spiritual teacher. It needs to be more like having a conscious conversation with a friend and just sharing: ''Here's what I think; what do you think?'' In my opinion, when parents do that, they learn a great deal from their children. Many of these children, especially the younger ones, nine and under, come to my workshops, and I spend a lot of time with them. These are clairvoyant children. They'll come to the workshop and their parents will say, ''Oh, yes, my child says she sees angels. What should I do?'' I mean, I get this question every weekend now. ''What should I do, my kid sees angels?'' What do you mean what should you do? You now have a psychic-development teacher living with you. Isn't that wonderful? Occasionally, probably every other weekend, I get a parent coming to me who says, ''My child sees gargoyles or other dark spirits, and she is scared and frightened. What should I do?'' Again, we talk about how important it is to not get emotional about this, but just have open dialogues and discussions. These kids feel different and apart from their families, I find.
Diane: Are you working in therapy with the kids now also?
Doreen Virtue: Because I'm constantly on the lecture circuit, I'm not able to have a private practice. I have a spiritual-counseling practice, but it's not a psychological practice. The APA would not approve of what I do, so it's spiritual counseling. And my private practice right now is limited to parents who have lost children-those who have crossed over. Thus my dealings with living children are now limited to my workshops, which do occur every weekend. So I am doing a lot of work in this field, but not as a private psychologist anymore.
Diane: What's the main message expressed by the children?
Doreen Virtue: Well, when they come to my workshops and are validated that they really are old souls, that they really are gifted and not troubled . . . I mean, who wouldn't have their self-esteem boosted when things are reframed in a positive light, right? So they are happier when they hear that. When I spend a portion of each workshop on this topic, I find that the fear is reduced. Many parents feel frightened that their kids will become violent-you know, will murder someone or even themselves. So I think when they find out that there are spiritual ways to deal with ADD and ADHD and there are alternatives to Ritalin, then they don't feel quite so afraid. And they get to meet other parents in my workshops who are going through the same thing. I'd love to see support groups for parents of ADD and ADHD children.
Diane: Well, at least on the Internet, there are definitely lists of groups of parents who are getting together to talk about ADD and support each other.
Doreen Virtue: We are in our infancy with this whole epidemic. A lot of the medical doctors cling stubbornly to the use of Ritalin. I listen to them and it's like they're defending Ritalin. I'm doing exactly what you're doing right now. I'm in the middle of researching the new book, so I'm haven't reached a conclusion yet. I'm still interviewing experts like you are, doing case studies with parents and children and coming up with, at best, anecdotal information. There doesn't seem to be a panacea yet. One of the reasons we're opening up the center is so that we can do controlled research and see if we can come up with some statistics to document this.
Diane: What would be a protocol that you are going to have at the center?
Doreen Virtue: Definitely family therapy. Right now it consists of only therapy for the children. Children are given treatment and sent back home, often into very dysfunctional families. And that never works. So the treatment protocol is similar to what I used with children who were involved with drugs and alcohol: family education, where the family commits to making some lifestyle changes, such as providing creative and exercise outlets for the child. It's essential. Get them in the T'ai Chi classes-sign them up. Pay for a year in advance. You know, behavioristic guidelines. Children like guidelines; they like limitations. They really do. It makes them feel safe and protected. In my opinion, many parents are too permissive these days because they are too busy and they want to be their child's friend.
Diane: So you don't yet know what spiritual gifts may show up in these children with the proper environment?
Doreen Virtue: Well, my information comes from my meditations on this. What we're looking at for the future is two things: becoming honest and in integrity as a society. And I think many people are being guided to do this right now in their own personal lives as a precursor to where we're going. When someone no longer can stand working at a meaningless job, when they can no longer put up with a marriage that is painful, these are inner nudgings, similar to what an Indigo child has, that say, ''I will not dishonor myself. I will live in integrity.'' In the old society, we would just put up with stuff.
Diane: You could put up with stuff. It was possible. Now, it's not
Doreen Virtue: Or people would drink over it or smoke a lot of pot. These are just not options available to us anymore. The Indigo Children never knew these options-to lie to themselves, disassociate from their feelings. In my opinion, the danger of Ritalin is that we are putting them in chemical straitjackets that are robbing the world of the gifts these saviors came to give us, as role models of living in integrity. They are warriors of the light.
Diane: If you are looking at consciousness and the balancing between the polarities, when you look at the thousands of kids who are on Ritalin, would you see this as a process of balancing or is this trend following the rest of the world in consciousness?
Doreen Virtue: More and more of the population is again becoming interested in spirituality right now. That's traditional and mainstream spirituality as well as alternative. Violent crime is down. In my opinion, the world is becoming more peaceful. These new children are the next logical step, the next wave. When I talk about Indigo Children to audiences, the children get it and are so relieved. My oldest child considers himself an Indigo child. It's like getting a positive diagnosis. It helps them understand their own selves. So I think this information you're writing about is not only useful for parents, but maybe for the children to understand themselves.
Diane: So as a last comment, how would you wrap up everything we've discussed to give your final message?
Doreen Virtue: To me, the Indigo Children are about hope for our future. They truly are angels. They had contracts to come here to provide a service. And the parents who agreed to be their parents also had contracts. They should feel honored and flattered that these children are in their lives.
I don't think these parents would have been given Indigo Children if they did not have the resources to handle them. It's a big assignment to have an Indigo child, but it's also a sacred one. It's literally raising an angel here to help the Earth, one who feels like the opposite of an angel. But all that beautiful, explosive energy-if we as parents can channel this in the way that is meant to be, to inspire, to help, to lead, we will be very proud of ourselves, indeed, when our children are grown.