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The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child
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The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Thomas Edison was expelled from school for behavior that today would label him as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but his mother understood how to salvage his self-esteem and prepare him for a lifetime of success. In The Edison Gene Thom Hartmann shows that the creativity, impulsiveness, and distractibility that are characteristic of ADHD are not ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published January 14th 2005 by Park Street Press (first published 2003)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  267 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Changing my perspective on people with ADHD. Perhaps we have it all wrong. This was a complete paradigm shift for me and will forever change the way I view ADHD students in my classroom. I love the perspective "it's not that they aren't paying attention to you, it's just that they're paying attention to everything else as well." Great book for teachers and anyone with a family member diagnosed with ADHD.
Dina Benedetto
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Where do I start? This book should be required reading by all college students going into the teaching profession.
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best book I've read on ADHD yet! This book had chapters of fascinating stories about the difference between "Hunter" people and "farming" people. It's a trip back in time by tens of thousands of years. He spent a lot of time explaining the weather patterns on the earth as well, in that they are sudden changes of 3-12 yrs lasting for the next 750-1500 yrs, not long gradual cycles. (He is predicting a new ice age as a result of global warming)

Its premise is that the gene that
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm only 50 pages in (started yesterday) but am already amazed by this book. It gives refreshing perspective on ADHD, not as a disorder or disability but as an incredible gift, one that is very misunderstood. On a personal level, I've always considered my child's ADHD as an amazing gift. In this book, he compares the functioning of a brain with adhd to that of the hunter, always scanning his environment, active in thought. I wish I had a "hunter" brain. Alas, I am a "farmer" through and through. ...more
Reading the DSM-IV about ADHD sounded to me more like the behavior over a typical boy than a mental illness. Thom theorizes a gene came about which allowed our ancestors to survive an intense period of ice ages. This gene, when triggered, exhibits behaviors teachers find abhorrent in the Prussian style education system of the Unites States better geared to producing soldiers and factory workers than scientists and creators.
Peyton Stafford
Aug 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Insightful, historically-based view of the advantages of having a mind that won't stay still but rather moves rapidly, and powerfully, from task to task. I love the way Thom Hartmann can see the positive side, the opportunity, hidden in a way of being that is anathema to educators.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
The premise of this book is that people who are diagnosed today with ADHD probably have a similar genetic expression to hunters from back in the day. I like the hypothesis, and I think it's well explained. I also enjoyed the parts of the book that discussed practical parenting, schooling, and relating to people with more stimulation-needy minds, as well as modern accouterments that exacerbate the problem. I didn't like that the book seemed to jump from hypothesis, to modern-day practical, to ...more
Jan 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: edu, medical
Thom Hartmann’s basic premise in this book is that Thomas Edison and others with ADHD have unique characteristics that provide many advantages to our society. While I agree with his premise, in this book Hartmann appears to have used reverse scientific methods by first choosing the premise and then looking for any information that might support his claim. What results is a chaotic book with no apparent organization that bounces between theories of human development, evolution, weather, climate ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I bought this book for my medical library at the request of one of our psychologists, and had absolutely no intention of reading it myself. But the blurb on the back was so intriguing, I couldn't help cracking the book open, and I found it truly fascinating. The author argues that ADHD children have a gene that was adaptive for the hunter-gatherer tribes of the past who had to constantly scan the environment for risks and change direction at a moment's notice. He believes that this gene can ...more
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was the most amasing book that I have ever read! I actually read it in three days cause I couldn't put it down!
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To make it easier, I'm dividing my review into two sections:

The Good
- I've done a term paper on ADHD being a possible genetic adaptation and the book confirmed my own speculations, so I liked that
- I liked the positive affirmations and as someone with ADHD and Aspergers myself, I can confirm how so many of us struggle with self-esteem and self-worth because of the institutionalized abuse schools put us through
- in relation to that, the author did a good job identifying the current problems in
Jun 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
Interesting book. I'm not sure there's much "hard" psychology in it, but it's an interesting theory.

Basically, it suggests that some children are better suited for being farmers, while other children are better suited to be hunters. Until fairly recently, this was not the problem that it is now. One supposes that what a person could take from this is idea that young people who have "ADD" should be steered towards jobs where they will be on the move, and not behind a desk all day.
Abi Collins
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
I was expecting more out of this book. I appreciate the positive view the author takes of kids with ADHD, however, I could have done with less of the political conspiracy theory type feel. Also, there was a lot less information about dealing with ADHD and much more information of the author just trying to back up his "theory". Don't buy it. Get it at the library, and SKIM it.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hartmann details some very interesting theories about human evolution.

At times, I thought Hartmann's glorification of ADD was a little excessive, but given that most other books look down on ADD as a disorder, the praise is welcomed.
Scott Just
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Genetic adaption not an anomaly, finally someone puts the "story" in its proper perspective.
Kyle Wild
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Of utmost importance.
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: non-fiction
A really interesting book. It explores so much more than just ADHD.
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Loved the positive attitude the author has about ADD.
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
more fire for my activism... and, another explanation for my personality
Sarai Henderson
My middle son struggles every day with emotions and actions that he can't control. Most people call him a wild child or a bad kid. We call him son. People have a certain perception when it comes to my son. They look at me like I'm a bad mother and that my son is going to grow up to be the scum of the earth. This is far from the truth.

I have read many books about ADHD and how to deal with it. They all say the same thing, there is nothing we can do and we have to learn to deal with it. This book
Misty Madonna
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, brains
Fantastic read, especially if you’re interested in genetics and evolution in relation to ADD.
Tonya Lippert
Interesting. I'm more of a show-me-the-science person.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Helpful and enlightening - felt quite out of date at times but it was certainly thought provoking.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Fenix Rose
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a great book. A great view on ADHD that makes you wonder what other brain configurations and skill sets that are deemed abnormal and disordered and approached with drugs and coercion to conform are really adaptations with genetic and environmental components that intertwine.
This book is filled with so much but in an easy to read style that flows and captivates.
There is a great section on brain development and how environment influences it as well as stress and trauma.
Another section gives
Summer B.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I appreciated the concept of this book, giving a very positive theory to explain ADHD. As anyone with ADHD or a child with ADHD knows, we are not always the most appreciated part of society. So it's nice to have an alternate theory to explain how fabulous our racing minds, extra energy, and risk-taking impulsivity is.

However, I found that a lot of it is just theory, and then the author continues on as if he's convinced us of his theory just because it might be true. Sure, it's possible that
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
The premises that Hartmann sets up in this book to make his case are quite comprehensive (in terms of analyzing the ADHD child in the past, present, and future), but at the same time the book lacks the dry professionalism I prefer when someone argues a case. This book is somewhere between a strong 3 and a weak 4 for me.
Susan Pixley
This book gave new insight into an old issue--is ADHD a curse or a gift? I like to think it's a positive trait, and the explanation this book provides concurs. Although there are aspects that can be troublesome, overall it proves to be a trait that allows people to thrive. Fun to read!
Michael Scott
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
[TODO: detailed review. Overall, a very personal treatment with claims of scientific approach that are not supported by evidence. An interesting idea, but ... Much criticism, without support or evidence, of the current education system. Many strange claims of historical evidence. etc.]
Feb 01, 2013 marked it as to-read
I've read many ADHD books & this one is weird. I couldn't get into it & seemed....well weird!!
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Thom Hartmann is a progressive radio talk show host, author, and retired businessman who was born and grew up in Michigan.

His daily progressive radio talk show is syndicated and distributed to radio and television stations nationwide and in Europe and Africa.

Thom has spent much of his life working with and for the International Salem relief organization. In 1979 Hartmann and his wife Louise
“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” 0 likes
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