About “The Orchid and the Dandelion”

orchids

I’m currently writing — writing like mad — a book for Crown titled The Orchid and the Dandelion, exploring ideas of how genes and experience shape us, and we them. The main idea explored is known as the orchid-dandelion hypothesis, or just plain orchid hypothesis. It offers that some of the genes and traits generating our greatest maladies and misdeeds — depression, anxiety, hyper-aggression, a failure to focus — also underlie many of our greatest satisfactions and success.

I’ve explored the heart of this idea most thoroughly in “Orchid Children,” for The Atlantic. Also relevant are “The Social Life of Genes,” in Pacific Standard and “Beautiful Brains,” a National Geographic feature about adolescence. You can also find related writing about genetics under my genetics tag.

8 responses

  1. 3003 West2nd Ave

    Hi I am really looking forward to reading your book ” The Orchid and THe Dandelion” We have an orchid child and just learned about this yesterday! Please let me know when your book will be available. It said some where that it would be done in 2013…. but of course its like birthing a child… hard to predict due dates!!!
    Best,
    Simone Wilson
    Vancouver, BC

  2. Hey David,

    Coming from what I believe to be a family of orchids, I am very interested in reading your book. Also, I thought I’d share a short synopsis of my personal experience with this hypothesis in case you or anyone else might have interest.

    Quick disclaimer: I know that my one experience does absolutely nothing (or close to nothing) when it comes to providing evidence to a scientific hypothesis. I also know, however, that personal experiences, names, and faces can go a long ways in helping readers connect to the messages behind the numbers of a study. I share my experience more for the latter than the former.

    Story Synopsis: I am an identical twin. In addition to sharing the same genes, my twin and I have had as an identical environment as is physically possible for two distinct human beings; we had the same friends, took the same classes, played on the same sports teams, competed together as partners in debate throughout high school, and roomed together throughout college. There was one significant difference in our upbringing, however. Unbeknownst to anyone in my family, I had suffered traumatic sexual events in my early childhood. The guilt and shame that I carried with me from those events left me scarred from what was otherwise a very nurturing and loving upbringing.

    My twin and I are now 25 years old and are lives have diverged significantly. After both of us graduated from the same university at the same time with the same 4.0 GPA, my brother started work at a prestigious consulting firm while I opted to go to a top law school. My brother thrived, moving up quickly in the firm while simultaneously starting his own side business, writing a young adult novel, and learning the guitar. I, on the other hand, had a hard time getting out of bed to go to class. After an attempted suicide/cry for help a few months later, I was eventually forced to take a medical leave of absence after completing only a semester of school. Despite years of therapy and medicine (beginning well before I started law school) I still feel like the sensitive orchid that shriveled and died when I was just a boy as I have watched my twin (whom I love and feel no resentment towards) blossom to extraordinary heights.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any interest in the details of my story. Thanks for your work.
    Casey

    • Thanks for writing, Casey, and sorry to hear of such travails. I do indeed have interest in hearing more. Could you write me at david.a.dobbs [at] gmail.com? Thanks, David

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