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ADHD Theories

ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is generally considered a biochemical disorder or a neurological disorder. However, in spite of this mainstream “consensus opinion” and even popular opinion, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim.

The brain imaging and dopamine based ADHD research is showing something real. The results are real. However the interpretation is based almost exclusively on an unproven assumption. That is that the patterns seen in the brain are the cause of the attention deficit. The brain imaging could be recording a symptom, or brain response, of attention deficit in many of the cases.

What all the data from the many ADHD studies tell us are:

  • That the brain physiology and biochemistry of individuals diagnosed with ADD/ADHD is different from that of individuals not diagnosed with the disorder. Not if it is “good” or “bad.”
  • We see in the brain scans and other technological studies how the child is thinking at the time of the scan and not necessarily dysfunctions in the brain. If the child decides to "tune out" and daydream when told to concentrate, then that is what the scan will show.

To complicate things the data from these ADHD studies do tell us:

  • Some individuals with ADHD like behavior have neurobiological disorders.
  • Brain scans do show in some individuals neurobiological and biochemical disorders.

An descriptive example of a brain scan merely showing how the child is “tuning out” by daydreaming during the scan and not a dysfunction, is found in Causes of ADHD Behavior and here for examples of dysfunction in images of alcohol and drug abuse.

The facts that seems difficult to find on most ADHD authority sites on the Internet are:

  • No two ADD or ADHD individuals are the same.
  • There are over 100 causes of ADHD behavior.
  • There is no universal ADHD treatment. The cause of ADHD behavior needs to be addressed and not the symptoms.

ADHD theories can be roughly divided into two groups:

  1. ADHD is a disorder.
  2. ADHD is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the human race.

The third alternative, that ADHD does not exist, falls mostly into the second group. Those who say that ADHD is a conspiracy invented by the pharmaceutical industry, usually mean that the “disorder to medicate” is the invention, not the behavior patterns themselves, which have been with mankind since Adam.

Those that deny ADHD outright are wrong. The behavior patterns used to diagnose ADHD do occur and do exist. Any parent with an ADHD child will attest to that.

The “ADHD is a disorder” camp makes much use of statistical correlations. This together with a vocabulary seldom heard outside anatomy lecture halls, is intimidating to the vast majority. Statistics are the most misused tool in the scientific toolbox. Most of these errors are innocent and done with honest intent. After all, statistics are the semantics of research.

That still does not change the fact that statistical correlations do not imply causality. Statistics are generalisations and are useful when used in this context, but the individual is not necessarily like the generalised statistics imply. Statistics can also lie and even the user can be deceived. Coffee is known to disturb sleep, yet some people, including me, can drink strong coffee late at night and promptly fall asleep and have a good night's rest.

The ADHD theories are discussed under ADHD philosophy, because much of the debate is in what is evidence, and how do we interpret this evidence. This is not pure science, but philosophy. If we can discuss it from a philosophical perspective, we don’t get into a knot mixing pseudo facts with facts.

The theories are not clearly defined as some have components of others, for example both neurological and biochemical. Also they all have some facts about ADHD mixed in with the fog of information. We need to take what makes sense to us and put aside the non-sense.

Some theories will explain some aspects of ADHD, while other theories show other sides of the condition. There is no single explanation. ADHD is complex. Trying to simplify it is not science, but wishful thinking. ADHD is very individual, in both cause, symptoms and treatment. One theory might explain one individual's ADHD, but another theory explains another person's ADD, and a third person may find their explanation in parts from three theories.

The ADHD theories covered are:

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