Why is ADHD a Disorder?
What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) also called Hyperkinetic Disorder and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) are conditions increasingly diagnosed in the industrial western world during the last two decades.
This thing called ADHD is highly complex and individual. Every one
with ADD/ADHD or with a child this condition needs to find their
personal solution. The experts disagree on what ADHD is and how to treat
this condition. If your child is always on-the-go and climbing the
walls, there is a natural solution.
What makes this attention deficit hyperactivity thing a “disorder?”
The first mention of it in scientific literature was over one hundred years ago, in 1904, when George Frederic Still, a British paediatrician, published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, a description of a group of boys displaying, what he called, a “morbid defect of moral control.” We do not know what their problems were, but they could have suffered emotional traumas, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Conduct Disorder, or any other of the other 101 causes of ADHD-like symptoms without having ADHD itself.
This thing we now call ADHD has been a part of the variations within
humankind as long as we humans have existed. Aristotle probably had
ADHD, as did Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, Picasso,
Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, the entrepreneur Richard Branson and a
long list of other people who have benefited and enriched humanity, and
brought us to where we are today in fields as varied as science,
technology, economics, mathematics and the arts.
ADHD personalities have an innate creativity. They are
scatterbrained, and easily distracted, but if given the chance to get on
with what fascinates them, then they are able to hyperfocus. Where the
average person sees problems, the hyperfocussed individual will see
Attention deficit and hyperfocussing are situational and that is not a disorder. Disorders are not situational.
What makes ADD and ADHD a disorder?
- A historical assumption still strong in the academic community dating back 100 years to George Still.
- The economic/political benefits of having this “disorder” which is driven by the pharmaceutical industry. This industry is powerful and invests in academic institutions. Many professors owe their research grants, directly or indirectly, to funding from the pharmaceutical industry.
- A school system centred around the average child. ADD and ADHD children are boredom intolerant, and unstimulating classes cause them to be easily distracted as they crave something to stimulate them. ADD children daydream (and hyperfocus on their daydream) for stimulation, while ADHD children fidget and feel restless.
- A school system that focuses on correcting our weaknesses and not on improving our strong points. This is an effect of forming pupils into average people. An ADD or ADHD person after school who continues in this mindset is likely to find difficulties in life. If on the other hand that same person concentrates on what makes him/her special and develops coping strategies for the weaknesses, then that person is likely to succeed in life after school.
- Disorders which have medical, genetic (not the ADHD genes) or psychological causes, or injuries which result in attention deficit and/or hyperactive symptoms.
The idea that ADHD is a disorder is based on assumptions, not science.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) also called Hyperkinetic Disorder and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) are defined in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition Text Revision), but the DSM-IV diagnosis criteria for ADHD
creates an illusion of a disorder, but does not define the word
“disorder”. In the introduction (page xxxi) the DSM-IV refers to the
word “disorder” and then waffles over different words, to finally state,
“… different situations call for different definitions.” This
means each academic, each doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist and patient
is left to fill the blank. The result is people using similar words but
meaning different concepts.
This is why ADHD has been described in scientific peer review
journals as a disease and a sickness. Both of these are wrong
descriptions of the true ADD or ADHD. These words are correct if used
for the diseases and sicknesses that cause ADHD-like symptoms.
To put things in perspective, the same authority (DSM) that makes
ADHD a “disorder” made homosexuality a diagnosable mental disorder until
1974 and continued until 1986 with the label “Ego-Dystonic
Homosexuality.” Whatever one’s opinion of homosexuality may be, it is
not a mental disorder, nor was it while the DSM defined gayness as a
If you or your child has one of the 100 disorders that causes attention deficit or hyperactive symptoms, then that disorder needs to be treated.
If you or your child has the real thing, then you need to take back your life from being a label. There are natural cures, treatments
and brain training exercises to help you regain that focus. Then there
are lifestyle choices aimed at helping us function better, and coping
skills to help calm emotions and be able to do those difficult chores.
We might be scatterbrained, have no sense of time and lack the ability
to concentrate on boring tasks, but we have talents which are the flip side of the attention deficit-yet-hyperfocusing personality.
As an example, I have an adult attention deficit-hyperfocussing
personality. I worked for decades in managerial positions, with either
my own office or an office together with my supervisors. I had no
difficulty focussing on the interesting aspects of my work and delegated
the jobs I found difficult, but others found easy, like monthly stock
taking. I did not know I had adult ADD and had to learn my coping skills
by myself, and it worked … until!
The last company I worked for moved to a modern newly built building,
where there was an open plan office. Open plan offices are not a good
idea for an attention deficit person to work in. My efficiency spiralled
down. My energy was spent on concentrating on concentrating, instead of
concentrating on my tasks, as I had done all the previous years of my
working life. I became oversensitive to distractions. Finally I had a
The people who tried to help me with rehabilitation did everything
wrong. They did not see my problem as distractibility, putting me in
situations I could not manage. This ended in causing me to have yet
another nervous breakdown before I had recovered from the first.
It was after the second nervous breakdown that I discovered I was an
adult attention deficit-hyperfocussing person. I have now changed my
lifestyle, career, my life, to fit who I am and now I am on the road to
recovery. I have a wonderfully supportive wife and children, which helps
enormously. Knowing that I am an attention deficit-hyperfocussing
individual helps me to make better day-to-day decisions.
The label attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a handicap. It is a negative description of the negative side, but without acknowledging the positive aspects and talents. As long as we think of this as a disorder, we are handicapped.
By accepting we are different we can start to control our lives.