ADHD research (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has suffered from a lack of objectivity from the beginning. In any field of research as controversial as ADHD research a healthy scepticism is needed. There are subjective tests for ADHD, but there is no objective test for attention deficit or hyperactivity. The mere fact that they are researching something that cannot be objectively tested should light up the warning sign.
The causes of attention deficit and hyperactivity affect the brain in seven different ways. This is most often ignored in ADHD research, because these researchers focus on symptom, not the causes of the problems. These seven attention deficit and hyperactive brain patterns are:
- Two of these types (1 & 2) are the ADHD gifted, creative individuals who do not have a disorder, but have difficulty finding themselves in a school system that is not suited to their personalities and thinking styles.
- The second group (3 & 5) are people like the first group, but with anxiety and depression. The anxiety and/or depression can be either a disorder or a natural response to trying to fit into a lifestyle, suited to the majority, but not suitable for them.
- The third group (4 & 6) are suffering from severe disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Conduct Disorder (CO). They share symptoms with the other two groups, but the cause of their behavior problems are not the same.
The results obtained in research do not lie. However how the studies are designed, what is measured, how it is measured and how the results are interpreted can be disputed. True research attempts to test a hypothesis; bad science plans the study to prove a predetermined assumption. This is usually not done intentionally, at least below the professor level. By the time they become professors they should know better.
The core deficit in attention deficit research is that the study is designed around the presupposition instead of testing the hypothesis.
Unfortunately most ADHD research studies show a lack of understanding of how complex the brain is. Reading published research studies on attention deficit and hyperactivity there appears to be an over simplistic belief in dopamine, as if it is one simple chemical doing one job in the brain.
Weaknesses in ADHD Research
Some of these points are either ignored, or the ADHD researchers are unaware of them:
Dopamine Neurotransmitter Balance:
- There is an optimum dopamine neurotransmitter balance. Not too much or too little.
- Dopamine can be increased naturally allowing the body to set the optimum.
- Stimulant medication forces the body to artificially increase the available dopamine, preventing it adjusting to an optimum.
- Dopamine is found in dopamine systems.
- The dopamine systems need to be in balance with each other.
- The dopamine systems are part of a complex of neurotransmitter systems.
- If one of these dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine or serotonin is out of balance, the others are out of balance as well.
- Increasing serotonin decreases dopamine.
- ADHD stimulant medication and SSRI antidepressants upsets this balance, which is one of the reasons why we have side effects when taking these drugs.
- The left brain and right brain are not the same. They have different functions.
- The amount of neurotransmitters is not the same in the two brain halves.
- There are many thinking styles.
- During creative moments the prefrontal cortex is less active, just like an ADHD child concentrating.
- We know twenty times more about how the brain function that was known in 1990, yet we still do not KNOW how creativity and intelligence processes arise.
- The samples in brain research are too few to make generalised assumptions.
- The variations in how we use our brains and in the different personality types makes generalisations as to how our brain should function to a large extent irrelevant.
- We have a logical/rational thinking conscious mind and a creative thinking subconscious mind.
- Scientific technology can study to a limited extent the conscious thinking mind, but cannot study the creative subconscious thought processes.
- If the statistical average functions in a certain way, this does not imply that an individual will necessarily function that way.
Tying to prove a predetermined assumption together with research funding from companies in the pharmaceutical industry are the main reasons for looking at mainstream ADHD research with a fair bit of scepticism.
Faulty Thinking in ADHD Research
A recent national ADHD research study of 8–15 year-old school children found an 8.6% prevalence of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) with the main symptoms being inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Is this really a disorder? Some of the greatest personalities in science, literature, music, art and philosophy were suffering from a disorder. The flip side of the disorder is talent, giftedness, enthusiasm and passion.
Medicate away the disorder and with it goes the talent. ADHD medication is great in making boring work interesting and fidgety schoolchildren sit still, but it blunts the soul. Natural alternative cures for ADHD take away the attention deficit, but keeps the zestful personality.
But what about the conventional consensus view of ADHD taught at most medical schools?
Scientific peer review articles on ADHD have tended to become a ritualistic mutual admiration society and there is a lack of desire to discover, rather a tendency to satisfy the status quo. A sense of adventure is missing from mainstream consensus science. If the article is published in a respected medical journal, and is reported in near reverential terms, most people tend to accept it as fact.
Hyperactive ADHD is also Enthusiasm and Passion
We live in an age where there is an inclination to believe almost everything scientists say, even when it flies in the face of common sense and our own observations. That is why I was surprised when I found I had a disorder I had been unaware I had for all these 60 years of my life. I was not aware I was suffering from a disorder. I thought it was normal that some people were scatterbrained daydreamers, like me. I was unaware that all people had to be average/normal. I thought people are different, as in people are individuals. My ADHD also is the source of my creativity, ingenuity and problem solving ability/talent.
As I started researching ADHD I found a basic error in most of the scientific studies. The researchers assumed ADHD was a disorder and attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity were the main things to focus on. They then set out to study the disorder. The studies were designed to study those factors, the attention deficit, hyperactivity and impulsivity. They plan their research within their paradigm, while they should be testing their paradigm.
They missed two things:
- The researchers mixed apples and pears. Some children had other disorders with the same symptoms as ADHD children, but are not true ADHD people.
- The attention deficit is a part of creativity, talent and a gifted child, which are the flip side of the so-called disorder.
An attention deficit person has three modes where a normal person has one. A normal person has a normal attention span and ability to stay on task, even if it is boring, and a limited ability for concentrated focus.
An attention deficit person has that same mode as the normal person under certain circumstances. Then there is the attention deficit mode when in a boring situation. The third mode is very rarely mentioned in scientific studies; this is hyperfocussing. The attention deficit person is able to focus better than a normal individual when doing something that fascinates him or her.
I think of ADHD as standing for Attention Deficit Hyperfocussing Disposition. That describes us better than only concentrating on the negative. The hyperactivity has a positive side, which is enthusiasm, energetic, passion and entrepreneurship.
have you ever wonder how your child can be totally absorbed by some activity, yet unable to concentrate on the Social Science homework project? The problem is that ADHD people are unable to switch these modes on or off at will. They cannot decide that a boring task is interesting. When they get into a fascinating task they want to stay on task and can even get oblivious of the world around them. These switches are internal, not something that can be controlled from a source outside of the ADHD person’s own soul.
True ADHD is not a deficiency in the ability to think and focus, but the inability to carry out mundane tasks the person feels are boring. An ADHD person has the ability to hyperfocus when doing a stimulating task. That is how many people with ADHD succeed. ADHD can be seen as a boredom intolerance together with distractibility. It is not a question of willpower, but a real inability.
Where an attention deficit person struggles, is when the situation calls for the normal attention span type of focus and the task is unstimulating or unmotivating. These are situations where the normal individual plods along, and the attention deficit child’s brain desperately tries to find something to stimulate it. The hyperactive child moves, fidgets and becomes a disturbance. The child with the inattentive type ADHD starts to daydream.
I am the inattentive type. My hyperactivity is in my mind which is on the go all the time. I have learned to cope with it and adapt my life and lifestyle to suit my thinking patterns, instead of trying to adapt my brain to the way normal people expect me to be. I always thought variations within humanity to be normal, someone with a talent for mathematics, will find a career in engineering or computer science, while a talented artist will make a career in art, music or acting or whatever their talent may be. Scool is the most dificult time and place for anybody with attention deficit and/or hyperactivity.
Getting back to what science says, ADHD is variously described in the first paragraph of scientific peer review articles as: a disorder, an illness, a sickness, a disease, a genetic disorder, a psychopathology, some form of neurochemical, neurofunctional, or neuroanatomical brain abnormality, a neurological disorder, neuropsychological deficits, etc.
That is enough to get anybody depressed. You can lookup the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for ADHD or take the online ADHD test now and get a detailed performance report. But getting depressed about ADHD is not the way out. We have a history of successful people with ADD and ADHD who used the gifts and talents that came with their ADHD to succeed.
We who have ADHD should use our common sense and take control of our lives and be confident in ourselves. Trying to be like normal people will likely lead to failure, while developing our talents can lead to success. Most people, including the normal ones, have weak spots, and for these we need to develop coping skills and strategies.
ADHD Research Mistakes – 101
If the researchers study 100 children, 50 with ADHD and 50 without
ADHD, then compare the two groups, and if there are 20 different causes
for ADHD in those 50 children, then each cause is statistically
insignificant by itself. Therefore this research cannot come to an
understanding of ADHD or ADD. It makes a mockery of statistics.
However for each specific child, their specific cause is 100% relevant to that child.
Looking at ADHD as one condition, and not as a spectrum of symptoms, is inane. That assumption fails to differentiate between a disease and a diagnosis, as well as differentiating between cause and effect.
Food Dye ADHD Connection
The “medication only” lobby has vehemently denied any connection
between food dyes and ADHD. Despite this, research specifically
targeting this topic has shown a definite connection. The connection is
not 100% in a group of ADHD children, as the pharmaceutical lobby
correctly point out, but for the many children with a reaction to these
unnecessary toxins, the effect is 100% for those individual children.
These doctors supported by the pharmaceutical industry deny that food
additives can cause ADHD in children. However that is due to selective
amnesia, or suffering from paradigm blindness.
In a recent study published in 2007 in The Lancet (The Lancet, Volume 370, 3 November 2007; pp 1560-1567), the effects of a combination of artificial colourings and preservative sodium benzoate (E211) that are commonly used in the preparation of sweets, drinks and processed foods in the UK, was tested on groups of 3-year-old and 8 to 9-year-old children. The colours tested were:
- Tartrazine (E102)
- Ponceau 4R (E124)
- Sunset yellow (E110)
- Carmoisine (E122)
- Quinoline yellow (E104)
- Allura red AC (E129)
While these additives are widely used in the UK (and are approved as
safe by the European Union) some of the colours have already been banned
in Scandinavia and the US.
Groups such as the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group
in the UK are trying to find the treatment for ADHD through action on
the cause, instead of subjecting the child to further chemical stress by
How can so many intelligent and educated professionals arrive at such profoundly different conclusions?
ADHD Perceptions and Paradigms
Many laymen have lamented the confusing opposite views among equally qualified professionals.
“How did people respond to our research findings? By defending their own paradigms. In response to new knowledge, there is always the question of how to maintain oneself doing the things one was trained in
Despite this, there are many exceptions within the fields of
psychology and psychiatry of professionals who are aware of the
shortcomings in these fields and are eager to learn about any methods
that can benefit their clients and advance our understanding of the
Physicians and psychologists are not identical even if they are
equally qualified. They have been educated in different institutes, and
taught to think in different ways.
Intelligence is the potential of the mind.
Thinking is the skill with which we use our intelligence.
Whether the intelligence is used well or badly depends on the
strategies and habits of thinking. If a physician merely repeats what he
or she has been told, and believe uncritically what higher authorities
have suggested, then that physician has not used his or her
New ideas are seldom accepted easily. The idea of little germs causing diseases was ridiculed 160 years ago. In 1847, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian doctor in a Vienna hospital, discovered that there was a higher rate of death from puerperal fever among women after giving birth assisted by doctors who failed to wash their hands between examinations. Semmelweiss made a regulation that doctors were required to wash in a chloride of lime solution after autopsies and with soap and water between patient visits. Doctors also had to change into clean lab coats before examining patients. As a result, hospital mortality rates from these infections declined dramatically.
Even after his success Semmelweiss was mocked by senior physicians, who did not believe in the new fangled idea of tiny germs causing these infections, and considered washing hands after digging in a corpse as unnecessary.
To understand ADD and ADHD in the face of a stonewalling doctor, we need to understand where the knowledge, the doctor is professing to have, comes from.
Understanding ADD and ADHD
When a professional gives an opinion in an authoritative manner, especially when no alternatives are presented, it is legitimate to ask questions, and to try and see from where the “knowledge” was derived.
Subconsciously we start with what is called in philosophy first principles. These are not derived from anything, as they would then not be first principles anymore. Before we even think of some concept we already have a first principle.
First principles are unprovable.
The different attitudes to ADD and ADHD among physicians can be traced back to their first principles.
From first principles, assumptions are made, which are usually the logical conclusions of the first principles.
These first principles are then the sources of our paradigms and belief systems.
Out of the paradigms we derive hypotheses, which when proven become
theories. When hypotheses and theories become generally accepted, they
are regarded as facts and considered as knowledge.
The “ADHD medication only” doctor is most likely unaware of what his or her knowledge is based on. If the doctor answers honest questions with an arrogant or condescending tone, then it is best to find a more reasonable doctor.
You as a parent, or you as an adult, has to live with the condition. You doctor does not. You have more to gain from a helpful physician, than one who prescribes pills for ADD or ADHD like giving lottery tickets. The “If this doesn’t work, we’ll try another,” is something you live with, not your doctor.
The truth with prescribing medication for psychological or mental reasons, is that it is a hit or miss, trial and error business. No physician knows how just that specific medication will work for you or your child. Drugs vary as to how a person reacts. No two people are the same, not even identical twins.
Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are not necessarily negative traits. Handled or coached correctly they can become strengths. We don’t all have to be “normal” in society. This so called “disorder” can be a source of creativity.
Does Robin Williams have ADHD? Maybe, but if he does, then isn’t it that which gives him the sparkle and enables him to be such a skilled and creative actor.
One cause for ADD and ADHD like behaviour is an intelligent and creative mind, bored and frustrated by the education system.
Both Beethoven and Mozart showed ADHD like behaviour.
Albert Einstein failed mathematics at school. Werner von Braun, the rocket scientist behind the Apollo program, did not do well in physics and mathematics at first in school. Both showed signs of ADHD.
Here’s to your hyperfocussing success.