This article has been revised on May 04th, 2020 as the first edition of it was found to be misleading.
Lately, the internet has been discussing a certain subject that I’ve always been interested in researching. The question that is circling many forums, blogs and is the subject of many studies recently is this.
Is ADHD real? Do you know someone who doubts that ADHD exists? Or do you perhaps, have doubts yourself?
According to all the major medical groups, like the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Institutes of Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, ADHD is known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and such it is considered a real biological condition that should be treated.
But what Precisely is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
It is a brain disorder that makes people unable to stay focused, pursue tasks until their very end, and concentrate. In addition, it makes them excessively active, often to the extent of restlessness.
People suffering from the disorder are unable to calmly go through a decision-making process but rather rush into hasty judgments and actions. As a result, from all of the above, they can be a burden to society.
However, many people out there, including researchers, some doctors, and therapists openly disagree. Some of them believe that the problem starts with the way the condition is diagnosed. Some even go further and think that adult ADHD is not a valid clinical diagnosis. On this end of the spectrum, there are many critics who believe that ADHD is just another social construct. One of them is Jerome Kagan, a renowned Harvard psychologist who has been loud about this subject and has expressed strong doubts about the neurological basis of ADHD in a few interviews. He describes this condition as an invented illness created by the psychiatrist as well as the pharmaceutical companies for their own interest.
Now, while some have openly agreed with him, some out there have completely rejected the idea that ADHD might indeed be just a socially constructed condition.
That is why it is important to focus on context, says Samuel Veissière, Ph.D., an anthropologist, cognitive scientist, and a professor at McGill University in his article published in Psychology Today.
“Human realities are too complex to be fitted in extreme biological or social views. While current figures may be overblown, it is likely that a cognitive and mood style that resembles ADHD—impulsivity, high energy, rapid shifts in focus—may be normally distributed in the human population and manifest itself in different ways depending on the context. Males, for example, are more impulsive than females on average, and are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.”
According to evolutionary scientists, one of the primary reasons for the ADHD epidemic are is the highly inflexible and stressful environment in which we live and every day, struggle to adapt. Let’s think about it. We live in the digital age. As much as the hyper-availability of information in any moment that is manly provided by constant connection through mobile devices is helpful, it is also harmful. Especially when you take in consideration that the average attention span of 6-year-olds is 12 minutes. Therefore, it is essential that our selective inattention in a world overflown with information is perceived as us doing our best to adapt to it.
So, what is the solution to this problem?
According to many researchers, including Kagan, the process of concluding if someone is mentally ill should be more thorough and precise. Instead of putting a child or a young person on drugs; psychologists should work on defining the reasons that cause sadness and anxiety. This practice of diagnosing someone only on the basis of symptoms opens the door for many new illnesses, such as bipolar disorder.
That is why today we have more than a million Americans under the age of 19 defined as bipolar. Psychologists have started classifying every child with changes in temper as mentally ill, and again, pharmaceutical companies immediately accept the novelty and new drugs are on the way.
So, as Kegan advises, instead of putting a child on drugs, find him a tutor to help him in school and spend time with him/her to help them overcome their obstacles since their earliest appearance.
Below are 5 simple tips that professor Samuel Paul Veissière Ph.D. have found effective in helping children and highly suggest:
1.Shift attention and expectations toward strengths and growth.
2.Use peer-mentoring to increase pride and confidence.
3.Be consistent in enforcing consequences.
4.Limit time with electronics to a minimal, predictable schedule.
Spend time outdoors, and allow for unstructured, resilience-building play.
Editor’s Note: This article initially featured the claim that ADHD is a fraud and it is a social construct created by the pharmaceutical companies for their own interest. However, that claim came from a fundamental misunderstanding of the science we cited. We have removed this claim from the article.
Health Feedback initially flagged our article as incorrect and they were right to do so. Big thanks to their Editor-in-Chief Editor: Flora Teoh for pointing out our mistake. Thanks to their work, we were enabled with the facts needed to fix this article and stop the spread of fake news.