Cognition & Reality

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

ADHD: Fantasy & Science Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 9:53 am

I’ve collected, more or less at random, a few web pages designed to help parents understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The thing to notice is not only how fact-challenged, empty and contradictory the information on these pages is, but also how ingrained in our culture is the mixture of assumptions and conjecture on display. Notice, in addition the firm tone of certainty that pervades these pages, and the implicit morality. It’s always the same devils, cigarettes, whiskey, and wild, wild women (irresponsible pregnant girls and bad housekeepers).

This one, from the Mayo Clinic, perhaps the most widely respected medical outfit in the world, leads by telling parents not to blame themselves when a child is diagnosed with ADHD. The conclusion it seems to draw is that environmental factors can affect behavior, as long as those factors are physical: cigarette smoke, toxins, etc. Environmental factors such as an abusive home or a shitty school couldn’t possibly account for a child’s behavior.

The one from is really stunning. It makes sure to put “bad parenting” at the top of the list of things that don’t cause ADHD, although at the same time retains its high moral tone by reminding parents that a poorly organized household won’t help. Really. The sad thing is that, whereas people should feel insulted by such advice and embarrassed to dispense it, this is the received wisdom of the medical community. Heaven forbid that parents should take responsibility for producing a badly behaved child–beyond the initial fucking that mixed their DNA.

This one, from WebMD, runs the gamut. It mentions that “inherited genetic factors are likely responsible” for ADHD, and it identifies “a possible link between” dopamine and norepinephrine and ADHD. Please don’t ask precisely how these chemicals are invovlved. Sorry, we don’t know the answer to that. Also, don’t ask us to show you the sorry-ass research that supposedly demonstrates the genetic basis of ADHD. Give this pill to your child. And don’t worry. It’s not your fault.

What we know about ADHD is a matter of sound medical science. It was once a matter of sound medical science that Johnny will go blind if he masturbates. It is now a matter of sound medical science that Johnny masturbates in geometry class because of his DNA.


1 Comment »

  1. CHADD has some good articles about ADHD.

    Dr. Nadeau writes some good books about the disorder.

    Clear and loud absence of studies and research about women with ADHD.

    Comment by Joy — Wednesday, 10 November 2010 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

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