ADHD is Real
There are those who talk about how ADHD is not a real disorder… I am writing this post to those people. I will address 3 of the most common unsubstantiated claims that I have heard. These include: “ADHD is a modern disease,” “ADHD only happens in the US,” and “ADHD is a way for the drug companies to get rich from your kids.”
None of these assertions are true.
The History Of ADHD
The symptoms related to ADHD have been well-documented throughout time and from around the world. So, lets have ourselves a little history lessen. When we’re through, feel free to dig around the internet yourself. There is plenty out there. But these are some books (yes, paper. Remember that there wasn’t always computers) that I feel are helpful on the matter:
- Tredgold CH. Mental deficiency (amentia) 1. New York: Wood; 1908.
- Strauss AA, Lehtinen LE. Psychopathology and education of the brain-injured child. New York: Grune & Stratton; 1947.
- Still GF. Some abnormal psychical conditions in children: the Goulstonian lectures. Lancet. 1902;1:1008–1012.
- Still GF. On a form of joint disease in children. Medico-Chir Trans. 1897;80:47–59.
- Rosenfeld GB, Bradley C. Childhood behavior sequelae of asphyxia in infancy. Pediatrics. 1948;2:74–84.
- Kramer F, Pollnow H. Über eine hyperkinetische Erkrankung im Kindesalter. Aus der Psychiatrischen und Nerven-Klinik der Charité in Berlin (Direktor: Geh. Med.-Rat Prof. Dr. Bonhoeffer) Mschr Psychiat Neurol. 1932;82:21–40. doi: 10.1159/000164074. (I cannot read this piece since I cannot read German, but I wanted you to see that this existed. I read this piece about the authors).
- Palmer E, Finger S. An early description of ADHD (Inattentive Subtype): Dr Alexander Crichton and `Mental Restlessness’ (1798) Child Psychol Psychiatry Rev. 2001;6:66–73.
The first example of a disorder that appears to be similar to ADHD was given by Sir Alexander Crichton in 1798. Crichton was a Scottish physician who was born in Edinburgh in 1763. In 1785, he received his M.D. from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. In 1798, he published “An inquiry into the nature and origin of mental derangement: comprehending a concise system of the physiology and pathology of the human mind and a history of the passions and their effects”.
In 1844, the German physician Heinrich Hoffmann created some illustrated children’s stories including “Fidgety Phil” (“Zappelphilipp”), who is nowadays a popular allegory for children with ADHD. He studied medicine in Heidelberg, Halle, and Paris. In 1851, he was employed at the mental hospital of Frankfurt and became a successful psychiatrist.
The Goulstonian Lectures of Sir George Frederic Still in 1902 are by many authors considered to be the scientific starting point of the history of ADHD. Still has frequently been called “the father of British pediatrics.” In his Goulstonian Lectures, a series of three lectures to the Royal College of Physicians of London “On Some Abnormal Psychical Conditions in Children” he talks about a disorder that presents the same symptoms as ADHD.
Frued Didn’t really get going with his psychoanalisis until 1896. So there was material out there about ADHD before “the father of psychology” starting publishing work and many publications by other people during Fued’s time. You can read more about the history of ADHD here. The other thing to note here is that it was not Americans that first documented this disorder. And it was documented in several different countries. Thus, it can hardly be considered an American disorder. However, mental illness rests firmly within social context. Thus disorders will present differently in different parts of the world. If a culture encourages and considers ADHD traits to be desirable they would not consider this a disorder. These people exist, but they would not be considered mentally ill and they would perform/function well within their society. That is a complex topic which isn’t what’s being discussed here and I might get around to writing a post or two on it.
Drug Companies Getting Rich
Yup, they are. But this is true of every diagnosis there is. Parents by medications for their children to treat everything from bug bites to cancer. Drug companies are greedy and dishonest. But they are not the ones that decide what is considered a disorder. They do research, but not most of it. And yes, they are greedy fuckers that are very happy to create and produce drugs to treat you and your kids for anything. But we’re the ones buying. And we don’t have to. We can choose to let nature run it’s course or to use treatment options that aren’t drugs. But the argument that drug companies are making money doesn’t even make sense. If it did, that would negate all of medicine.
Lastly, 2 Questions
Why do you need to deny the reality of this? I can’t help but wonder what has happened in your life that you need to deny the reality that people are experiencing. Perhaps you are experiencing these symptoms and don’t want to believe that you have ADHD. Maybe it’s your kid. But denying the reality of this disorder will not make things better. Nor will denial make it disappear. Nor will it make the psych community change their minds and erase this disorder from the DSM. ADHD is as real as any other mental illness.
Why do you think that you know better? I’m sure that you trust science in general or you wouldn’t be reading this post from your scientifically generated technology. The same scientific process that treats your head aches and sets your broken bones has determined that this disorder is real. Experts in the mental health and research world declare that this is real. It is time for you to declare it too.