First, let me begin by saying I am not an idiot.  I clearly recognize that ADHD is a certified medical condition as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM 5).  In addition, I recognize that the symptoms described in the DSM-5 are very real:  things like ‘’fidgets’’ ‘’blurts out answers’’ ‘’is forgetful’’ ‘’has difficulty waiting their turn’’ and ‘’fails to follow through on tasks and instructions.’’ I’m not denying that these behaviors exist. But my question is:  why do certain children (and teens and adults) act in these ways?  Is it because of something called ADHD, or are there other, more complex and subtle reasons for these and other ADHD-related behaviors?  I’m going to share 17 reasons why I think we should deeply question the legitimacy of the ADHD diagnosis.

  1. Our culture has changed radically over the past 50 years, with greater fragmentation of the family, different expectations for kids, a faster pace, and a more complex society, and ADHD symptoms are a global systemic response to these changes. This is basically a sociological explanation for ADHD symptoms.  The problem is not in our kids but in the crazy society that has sprung up around them.  By locating ADHD within an individual, it fails to account for the fact that we’re social beings and respond to changes in systems, in this case to contemporary Western culture. Children are the most vulnerable members of a society and are the ones that are most likely to respond negatively when the culture itself becomes problematic.  In this case, don’t blame ADHD, blame our confusing, fragmented, complex, stressful society.  The ADHD diagnosis in this context, represents a way of blaming the victim.


  1. Children and teens diagnosed with ADHD have normal brain development, but it lags behind typically developing individuals by two to three years. This is a developmental explanation for ADHD symptoms. Several research studies have confirmed the fact that this delay exists, and the last part of the brain to mature is the frontal lobes, the very area of the brain which most ADHD experts see as the main region implicated in ADHD.  Simply maturing later than other kids is not a reason to give someone a medical diagnosis.  Other research suggests that kids who enter kindergarten or first grade as the youngest in their class, are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and medicated. Again, we’re talking about a developmental delay here, not a medical disorder, and we should be using a developmental perspective rather than a medical one to help these kids (e.g. developmentally appropriate enrichment such as free play).


  1. Kids diagnosed with ADHD are responding to an increase in the pressure on kids to succeed in school. Over the past thirty years, our schools have increasingly focused on accountability using standardized testing and more ‘’rigorous’’ expectations for achievement. Not every kid can shrug off this increasing stress, and if you’re lagging behind developmentally by two or three years, it’s even more difficult.  Teachers are often the de facto diagnosers of ADHD (even though it’s regarded as a medical disorder), and are more apt to see ADHD symptoms when the curriculum consists primarily of lecture and seat work. It shouldn’t be a medical disorder simply to have difficulty with what is an inappropriate way of teaching kids in the first place (education experts say kids need project-based learning, and active, experiential hands-on ways of learning new material).  In fact, it’s makes a good deal of sense that many of these kids ARE becoming more restless, forgetful, disorganized and so forth in a classroom that stifles their vitality and inhibits their natural ways of learning.


  1. Boys are diagnosed with ADHD more than four times as often as females, and the main reason for this situation has to do with normal gender differences. It shouldn’t be a medical disorder to behave like a boy.  In times past, people would regard ‘’all boy behavior’’ as a natural part of being a male: being rowdy, enjoying lots of action-packed moments, engaging in horseplay, and the like.  In research studies, preschool boys are found to engage in more physical activity than girls, they prefer object play to interpersonal interaction, and they pay attention more to non-verbal sounds while girls respond better to verbal stimuli like the teacher’s voice.  Thus, in the average elementary school classroom, the deck is stacked against boys, particularly since eighty-one percent of elementary and middle school teachers are women, who judge appropriate behavior in terms of their own gender bias.


  1. ADHD symptoms have increased in our culture due to the high consumption by youth of fast-paced multi-media stimulation. Our kids are now spending seven-and-a-half hours a day consuming media, compared with just a few minutes a day playing outside.  Research studies are finding correlations between high media consumption in kids and attention and behavior difficulties.  Consumption of mass media, including television, movies, video games, the Internet, and social media, has a direct impact upon the dopaminergic areas of the brain (dopamine being a neurotransmitter important in novelty-seeking, rewards, and motivation).  These are the same regions that are regarded as dysfunctional in ADHD.  The big question is:  are they dysfunctional because of a medical disorder called ADHD, or because the brain is bombarded with seven-and-a-half hours of daily media stimulation?


  1. ADHD symptoms have arisen in our culture due to the decline in the amount of time children spend playing outdoors in free unstructured settings. Neuroscientists have seen direct links between frontal lobe damage in laboratory mice and an inability to play.  Play stimulates the production of important brain chemicals and even assists in the building of new brain connections.  Some thinkers believe that the frontal lobes themselves evolved over time due to playful behaviors and that playful behavior is an important factor driving human evolution.  Yet our children have been playing less and less over the past thirty years .  During this same time span, kindergartens have become increasingly academic with less time devoted to play-based activities.  Recent research has indicates that when children diagnosed with ADHD play in outdoor settings, their symptoms decrease, and the wilder the environment, the more the symptoms go down.  Let’s allow children more time to play, and then see how many of them are diagnosed with this purported medical disorder.


  1. Children diagnosed with ADHD are ‘’hunters in a farmers world.’’ This metaphor, derived from ADHD expert and political commentator Thom Hartmann, helps us understand why the genes for ADHD are still in the gene pool.  During the hunting and gathering era of prehistoric times, there were advantages to being able to move constantly in a nomadic tribe (hyperactivity), being able to pay attention to any sudden stimulus (distractibility), and being able to respond quickly with immediate action in response to that stimulus (impulsivity).  Thus, the three main signals of ADHD were advantageous in hunting and gathering cultures.  Transplated into the modern day classroom, these traits become disadvantageous, but that isn’t due to any kind of medical disorder, but rather by being in the wrong place at the wrong time (e.g. in a restricted classroom setting rather than roaming in the great outdoors).


  1. Children diagnosed with ADHD are ‘’novelty-seekers’’ who crave dynamic, creative, and exciting new experiences. One factor that unites many kids identified as having ADHD is that they absolutely have a hard time with boredom.  But is it a medical disorder to be intolerant of being bored?  Our greatest creative artists have traits that are virtually identical with the warning signs of ADHD, only we use more positive words to describe them:  spontaneous instead of impulsive, divergent rather than distractible, vital rather than hyperactive.  Research studies have indicated that individuals diagnosed with ADHD score higher on creativity tests and also in brain scan studies respond more intensely to novel experiences.  Our culture needs creative people to fuel new discoveries and innovations.  But if we regard creativity as a medical disorder (and medicate it), then what does this portend to the continued development of a vital civilization?


  1. Some kids diagnosed with ADHD are simply responding normally to what are in fact adverse living conditions in the home. If a child doesn’t feel safe at home due to parental conflict, violence in the neighborhood, or other adverse circumstances, they are certainly going to have trouble paying attention, and their frontal lobe function will shut down as they descend into fight or flight mode or into a state of chronic stress.  Research studies have linked greater levels of adversity in the home with an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD and medicated. Many stress symptoms are identical, in fact, to those of ADHD, and researchers have seen a significant amount of cross-over (called ‘’co-morbidity’’) between ADHD and depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders.  But is it ADHD or is it instead depression, anxiety, or another emotional disorder that needs to be recognized and treated?


  1. Kids diagnosed with ADHD are different from so-called normal kids, but their differences are better accounted for as ‘’neurodiverse’’ than as ‘’medically disordered.’’   Over the past twenty years, a new paradigm has emerged to account for individual differences in human beings: neurodiversity.  Rather than regarding certain individuals as mentally disordered, we are increasingly seeing them as reflections of human diversity.  Just as we honor and celebrate biodiversity and cultural diversity, so too should we validate diversity in brains.  We don’t say that a calla lily has ‘’petal deficit disorder’’ but instead value its uniqueness as a flower. We should do the same with kids displaying symptoms associated with ADHD.  Research is increasingly revealing that the so-called disorder of ADHD has distinct strengths associated with it as well as challenges (including creativity and novelty-seeking).  Rather than counseling kids to accept their disorder, we should be helping them learn strategic ways of maximizing their strengths and minimizing their difficulties.


  1. Many of the symptoms regarded as part of the ADHD diagnosis are in fact healthy behaviors which simply need a proper channel in order to be constructive. One of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the psychiatrist’s bible, the DSM-5, is ‘’Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, squirms in seat.’’ Remember that this is regarded as a ‘’warning sign’’ of a medical disorder.  The problem is that experts are now beginning to understand that fidgeting is actually a positive behavior; that kids diagnosed with ADHD concentrate better if they’re allowed to fidget! The provision of ‘’wiggle furniture’’ ‘’bouncy bands’’ and other flexible seating that permits quiet fidgety behavior are examples of how this behavior can be constructively employed in the classroom and the home.


  1. The DSM-5 criteria used to diagnose ADHD are too highly subjective and general to be used in identifying something as serious as a medical disorder. I mentioned fidgeting above.  Another criterion is ‘’talks excessively.’’ First of all, how do you define ‘’excessively’’ and secondly, what’s wrong with excessive talking?  For some kids that’s their nature, and we should have a tolerance for those who like to share their thinking with others.  Another criterion is ‘’Avoids/dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.’’ Yet many of these kids put considerable effort into activities that interest them (e.g. lego structures, video games, a hobby).  The key word here is interest.  If a child isn’t interested in a topic, isn’t it understable that they wouldn’t want to put much mental effort into it?  When is the last time you put considerable mental effort into a lecture you found boring or irrelevant?


  1. An underlying theme in many of the criteria used to diagnose ADHD is the need to be ‘’compliant,’’ which is an expectation from ADHD authorities who themselves have been overly compliant during their lives. Bruce E. Levine, a clinical psychologist, points out that the people who create psychiatric categories such as ADHD have had to go through years and years of training, wherein they were required to be compliant toward supervisors, professors, trainers, and other authorities. Thus, they approach life from the standpoint that compliance is a good and necessary attitude to have toward life (since it worked for them).  But non-compliance has its good sides as well. The United States would have never become an independent country had it not been for a lot of non-compliant individuals (we call them Founding Fathers).  Advances in science would never have occurred if not for the non-compliance of scientists who refused to accept the status quo.


  1. Many kids who are diagnosed as having ADHD simply have a different temperament than other kids. The ancients had a theory of personality which believed that human nature consisted of four basic temperaments: choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic.  Many kids identified as ADHD tend to have the sanguine temperament (enthusiastic, active, social).  Modern temperament theorists Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas had another way of categorizing individuals:  as easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up.  Many (if not most) kids diagnosed with ADHD would fall into the ‘’difficult’’ temperament, but the important point here is that it is not superior or inferior to the other temperaments; it’s simply different.


  1. ADHD does not reside ‘’within’’ the child, but rather emerges as a result of the interaction between the child and his or her parents, caregivers, and teachers. Temperament experts suggest that behavior problems arise not due to the temperament of a child but to the ‘’goodness’’ or ‘’poorness of fit’’ that the child has with his caregivers. Some parents and teachers have a way of being with a difficult child in a way that results in a harmonious relationship and an active healthy child.  But many kids diagnosed with ADHD are regarded by parents or teachers as ‘’trouble-makers’’ or as possessing other negative characteristics, and this bias affects how caregivers or teachers interact with them.  This exacerbates the child’s difficult behaviors, and may lead to an ADHD diagnosis.  But the ‘’disorder’’ is in the relationship, not in the child.


  1. The rise in the power of the ‘’medical model’’ and multi-national drug companies has fueled the increase in ADHD diagnoses in the U.S. and increasingly elsewhere in the world. Over the past fifty years, there has been an increasing tendency to regard life problems as due to medical ailments.  The concomitant rise in the scope and reach of powerful pharmaceutical companies, which actively promote through advertising the sales of ADHD drugs, creates a self-perpetuating system that seeks an ever-widening market for its products.  Medical doctors often spend as little as fifteen minutes diagnosing ADHD (often using a simple checklist of behaviors) and are susceptible to pressure from parents to have their kids diagnosed as ADHD, sometimes to qualify for benefits such as extra time in which to complete standardized tests.


  1. The symptoms of ADHD can be caused by a number of other conditions. Neurologist Richard Saul has argued that what is regarded as ADHD could be any of a number of other factors, including vision problems, sleep disorders, mood disorders, hearing problems, giftedness, seizure disorders, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and several other conditions.  The rush to diagnose ADHD runs the risk of failing to recognize these other issues, thus leaving them untreated.


As you can see, each one of the 17 points discussed above raises doubt about the legitimacy  of the ADHD diagnosis in children and teens.  But it’s the cumulative power of these arguments that really drives home the idea that ADHD is a highly flawed diagnosis.  Let’s imagine that we start out with 100 kids – all of them diagnosed by medical doctors with ADHD.  Then, let’s eliminate the kids whose problem is mainly a ‘’difficult temperament.’’ Let’s say that eliminates 20 kids and leaves us with 80 ADHD labeled children. Then let’s eliminate those kids who are ‘’latebloomers’’ (whose brains develop normally, but 2 or 3 years later than other kids).  Now we’ve eliminated another 20 kids, leaving us with 60 ADHD-identified children. Then, let’s consider those kids who have developed symptoms because of their overconsumption of mass media.  Take out another 20 kids, leaving us with 40 ADHD cases.  Next, let’s eliminate 10 boys in the remainder of the group who are simply demonstrating ‘’all boy behavior’’.  This leaves 30 kids diagnosed with ADHD.  Now, let’s consider those remaining kids who aren’t getting enough outdoor play in their lives.  Another 10 leave the group, and we’re left with 20 kids diagnosed with ADHD.  Let’s say that of that group, 15 of them are responding to adverse living conditions at home.  That leaves us with 5 kids.  Of these 5 kids, three show signs of depression and anxiety that mimic the symptoms of ADHD.  We’re left with two kids.  And the symptoms of these two kids turn out to be an allergic reaction to their consumption of wheat and milk (bad reactions to certain foods can also trigger ADHD symptoms).  That leaves us with . . . what?  Zero kids with ADHD.  And that’s why I do not believe ADHD is a legitimate medical disorder.

To see a video version of this post, click here.  For more information on why I believe ADHD is not a legitimate medical disorder, plus 101 strategies to help kids who’ve been diagnosed as ADHD, see my book:  Thomas Armstrong, TThe Myth of the ADHD Child, Revised Edition: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion (Tarcher/Perigee).

This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and


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69 Responses
  1. Jen

    As someone who has lived with Adhd for 40 years and it has made my life very difficult, I have to come across titles like yours. I’ve had people tell me it’s not a real disorder, pray it away blah blah blah. Your title alone pissed me off. Then you ramble on & on. I barely made it through the first paragraph. There’s no way in heck I could tolerate the rest of it. People like you are the reason so many end up committing suicide.

  2. If you only read the first paragraph, then you’re not really informed about what my position really is. I’m not saying the symptoms or the hard times don’t exist. I myself have unipolar depression and take four psychiatric medications, and I taught kids identified with behavior and attention disorders for several years, so I’m not oblivious to the suffering that takes place with people who are diagnosed with ADHD. But I want people to think critically about the label instead of just buying into it without some deeper thought and reflection. I’m sorry that you’ve had a difficult life, but I hope that you’re receiving appropriate treatment and doing better with your life now.

  3. Nicholas

    Ok, I can see that too the average person ADHD might seem like a excuse. I as a person who has a clear neurological difference from my piers at 32 yr old know that I am different and that many people might see that as a disorder though i truly hate the naming. I’m excitable but also quick at learning and able to function on less sleep with minimal consequences, aside from impulse control. Which is really only a problem when I have to deal with rude people. So i simply see it as being different, but it is also widely over diagnosed and very poorly treated. I mean the amphetamines they use to treat it are more about getting us to be act regular then to actually helping us with any of the difficulties we might suffer from having this neural divergence. And are givin to people for so many reasons that are clearly not ADHD because I can promise you that if you have it your not doing blow in a bathroom. It’s like boring to people with ADHD. A clear sign that at a metabolic level we are different. But keeping feeling superior to others at understanding bro, I’m sure it sells books.

  4. Colby

    Wow, just wow, people like you have caused so much suffering in this world. I have adhd, it’s hard to do basic things,I can’t pay attention to classes or other activities, not because I don’t want to, but because I physically can’t. It isn’t “just some difference” it’s a real problem that has caused me real harm. You have never had adhd, and I don’t care how much you think you know, you haven’t ever had it, I have and I know what it’s like. I can’t just “try harder” or “get disciplined” and kids parents try that to have statistically high rates of depression and suicide , people like you kill. I’m sorry you can’t do basic research.

  5. Nowhere in my blog post did I recommend that people diagnosed with ADHD ”try harder” or ”get disciplined.” Those are blockhead responses from people who don’t understand what they’re talking about (or are ”strawmen” erected by ADHD advocates who want something easy to knock down). I know about all the bad effects – I’m not denying any of that – I just want people to see another side of the diagnosis – activate some critical thinking and help people see that there are definitely some positives (along with the negatives) associated with ADHD. But I can imagine how you feel and I’m sorry if I brought up negative emotions for you. If so, I deeply apologize.

  6. Brook

    A behavioral health diagnosis is really nothing more than a checking off a certain number of criteria. So what makes for a “legitimate” diagnosis…especially when we’re talking about the realm of mental health which, let’s face it, is oftentimes going to be more subjective than testing for cancer. Human behavior doesn’t fit into nice, neat boxes. I don’t care much for labels, but sometimes they’re necessary for the sake of discussion, treatment and medication. This article’s focus is on children and teens. It makes no mention at all of Adult ADHD. My spouse has it. You may argue that it’s something else. However, the symptoms accurately pointed to ADHD, not that the label matters. Unfortunately it went undiagnosed for way too long. This resulted in decades of pain. Because it was finally caught, albeit very late in life, this opened the door to both beneficial counseling and medication. By the way, ADHD doesn’t usually occur alone. Oftentimes an anxiety disorder and/or depression and/or substance abuse disorder also accompany it. However, those other disorders don’t explain the majority of the symptoms.

  7. I will try to make this as brief as possible because I have so much to say about his topic. It is not often enough that I see courageous people stating these subtle and very misunderstood ideas about ADHD and other labels.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD because of constant struggles in school and relationships. I tested high in IQ and was given Ritalin to focus. To make a long story short, I resented the ADD (back in the 1990’s it was called ADD) diagnosis and its implications. The psychiatrist’s reaction to my denial and arguments was to pound her desk very hard, stare straight into my eyes and say, “YOU DO HAVE ADD, THAT’S IT”. But I never accepted the label and explanations. I did capitulate and took their prescribed meds. Guess what, they helped me focus, but they changed my personality and affected my soul, that is the best way for me to describe it. I still failed to graduate as an Engineer which was my passion.

    Fast forward thirty years and I still struggle in life. Every time I try to be myself (extremely creative and constantly finding novel solutions to problems), I am shut down by bosses who only want me to do what I am paid to do, be nice and conform. This is just like my previous school experience all over again.

    I could have written every single word you wrote because it resonates so deeply with me and with my logic. I cannot thank you enough for having the courage to stick your neck out and voice these truths to a world that is hell-bent on making everyone the same confirming robot prototype in order to keep the sinking ship afloat as long as possible.

    Thank you again and don’t be discouraged by the negative views of even those people who are diagnosed with ADHD. There is simply too much pressure to conform and accept a label. Being socially ostracized every day is not fun, not many of us fight back.

  8. constance cunningham

    Im a 61 yr old woman, finally diagnosed and medicated for ADHD. And have my life back. Correction: I have a life now finally, since I have always had ADHD and my childhood report cards back that up 100%.

    In grade school I scored genius on standardized tests, even with ADHD and dyslexia ( even without a standardized brain). Makes me wonder where I could have scored and what I could have accomplished in life with one.

    But information and learning hits our brains differently. So I ended up dropping out of high school and joining the workforce since college was out of the question with my low grades in everything but science and arts.

    I have owned 2 businesses, founded NFPs and “mask” extremely well because I had to in order to survive in a world of neurotypicals and Drs who think ADHD is a little boy’s problem.

    As a woman who has experienced the gender issue of not being heard by the medical community for my entire life, I can assure you ADHD does exist and always has. I can now see that my mom and grandmother had it as well. And that being treated for anxiety and depression did nothing but make me sick from the meds. Anxiety and depression exist, but are also brought on by decades of having untreated ADHD.

    Treating the symptoms but not the problem doesnt actually help and can be damaging instead. But that’s what women commonly experience with their Drs.

    Im sensitive to all drugs, another one of those eye rolling issues that Drs just hate to believe. Yet, just 5 mgs of ritalin had me reading easily and able to concentrate better than I had been able to in 50+ years. That’s a brain function, not some imaginary ADHD issue that’s “just popular for people to claim they have.”

    Im the patient who always asks to have the smallest dosages of all prescriptions since everything hits my system like a Mack truck. My max dose that I can tolerate, while also getting the benefits of Ritalin, is 12.5 mgs a day.

    Having Drs like you refusing to believe ADHD is real is a major roadblock for many people to finally experience relief. You ARE doing harm by trying to promote that idea.

  9. I’m glad you were finally able to find a medication that works for you. I am not against medication for ADHD (I myself am taking medications for my mood disorder). I’m mainly critiquing the label ADHD, which doesn’t work for me because it has three negatives in the label (deficit, hyperactive, and disorder), when research shows there are clear assets associated with it.

  10. Hi Mario, I appreciate your comments – this article in particular has gotten a lot of angry feedback from some readers who feel their very identity as an ADHD person is being threatened (identity politics). I’m glad you see that I’m just trying to chip away at the specious and uncritical claims made about ADHD. Just the fact that your psychiatrist pounded the desk I believe says to paraphrase Shakespeare: ”me thinks that the psychiatrist doth protest too much” and generally people get angry when they feel their precious and ”shaky” belief system is being questioned. I’m glad that you’ve been able to hold onto your self-esteem through all the hazing experiences of the workplace, and wish you all the best in making your creative abilities count in the world!

  11. The responses of a child or adult with a different kind of brain to specific environmental pressures. Neurodivergent person. Novelty-seeking person. Differently wired individual.

  12. Jill Taylor

    This is just sad. This is a very uneducated and archaic way to think. Also, has to be coming from someone who obviously does not personally struggle from the barriers that those with ADHD do and therefore could never truly know if ADHD is legitimate or not. Simply gross point of view.

  13. I have personally struggled with a mood disorder for over 60 years and take three medications for depression, so I have at least an inkling of what they go through – and I’m NOT trying to disparage their situation. I’m just trying to get people to THINK about ADHD in a different way.

  14. Lisa

    You keep mentioning your mood disorder, so let’s flip it. What if a doctor started disseminating information stating depression wasn’t a true disorder but a gift that can only be appreciated by a lucky few. So called depressive episodes allow people to appreciate the beauty in life once recovered from an episode, and therefore we should not medicalize or treat this, as it is simply a brain difference. Besides the DSM5 criteria for depression is too subjective to diagnose it as a disorder. Sounds silly when you turn it around no? Just like your 60 year fight with depression has caused you pain, living with untreated ADHD also causes a great deal of pain to its sufferers.

    It would be lovely if the world truly accommodated those with ADHD symptoms i.e. if it were ok for people with ADHD to never show up time, never be penalized if they don’t hand in work or assignments, to only work when motivated, no backlash for emotional outbursts or impulsive behavior etc. However, we live in the real world, where there is a demand for productivity and social expectations to be met. By attempting to invalidate ADHD as a diagnosis and suggesting that medicating it is pharmaceutical propaganda, you’re essentially advocating for those people to live in this world (not the obscure utopia you’ve conjured up where everyone with ADHD is somehow able to just channel their energy productively without it even being recognized as a disorder) without a known reliable and effective treatment that can help improve their quality of life.

  15. Actually, I’ve already sketched out some of those ideas on the gifts of depression in my book The Power of Neurodiversity. If someone said depression doesn’t exist and it’s all just in my mind, certainly I’d think the person was nuts. But that’s not what I’m saying about ADHD. I’m saying that ADHD has come about as a result of neurobiological factors interacting with environmental contexts. In both the ADHD diagnosis and the mood disorder diagnosis, there needs to be greater emphasis on the gifts and abilities associated with them (for example, the rumination associated with depression is also linked to a flair for introspection, which is useful to me as a writer) as well as the difficulties. I also address the ”real world” issue by suggesting that we need to do two things: help the person adapt to the world around them, and change the person’s environment to fit into their own constellation of uniqueness (I explore this more fully in my book Neurodiversity in the Classroom). This latter move I refer to as ”positive niche construction” (based on the concept in evolutionary biology). Also, please note, I am not against medication for ADHD if it’s carefully monitored by a skilled physician.

  16. Gen

    With some of the responses here, I believe think the title of this article is fairly inflammatory, with its inclusion of the phrase, “not a legitimate medical disorder”.
    The concept for your upcoming work on the gifts inherent in depressive mood disorders sounds very interesting, but do you think you would title an article, “15 Reasons Why I Don’t Believe Major Depression is a Legitimate Medical disorder”?
    I was diagnosed with ADHD in my late 30s, and it was an enormous blessing. Through my high school years, I fully blamed myself for my downward trajectory from the top student of a large cohort in year 8 to someone who was just passing subjects in year 12 – as study demands and the need to manage multiple assessments overwhelmed me. I likewise wondered what was wrong with me while studying for my bachelor degree, and felt fundamentally flawed with my lack of ability to remember deadlines, tutorial times and hand assessments in on time, let alone focus through the lectures.
    It was when I began studying a masters degree at aged 38 that I truly began analysing my mental processes. I was motivated, engaged, interested and determined to well – and did in fact achieve high grades, but the mental struggle was something else. My husband could not understand how I could do so much research, know so much, and spend weeks writing, and yet half of the paper would only emerge in the final 24 hours, and nor could I. It felt like my thoughts were ping pong balls bouncing around inside my mind, until the crystallising pressure of an imminent deadline enabled me to pull them into line and craft my thorough research into well-written paragraphs.
    Being diagnosed with adhd enabled me to offer myself so much grace for all the times I thought I was just lazy, or unmotivated, or faulty. And as a bonus, I now remember to make that phone call.
    It’s been really interesting watching my 4 children grow and develop, and recognise in two of them the tendency to struggle in similar ways. We talk about adhd so positively – as a developmental difference rather than a disability, and about the strengths that it can bring (there is absolutely no doubt that I am calm in a crisis and spring into action mode, which my husband appreciates!).
    I am so grateful that they have the opportunity to move through their schooling years with a positive self-concept. The older of the two is in her second year of high-school, and she still talks a lot! Just not in class when she needs to focus. When her brothers get rowdy as she does her homework, she no longer snaps and starts screaming before falling into panicked tears because she can’t think. She is still incredibly creative and thinks outside the box. I am so glad that should she choose to study beyond school, she is less likely to develop a perception of herself as being faulty.
    My youngest is in the process of being diagnosed (he attend a school that emphasises play-based learning), and I’m reading a lot of interesting research about the behavioural therapy, so plan to ask the psychiatrist about services for this. But again, I’m so glad help is available.
    I appreciate your points on the gifts that may present with the typical traits of adhd. I think that the importance of less screen time and more active play need to be broadcast much more loudly, along with the potential impact of factors such as authoritarian parenting. However I do understand the hurt that people may feel when reading the article. Your comments are kind though. In them your stance seems slightly softer and you acknowledge that treatment is a good option for some. It’s all been an interesting read 🙂

  17. Hill M

    First, I sincerely appreciate the time you took to put together this list. I admit, at first read of the provocative title, I was a little ruffled. However, I knew after the first few sentences that this was something worth reading until the end. Second, thank you for placing the ADHD label in such a great context- it instantly brought Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development to the forefront. As a 35 year old female who has struggled with overwhelming shame surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD in late adolescence, it is refreshing to see there are other minds that share similar views. Third, I feel it is important to share that in no way does your article suggest anything dehumanizing or demeaning… it is very informative, professional, and respectful in its nature and hopefully you spend (very) few minutes on comments made by those who obviously didn’t bother to read it fully and share their “blockheaded”, ignorant perspectives. Fourth, I wonder how much research data will it take for it to be common knowledge that today’s wide range of social problems suggests a whole whack-load of families don’t fill the primary needs (nurture) of their members very well? Imagine throwing out a thesis that might make parents actually look at themselves with more objective awareness– the reality is they can’t handle the facts running up and kicking them in their fucking feelings. Thanks again for writing this piece and sparking intellectual discourse on this topical subject.

  18. Thanks so much for your kind and supportive comments. Yes, Bronfembrenner’s work is foundational to the kind of perspective I’m attempting to articulate. I think if we used ”ecology” as a point of view, so many things related to ADHD would become clearer. But so many people seem wedded to the idea of ADHD as a ”thing” (a ”real thing”), and they get upset when that ”thing” is criticized or challenged. I’m really glad that you see what I am trying to do in shifting attitudes toward this subtle and complex subject. All best wishes to you!

  19. Thanks, Gen, for your comments. Regarding the title, certainly I intended to be provocative, but it was never my intention to hurt people. I think the problem is that many of the most negative comments come from people who never got past that title. I guess I wouldn’t write a book with the title: “15 Reasons Why I Don’t Believe Major Depression is a Legitimate Medical disorder”. But I like the title Mood Pride (I’ve got a Facebook page with that as a title). I appreciate your sharing about your own life and those of your children. I’m glad that they seem to be receiving the support that you didn’t get when you were young. I’m absolutely committed to the idea that people diagnosed ADHD receive ”treatment” – though I believe that treatment should go beyond drugs and behaviorism, and I’m glad you liked my addressing the important role of play and media. I get into these things more in my book The Myth of the ADHD Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion. That book consists mostly of ”treatments” for ADHD. Thanks again!

  20. Sarah

    This is exactly what I’ve been trying to put into words! I have adhd and don’t believe it should be a real “thing” to be diagnosed with. It’s just a type of person. As a child (and still as an adult) I was extremely creative, smart (but unable to focus on stuff I wasn’t obsessed with), impulsive, and hyperactive. Sure school was hard and I got in trouble and pushed the envelope plenty, but that doesn’t mean I need to be medically diagnosed. The reason I hate the ADHD diagnosis so much is because I DO fit into that category of a person and I have figured out ways to deal with life and relationships. So can other people. In college I finally got medicine for it and became addicted. Yes it helped me to finally be able to listen to a lecture and actually do homework, but my brain loved the dopamine so much that it became something I wanted to have in my system all the time. That obviously didn’t go well and I went to rehab for that and for abusing alcohol and anything else I could get my hands on. BecauseI got addicted to any adhd med, I can’t take stimulants anymore. I haven’t taken any for seven years now and have figured out other ways to get things done. I have bipolar/bpd and several other “diagnosis” which all share symptoms of adhd. My point is I don’t think it’s a disorder. It’s just a type of person, and the person needs to learn to adapt to the way they learn and think, just like everyone else in the world. I love this article, THANK YOU.

  21. Hi Sarah, Thanks for your positive response to my blog post. I like you’re distinction between a ”thing” which a person ”has” and a ”type of person’ which a person ”is”. While many ADHDers feel that articles like mine impugn their ”having” ADHD, I’m trying to get them to conceive of themselves in a broader and more positive light. I also liked it when you said ”I have figured out other ways to get things done” [than medication]. I’m for medication, if it helps (which in your case it didn’t), but am against a stand-alone approach for medication. Since I’m viewing the person diagnosed ADHD as a neurodivergent person, then life style interventions are vital to their success. Thanks again!

  22. This isn’t a professional rendering of the true nature of ADHD. True ADHD makes it impossible to modify one’s behavior/one’s life to adjust to his environment.
    ADHD means you cannot follow along consistently.
    I don’t think folks responded with hostility because their identity hangs on a label. Their lives hang on the recognition that ADHD is devastating and without proper medical intervention, we’re doomed. Think of someone diagnosed with severe vision problems who needs corrective lenses in order to function.

  23. Many people have found that with the use of an ADHD coach, they are helped to manage their environment in such a way that it minimizes their challenges and maximizes their strengths. I support any and all interventions, including medications, that help support people with an ADHD diagnosis each their full potential.

  24. Lee Jackson

    I’d really like to see a show wherein you sit in a room with Dr. Russel Barkley and Dr. Ross Greene to discuss these ideas. It would be an interesting debate that I don’t think you’d do well in.

    1. You seem to blame cultural changes with no reference to how children (let alone with typical ADHD symptoms )were regarded in times past or what the results of that were. Inadequate research here.

    2. Recent research has shown that some structures in the brain in children with ADHD can be smaller than those areas of the brain in children without ADHD. There are some real quantifiable differences and the research is getting better at revealing them. Dig a little deeper.

    3. I agree with your observations of the way we educate our children and with the idea that it may result in inappropriate diagnoses. However, the inadequacies of the modern American school system do not disprove the existence of ADHD as a medical disorder. This is a logical fallacy.

    4. Gender differences in diagnoses do not support the conclusion that ADHD is not a legitimate medical disorder. Statistics involving diagnosis hold up globally, regardless of culture. This point is another logical fallacy.

    5. Correlation is not causation. People with ADHD tend to seek immediate gratification (immediate reward/result for effort) due to the inability to visualize delayed rewards or results. They also tend to have low levels of dopamine. Video games and other similar media provide that. It’s more likely that ADHD causes these preferences than the other way around. Again, dig a little deeper.

    6. Again, correlation is not causation. Further, global studies do not support your conclusion.

    7. This is just one theory of many. The neurodivergence movement seems to support this idea, which is fine, but it’s more in the way of “neurodivergent people are people too” and an answer to the able-ism we’re all surrounded by. It’s not proof that ADHD isn’t a legitimate medical disorder. You can believe in Creationism over the theory of Evolution if want. It won’t change the fact that dinosaurs existed well before Christ.

    8. I appreciate this argument being a Creative myself and having a son who is creative, but again, another logical fallacy and not proof of anything. Responsible medical personnel are not diagnosing kids with ADHD just because they can’t stand being bored. Further, those who are medicated properly and with consideration of side effects do not lose their ability to be creative. What stifles that is cultural and familial expectations!

    9. Actually, that’s not how that research study is worded…you did a bit of spin doctoring there to promote your POV. The study itself acknowledges the genetic factors related to ADHD, references additional studies supporting that, and itself looks at how environment affects those genetic factors. Did you read the study? Did you count on your readers reading and understanding it? Your spin here either indicates that you didn’t understand it or that you are being disingenuous. I’ll defer from guessing which.

    10. This argument is dull. Disability is diversity too. That doesn’t mean you don’t treat it or mitigate it. I get the sense that you are against the prescriptions used to treat kids diagnosed with ADHD and that’s fine. Some folks find success with behavioral or other workarounds. Some don’t. Are children over-medicated? In the U.S. where healthcare and pharmaceuticals are for-profit–probably. But what’s your solution to THAT? To dismiss the diagnosis? If so, you’re missing the mark.

    11. True enough about fidgeting, but this is not an argument supporting your thesis. Medical disorders are not diagnosed using one isolated criterion. Not ever by any responsible doctor.

    12. See my point for #11 above. Even together, these two things wouldn’t yield a diagnosis of ADHD by a responsible doctor. Separating out symptoms and examining them in isolation results in another logical fallacy.

    13. and 14. Your unsubstantiated opinion. No facts here.

    15. Now you sound like all those “blame the parents” people. Your own bias is showing here. Are some people better at dealing with children than others? Sure. Are they running around getting kids diagnosed with ADHD? Nah. You can’t demonstrate this in a meaningful way and you know it.

    16. I absolutely believe this in the US for -ALL- medical diagnoses. However, it doesn’t prove your argument, especially not globally. If you can find that research, show us.

    17. Again, doesn’t support your conclusion. Further and again, ADHD isn’t diagnosed by one, two, or even three symptoms. Some of those other things you mentioned are comorbidities and some have been theorized to actually cause the under-development of the part of the brain associated with ADHD.

    In short, no one should really subscribe to your argument based on any of the 17 points you delineated. Further, this uninformed and faulty logic is actually harmful to people with ADHD because it supports a dismissive attitude and a lack of compassion that results in inadequate funding, accommodations, and other support. One can be against inappropriate diagnoses or the overmedication of children without completely disregarding ADHD as a medical disorder. I’m truly concerned to see this on a website called The American Institute for Learning and Development by a man who works in education. You wouldn’t get a passing grade for this essay, Dr. Armstrong.

  25. I suggest that you read my book The Myth of the ADHD Child. This will give you a greater background in the points I make in that article. The greater part of the book is 101 strategies, so I hardly think I’m going to harm people with ADHD with my perspectives. I am not against medication. I only suggest caution before signing onto the ADHD diagnosis. I just don’t have time to rebut your 17 points (I started to do it and the computer ate it up – a sign to me that you’re better off reading more about my work and perspective before we even start to engage in dialogue. Still, I thank you for your thoroughness. Most critics, as you’ll see if you scroll down the comments, don’t even begin to approach this level of comprehensiveness in refuting my arguments. Thanks!

  26. Michtell

    My god there are so many incredibly defensive people commenting on here without remotely attempting to engage with the actual content of the article…

    As someone that was hastily diagnosed with ADHD and “cured” with the prescribed drugs that chemically resemble the street drug ice (which harden arteries and cause a range of other problems over the longer term), all I can say is thank you.

    It is frankly infuriating to me the way that we’ve all been gas lit into thinking not being able to thrive by being strapped to a desk 8-12 hours a day some how means you’re mentally ill.

    What I would ask the people so instantly incensed by Dr Armstrong’s points here is do you really think the idea of treating children with stimulants sounds like it remotely makes sense? When I was growing up my parents wouldn’t allow me to have coffee, but happily gave me pills that contained refined stimulants that are far worse for the body than even the more potent caffeinated soft drinks. Does that really make sense?

    After years on steadily increasing doses of this “treatment” (driven by the natural growth in tolerance) I started having heart palpitations and all manner of other disturbing symptoms. I was luckily able to be weaned off them and have since learned to manage by effectively channeling my “hyperactivity” and “inattentiveness” into a line of work where I get to use my hands more, and I have developed a good regiment of exercise and meditation.

    So to all the people here defending medicating children like I was with amphetamines simply because they’re not naturally inclined to stare at a book for hours on end chained to a chair, shame on you and shame on your faux outrage at Dr Armstrong that you express without ever even bothering to try understand his point.

  27. Hi Michtell, Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging comments. Yes, I am taken aback when I get those confrontational comments (although on at least two occasions, they do seem to have read the article and commented on its various parts). I find myself wondering if those individuals who heap the most scorn on me for the article are doing the kinds of things you’re doing, including exercise and meditation. I know I do both of these things to help me with my mood disorder (and I’ve been depression free for the last fourteen years). Anyway, thanks again and much continued happy channeling of your creativity! – Thomas Armstrong

  28. Lydia Swinney

    This is laughable. You seem to some what bash identity politics in your comments and although I do see where you’re coming from in terms of evolution, personality traits becoming disapproved of in society – that IS identity politics you’re talking about, not psychiatry – psychiatry doesn’t measure the level of what society deems to be appropriate or not, it looks at brain function, genetics, brain development.
    The name ADHD is misleading, ADHD is an executive dysfunction disorder is not a deficit of attention.

    Let me put it this way, would you write a blog about diabetes and say it’s not a legitimate medical disorder because potentially at some point we did need a certain level of blood sugar but now society says that’s unfavourable so let’s not get it diagnosed and treated?

    I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 27 and let me tell you at this point in time it’s the least of my worries, I also got diagnosed with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) after 8 years of physical pain, discomfort and exhaustion, pancreatic insufficiency due to SIBO and current investigations into endometriosis. Now, let me break that down – what controls digestion? The vagus nerve , what controls the vagus nerve? Brain chemicals, serotonin, dopamine etc – what brain chemicals are not firing in the right way in the adhd brain? norepinephrine, dopamine to name a few – wrong brain chemicals structure, weak and slow digestion – weak and slow digestion? SIBO – SIBO? – Pancreatic insufficiency. Research shows that people with ADHD are more likely to suffer with autoimmune diseases – to name a few, SIBO, IBS, Endometriosis.

    ADHD is relentless, it causes co-morbidities in the body that you probably have not even thought of or will ever experience in your life time because you do not have ADHD. Check your facts and maybe go and listen to someone like Dr Russell Barkley and hear the passion in his voice when he speaks about treating ADHD.

    I’m not sure what you expected to receive when writing this blog, but hopefully you have been enlightened by the general consensus against your opinions here.

  29. Thanks for your comments, Lydia. I’m not a medical doctor, I’m a psychologist, educator, and social critic. Truth is complex and many-sided. Barkley addresses the mainstream opinion about ADHD. I address some of the unanswered questions. Read Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. He says that a ”paradigm” holds sway for a time, but then anomalies begin to pile up. At first, the ”normal scientists” (those who subscribe to the ruling paradigm) say ”he’s nuts” ”she’s way off!” ”he’s being unscientific.” But the anomalies continue to accumulate, until finally a critical point is reached and there’s a scientific revolution, and a new paradigm. Barkley is a ”normal scientist” writing about the ruling paradigm. I am one of those mavericks who’s more interested in the anomalies.

  30. Jamal

    Hello Dr. Armstrong,

    I have been diagnosed with ADHD last year and it has been an absolute relief as it clearly explains many of my behaviours that have not changed since childhood.
    You do raise MANY great points and offer constructive suggestions for people that do have attention and activity “issues”, call it ADHD or not, which I genuinely appreciate.
    I do believe diagnosing kids with ADHD is simply convenient and giving them amphetamines or other types of stimulant medication is hugely profitable for the pharmaceutical industry.
    Every type of non invasive therapy should be tried before trying medication. I do take issue with how you ended your article though. “I do not believe ADHD is a legitimate medical disorder.” Now I get why you would phrase it this way, but I find the way you went about it to be needlessly inflammatory toward people that genuinely struggle every day due to being neurodivergent. There is no need to make incindiary statements like that when you could have said “I believe ADHD should be named differently and finding the root cause of individual symptoms requires in depth analysis before slapping on the one size fits all diagnosis of ADHD”. Of course labelling people can have negative consequences, but I for one am so grateful to finally have at least some type of explanation for the very real problems I have experienced. It helps in tackling the problem. I do get making controversial statements like that gets you a lot of publicity, which might translate to book sales, but if you do care about the children this pertains, consider an approach that doesn’t delegitimize the experience of potentially millions of people.

  31. Jamal

    Hello again, I have just browsed through your catalogue of books and wanted to add to my previous comment. I am very happy to see that you seemingly DO care a great deal about the constructive teaching and nourishing of the next generation, including neurodivergent kids ! I did not mean to insult you in any way, I just felt your wording was off. I am sorry you have to deal with the kind of reactionary backlash this subject often incites, but I am all the more grateful for the work that you do, showing that there are indeed alternatives to medication that might physically harm us and our kids.
    All I can say is thread the line a little more carefully on this very delicate subject and also THANK YOU ! ! !

  32. Hi Jamal, Thanks for your two comments. I’m glad you see what it is I’ve been trying to do for the past three and a half decades. The provocative title(s) are more to shock people into not taking things for granted and probing a little bit deeper. But if one doesn’t go beyond the title, then I see how it can be disaffirming. Thanks for your advise!

  33. Ella

    I am not a fan of people who respond to comments against their argument in the way I see you demonstrating. The really unfortunate and childish reflex that comes down to “if you disagree or you don’t like it, etc, you didn’t get it.” I’ve debated defensive people with this tendency and it’s exhausting and pointless. You’ll disagree with this as well, but that’s how it goes.

    Having said that, I have only one insight about your article that might be heard and not immediately dismissed. This is not a successful argument against ADHD being a legitimate medical diagnosis but more so arguing against jumping to an ADHD diagnosis and against medication treatment as the first strategy. You don’t have to delegitimize actual ADHD in order to do so. Just lean into an argument about caution against overdiagnosis and jumping to medication. These things can all coexist.

    Just something to think about.

  34. Hi Ella, thank you for your admonition against being reactive. I certainly don’t want to be reactive, and I’m not sure that pointing out that a person isn’t getting what I have to say is actually being reactive. If I were to insult them or blow off steam at them, yes that would be reactive. But I’m simply trying to lay out my arguments as I see them. Regarding your comment about tempering my criticism: in truth, I simply don’t believe ADHD is a legitimate disorder and don’t want to take what I see as an easy way out in saying that it’s overdiagnosed. To me, that dilutes what I’m really trying to say, which is that there are many deep flaws in the construction of ADHD in the first place. Many people will agree that ADHD is overdiagnosed. Few people will say it’s not legitimate in the first place. I just happen to be in that second category. I don’t make any apologies for it, I’ve felt this way for the past fifty years (when I wrote my first paper in college on what was called at the time hyperkinetic disorder or minimal brain dysfunction).

  35. Meta

    I feel as though the whole article is just saying that ADHD shouldn’t be seen as a disorder. Though I think it’s very over diagnosed and people who think they have it should get full psychiatric screening like I have had. I want to mention that ADHD doesnt necessarily go away, but with time, some people are able to manage it better so that it doesnt impact them as much. I still respect your opinion and I do think you have educated yourself on the topic, but as someone who has gone through full screenings and is diagnosed with ADHD, I have a different standpoint because I know what its like. I do agree that its a developmental problem, and is also a learning handicap. There isnt a way to prevent a child from having ADHD, it can be passed through genetics, and there is also correlation between being premature and having ADHD. I was 9 weeks premature, and I have family with the condition. I do think it’s a disorder but widely over diagnosed just because some people may sometimes have a little trouble focusing.

  36. Samsara

    This was excellent. I’d always suspected I had what is called ADHD – but back when diagnoses weren’t vogue. It was cool how my teachers 2nd grade & onward would give me extra work, books, and even after-class chores I’d volunteer for (because they seemed to intuit I needed them).

    Parents had me in all the dance, tumbling, gymnastics, ballet, and piano lessons my time could reasonably afford. I took up French for fun at age 10, joined the book club, the Gifted & Talented program, jumped on my trampoline, skated in the streets, danced in my room, and STILL would have my hour of me only time at 9:30 until 10:30pm reading my favorite books.

    Truth be told, I did develop dark circles around my eyes around age 7 as I noticed (as an adult) I never could go to sleep but yet always had to be the first to wake up. As an adult, I’ve since learned tricks; sleepytime tea, no caffeine, no screens in the room unless I’m needing ASMR to lull me to sleep, and a watch that tells me how well I slept.

    Here’s what wasn’t going on my life as a kid: Chronic iPhone, sugary snacks, more than an hour of screen a day, information overload, multi-tasking as essential, or highly regimented sitting still.

    I’d often suspected many if not most of your reasons here & I’m not surprised at the reaction some readers have expressed but it’s disappointing how unsurprised I am. Some of the comments remind me of friends who say, “It’s my ADHD…” when I’ve not even noticed what they’re defending themselves against.

    As a Trauma Informed Yoga Instructor who works with all ages & versions of people in various occupations I’ve seen Anxiety, PTSD, and even occasionally the classic *cluster of traits* society calls ADHD. I’ve had one such person in class for 8 years & not once has he mentioned it; he doesn’t need to.

    Another friend keeps claiming she ought to ‘go get her diagnosis.’ My response is, “Then what will you have?” She thinks interrupting (which she does so rarely it’s funny) means she has ADHD when the truth is she was brought up in a dysfunctional /drug & alcohol addicted home where she was shamed / belittled if not perfect.

    Anyway, sir, I appreciate this. Thank you for much for this much needed perspective.

  37. Michelle

    It bothers me that everyone that falls just a little outside of the mainstream norm is labeled as having a “disorder” or indeed, needs a label at all (I’m thinking of the “highly sensitive person” trend). If you don’t thrive in this system, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. Maybe the system is just too rigid. Often it seems to be about fitting society’s idea of a normal, productive human being. We will medicate people into “being normal” rather than help them thrive without changing who they are. The desire to make everyone the same drives me up a wall.

    I was an 80s/90s kid. ADHD was trendy and I didn’t fit the mold and just always had a more difficult, question everything personality. I hated school, and I can’t even imagine how much worse that would be now since schooling has gotten a lot worse. Thankfully, my parents didn’t fall for it. My mother told them “This child will read books for hours in her room, she doesn’t have ADD”. Of course now “but HYPERFOCUS” is their explanation. Don’t even get me started on how much I HATE that what is called a passion if you are “normal” automatically becomes “hyperfocus” if you have an ADHD or autism diagnosis. So that diagnosis takes away your right to have a passion??

    It floors me how many people in their 30s and 40s, especially women, now think they have ADHD and really want to HAVE ADHD it almost seems. Some of the checklists feel like horoscopes…some of it applies to almost everyone. I guess popping stimulants is easier than actually making lifestyle changes and not as painful as accepting that all the things that happened in the past and the ADHD symptoms you have are caused by trauma.

    As a kid, I had friends that would practice piano with the TV on and couldn’t do it, or anything, if the TV was turned off. Many of them are still like that now and giggle “Oh, it’s my ADHD/I think I have ADHD”.
    Yet the same people don’t sleep enough (and next to their phone or with the TV on), are addicted to caffeine and/or their phone and only exercise with electronic distraction. Like with an under-desk bike in front of the computer or at the gym while watching TV. And yes, people like that take Ritalin and suddenly feel soo much more focused. But the problem is that pretty much everyone does. Neurotypical college students will take it and feel more focused, do better studying and get better grades, so you becoming more focused and productive on meds doesn’t mean that you have ADHD. I personally don’t want any medication unless I ABSOUTELY need it. If a lifestyle change doesn’t work, you can quit. It’s not that easy with those drugs.

    I always was very skeptical about ADHD. So many people take their kids off medication during summer break. That really makes you wonder if the problem isn’t school. If I am taking medication for depression and no longer need it as soon as I’m not going to work, it would be fair to come to the conclusion that my current job is causing my depression and I don’t actually have legitimate depression and just need a new job.

    I don’t get the commenters here. They think that this article is harmful, but isn’t it harmful if someone is medicated for “ADHD” when they really have a food allergy or depression? People are not getting the help they actually need at worst, and at best are unnecessarily taking Addreall or Ritalin alongside their antidepressants when they really need only antidepressants. Nobody is saying that mental illness does not exist and nobody is saying that neurodivergence doesn’t exist. But then again, I don’t get why they feel the desire to cling to that one label/diagnosis. Did the label become who they are and just being neurodivergent or maybe having another issue altogether is not acceptable? I don’t know and neither do I get it.

  38. Josh

    What a fascinating comments section and well done to the author for being so open and thoughtful even when responding to such vitriol by those sadly duped by Psychiatry the DSM and pharma.

    I would like to recommend these resources for people to help understand this more clearly, try the book ADHD is Not an Illness and Ritalin is Not a Cure: A Comprehensive Rebuttal of the (alleged) Scientific Consensus by Yaakov Ophir – This free book
    Whitaker and Cosgroves, Psychiatry under the influence and by Whitaker Anatomy of an Epidemic, Mad in America and read the unrecognised facts section here along with the books and blogs by the founders

    Again well done for keeping the comments section open and seemingly uncensored. I also found the article very useful.

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