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. Hi.
    I have had similar thoughts for a long time.
    These days it has really come to a head for me owing to the ubiquity of such diagnosis. I am sick of seeing that acronym all over social media, casually cropping up in groups as a topic or comments under which entire bandwagons of “me too”. It troubles me that this diagnosis has exploded so much in the last 3 years I guess. Nobody even talked about it before, now it seems as if everybody and their dog has it.
    My story: I was labelled “ADD” at school as I had issues with focus, I never did any work, and exhibited strange behaviours. Although I never listened, I still acquired top grades. I was assessed by an ed. psych. who informed my parents they believed I had ADD but also I had an IQ of 147. More background: I was a curious and experimental child, yes, however I was, sometimes as a consequence, also frequently physically and emotionally abused at home and very traumatized, I believe I had anxiety issues as early as 4 years old and that this trauma was at least partially responsible for the behaviours. I have had similar issues all my life, never really fitted in, school didn’t interest me. I still came out with good grades regardless. As an adult, I have had a pretty hard time fitting in, I write historical fantasy these days as well as study genetics, in spite of being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. I still fit the criteria for ADD too (the H they later inserted to umbrella the subtypes doesn’t accurately describe the inattentive type whatsoever; in my case, I’m as hyperactive as a slug), I am very distractable still, however but I work intensively in bursts and I accepted that is how I work and that there is nothing wrong with that. Who cares if I am unsuitable for many jobs, I prefer to write books.

    Thing is, when I was a kid, not many had any diagnoses, it was not something you wanted to admit to, certainly not discussed, unlike today where psychiatric labels seem far more common and also celebrated. I never wore the label, I’ve always just accepted I’m a bit different, yes, but certainly not broken nor “disordered”, just someone who learns in a different way.
    And I would never take any kind of amphetamine as it is addictive, has serious side effects which often get overlooked and generally messes with neurochemistry “I need the ADHD drug to function normally” I have heard people say.

    I too am sure the massive amount of new diagnoses and the lower criteria for such diagnoses say far more about the growing sickness and perhaps decay of society than they do about any individuals being “disordered”.
    It unfortunately seems to be part of a bigger picture that most cannot see.

    Anyhow, I made an outline for a website along similar lines to what you have described and wanted to share:


    • Overdiagnosis
    • Navel-gazing society
    • Recent explosion of psychiatric labels

    What is ADHD?

    • ADHD is simply an umbrella term given for a constellation of behaviours including impulsivity and a lack of focus.
    • It is not a disease; it is simply a set of behaviours which are very probably reversible but can become habituated
    • These symptoms have both social and neurobiological origins; every ‘case’ is different and there are numerous possible causes.

    History of ‘ADHD’

    • Conception and original type description
    • Evolution of the concept
    • Progressively more diagnoses, kids on drugs

    Control in the classrooms

    • History of schools; how only recently it is compulsory.
    • McDonaldization of schoolchildren
    • Kids seen differently now; not as naughty but as mentally ill
    • Punishment (behavioural conditioning) replaced with drugging
    • More pressure on kids to perform, more tests, less play
    • Uniformity of teaching vs. different specialized needs; bell curves, outliers, forcing square pegs into round holes
    • Intelligent kids not getting enough intellectual stimulation so become disinterested/disruptive.
    • Treating the symptoms, missing the cause

    Some kids are just different

    • Kids have different needs; some have more specific needs
    • Need more 1-2-1 engagement
    • Need to find their interest, not force them to conform
    • If allowed to follow a less rigid education, certain kids can become trailblazers
    • It’s OK not to be organized or interested or focussed in every subject

    Other pertinent factors

    • Abuse / neglect
    • Lax parenting
    • Inadequate parenting (not fully understanding the child)
    • Bullying
    • Bad teaching
    • Underlying learning disability
    • Physical problems
    • Environment/poverty
    • Depression/anxiety
    • No boundaries
    • The information age; smartphones, social media, clickbait and how it creates ADHD symptoms in ‘normal’ people (refer to the study)

    The damage of labelling

    • Identifying with a negative label
    • Labels as crutches or excuses for poor behaviour
    • Belief in a permanent ‘disorder’ so no motivation to train self out of established behaviours
    • Inability to accept the self as a unique and mentally healthy individual
    • Inability to look for one’s niche but constantly instead trying to fit in the social wrong role.
    • Inability to see outside of the box
    • Focus on deficits
    • Depression

    Cloning society

    • Neurodiversity, neurotypical range
    • What even is normal?
    • Conformity at any cost
    • Range of human experience narrowed


    • Original outline of ‘ADHD’ symptoms
    • Today’s far broader outline of ‘ADHD’ symptoms
    • DSM manuals, shifting criteria.
    • Doctors too quick to diagnose

    Big Pharma

    • Quotes and evidence
    • Pushing for more diagnoses
    • History of Adderall
    • Paid for research to try to prove ADHD is a biological illness (seek and ye shall find), retrofitting symptoms


    • What is amphetamine?
    • Kids on amphetamine
    • The harm of chemical crutches
    • No real lasting self-discipline strategies developed
    • Addiction
    • Side effects
    • Self-actualizing belief that you need a drug to be ‘normal’
    • Prescription drugs used as smart drugs; the fact that these ‘medications’ ‘work’ for everyone regardless of diagnosis.
    • Diagnosing everyone; private healthcare = paying clients
    • Black market, strange how ADHD drugs are popular in universities and colleges, especially around exam times, if they only work for those diagnosed with ADHD.

    Adult “ADHD”, the “me” generation

    • Pandemic of ADHD diagnoses in adults.
    • Huge and increasing numbers now diagnosed or suspected
    • Pathologizing previously normal behaviours
    • Low threshold for diagnosis; symptoms common to a large percentage of people
    • Mental health label trend.
    • Identifying with a mental health diagnosis
    • Trending diagnoses, social contagion and social media
    • A label to blame
    • Social media, tech, clickbait and the “ADHD” pandemic
    • The “me” generation; navel-gazing and wanting to be perceived as special
    • Labelling can take responsibility away from behaviours and can act as a crutch

    Distribution of ‘ADHD’

    • Diagnoses % per country
    • Diagnoses vs class
    • Diagnoses vs gender
    • Diagnoses vs race
    • France vs. USA


    • Studies and critique
    • Addiction gene
    • On/off switches and epigenetics
    • Hunter-gatherer theory


    • Reasons for difference in brain scans
    • Brain architecture, smaller frontal cortex
    • Developmental delay in some children
    • Brain architecture variation
    • Neuroplasticity
    • Variation in brains does not mean illness

    ADHD and personality theory

    • Is ‘ADHD’ perhaps a mislabelled group of personality types?

    Other psychiatric zealotry

    • Pathologizing previously normal range behaviours
    • Labels as masks disguising deeper issues
    • ASD (eg. Aspergers); another potentially over-diagnosed and suspicious label
    • Increased diagnosis of serious permanent psychiatric illnesses such as BPD and schizophrenia in children. Why these lifelong labels are likely inappropriate.
    • Other drugs on kids
    • Kids minds, imagination and fantasies

    Alternatives for healthy minds

    • Self-acceptance. There is nothing wrong with being different or not wanting to conform
    • There is nothing wrong with being bored or distracted by things which don’t interest you
    • Find your ‘thing’ let it be your world
    • A pleasant, stable environment and encouragement
    • Tactics; how to learn self-discipline in own way (gamify it)

    Consequences of the wrong intervention

    • Addiction
    • Mental illness
    • Crime and delinquency


    • Creative kids suffer stigmatism and addiction for the rest of their lives.
    • People believing they are broken or mentally subnormal when they simply have a different personality type and
    • Spend more time working on solutions not focussing on problems and using labels and quick fixes.

    Sorry for the long post. I am just happy to see someone thinking along similar lines. A breath of fresh air.

  2. Thanks for your big picture view of ADD/ADHD and for sharing how the label affected your own life. This is a great idea for a website and would encourage you to set it up. Many of your ideas are similar but you also go beyond what I’ve shared and that would be a valuable service, and would complement my own views. Thanks again!

  3. Awesome explanation of deductive common sense! Thanks for sharing.
    Even more powerful when you consider you have little or no mention of what I consider the n.1 reason for adhd, like for many other labels of diseases with drug cures, namely poor nutrition.

  4. Thanks for you kind comments. Yes, nutrition was left out. But I explore it 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. I mention detecting food allergies, a balanced breakfast, the Mediterranean diet, and limiting junk food.

  5. If I may have a say I’d consider raw veganism, intermittent fasting (no-breakfast) and proper food combining.
    It appears obvious to me that if people believe in drugs they must believe in nutrition as the main drug. But the concept of fasting or of the fruitarian/mucusless diet better focuses on the eliminating tasks of our system wastes rather than on the absorption of nutrients/chemicals.

  6. Christian

    I have always thought what this article states. I also think these kids should be tested for other problems before considering ADHD. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 7th grade at age 12. At that point in my life I began having trouble focusing when I was stressed. I was sent to be checked for ADHD after getting my first ever C on a report card. I did not want to get in trouble so I told the doctor everything I could think of to make sure he diagnosed me. I was diagnosed with ADHD & put on Dexedrine. It did seem to help me with school but I hated how it made me feel when it wore off. I avoided it during the summers & on weekends. At age 16 it began to cause an afternoon “panic attack” every time I took it. I hid this fact from my parents. I quit taking it after high school & was prescribed Zoloft for my “panic attacks” my first week of college. It made them worse so I quit taking it & self-medicated until my dad witnessed one of these attacks after I turned 22. When I mentioned to the doc that I also seemed to have vivid deja vu feelings before these attacks, I was sent for an EEG & an MRI. The MRI revealed I was born with a bilateral grey matter heterotopia & the EEG revealed that my panic attacks were actually simple partial seizures. I was shocked.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so glad that they were finally able to identify the issue going on in your brain. ADHD is an easy ”catch-all” term that can mask other conditions. I appreciate your comments!

  8. Your article presents a contrarian perspective on ADHD, offering 17 reasons why you believe it’s not a legitimate medical disorder. While it’s important to consider different viewpoints, the prevailing medical consensus and research support the existence of ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this complex topic.

  9. Jean

    Thanks for this article. I feel like the #1 reason is as you state – it’s a reaction to dysfunctional societal norms.

    And yes, doctors should explore everything before giving this diagnosis. I have lupus and I react to chronic fatigue and pain by continually moving from task to task. If I stop, I have to think about the pain. When I started taking a mAb, it reduced brain inflammation and I was alert and could concentrate again.

    Had I been haphazardly thrown the ADHD diagnosis, the meds and therapy wouldn’t begin to manage lupus.

  10. Hi Jean, Thanks for your comments. Your term ”dysfunctional societal norms” is a good one! I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with lupus, but I’m glad that you’ve found good ways of managing it. I have a mood disorder, and I’ve found that meds and therapy work well together for me too. Good luck on your journey!
    Thomas Armstrong

  11. Pat Brown

    I find these labels amusing. I think back to when I was young. I was called “lazy” because I wasn’t a morning person. Took me a long time to realize that school or college in the morning wasn’t for me. I also found a 9-5 job was torture and I did find later on when I was on call 24/7 to the hospital as a sign language interpreter. I was so lazy I could work 24-48 hours straight!

    Then, in school, I was called also lazy and that I wasn’t paying proper attention. I was simply bored. Teachers complained I didn’t finish my work. I was bored. My 8th grade math teacher stated I wasn’t focused and didn’t finish my homework properly because, well, I didn’t do it. I had straight A’s though and asked him what was the point of doing homework when I already understood the work?

    I was bored in college. And dropped out a bunch of times. Then, after become a sign language interpreter, I became interested in another field and read 400 books to become competent in the field. Oh, year, and I did later get a Master’s Degree which was only a fraction of the work I did reading those books.

    In the long run, I had and have two successful careers in two different fields and I am an author of eight books.

    I am pretty sure if I had been born later, I would have been labeled ADD. Lucky for me, I didn’t get medicated or shoved into such a box. I raised three kids and they don’t have any labels either. They are just unique people and good citizens. That is all that matters.

  12. Harold

    The title and the slant of this article (despite the overwhelming amount of medical facts and lived experiences) make the first sentence untrue: “First, let me begin by saying I am not an idiot. ” to be blunt! Easy to jump on the ADHD is not a real medical neurological diagnosis bandwagon when you think you know what you do not! You do not grow out of it, you just manage it better – or worse – undiagnosed makes it less liekly you will avoid the dynamic pitfalls of the condition.

    While ASD is more obviously divergent (but even that is often undiagnosed) the only people who really understand the overwhelming nature of ADHD (dozens of ordinary symptoms but at extraordinary levels) are those with first-person knowledge. And I had avoided such a diagnosis for over half a century. But I can not deny that I have ADHD and ASD – and the symptoms are neurological in origin. Our actions can be driven by deliberate decisions, and psychological traits – but if you are always trying to do good and sometimes tripping up over mysterious symptoms -correcting behaviour did not work. I know I have no major psychological issues and my mistake all these years was not considering a neurological basis.

  13. I got a kick out of your first statement. Who knows? Perhaps I am an idiot. But I’ve been following this ADHD thing for fifty years now, and I see how it has crystallized into its current form and become a sacrosanct topic instead of an issue that could be debated by reasonable people. People become so defensive, like I’m trying to take away an important part of their existence, which I’m not. I fully acknowledge that these manifestations you describe do exist. I’m not trying to negate people’s experiences, just help them think about it in a different way. And by the way, your refer to a bandwagon. Well, there used to be a bandwagon two decades ago, but I think it’s more of a cart these days with just a few people clinging to it. I feel like a voice in the wilderness. Anyway, thanks for your comment!

  14. Kay

    Maybe you have that view because of where you are. The USA have pretty terrible health system where you chuck drugs at people over the counter that the rest of the western world wouldneed a prescription for, I’m not even quite sure how anything gets over diagnosed given the cost to be honest your health system makes me cry. A nation can be judged by how it treats it’s poorest individuals. Moving past that, how do you explain adults still suffering with ADHD after doing so all their life? Can’t be the same. Most of what you pointed out above is debunked. If you think it’s over diagnosis thats a reasonable conversation but you should clearly separate the two.

  15. Hi Kay, thanks for expressing your point of view on my blog post. You say ”most of what you pointed out above is debunked.” Where? I have yet to see a really cogent rebuttal to my 17 points.

  16. Sam

    I struggle with mental health diagnoses in general, I am more keen on describing symptoms and working on these individually than grouping symptoms into one label. I see differences of opinions between psychiatrists where they cannot agree on a diagnoses. I also see diagnoses in the Criminal Justice, being used to excuse one’s behaviour and to misplace responsibility onto a condition. I see diagnoses being made with no proper assessments – by proper I mean observation, liaison with others, checking records, assessing carefully their circumstances, associations, substances and what else could explain their symptoms. GPs nowdays assess patients with personality disorders. Anyone can get a diagnoses of depression, anxiety, just by telling their GP so. Current practice of handing our of diagnoses like sweets dilutes the attention from those who are severely mentally unwell. People feel attached to their diagnoses, as I think that there is a perception that it removes blame from them and puts it onto a condition. But by doing this, often nothing changes. I had a colleague, who was always erratic in his presentation, made rushed decisions, stressed, disorganised. Now seeking diagnoses for ADHD to explain his symptoms. Yet, changes to his lifestyle are already proving to have a huge beneficial effect on his symptoms. Coming to work early for one, creating a better recording system, monitoring alcohol use, all had positive effect on his presentation. I am not an expert, but I think the role of habits, especially negative ones, really shape our behaviours, but until we change those, issues will prevail.

  17. Thanks for your comments. I totally agree with you that people are out there chasing diagnoses instead of just finding practical ways of dealing with what’s getting in their way. I realize that sometimes having the diagnosis actually has a therapeutic effect for some, but it seems like it distracts attention away from the solutions that are most likely to help them. I appreciate your bringing this up in this forum. Best wishes to you in finding the best ways of dealing with your mental health issues!

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