Debate about ADHD

Author: Murat Artiran, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

There are a lot of debate if ADHD is real disorder. Before talk about this, I would like to point out an interesting detail from ‘YES article’ even if I am in the ‘NO’ side. The detail is about ADHD’s definition. Let me sum it up: “According to National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.. different symptoms may appear in different settings.. a child who ‘can’t sit still’.. ‘discipline problem’.. ‘unmotivated’.. ‘poor concentration’.. feeling restless.. running, climbing.. having difficulty waiting..” (Slife, B., 2010) and so on. Lists can be 200 hundred pages long to describe definitions and symptoms. If you go any kindergarten, I assure you, you will see hundreds of kids showing those symptoms.

My point is that I do not say ADHD shouldn’t be exist. What I mean is it can be expended almost every our behavior if we want to. Another way of saying, if you cannot see any abnormal behavior in a person you can still label anyone you want with ADHD. For example I can easily label Lady Gaga with ADHD (They do). Also Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln are in ADHD list according to many web sites. Complete list for ADHD’s famous people can be found at and I added below.

ADHD is in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). However, there are questions about some disorders placed in this manual. “Problems with the DSM: Because of the DSM’s powerful influence, critics maintain that it is important to be aware of its limitations and some inherent problems in the very effort to classify and label mental disorders. The danger of over diagnosis: “If you give a mall boy a hammer,” wrote Abraham Kaplan (1967), “it will turn out that everything he runs into needs pounding.” Likewise, say critics if you give mental-health professionals a diagnostic label, it will turn out that everyone they run into has the symptoms of the new disorder.” Consider ‘attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder’, a label given to children (and adults) who are impulsive, restless, and easily frustrated and who have trouble concentrating. Since ADHD was added the DSM, it has become the fastest-growing disorder in America, where it is diagnosed at least ten times as often as it is in Europe. Critics, therefore, fear that parents, teachers, and mental-health professionals are overusing this diagnosis, especially with boys, who make up 80 to 90 percent of all ADHD cases. The critics argue that normal boyish behavior-being rambunctious, refusing to nap, being playful, not listening to teachers in school-is often being turned into and illness. A longitudinal study of more than a hundred 4-to 6-years-olds found that the number of children who met the criteria for ADHD declined over time. Some remained highly impulsive and unable to concentrate, but others, it seems, simply matured.” (Wade, C., Tavris, C., 2008).

According to Rogers H. Wright “Certainly, there are deficiencies of attention and hyperactivity, but such behavioral aberrancies are most often indicative of a transitory state or condition within the organism. They are not in and of themselves indicative of a ‘disorder’. Every parent has noticed, particularly with young children, that toward the end of an especially exciting and fatiguing day children are literally ‘ricocheting off the wall’… when distractibility and/or hyperactivity characterize the child’s everyday behavior (especially if accompanied by factors such as delayed development, learning difficulties, impaired motor skills, and impaired judgment), they may be indicative of either a neurological disorder or of developing emotional difficulties.” (Slife, B., 2010).

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