Health is one of the most important values in human life. That is why people never have doubts in preserving it and trying to cure the diseases as soon as they appear. However, sometimes what people consider a disease is actually not a disease at all. That is precisely the case of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Even though many people consider it a disease that requires treatment, one should not treat it in a way that one would treat a disease. This condition hardly corresponds to what a disease actually means. In fact, attention deficit disorder is rather fictitious and has no univocal recognition, unknown origin, it is often misdiagnosed and it justifies the reluctance of doctors and parents to deal with it.
To start with, Attention Deficit Disorder is not universally acknowledged. Opinions split on whether this disorder exists or not. While some professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry claim this disorder to be real, others consider it a fictitious one. In particular, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, the “inventor” of ADHD admitted that his studies on treating the disorder “were misleading” (Pettus, 2006). Dr. Eisenberg was a famous child psychiatrist in the 1960s. He studied children with developmental problems and conducted some of the first studies on Attention Deficit Disorder. It should be noted that he understood that something was not right with its definition. Another scholar who claimed ADHD was a fictitious disorder was Dr. Jerome Kagan, a psychologist from Harvard. He believed that doctors are quick to diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder while a child might in fact be completely healthy. He said that any child who has some anxiety problems in school is sent to a pediatrician and is prescribed with Ritalin. That is wrong since “to say that 28 percent of Americans have anxiety disorders […], assumes that being anxious is like having cancer. But anxiety is part of being human” (Pettus, 2006). Thus, belief in ADHD can be a delusion.
Moreover, the causes of the disease are still not clear. On the one hand, there is an assumption that this disorder is of a genetic origin, seeing that “Twin studies indicate that the disorder is often inherited from one’s parents with genetics determining about 75% of cases” (British Psychological Society, 2009). On the other hand, scholars still have not deciphered a possible gene or a set of genes that would cause this disorder, which is a counterargument to the genetic theory of ADD. Two arguments support the idea that attention deficit disorder is a result of the child’s environment. First, there are some parallels between obesity and the attention deficit disorder. Both of them are believed to have genetic origins. Yet, some scholars tend to forget that generally, obese parents have unhealthy eating habits and they determine the ration of their child. Thus, if the parents consume food rich in calories and fats and provide such food to their child, there is nothing strange in that their children also become obese. They have no other food choices and thus they become obese. Obesity does not necessarily imply a genetic predisposition. In many cases, children are forced with the lifestyles of their parents and thus endure similar health conditions. The same holds true regarding the attention deficit disorder.
Attention Deficit Disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain of a person suffering from it. Still, a chemical imbalance may be a result of an increased activity of nervous impulses sent from the brain to other parts of the body. If mental factors cause some physical symptoms but there is no physical illness at the same time, the disorder is then psychosomatic. This means that ADHD depends on psychological factors, such as an internal conflict or stress. In turn, these may originate from relationships within the family, attitudes and other factors. After all, disruptive behaviors may just signify a child’s need to draw the parents’ attention to himself/herself.
The conclusion of Dr. Kagan leads to another plausible idea of why attention deficit disorder is not actually a disease. The most apparent explanation is that ADHD is often misdiagnosed. It appears that behavioral troubles are quickly interpreted as signs of a disorder when they might be a display of something else. Attention Deficit disorder is often mistaken for some other conditions. The main symptoms associated with the ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disruptive behavior. Meanwhile, these symptoms are common to a number of other conditions such as primary disorder of vigilance, mood disorder, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The abovementioned disorders share many of the characteristics of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
At the same time, there is a fine line between the normal levels of inattention, as well as other symptoms, and such level that demand an intervention (Ramsey and Rostain, 2007). Sometimes a child’s behavior can be a display of a normal activity. Alternatively, the symptoms are often limited to someone’s observation of a single child’s behavior. For the reliability, people must agree that a child has the attention deficit disorder. Many children who are supposed to have this disorder are not identified as such, and many children who are identified as not having ADHD might in fact have it.
One more reason why ADHD is often misdiagnosed is that its methods of diagnosis are quite questionable. There are no reliable tests that could accurately distinguish between the children who have ADHD and the healthy ones. The simplest way to support this claim is to ask for a medical test proving that a child has ADHD. Many physicians will respond to such a request by saying that the test is too expensive. They would rather rely on their observations. Thus, the methods for diagnosing the disorder give only approximate results, instead of proof based on accurate data about a chemical imbalance.
Even though ADHD is often misdiagnosed, doctors prefer consider it a real and dangerous disease so that they would be able to treat it. The most common form of treatment for ADHD is prescribing medications, which often gradually cause addiction or dependence (Ramsay and Rostain, 2007). Unfortunately, misdiagnosis can lead to addictions among the healthy children. Besides, with too much dopamine intake, a person’s brain stops producing it and the children suffer from depression (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2009). Nevertheless, the experts are quick to prescribe some pills because it is the easiest way to deal with the undesired behavior. It is easier to prescribe some pills than to dig down to the causes of the problem. Yet, treatment of the illness’ consequences has no effect on the treatment of its causes. Indeed, behavioral problems require a visit to a counselor, and the sooner it happens, the better. Children’s misbehavior is not just a problem of chemical imbalance, as it has many dimensions. Thus, belief in attention deficit disorder is a good excuse for doctors to prescribe treatment to children and have a loyal and regular patient base.
Next, diagnosing attention deficit disorder serves as an excuse for ineffective parenting styles. There is a common tendency to give those children who behave poorly to individuals or group organizations that specialize in behavioral issues. By doing so, the parents display their unwillingness to be engaged in the problem solution and expect others do it for them. It demonstrates the attitude of “it is not our problem, fix it and give us the “repaired’ child” back”. Nevertheless, such attitude is highly unproductive and even harmful. According to Nicole Guajardo’s research group, “inconsistent, overly harsh, and lackadaisical parenting practices are associated with increased rates of child behavior and mood difficulties” (Guajardo, Snyder and Petersen, 2009). Parents need to realize that facilitating the change in their children’s behavior is their responsibility. Nicole Guajardo believes that certain parenting styles inevitably lead to uncontrolled child’s behavior, accompanied by some poor manners. These styles include child centered parenting, powerless parenting and over controlling parenting. Thus, when parents notice disruptive behaviors in their children, they should first review their parenting approaches. Sometimes in order to improve children’s behavior it is enough to change their parenting style, and no parents need not resort to medications.
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Some people believe that Attention Deficit Disorder is a real disease that has a certain set of symptoms and that it calls for intervention. Nevertheless, there is ample evidence that supports the idea that attention deficit disorder is rather a fictitious disease. First of all, it has no univocal recognition. Some experts consider it a real disease some of them do not. If ADHD were a real disease, it would have acquired universal recognition as such. Secondly, the exact origin of ADHD is unknown. While some believe it to be a genetically determined, others believe it to be a psychosomatic disorder that is determined solely by the environment. Moreover, there are some convincing reasons to believe in the second point of view. Thirdly, ADHD is often misdiagnosed, as there are no accurate means to diagnose it. Finally, this disorder justifies the reluctance of doctors and parents to deal with it. Neither doctors nor parents wish to take the responsibility for the child and find the psychological reasons of a child’s misbehavior. Thus, Attention Deficit Disorder keeps being a “real” disease only as long as people want to believe in it.