I need your thoughts on something...

WARNING: this article makes me really angry and could potentially be quite triggering as it discusses whether ADHD is a legitimate disorder or not so please don’t read it if you believe it will upset you!!

Okay, so I’m doing an extra curricular thing which has several different parts, including a presentation and a literary recommendation.

For one of the sections, I have to present an article from a reliable source to a group and lead a discussion based on it. I decided to do mine on ADHD because, unfortunately, it’s still a relatively controversial topic.

I chose this article:

The problem is I struggle to read it as it makes me really angry lol but I need some discussion points.

If you wouldn’t mind reading it and writing a comment about your thoughts about it, what you do and don’t agree with about it, that would be amazing.

Thank you in advance!!


I put this at the end so you could form your own opinions before hearing mine.

I think there is a lot of bias evident in this article and many of the “credible sources” have little, if any, relevant expertise in the area. This includes the writer himself, who’s only interest in the subject came about because he was writing a dystopian novel, as far as I can tell.

He also begins the article by debating whether the “Ritalin-happy” NHS is the right way to treat ADHD and ends up talking about whether ADHD even exists, which sounds like he’s blurring two separate arguments together to weaken the opposing side’s point of view and present his as the only correct one. I believe this is called the straw man fallacy, where you deliberately exaggerate or misquote the opposing side’s argument to weaken or invalidate it.

Carrying on from the last point, I also think he cherry picks the points he wants in order to back up his own opinion as well as criticise the pro-ADHDers. Many of his contributors make the argument that ADHD is a real problem and needs treatment but that drug therapy is overused and has permanent consequences, whereas, reading the article gives the impression that the quoted names all believe that ADHD is not a valid disorder when really there are only two people in this article who appear to hold this view, the writer and Sam Timimi.

Anyways, what do you guys think??

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My thoughts: ( part 1, bc I accidentally did a lot… whoops )

  • whether they meant to or not, the authors wrote an a highly stigmatizing article on ADHD.
  • this was published in 2015, we now know that there IS biological markers for ADHD, however don’t know if that info was public knowledge at the time.
  • aren’t all things is psychology just “a collection of behaviors”??
  • I agree that the diagnostic process can sometimes be far too lax. Kids are being diagnosed and medicated simply for misbehaving. This is incredibly wrong and definitely a problem but it doesn’t mean that ADHD is fake. there’s lots of other problems going on, and sometimes getting a diagnosis and meds can be too hard! There’s a unbalance going on, they point out that boys get diagnosed more, but as plenty people here know, girls are currently under or misdiagnosed. Its unfair and inaccurate to make such a broad sweeping statement as all kids everywhere are being diagnosed with ADHD for no reason.
  • they say there’s an issue with stimulants. They’re right ( sorta ). It definitely isn’t a mild medication, it shouldn’t be the first line of intervention for a young child, and it doesn’t address long term issues of ADHD. But stimulants aren’t the only line of medication and more mild means of treatment exist, young children aren’t always put first thing on medication because usually a psych evaluation and education plan are involved, and medication is supposed to work alongside things like therapy and accommodations ( this is true for a LOT of things )
  • I don’t reslly understand what’s going on with psych companies, so I’ll leave that part alone.
  • they’re basically calling stimulants recreational drugs… they do realize that medication is monitored right?? Also, they’re not steroids for your brain. If someone with ADHD studies better with meds, that level isn’t equal to a non-ADHDer on meds. It isn’t a fair comparison
  • when looking at long-term effects of meds, it seems like they are only looking at ADHD within the scope of the meds themselves ( sidenote: something about that section bothers me but I can’t figure out what. Maybe it’s that they’re only looking at early intervention kids when it’s the help not type of help that matters? )
  • college students illegally taking meds is absolutely a huge issue, but they’re not addressing who’s actually at fault!
  • Finland is treating ADHD behaviorally but they’re still treating it! How can they use Finland for the argument that ADHD isn’t real when the country is actively handling something that ( according to them ) doesn’t exist?
  • results driven culture is an issue in all parts of life and kids are getting hurt. Who’s surprised? Apparently these people. ( once again, i can’t say much on the subject )
  • they want to say there’s other issues in kids lives than ADHD and that the label takes the blame away. Yes these issues exist, but they still have to be handled ADHD or not. No one sits comfy with this label and thinks “ahh yes, I no longer have to parent my child by making them eat healthy or watch less tv” that’s an unrealistic view ( btw, yet ANOTHER article only looking at childhood ADHD ugh )
  • the NHA thing sounds like CBT re-branded… like they took something that worked, named it again, and bashed the original to boost their own project. I’m suspicious to say the least
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Yup, I totally agree!!!

Exactly, he’s twisting their words which downplays the issues they present. It’s also bad journalism plain and simple

Maybe it’s just me, but the article seems to have an outdated view of what getting an ADHD diagnosis is actually like.
I was diagnosed as a kid but the doctor suggested *holding back medication bc I was meeting milestones. When I got re-diagnosised, I had to take an extensive ( 7 hour ) test to see how it effected my day to day life as well as a medication genetic test. They were hesitant to prescribe stimulants and even then, Ritalin and Adderall were a no-go. And waaayyy before meds my parents worked hard to give me strategies at home and accommodations at school.
Once again, maybe it’s just me, but they whole thing described in the article is negative and inaccurate stereotype

*the doctor did say that I would probably be forced on medication if I attended public school though so I don’t doubt that the situation has gotten out of hand…

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Yeah that bit rubbed me the wrong way. They compare Ritalin to cocaine which, for anyone who is less familiar with Ritalin, paints it in an extremely negative light and makes it seem as those who are choosing to take them (or allowing their kids to take them) are making an incredibly poor decision. Not only is this incredibly biased but my friends and I also looked into it coz it didn’t sound right and Ritalin and cocaine, although on the surface they appear to have similar affects, actually do almost completely opposite things so it’s not even a valid comparison!

In psychology, there is a thing called an aetiological (I think that’s how you spell it??) fallacy which is basically what the article is talking about. It’s the argument that just because a drug works, doesn’t mean it’s a lack of what the drug provides that’s causing the problem. For example, saying “schizophrenia can be treated by drugs that boost seratonin levels so, therefore, schizophrenia is caused by a lack of seratonin” would be an aetiological fallacy because schizophrenia can also be treated with drugs that lower seratonin as well as a whole bunch of others.

I think the argument they’re making in the article is that “Ritalin works” is an aetiological fallacy but what bothers me the most is that the argument for ADHD isn’t “Ritalin works” like the article leads you to believe. This seems to trivialise the experience of those with ADHD and actually feeds back into the incredibly negative view of “they should be trying harder” as it suggests that people are just popping pills instead of actually trying to help the problem.

I have to admit, this one I didn’t know. Given the article’s presentation of them, I assumed they were like France and were reluctant to admit it exists and treat it. I shall definitely look more into this, thankn you!

Exactly! I feel like the writer did minimal research on the topic, found some people who agreed with his opinion and called them a credible source then wrote an article based on information that is inaccurate or just completely incorrect.

I agree. Unfortunately, I think this view (of ADHD as an excuse) is shared amongst many non-ADHDers where they see people trying to explain their difficulties as them trying to excuse themselves and get out of it when that’s not the case at all.

Agreed. It’s completely biased and, if even a hint of a different argument shines through, it’s immediately glossed over and ignored then misquoted later on.

Thank you for sharing! This is really helpful insight. Yeah I completely agree that the article seems outdated, even for 2015 and the writer completely ignores the fact that ADHD is a new name for an old disorder but yeah it doesn’t seem very accurate.

Mmmmm that’s worrying lol :thinking:. I’ll look into it so I can present an opposing view but yeah that definitely could be a major problem if that is the case. Y’know, perhaps the article should have focused on that instead of bashing ADHD as a disorder. Maybe that would’ve been better for the writer to invest his time into lol.

Thank you for replying! You had a lot of good points, and now I have some more things to look into. I apologise for my long replies to some of the things you said, I got excited lol.

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  • I don’t know how “reliable” this source is. There are no citations, first of all! Perhaps find a scientific article that cites its sources instead. Google Scholar can help.

  • Perhaps find a less controversial article to lead a discussion on this relatively controversial topic, as you say. Depending on the point you would like to make, you can find an article that actually supports that view.

  • The DSM, used to diagnose mental illness (and neurological disorders) is entirely symptom based! Anxiety and depression are diagnosed based on observed or communicated behaviors as well, and that doesn’t mean they are all made up.

  • There are biological indications of ADHD. All brains are “consistently inconsistent” from one brain to another. We at least partially understand the mechanism behind stimulants helping hyperactivity.

  • When neurotypical people take Ritalin, they do not have the same effect as when people with ADHD take it.

  • ADHD is not just a boy thing, and it is not just a child thing. I am 26 and female and was just diagnosed last year. Just because I got good grades in school doesn’t mean I wasn’t bouncing in my seat or daydreaming.

TLDR: Consider finding a more reliable article that cites its sources and used science instead of scare tactics or blatant bias. But, you have successfully led a discussion on this topic!

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Okay technically it doesn’t need to be reliable?? Just from a reputable source and I checked with my supervisor and she said the independent was fine to use.

One of the recommendations is that we should choose something that is at least somewhat controversial. It doesn’t have to agree with my opinion on the matter either as it only serves as the opener to a larger discussion.

What do you mean by that? Would you mind clarifying?

Tbh given it’s a mental disorder and therefore cannot be easily identified from the outside, assessments need to be largely symptom/behaviour based so it can be recognised in the first place. Why think to check if there’s no signs in the first place.

Yay! Hey maybe I can do it for real next time lol.

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I read the article. To be more exact I scanned the article. Reading is difficult for me.

I did not want to be influenced by anyone’s post here, so I read none of them.

My son has ADHD [as do I]. He needed Ritalin.

children should be reminded that “failing” at school is not failing as a human being.

This statement was the most offensive of all. Have a child with ADHD fail and then try to rehabilitate their damaged self-esteem, lack of achievement, and everything else that can be problematic​:question::bangbang:

My son is now 42 years of age and a successful electrical engineer. We got him the help he needed, which included medication, therapy, coaching, tutoring, and a ton of day-to-day parental encouragement for years. During his first year of college (first time he was away from home) he called us every single night without exception. During that period of we were his coaches.

The idea that children should be reminded that failing at school is not failing as a human being is truly offensive and shows the ignorance of those who believe it.

To present a real life example with respect to a physical, medical condition . . . As a young adolescent my son had enlarged nipples with swollen breast tissue. This was due to hormonal changes. He was being teased by other boys. at the swimming pool he refused to takeoff his T-shirt out of shame.

We met with a physician who, for some performed surgical corrections for this condition; he showed us pictures of a young man with a far worse manifestation of this condition. He was being bullied and tormented by other boys when he went to the swimming pool and even when he had a shirt on, once others knew. He was depressed and was thinking about suicide. Insurance refused to pay for surgery and suggested he get psychotherapy to deal with the emotional problems (caused by the physical condition). Insurance would pay part of the cost of ongoing psychotherapy, which overtime would exceed the cost of a simple surgery. Those parents decided to pay for the surgery themselves out of pocket.

We did too.

There is so much more in the article that I disagree with. But I think I’ll leave this as my major outrage toward the insensitivity and ignorance of so many professionals (and others)!!

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And next those “expect” probably blame the parents for not giving correct emotional support

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A while back, I read an interview with a German (? I’m drawing from memory here) author (?) who had written a book (?) or made a documentary about how ADHD may not exist as such. I think the title was something like “There 's no ADHD”, too. I don’t remember what it was exactly but it wasn’t subtle. May have been the publisher’s fault, though, not the author’s. It happens.

Anyway, triggers aside, I read the interview and it was okay until some point further down when the guy lost me over his Big Pharma conspiracy theories. But the main argument was compelling: What if - given how hard it is to diagnose and how different the symptoms are for different people - ADHD isn’t really one condition but several, maybe even instersecting conditions that make up different behavioral patterns?

I’m bringing this up because I learned one thing from that interview: Just because somebody says there’s no ADHD, they might not actually be discounting the pattern. They might just have a different approach to it. And if it sparks a debate at the end of which we have a new name for it (or five or so), and more clarity in defining it, and better because more focussed treatments, I’m all for it. Deconstruct away!

That’s not what this article does, though. And we can’t really blame the author, actually. After all, he didn’t set out to write a science book but a novel. Research is a bit different when you write fiction. You make detailed notes of the facts that fit your narrative or may feed into it, and you emphasize them over the not-so-fit ones. And then, for some unfathomable reason, you go on and write an Independent article based on that… Well, I guess we can blame him for the last bit.

I see quite a few fallacies, but one is central: He seems to think that ADHD is being presented (and treated) as an illness. Rightfully, he rejects that notion, just like most ADHD experts do (a fact he doesn’t seem to be aware of). He then goes on about the difficulties in diagnosing it, which only really makes sense when you’re looking for a medical cause because from that perspective, the behavioral diagnostic process must seem like a cop-out. And about the medication only heping in the short term but not actually curing it as you’d expect it to if you thought it was an illness. And about Finnish people and some others treating the behavioral pattern with behavior therapy rather than drugs which totally proves it’s a behavioral condition and not an illness, right?

His misrepresentation of how the meds work (dulling all that’s good about being a child) is another fallacy of its own, along with the Big Pharma scenario he seems to have researched right from his own novel.

Even so, some nuggets of truth do shine through but he never manages to connect those dots:

  • Over-diagnosing ADHD is a problem.
  • So is using medication as your first and only line of treatment.
  • It’s hard for an adult to tell the difference between a kid having ADHD and a kid just being a kid. (That’s why the diagnosis isn’t usually done by parents or teachers or anybody else with an interest in the kid sitting still.)
  • Failing at school indeed doesn’t equal failing as a human being. (It still sucks, though, and can be avoided.)
  • And, finally, the one good line in this article: “Being different is not an illness.” (He should have started with that. Could have written a half-decent article about how the school system fails kids, starting with that.)
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