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Correction: I meant to say, “I don’t see Corrigan’s comments as denying the behaviours exist.”
I don’t understand the provocative nature of your post. I don’t see Corrigan’s comments as denying that the behaviours don’t exist. The issue is whether it is a valid diagnosis or not and of course the issue what to do with children and adults who struggle with add-adhd-type behaviours.
I’ve struggled too with distractibility my whole life and I don’t require a diagnosis or a prescription to validate or invalidate my experience. There are resources ranging from psycho-therapy, mindfulness meditation, so-called brain-traing/neuroplasticity exercises, martial arts, diet, yoga and many more and I’m aware that it’s not appropriate for me to recommend or suggest. There are all kinds of behaviours people have from being shy, distractible, impulsive, very sensitive and these don’t constitute valid diseases or disturbances of the soma. As frustrating as it is to live with these experiences let’s not criticize or play the provocateur simply because Dr. Corrigan doesn’t have all of life’s answers. We could also simply ask: Mr. Corrigan, what then do you recommend for those struggling with these behaviours including people who report having extreme behaviours related to ADD/ADHD?
Tylerpage, I was never diagnosed with ADD/ADHD but I’m absolutely certain I would have been given this diagnosis both as a kid and adult had the diagnosis been in fashion when I was child. My particular case, however, may have precluded a diagnosis as there was some emotionally traumatic events in my past to which I developed a convenient way of checking out, a habit that unfortunately lasted into adulthood.
I’ve spent many years reading psychiatry, have a MSW, did two years graduate/practicum work in outpatient psychiatry clinics, practiced psychotherapy including psychotherapy with young adults diagnosed with ADD and I have a research background, though not as extensive as some here including Michael Corrigan.
Validity is a research term. The current head of the NIMH as well as many mainstream writers/researchers in the major psychiatric journals have over the past two years basically admitted what many critics of psychiatry have known for decades; there is no validity to any mental health diagnosis for the simple reason that there has never been any reliable and measurable biomarker of any psychiatric illness, unless that illness derived from proven neurological diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, etc.
I don’t see anything in Michael’s blog at this point that invalidates – using “validity” as a judgement – the experience of people who have trouble focussing/attending to tasks. If you find medication(s) helpful then that’s great. You should also, however, like all people prescribed any medication be given accurate information about the diagnosis, including it’s validity or lack thereof, the possible side effects of medication and alternatives. This is ethical practice and unfortunately the vast majority of people who encounter psychiatry/medical model don’t receive this standard of care.
I also think we need to be careful to not assume that criticizing the concept of ADD/ADHD as a valid mental health disorder is invalidating people who have received this label or struggle with emotional difficulties. Simply because people, especially young children with developing brains, have trouble attending does not mean there is a disorder or brain dysfunction. In some cases a child may have a learning disability but again this is not disease or disturbance of the soma. There is diversity of attentional states/learning styles and developmental ability. We should not be in the business of medicalizing these natural differences. A greater sensitivity to the fact that young boys develop neuro-cognitively/developmentally than girls is helpful. And having greater sensitivity, skill and diversity of approach to young children in the educational system would go a long way to helping get the assistance they need if they’re struggling with attending in school and/or disengaged from school.
My son, now 9, was identified in Grade 2 as being possibly ADHD. I knew this would happen eventually. My son since JK was very energetic and his style of learning – he needs to stand often while working or move/pace when working out a problem – easily flags him for the diagnosis. Interestingly, this behaviour was limited to school, which even by the DSM IV critiera – TWO settings need to be involved – makes the diagnosis questionable. When his teacher figured out with our input that this developmentally normal behaviour and that my son actually hears better and retains information better when allowed to move and not badgered to look directly at the teacher things improved dramatically. My son, now in Grd 4 is doing well. His GP and principal were initially convinced he had ADHD. He was lucky to not be so easily led into psychiatry and what helped him was a teacher who allowed input from us as parents and worked to engage him in a more sensitive/allowing/wise manner.
I know there are many people, perhaps yourself, who feel that medication is/was necessary and if you feel that way and it works for you then fine. We’d all do better, however, and I know I’d have done better as a young child, if children/parents were given greater support and effective psycho-educational practices that are easy to learn, take time/discipline and can have long-last positive impact on a child’s learning.