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No, ADHD isn't a real medical condition

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

  • Myth #1: ADHD isn't a real medical condition.

  • Myth #2: People with ADHD just need to try harder.

  • Myth #3: People with ADHD can't ever focus.

  • Myth #4: All kids with ADHD are hyperactive.

  • Myth #5: Only boys have ADHD.

  • Myth #6: ADHD is a learning disability.

  • Myth #7: ADHD is the result of bad parenting.

  • Myth #8: ADHD is a modern farce created by drug companies

It you cruise the Internet, you will find a lot of sites debunking ADHD “myths”. But let us keep that myths always exist in a balance with facts. The two things are inevitably interdependent.

Myth #1: ADHD isn't a real medical condition.

Take Myth #1. Is ADHD a real medical condition? There is a lot of debate about that, with some neurologists saying yes and some saying no. Let us put it this way: is genius a “medical condition”. Did Einstein and Edison need “treatment” for their “disorders”. If you child has an IQ of 200, does he or she have a “medical condition”?

Proponents of the “medical condition” theory often fall back on DSM IV and V—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Let us keep in mind that DSM I classified homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” which prompted medical professionals to try to cure gayness with drugs, electric shocks and other draconian “aversion” therapies.

DSM does not have a very good track record. It took almost half a century to get homosexuality off the books as a “medical condition”.

Of interest therefore is the tendency of DSM to classify natural behaviors as diseases of the mind, if not the soul, if they do not conform to current norms and to do so using language which biaises any further discussion.

No, gay people are NOT “sociopathic”. Most people with ADHD do not have a “deficit” of attention – quite the opposite. And at least half are not “hyperactive”. Those that are hyperactive are not consistently so. Otherwise, your ADHD kid would need a straitjacket.

It is a medical condition in the sense that some neurologists deem it such, yet others do not. No, those MRI studies cannot be relied on.

The psychological community call it a “disorder” and it has its place in the DSM – just as homosexuality used to. Let us keep in mind that no social science is “science” in the same sense that chemistry and physics and biology are. What we call ADHD exists. But we should not confuse symptoms with etiology.

Is an IQ of 200 a “medical condition”?

Did Einstein need “treatment”?

So Myth #1 in this list has a lot of truth in it.

Myth #2: People with ADHD just need to try harder


This comment reflects the problems that ADHD people in doing things like homework, studying for tests and their lack of interest in things that they find just not “interesting”. Smart ADHD people don’t try to fit in. And they don’t try – to do things that are often a waste of time.

For example, in college I was forced to take certain courses. One was Applied English Linguistics. At first, I was excited by this but I soon realized that the course focuses on just two things - -one was the Great Vowel Shift— which started as the natural result of the social interaction between Anglo Saxon speaking people and their Norman French overlords after the Normans conquered England and is continuing to do this day. . We were expected to memorize all the changes.

Borrrrrrrrrringggggg. There are more important things in life than vowels. Meow!

Especially when you know that you will quickly forget it all and have to look the stuff up later if by some chance (unlikely) that you need to know the impact of one vowel becoming another.

The second was Generative Grammar—which is based on a theory of innate universal linguistic logic, which time has shown to be wrong.

But I did not give up on applied English linguistics. I tried harder--just not in the areas I was supposed to.


I studied semiotics, semantics, morphophonemics and the like – none of which were being taught or tested. I got “A’s” on the essay where I could use my studies, but did badly on the final which required me to memorize the Great Vowel shift and write Generative transforms.

Oh! and I skipped ALL of those early morning seminars on Generative Grammar.

I scraped by as I knew I would. Not a stellar performance but since my performance in other courses was impressive— my poor showing did not affect my academic future.

My studies in applied English linguistics proved valuable later first in the thesis that won me a Fulbright for academic study to Harvard, and later, when I was hired by a major institute in Japan as a linguist to develop language tests, which led to my being invited to do an academic presentation at a convention in Honolulu.

Among others things I am a voiceover artist and here too my autodidactic studies were very helpful.

There is method in the madness.

Now these are just the first two myths. In the next installment(s) I will deal with the others. In the meantime, ask yourself why ostensibly “neurodivergent” people should be publishing this stuff, which really just muddies the waters.

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