There are still people who believe that ADHD is a myth. The sad truth is that there are a few people who have managed to acquire some credibility and are now using that credibility to perpetuate the myth that ADHD has been “manufactured.” Every month, a new article surfaces suggesting that ADHD is a fabrication. Often it is suggested that “big pharma,” or the pharmaceutical industry is behind this so called “made up disorder.”
Additionally, main stream media reports on these few so called authorities as if they are a valid alternate opinion in an evenly divided medical community. The truth is that millions of mental health professionals the world over are in agreement that ADHD is a fact based diagnosis with valid, readily definable and recognizable symptoms, while only a handful of questionable authorities are denying it’s validity. Reporting that there is a split in the medical community is like reporting that the world is divided evenly on whether or not the earth is flat or round.
Furthering this myth would seem to be the purpose of conspiracy theorists who, for some reason, need to have a cause to rally round. They manage to gather together and magnify a few bits of misconstrued and misrepresented statistics into a body of rhetoric, using cyclical citations that refer back to other similar collections of non facts that possibly cite back to the false articles that cited them.
There are myths involved in ADHD, and the myth that ADHD isn’t real is the first one. The second one is that ADHD is caused by diet or food additives. ADHD is a developmental disorder. There is no doubt that diet affects the symptoms of ADHD, most context does. But ADHD is not *caused* by diet.
The third myth about ADHD is that it is caused by poor parenting. ADHD is highly heritable. That means it is often an inherited disorder. The genetic predisposition for ADHD can come from either parent, but the parent from which it came will often be diagnosed when they recognize themselves in the details they hear of the diagnosis that their child has been given.
There is the possibility that the parents of a person with ADHD do not seem to engage in the process of parenting in the same way that others do generally, but since they have a high likelihood of at least one of them having ADHD, a unique approach to child raising is to be expected. In truth, however, adopted children who develop ADHD within a family where no one else, including other siblings, adopted or not, proves that ADHD occurs where it will, regardless of parenting skills.
It should be noted that, like food, parenting can exacerbate symptoms. But it should also be noted that parenting, carried out by a parent with ADHD, can also teach coping skills and aid in increased functionality for the child with ADHD.
The fourth myth is that everyone has ADHD. While everyone has experienced the symptoms of ADHD, an ADHD diagnosis requires more than just that. An ADHD diagnosis requires symptoms to be present and pervasive in life across more than one aspect, like work, school, home life, social life. The symptoms also must show a negative effect on the subjects life and must have been present in the subjects life from before the age of twelve. The difference between the symptoms experienced by the general population and those with ADHD is in both frequency and intensity. Nearly everyone has experienced entering a room and wondering what they came to that room to do or get, but for most, that’s a rare occurrence. For the person with ADHD this is a situation that occurs daily, multiple times each day.
The fifth myth about ADHD is that everyone with ADHD will grow out of it. Usually the effects of ADHD will change as ones development becomes complete. But it is likely that those effects will not go away. If symptoms are accepted as part of the singular make up of the persons character, and are compensated for by learned behaviors, it may seem that ADHD has gone into remission. This would be the result that treatment seeks to accomplish. The only caveat would be to watch for relapse (for want of a better term) in situations of high and/or prolonged stress.
Someone with ADHD is someone who’s brain developed differently from those of the population that do not experience ADHD. While the brain of a human continues to develop well into the third decade of life, the differences in that development that occur for those with ADHD are not likely to be compensated for later in life by remedial development.
The sixth myth is that people with ADHD are lazy, or that people with ADHD do not accomplish the things they need to accomplish because of laziness.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being lazy would imply that they do little or nothing. In reality, trying to keep up with all the things that many people with ADHD do, will soon bring about the realization that laziness is not the issue. The person with ADHD whose subtype is primarily inattentive may appear lazy, but the distractions that are going on in such a mind are likely so complete that they are incapable of focusing on their required duties. The mind, however is racing. The appearance of laziness in this case may seem to be valid, but it is not. And there is no appearance of laziness in those with combined or hyperactive subtypes of ADHD.
The seventh myth of ADHD is that people with ADHD are of lower intelligence. This is a common misconception that is often held regarding people who have one or more of many different mental health disorders. In truth, people with ADHD have an intelligence that is comparable to the general population. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that would suggest that many people with ADHD, possibly more than half of them, have a higher than average intelligence.
Certainly people who have ADHD are generally smart enough to know that these myths are just that, myths.
ADHD is one of the more misunderstood disorders, and the truth is that that need not be the case. There is a wealth of information available here on All Psych, and in general libraries and those dedicated to mental health. There is still a pervasiveness of misconceptions, but slowly they are being weeded out.