Not from my perspective.
Then why is ADHD called a disorder?
I don’t mean this to sound rude, but I really believe so many people are so high on their own dopamine, they require smooth, orderly, predictable, mechanical, boring behavior and ritual exchanges in most every situation so that they don’t get pulled out of their comfort zones or go into withdrawal stress (which might be a good thing if they looked at this withdrawal stress as Gurdjieff’s intentional suffering).
And, of course, they are the ones doing the ‘diagnosing’.
Nothing like a fear of withdrawal stress to lock in focused, rigid cognitive fixations and behaviors, eh? 🙂 At least, that’s the way it looks to me and others who seem to know about the addiction phenomena. At this point in time, the “dopamine addiction hypothesis” makes some predictions that pretty much explain these and most other observable behaviors that were previously assigned to “the stupidity virus” in software engineering circles, and the proofs are still accumulating. Of course, we now know the problem is not limited to any industry or occupation.
Like cocaine addicts, dopamine junkies don’t know that they’re junkies and they will deny it till they turn blue. There is plenty of reason to believe it is the high dopamine levels that squelch the cognitive faculty needed for them to see the state they’re in and to consider any other possibilities.
From a systems perspective it’s certainly no one’s fault because most of us are “broken in” this way in early childhood before we had any chance to learn what was really going on. We are never taught about the addictive power of our self-medicating behaviors, rituals, habits and attitudes and we tend to think of ‘addiction’ in terms of getting hooked on something we put in our bodies from the outside.
Here is an active, aware young boy who sings about ‘ADHD’ as his ‘disorder’. Without his ‘pill’ while in school, he finds it very difficult to cope with the demands for a focused compliance with the standard procedures and ritual behavior that require the high levels of dopamine binding automatically established in most of his peers by this age. When pressured to do so anyway by a demanding teacher, the results are as predictable as running a generator or pc power supply without a load on it: The increased stress with the inability to bind dopamine for calming purposes, causes his mind to race, induces a thick-headed feeling (head feels full) and to feel physically sick (like poisoning from an overdose of a painkiller or other numbing agent). Without the ‘feel good’ neurochemical binding everyone else is experiencing, he cannot tolerate the physiological effects. He simply can’t like it.
This incident is wholly predictable according to the dopamine addiction model. Of course the consequences, while predictable, are misinterpreted as his problem for which he needs a “pill” or “authoritative control”.
Here’s another young man ‘with ADD’. He describes how frustrating it can be to deal with others who are so little aware that it never occurs to them that their unthinking comments can be seen and felt for what they are: unthinking.
This guy, having done nothing more than walk into a store with a positive reinforcing statement about ‘ADD’ on his T-shirt, is forced to suffer a clerk who evidently edits out the point of the shirt’s message and launches into one of those standard “oh, you poor thing” social routines. It never occurs to the clerk that, even if ADD were a ‘disorder or disease’, a person having achieved a personal positive outlook on his situation would at best experience an unpleasant cognitive dissonance, and at worse frustration and possibly anger at this display of impulsive social commentary. Now, who’s “impulsive?” 🙂
This video is a collation of sound bites from the ‘afflicted’. A statement from HALPHprice demonstrates a cognitive overview, even while feeling a bit ‘down’:
“…yeah, ADD in children is almost a fictitious disorder. It’s made to, at least, “brand” children…so you can’t blame teachers for not being interesting…”
They’re all compelling observations as far as I’m concerned.
And here is John Cleese explaining why you won’t get creativity, or even the recognition of creativity from the majority of teachers.
If we assume for the moment that the dopamine addiction model is correct (and there is every reason to believe it is and none yet to believe it is false), what is responsible for the failure to understand what’s going on with children labeled ‘ADHD’ – especially in light of all the related neuroscience literature available and the personal observations of those with the ‘condition’? The self-medicated state and somewhat ‘numbed’ awareness of the (so-called) ‘normal’ folks?
From my perspective, the short answer is Yes, what else could it be? According to the model, here’s how it starts:
There is a behavioral/neurochemical addictive loop that drives itself in each person, once it is started. It takes coercion to start the loop. Everyone seems to be born awake, and resists the unpleasant experience until the dopamine load causes them to forget themselves and accommodating the skewed brain chemistry locks them there as addiction. That is, this applies to those folks who can become addicted!
A very similar thing occurs with adrenaline addiction (as with B.A.S.E. jumpers), but the cognitive distortion caused by the raised dopamine is different.
The cognitive distortion (which we will address separately) is a “side effect” of the raised dopamine in the addictive loop. Break an unsuspecting person out of the loop with increased novelty, and they will wake up. This happens quite easily with very young children once they get out of school and transition into “play time”. It can also happen quite easily to people we can call biased immunes – the ones who don’t have the polymorphic DRD4 gene but do clean up their dopamine secretions very quickly. They are the ones who flip-flop through life, swapping people and activities in the Boring and Interesting columns after their circumstances change the amount of novelty in their lives.
Well then, is non-ADHD a disorder?
Not from my perspective.
From the widest view, it appears that there are precious few people who really know what is truly normal for human beings. The fact is, whether I’m ADHD and you’re not, or you’re ADHD and I’m not, we both have a common enemy – the dopamine addiction mechanism.
If we can come to understand it and expose it, the possibility of eradicating this “bug” increases exponentially as more people become aware of the benefits for doing so. If that happens, we can all possess our full set of cognitive faculties and potentials. Coupled with the exponentially increased creativity of each member of society, we can maybe jump on our problems and start solving them before the majority of humanity is wiped out yet again from various calamities – natural and man-made…if we want to.
So, when you ask: “(Why) is ADHD a disorder?”, the answer you get will depend on who you ask and how much of the whole picture they can see. It’s a perspective-dependent question, after all. 🙂