Does ADHD AhDD up?
Dominic Lawson writes in the Times that we may be too willing to create for ourselves an “illness identity”.
A gaggle of celebrities have come out to claim that they have ADHD and I see many people in the counselling professions “come out” as neurodiverse, because they fit some of the symptoms. If symptoms are a marker of neurodiversity, then half the population would join the club of fidgeters, daydreamers, sensitives, people prone to careless mistakes, nerds, people who are clumsy ; people who just don’t like piped music in restaurants, and people who are overwhelmed when asked to carry out instructions.
There are many different ways of being a normal human being, and the person who is sensitive is no more mentally ill than the person who is an emotional oaf. Is your child simply naughty or one who is labelled with “oppositional defiance”. Self-diagnosis is not OK nor is diagnosing your client, because you would need a proper assessment of your purported neurological condition, done by a suitably qualified psychiatrist.
In 2017, Professor Simon Wellesley argued against trending in psychology. Neurodiversity is the current trend and there is no such thing as normal or neurotypical. Every time we have a Mental Health Awareness week, my spirits sink, he said. We don’t need more awareness, we cant deal with the ones who are already aware. All we do is stretch and demoralise our mental health services. He pointed to a recent poll in which students self -diagnosed as having mental health problems. You have to think – he said, this is unlikely. They don’t need counselling or medication; they simply need to disconnect their phones or get away from their computers for a few hours every day.
It is unhealthy in society when normal difficulties and challenges in life due to the vast array of human variances, are pathologized and pushed into the realms of sickness. It has removed focus from helping those with real and disabling illnesses.
The effect of social media, counselling trends and the effects of peering into our smartphones or tablets all the time, will be to multiply the number of people who believe that they have ADHD, autism and the like. So countless people will join the ever-lengthening queue for adult mental health services. Or blame their problems on their brains.
Could we find a way to de-pathologise something within the normal range of behaviour and character of human beings? Fewer of us have a mental health condition than we think.