The Three Stages of The History of ADD/ADHD
Dr Kenny Handelman
The history of ADD/ADHD has gone through two stages, and it needs to evolve into one more. The three stages are:
Stage 1: The Moral Diagnosis
Stage 2: The Medical Diagnosis
Stage 3: The Strength Based Diagnosis
Stage 1: The Moral Diagnosis: For most of the 20th century (and still in many parts of the world today), ADD was a ‘moral diagnosis’. This refers to the fact that people with ADD were considered to just be ‘bad’. They were judged as weak, inadequate, and they needed to try harder. This was a dark time for the understanding of ADD. This view of the diagnosis is restrictive, negative and perpetuates shame and guilt. Although the field of ADD has moved past the stage of the ‘moral diagnosis’, unfortunately it is still around today. The press frequently reports on how ADD is due to bad parenting, weakness of character or even music videos. There is no evidence to support these beliefs (or any social causes at all) and we strongly believe that everyone needs to get far past this view of ADD. The advent of new scientific research has led to a newer understanding of ADD, which brought out the second stage…
Stage 2: The Medical Diagnosis: The Medical Diagnosis of ADD refers to the newer research which documents that ADD is in fact a real medical condition. New research in brain imaging, genetics and neuropsychology clearly established that people with ADD have differences in their brains… and these are highly related to genetics. Thus, ADD has been recognized as a real medical condition.
This new stage in the evolution of the diagnosis of ADD has led to more scientific research, and more support for the medication treatment for ADD. This stage has largely led to significant progress in the field of ADD. It has generally improved options for medical and non medical treatments, and has led to improvements in functioning and the quality of life for those with ADD.
Ideally, this stage of ‘medical diagnosis’ would have eradicated the ‘moral diagnosis’. Unfortunately, it hasn’t completely eradicated this view ‘ as mentioned above. Almost everyone considers the evolution of the diagnosis from a moral one to a medical one to be significant progress in the field.
However, there is a ‘dark side’ to the medical diagnosis. The ultimate limitation of this stage of ADD is that the medical diagnosis stage establishes the belief that people with ADD are flawed, and they have a pathology which is negative. They have ‘deficits’. This leads us to the direction that the field needs to move toward ‘ the natural evolution for ADD:
Stage 3: The Strength Based Diagnosis
This stage in the history of ADD as not yet taken hold. One could say that it is in fact a paradigm shift ‘ which we advocate the field to move toward. There are some practitioners and experts out there who are on the ‘leading edge’ and are already working in this paradigm. However, they are generally few and far between. The basics of the ‘strength based diagnosis’ include the fact that ADD has gifts within it. These are gifts which can be difficult to unwrap, and are based on the strengths that many people with ADD have.
While many medical diagnoses are considered to have no positive side (i.e. what is the ‘gift’ of arthritis, or heart disease?), when the diagnosis of ADD is made ‘ because it is in the mind ‘ it surprisingly does have gifts within it.
Right within and intermingled with the core symptoms of ADD are the gifts ‘ but you have to look for them (also nurture & unwrap them)… – An inattentive mind can be great at multi-tasking – A mind which moves rapidly from one topic to another seemingly ‘inattentive’ can see things in a way which others don’t ‘ great for ‘out of the box’ thinking – An impulsive mind which isn’t afraid of taking risks ‘ can be brave enough to innovate, and lead the world in new directions – The level of creativity in the ADD brain can be awe-inspiring – …if it is nurtured properly – And there are many more gifts within ADD if they can be ‘unwrapped’
In summary, the new paradigm for ADD is that there are strengths in it ‘ and we need to find those strengths, build on them, and change the lives of those touched by ADD and ADHD.
Dr. Kenny Handelman is a Psychiatrist who is a specialist in ADD and ADHD. He is co-author with Dr. Edward Hallowell of a FREE special report called: Find the Genius in ADD. You can download your copy right now, by going clicking here:
Find The Genius In ADD