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Friday, November 18, 2005

Fathers and ADHD?

Dr. Helen (the Instawife) has an interesting post up on a new book that points to a study that showed ADHD might be related to a lack of a positive father figure. ADHD of course, like many psycological problems, is probably a catchall phrase for a number of syndromes that may in fact be unrelated to one another. I suspect that in some cases ADHD is a result of actual brain chemistry problems while in other cases it is merely learned behavior (or perhaps lack of correct learned behavior.) It is notoriously difficult to make a medical diagnosis purely from symptoms, and this is especially true with psychological illnesses. It would obviously be untrue to claim that all people diagnosed with ADHD lack a positive father figure. I know a young man who has been diagnosed ADHD who has a very positive father figure. That being said, the hypothesis that a general shortage of positive father figures in our society correlates with the increase in ADHD cases is worth thinking about. Another related thought brought up in the comments to Dr. Helen's post is speculation on the lack of male teachers, particularly at the elementary levels as well as lack of discipline in schools in general. I expect that all of these things contribute to the problem to some extent. This comment, also by Dr. Helen, seems very appropriate as well:

In general, I do believe that ADHD is a true condition with an organic base in some children--those are the ones who require medication--I have seen these kids in my office and refer them for medication which,like one commentor stated, can be a godsend. But I have seen the other side also, where ADHD is given as a diagnosis when discipline and the word "no" has not been consistent enough. I had one teacher who was so tired of one boy's antics that she wanted me to diagnose him with bipolar illness so he could get some lithium. I explained that if a child could control his behavior when he wanted to (as was the case with this boy) that he did not have bipolar disorder. I started attending his school for observation, assisted the teachers in a treatment program, and provided structure for him and his behavior improved. My post was not meant as a slam against parents, for I believe we have enough difficulty--it is meant to show how research that does not have politically correct results often gets the shaft.


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