Monday, September 12, 2005

Handling ADHD In Adults Without Prozac, Ritalin Or Other Drugs

An interesting essay by Dr. Mike Adams appeared recently. It is instructive on the issue of ADHD, especially in adults, which is apparently the variety Dr. Adams has experience with:

Adams doesn't buy the adult ADHD diagnosis. He says it's fictional. His solution is highly inventive. He says:

One of the toughest things about being a teacher is dealing with all the latest “syndromes” in our culture of victimization.

Often those fictional problems take the form of “disorders” like adult ADHD. I always know which of my students have been told that they suffer from adult ADHD. They are often late and sometimes leave class early to go potty, unlike most students who go potty before class begins. They blurt out the answers to my questions constantly – always without the courtesy of a raised hand. And, usually, they fall asleep in class (probably from exhaustion) after the fifteenth or twentieth interruption. Later, they are awakened by the cell phone they forgot to turn off before arriving in class.

After being diagnosed with ADHD, two things usually happen to the newly “disadvantaged” student. First, a psychologist tells the victim that he cannot pay attention nor control various impulses. Next, he is given a dosage of drugs. Neither one of these responses actually works. In fact, telling him that he cannot pay attention – rather than that he simply does not pay attention – usually reinforces the problem. The drugs don’t work because, again, the disorder is fictional.

But, fortunately, I have discovered a cure for students with this so-called disorder, which I am now sharing (free of charge, mind you) with my readers. Here’s how it works.

At the beginning of the semester I lay out a few ground rules with my students. For example, they are not to bring cell phones into my class. They are also forbidden from walking into class after the lecture has started. But I don’t just tell students not to do these things. I also make them sign an agreement (on the first day of class) that they will not do these things under penalty of writing a research paper if they break the promise.

The first student to ever violate the agreement was named Chris. After he walked into my class very late one day, then interrupted it approximately fifteen times by shouting out the (usually wrong) answer to a question, then fell asleep in class, then woke up and went potty (thankfully in the restroom, not in his seat), I sent him the following letter:

Chris: Your research paper this semester will take the form of an interview of either:

a) A teacher, or b) A psychologist.

If you choose "A," you will be asked to conduct an interview on how the teacher’s job is made more difficult when students 1) come to class late 2) sleep in class 3) interrupt the lecture by blurting out answers without a raised hand, and 4) get up and walk out in the middle of a lecture to go to the restroom.

If you choose "B," you will be asked to conduct an interview on the causes of the following behaviors: 1) coming to class late 2) sleeping in class 3) interrupting the lecture by blurting out answers without a raised hand, and 4) getting up and walking out in the middle of a lecture to go to the restroom.

Whether you choose "A" or "B," the paper must be, at present, one page long. It is due with your final exam. Between now and then, one more page will be added to the length of the paper, each time you 1) come to class late 2) sleep in class 3) interrupt the lecture by blurting out answers without a raised hand or 4) walk out of class during the lecture to go to the restroom.

Dr. Mike S. Adams

Of course, Chris did write back to say that a medical condition – adult ADHD -was responsible for his behavior. But I quickly informed him that his condition was a fiction and that the behavior was fully under his control. Thus, the assignment stood.

Chris made the choice to cooperate. And, wouldn’t you know it, every one of the disruptive behaviors he exhibited disappeared the very next class period. Of course, he made that choice simply because it was easier than writing a 600 page research paper to cover the projected pace of about 600 interruptions he had set during the first few classes.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, and social workers around the world will surely be angry with this present column – largely because it provides a rather simple solution to a rather simple problem. They will no doubt also be angry over my seemingly calloused attitude towards those who suffer from adult ADHD. But I choose not to pay attention to them – remember, paying attention is a choice for adults – until they answer a few simple questions. For example:

Why did my solution work so immediately and so effectively after, presumably, years of therapy and drug prescriptions failed?
Will you continue to use the term “irresistible impulse” to describe what is obviously merely an impulse not resisted?
Are you at all concerned that other fictional disorders will be exposed by other equally simple experiments?
How can one be a part of a helping profession, if he does not, first and foremost, help people to help themselves?
And, finally, what will happen if you ever win your war upon free will? Will you protect people from the prospect of failure? Or will you deprive people of the prospect of success?


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