As a hyperactive and gibbering youth, it was once suggested by a teacher that I might benefit from being treated for ADD. Upon hearing this advice, my father — sage and saturnine — said this: “We had kids with ADD back in the 50’s. The way the teacher treated them was by walking to the back of the class, opening the sufferer’s desk, inserting the kid’s cranium into it and them slamming it over and over and over again until the child was subdued. You do that a few times to a ten year old’s noggin, he quickly learns to pay attention, psychological imperatives be damned.”
In short, my father meant ADD is a scam — a nice handy catch-all phrase to justify medicating kids who don’t conform or pay attention. It’s also a handy excuse for not living up to expectations.
On that note, the Public Library of Science has identified ADD as a disorder that the pharmaceutical industry is “diseasemongering” — an industry term for promoting non-existent illnesses, exaggerating minor illnesses or treating risk factors as diseases to sell medication. They’ve also identified osteoporosis, female sexual dysfunction, restless legs syndrome and anti-impotence medications as examples of diseasemongering.
PLoS’s well designed website is full of articles justifying their claims. They warn that diseasemongering actually decreases public health awareness, essentially being an industry sponsored case of hypochondria, detracting resources and attention from serious disorders.