The Medicated Generation: ADD as an Issue of Incompatibility

Dr. Lucy Jo Palladino’s foreward for The Edison Gene provides a line in the sand for diagnosing ADHD. She wrote:

In diagnostic terms, interference with daily living is the critical line that separates personality and pathology. People with ADHD may move back across that line when they adapt their environment or their environment adapts to accomodate them.

ADD refers to a set of personality traits once those personality traits make life shitty. This shittiness doesn’t stem from the person. It’s not an innate part of being hyperactive, impulsive, or having trouble focusing. Rather, it’s an incompatibility between these traits and the sort of life a person is expected to lead

Because the diagnosis of ADD so often happens during a person’s time in schools, we tend to use a rigid approach to the environment they exist in. We provide children with a round hole to go through and then tell all the square pegs that they have a problem. In other words, when we encounter an incompatibility between our expectations and our children, we tend to blame our children.

Whether or not a child was burdened with a diagnosis of ADD, the incompatibility in expectations was likely there. Many carry this into adulthood, and like it or not, the expectations of the corporate world are fairly similar to those of traditional education. Moreover, the same traits that inhibit people in school can be challenging in a number of other arenas, ranging from meeting deadlines to staying organized to finishing large projects and well beyond.

Although the identification of the “Edison gene,” explored in the above-mentioned work, begins the search for genetic factors, an ADD diagnosis doesn’t identify some fundamental on/off switch that people have somewhere in their system. It doesn’t identify an essential trait that we can judge as good or bad. It is not, as we so often describe it, an “illness.” Rather, it’s a set of traits that are commonly found together and that can cause some problems with meeting the expectations of modern living.