ADHD is not real
Debate Rounds (5)
You say: ' It is a specific set of traits that are grouped together, it negatively affects that way that people live their day to day life' .
I have already stated this pretty much, I don't understand how this suggests that it is not 'real'. For many labels for groups of traits could be devised, and these may negatively effect someone's life. It does not make them real... Also I would add that the NHS definition for ADHD, definition being the symptoms (as these are the only thing that is there), is very vague, not at all specific. 'High energy levels' 'Lack of attention' etc. These are present in all people and especially children!
You say: 'Some people are unable to focus or do anything in a socially acceptable manner without medication'
'socially acceptable manner'? You mean, sit a desk and do low-grade clerical work? I'm not surprised some children find this torture, it is not natural. Not to mention all the other things in this society that influence children to be fun loving, and the stigmatization of hard work, and even the modern diet has been shown to increase all the same symptoms of ADHD. What do you say to primitive culture (or 'normal' culture as I like to call it) not having ADHD? In your view, is it a genetic mutation that is spreading quicker than thought genes could multiply? Or is it a reflection of a society not made to fit our nature? What medication would you give? and An excellent talk whereby he says that the teachers of a particular school said 'the drugs made him less attentive, less interested, less animated and more reserved, but at least he was quiet!' does that sound like a good attitude to ADHD to you?
You say: 'I do not believe that drugs are the right way to solve this problem- perhaps alternative medication or natural solutions'
So if drugs aren't the right way, it can only be a change in the environment and the learned cognition of the individual. Therefore it must have also of been this that caused it, surely? So if you believe this to be true we have no argument. Though you say alternative medicine or natural solutions, so I don't know if you are talking of medicine.
So please answer the issues I brought up in my opening statement: Basically that it is a reflection of an unnatural life. We all live it, but I am saying ADHD is not something you are born with nor can you acquire it without relevant influence.
I am sorry but this statement is completely false. For one, all children would not be less attentive because they all have had different upbringings. To say one does not acquire the trait of being unable to focus on a particular task is ridiculous, our personalities are even being shaped in the womb. There is ample research showing this. Our body and everything in it is effected by its environment as soon as it has an environment. If the mother is stressed in pregnancy the child will be more prone to addiction, anger problems and disruptive behaviour. So if even at this stage or personality is being formed, why is it so strange for us to acquire hyperactivity or the inability to focus. (and I must add that ADHD does not give you an inability to focus, it makes you more likely to get bored of things that don't interest you. Indeed you may focus more than 'normal' people on things you enjoy). So I am assuming you have limited knowledge of genes and the biology of behaviour? Anyone who knows about this in detail will tell you that genes are not determinants of behaviour or life, they are flexible (environment) to the point of completely self-destructing or changing completely. They are like an instruction book, that doesn't always need to be read in full, nor followed to the letter if the circumstances call for it. Indeed it is more complex than a book, for it has the capacity to change ITSELF in response to the environment and not just change transcription.
The most flexible genetics are the ones coding for behaviours,, behaviour is basically hormone (on a biological level) and we know that hormones change in response to environment. For example there are thousands of types of receptors that pick up the same hormone, there can also be a lot, or not many of these, also the nerve cells 'characteristics' can be effected by other hormones, and the proteins that release these hormones can be made in different ways, the genes that code for all these variations respond to environment. It is impossible to talk about biology without environment. For example if you put a new born baby in a room on its own (for one you would have to feed it and that would diversify its environment, not to mention prenatal effects) it would die before long. So it is impossible to study the human outside the context of environment. For you to be thinking that we are born with genetically determined personalities that are set and are almost unchangeable is shocking to me, I thought we had all moved on from this. This kind of mentality is not so far from eugenics and other social models that lead to discrimination.
You say. " It is not the environment that creates hyperactivity and attention deficit, it is the person."
What does this mean? I it what I said before about the genetically determined behaviour?
Another example of the circumstances of the environment changing personality follows: Children who are abused actually have a gene completely changed, that is not present before the abuse.
You say. " I have personal experience with a school for Dyslexic and ADHD children and they still act exactly the same as they do in a regular school environment"
Yes because they are already like that, perhaps over many years this would decrease, but I don't understand how this shows ADHD to be a product of genetics and and not society.
We are born with some personality traits that cannot be changed. Over time people adapt their personalities to fit their environment. Different schools teach different values, come children are taught to be sharing and giving, while others are taught to fight for everything. But over time these behaviors change as the person's environment changes. ADHD is always there, it may taper off a little as people get older but it stays with them their entire lives it does not change based on the environment. Even in schools for children with ADHD the children do not become calmer or more able to focus. In my experience they are still medicated and they still have the hyperactivity, the schools just try to unleash all of that pent up energy. They cannot change the person no matter what they do.
This school was K-8 and even after nine years children still had severe ADHD. You say "perhaps over many years this would decrease", but after nine years they still have ADHD. If their "personality" cannot be changed after nine years than I think that that is a clear indicator that this is something that cannot be influenced by environment.
You imply that by believing that people are born with certain unchangeable personality traits we are promoting discrimination and eugenics. By not letting people believe this we are promoting eugenics. For hundreds of years unrecognized minorities have been bullied and discriminated against because they were not publicly recognized for being different. They were outcasts and alone, they were the same group but they were not united. By not admitting that children with ADHD have a known disorder we are letting them go back to being the badly behaved kid in the classroom. By diagnosing them and telling them that they are not alone we are preventing discrimination. It is the attitude of denial that creates discrimination, not recognition of the difference.
So anyway, your argument:
You say: "Then why are certain people all over the world exhibiting a specific set of symptoms or "behaviors." Well, they are not, this is what I have been saying all along. 'Difficulty focusing on schoolwork' 'high energy levels' 'Fidgeting' (in school I remind you) are hardy 'specific' traits are they? I would even go so far as to say they are common, or even predictable in the circumstances.
You say: "And what about other disorders? Are they also just behaviors? What about Autism and Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder." Well I say pretty much the same thing, schizophrenics and bipolar sufferers are far more likely to have has traumatic experiences in childhood or even extreme circumstances. Genes do not determine behaviour, the predispose only, this is not predetermination. I do not know enough about autism to comment, though I am aware of people who have been 'falsely' labelled with it and I am not wholly convinced by its determination. Skitzophennia however I have some experience with and from this I believe that it is environmental. Also courses like (Human behavioural biology, Robert Sapolsky) explain in detail how schizophrenia, bipolar and even perhaps autism are largely environmentally determined. But this debate is about ADHD and this is most certainly not predetermined, at best it is predisposed but I don't believe its this simple at all.
You say "Personality is influenced by environment, but it is all based off of genes." Well not exactly. For example, a particular gene that is more common in the most violent people. However, the carriers of this gene had to of been abused as children, if they had this gene but where not abused, they where actually less violent than average. Violent people without this gene where not always as violent as the ones with it though. So its not like "genes set the basis" and "experiences goes from there" its far more subtle, beautifully complex and counter-intuitive.
You say: "Some babies are more calm than others, some play better with other babies. These are just the genes that they were born with," I have explained this, we are 9 months old when we are born! We have evolved to 'evolve', in the safety of the womb, to the world we are about to enter. There is a lot of research showing the effects of the prenatal environment on the unborn baby, showing stress for example to make babies more prone to addiction, mood swings ect. So how much more subtle personality shaping is going on in there?
You say: "We are born with some personality traits that cannot be changed." Not true. If you abuse a child he/she will change. So with that as a factual basis, we can assume everything effects your personality to some degree, even if only slightly. Also, to illustrate the power of the situation on the individual, I ask you to think about the numerous hypnotists that can make people think they are a chicken from merely effecting the environment. Our minds our powerful things, not in our control, we can convince ourselves of almost anything and self fulfil it until it feels natural.
You say: "after nine years they still have ADHD. If their "personality" cannot be changed after nine years than I think that that is a clear indicator that this is something that cannot be influenced by environment" Well not if their environment hasn't changed in a way that would change this behaviour. The people who run these schools are still not fully aware of what it is (I am not saying I am). Also its factors in the outside world that cause ADHD as well as school, so I imagine that ADHD school isn't worlds apart from a normal school, and thus its no wonder the 'condition' continues.
You say: "By not admitting that children with ADHD have a known disorder we are letting them go back to being the badly behaved kid in the classroom" I am not saying put them back into the classroom, I am saying the classroom 'caused' it! I am saying we need to rethink our idea of education, we need to understand children and human beings in general more and fit society to their needs. It is not engaging children properly that has spawned this epidemic, along with bad diets, poor role models and a frankly confusing society.
Also I would like to add to my first point: If the current method of dealing with it is working, why is ADHD become more common, and why does that correlate with the increase of medication. Surely the more medication, the less ADHD, and surly if us being aware and labelling it is helping, it should be on the decrease. No, it will never change until the underlying societal factors are fixed. And this is testament to the fact that it is avoidable and not a life sentence inscribed at birth.
Also, the reason why labelling people is more like eugenics than not labelling is because it gives no way out. It says to anyone not conforming that you are a problem person who should be delt with through medication of punishment. If we understand these people, we will find that they in fact have as much to offer as the rest of us. Recognizing the difference, too you means, labelling a person as a disease. I recognize the difference and I attempt to avoid it and combat it, because I would of said to a sufferer of ADHD that he is not permanently bad because he was born that way, I would say he is misunderstood and I would ask them what it was they wanted to do.
You show the example of one gene that is changed by environment, but fail to mention hundreds of others that are for the most part not.
being in the womb does affect personality, but only a tiny bit.
The ADHD school that I speak of was one of the most alternative schools that I have ever seen. Every morning they would provide intense exercise of the children for an hour. Then the children were provided with specially trained private tutors, every hour they would have a break. And every Friday they would spend all day outside. That sounds pretty far from normal to me. You say that the classroom caused it. Then why don't all children have it? Do some have some genetic predetermination that could be causing this? ADHD might be becoming more common is genetics, if parents pass down ADHD to their children then it should be increasing exponentially.
This is true, so if the symptoms where specific, such as hearing voices, severely impaired social skills and fits for example, then yes. If sufferers of all three symptoms where sparsely divided into the society, and over a wide range of social backgrounds, then it would be considered a biological problem. But the symptoms of ADHD go hand in hand. Difficulty paying attention in school, hyperactivity and high energy levels all go hand in hand. Its not like you wouldn't expect to see one without the other. This also suggests that it is organic, as its typical of a person who has a lot of energy too struggle to sit still for hours on end and learn about boring stuff. Its not like hearing voices or having down syndrome, its just a personality.
You say: "You show the example of one gene that is changed by environment, but fail to mention hundreds of others that are for the most part not."
Im sorry but where have you learned this? Genes are not set, the are like an instruction book for things that is only consulted when needed and is adapted to the environment. If genes where set then why, if I had an incredibly traumatic experience tomorrow, would the genes of my second child be different to that of my first? Also how do you think animals have evolved without genetic malleability? I cannot go into the details of genes and their relationship with the brain and the brains effect on personality. But let me tell you its not what 99% of people think, its far more complex. Almost ALL psychological conditions can be avoided. I accept that many people will never change, but this does not mean that there behaviours are built in from birth. Indeed they are built in, their brains are hard wired to that personality and their genes even reflect it, but it DOESNT mean that they HAD to peruse that route. The gene evolves in life in order to mean the requirements of the environment. Watch (humanbehaviouralbiology. Sapolsky) Or anything with Robert Sapolsky. Genes are read by other systems in the body that 'choose' what to read. For example if you put the gene that says 'put eye here' from a mouse into a fly, the fly will grow the eye there, but it will be a fly eye, not a mouse eye. Gene biology is still very much undiscovered, and so to simply say that hyperactivity and a low attention span for children in school is some kind of new unavoidable genetic condition, that needs medication and cannot be avoided, is ridiculous, lazy and even damaging.
You say: "being in the womb does affect personality, but only a tiny bit."
This isn't very scientific, we don't know how much it effects personality. It could even be a lot as this is the time when a person needs to learn as much as they can as quickly as they can about the world they are about to enter. But who knows, such a claim as you have made is not very accurate.
You say: "Every morning they would provide intense exercise of the children for an hour. Then the children were provided with specially trained private tutors, every hour they would have a break. And every Friday they would spend all day outside. That sounds pretty far from normal to me."
It doesn't too me. No offence to the school its doing its best and its not a bad approach, but they are not thinking outside the box. For pupils could only come to school once a week and pursue one of their interests at home or somewhere more appropriate depending on their passion. Who knows, the point is its still school, just more relaxed. And also there are other factors, general ignorance amongst the population about human psychology and human health, also media that makes children not see the point of an education, as so many their role models are violent action hero's or sluty women.
You say: "You say that the classroom caused it. Then why don't all children have it? Do some have some genetic predetermination that could be causing this? "
No. All children do have it, just not as much to be labelled as having it. And the reason why some children are less and more energetic than others, is because of their life. They all have had totally different lives. Everybody gets bored in class and looses attention at times, and we all can have days where we have more energy. Its not like schizophrenia where nobody can relate too you as your symptoms are things like hearing voices and other, alien behaviours.
You say: "ADHD might be becoming more common is genetics, if parents pass down ADHD to their children then it should be increasing exponentially."
It takes generations and generations for genetic disorders to spread throughout a population. And it would not be growing more and more in the more developed countries now, for such a trait would have been much more useful hundreds of years ago and so it would of spread now and not be on the increase right now.
So a lot of people think ADHD is real because they no somebody with it, or even have it themselves. I don't mean to offend anyone I actually don't believe ADHD to be a bad thing. And by that I mean, I don't think having an energetic personality which is very spontaneous and creative is a bad thing. School is boring and we all know that, we know that we can be interested in science, but not like sitting a desk for hours on end learning about a specific piece of information at 9 in the morning. When all your mates are there and its sunny outside, and you live in a society with less authority than 50 years ago. Its hell for most students, don't be fooled by people saying they loved school when they are 22 or older. They are exhibiting positive memory syndrome, most of them really didn't like it 80% of the time. (20% being break time). (I must admit as you probably know, these figures are made up for no such research has been done, I ask the readers to ponder this point and comment with your opinion on this idea, its lazy I know). So people like this need to be properly engaged more than the rest of us do. 40% of people don't get 5 grade a to c in the UK at GCSE level. (1). Many of these are forced to do it anyway, and not necessarily because they actually have a passion for any subject. Most people get there heads down and endure it, others flunk it and don't really care, others cannot take the $h!t, and this is perhaps where the ADHD sufferers come in. They are not badly behaved children for this is nonsense, they are misunderstood and probably more effected by the obscenities in our society, for if they have the right environment and circumstances they can thrive more than 'normal' people. So to treat it like a disorder, a genetically determined 'problem' is wrong, it should be a sign to the government that we need change in our education system and change our culture. No that there is some fluke disorder that is spreading like a disease or something that means we must drug our children and sedate them! Insane.
There is no evidence for ADHD. None at all. It is a term given to children who exhibit normal behaviours to an extent that is created by the observer. All it is, is a child struggling to concentrate (because they don't want to) in school, and having high energy levels. I believe the growth of ADHD in society is actually a result of growing disinterest in education (due to many factors); less discipline; a culture of instant gratification and comfort; a decrease in obedience to our elders and less value given to hard-work and thriftiness. Even somebody totally sceptical of this new understanding cannot argue that these factors potentially increase the chances of the symptoms of 'ADHD' occurring. We all know that the children of this generation are different with the way technology and culture is changing. Schools haven't changed its no wonder there is conflict. Do you really think its more likely that a fluke genetic disorder appeared and is now spreading across the country? Also genetic disorder that supposedly changes brain function, a thing now understood to be much much more complicated than that, something that is a reflection of the life it leads.
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