An Alternative Explanation for ADD and ADHD

ADD and ADHD are being treated, mostly in children too young to give informed consent themselves, with powerful, addictive, dangerous stimulants. How dangerous? Children have died because of such drugs as Ritalin and its relatives, all of which are amphetamines (feel free to check that with Google). Amphetamines are, of course, commonly known as speed. A large experiment is being conducted with many of America’s youth, with no control group, and woefully inadequate safety protocols.

The ADD/ADHD genes have not been found, nor has the virus, bacteria, nor parasite. Either the cause of ADD and ADHD is very good at hiding, or there simply isn’t one. Serious consideration is due to whether the term “disorder” actually applies to these conditions.

Consider this alternative explanation to the “disease model.” Humans evolved with certain characteristics related to paying attention, which is an obvious survival trait. One can try to pay attention to the myriad things going on, which I call a “wide focus,” or one can tune out most things to focus on one particular thing — a “narrow focus.”

I naturally have a narrow focus, and it takes considerable effort (and is exhausting) to widen it for sustained periods. There’s evidence on this blog:  all those geometrical patterns I like to make require intense concentration, for substantial periods, on a single activity. If ADD is real, I have its opposite.

By contrast, those who have a wide focus are more likely to notice, say, an approaching attacker than I am. Therefore, wide-focus attention is an even better survival trait that merely paying attention, or at least it has been for most of human history. Noticing lots of things, though, makes one naturally distractable, and that doesn’t mesh well with the expectations modern schools have for students — so a lot of students end up labeled and drugged, simply because they are more adapted to certain un-schoollike environments than is the average person. The natural environment in which our species evolved is, of course, nothing like school. If I were alive in the Stone Age, that wouldn’t remain true for long; some sabre-tooth tiger would easily catch me while I was drawing triangles in the dirt with a stick.

The people with a wide focus aren’t sick. There’s nothing wrong with them — except that a characteristic of theirs is not liked by many in education, who then encourage parents to turn to the medical profession — simply to alleviate conflict, in many cases, despite the very real risks to the students who are drugged, often against their will.

Evolution is a natural part of the universe. School, on the other hand, is a human invention. If there is a mismatch, as there often is, where, then, truly lies the disorder? In the students . . . or in the schools themselves?