Zoë Kessler, friendly neighborhood ADHD slutRecently, two of my (male) ADHD blogger colleagues wrote dueling blog posts about famous women with (confirmed or alleged) ADHD.

As promised on my Twitter feed, I’m weighing in.

In one corner, we have Bryan Hutchinson’s inciting post (Bryan is the creator of ADDer World). Bryan’s post was called 4 Most Famous, Cool, Succcessful, [sic] ADD Bad Bad Girls of ADHD! And Another Myth Debunked.

In the other, blogger Jeff Siegel’s comeback titled, The New Female ADHD Role Model: The Alcoholic, Drug-Abusing Slut.

As a woman diagnosed late in life with ADHD I’m amply aware of the challenges involved in living with the condition. Like my esteemed colleagues (both of whom also have ADHD), I too am working to educate others.

On that count, I fear both men have lost a tremendous opportunity in their discussion.

On the surface, both appear to be (and I’m sure believe themselves to be) supporting women, albeit from radically different perspectives.

For those of you who haven’t read their blog posts, why not go ahead and read them now? It’s ok; I’ll wait.

If you don’t want to read them, here’s a brief overview

Hutchinson’s portrayal of  “cool” and “successful” women runs the gamut from being “cool” for going to jail; to being a successful entrepreneur, and possibly “…the most successful ADHD woman ever from a business perspective.” (Paris Hilton)

He writes about Britney Spears’ meltdown and recovery, and Miley Cyrus’ naughty-but-nice persona.

Finally, Lindsay Lohan is presented as the fourth member in his rompin’ rhombus, his untamed tetra of ADHD coolness. Hutchinson notes Lohan’s very public struggles with alcohol, and says he likes her movies.

The point of Hutchinson’s post? He sums it up by saying that the most famous girls on the planet happen to have ADHD. His final point is that he’s now debunked the myth that you can’t have ADHD and be famous and successful.

Coming out with both guns blazing is our other champion of the weaker sex, blogger Jeff Siegel (Jeff’s ADD Mind).

Siegel, proud papa of two daughters, seems horrified that these four women whom he refers to as alcoholic, drug-abusing sluts, are being held up as role models for his daughters.

While superficially both men appear to be championing the feminine gender, I found much of what they’ve written both problematic and missing the point.

My two (or four or 1000 cents’ worth)

Siegel says, “Whether they have ADHD or not is, quite honestly, not the point.”

Really?! I beg to differ.

Consider the research:

- impulsive women with ADHD are 7 times more likely to become pregnant

- the incidence of ADHD in the female jail population is higher than the norm

- people with ADHD have a higher divorce rate

- the link between ADHD, alcohol and substance abuse has been shown in repeated studies

- fledgling research points to a connection between women with ADHD and a higher incidence of eating disorders (this may not apply to any of the women mentioned by Hutchinson, but it well might)

Calling a woman who suffers from ADHD an “alcoholic, drug-abusing slut” is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

It is just this kind of negative labeling that writers like me, and, I’d hoped like Siegel and Hutchinson, are trying to curtail.

As adults, we’re all responsible for our actions, yes. But vilifying women with ADHD as Siegel has, is no less abhorrent and no more helpful then when the uninformed call adults with ADHD lazy, crazy, and stupid (among other epithets).

If indeed these four women have ADHD, they too suffer from the same executive functioning deficits that you, Jeff, and you, Bryan, and I share.

If indeed these four women have ADHD, they too suffer from the same executive functioning deficits that you, Jeff, and you, Bryan, and I share.

Let’s look behind the labels

Their impulsivity, addictions, and who knows how many other ADHD traits and by-products by definition put these women at a much higher risk, through no fault of their own, than the general population.

Possibly complicating matters is low self-esteem, and high levels of shame, both of which are much more characteristic of women rather than men with ADHD. (And there’s no reason to believe that just because they’re famous now, they somehow managed to escape internalizing these emotions as girls, which research shows is when it begins in females with ADHD.)

NOTE to Bryan: “girls” means before they reached puberty. I’ll explain that more later.

Let me be clear: if these women do have ADHD, they suffer from a highly inheritable, neurobiological condition. And yes, their ADHD is highly relevant.

Higher standards under more demanding conditions?

Just because they’re rich and famous, why should these four be held to higher account than the rest of us? Especially when (and here I think Jeff, Bryan and I would all agree) ADHD is highly treatable, but definitely not curable.

I would suggest the opposite case is true: if these women have ADHD, heaping additional demands of challenging childhoods (in some cases) and constant public scrutiny and expectations that come with fame could only make ADHD more, not less, difficult to manage.

In this I have to agree, Jeff: these are not great role models for women. If anything, they’re cautionary tales.

On the other hand, rather than suffering our disdain and judgment, I would see them treated the same way that I, or any of us who struggle with ADHD, would like to be treated: if not with respect, then at least with compassion and understanding.

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR OUR EXCITING CONCLUSION:  Success, Judgment, and Whether or Not Yours Truly is Also an “ADHD Slut”

 

Follow ChickADD44 on Twitter

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 4 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.






    Last reviewed: 27 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2012). With All Due Respect, A Collegial Rebuttal (Written by Your Friendly Neighborhood ADHD Slut). Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2012/06/with-all-due-respect-a-collegial-rebuttal-written-by-your-friendly-neighborhood-adhd-slut/

 

ADHD
From A to Zoë



Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed

Archives



More on
ADHD



ADHD According to Zoe
ADHD According to Zoe
Check out Zoë Kesslers's brand new book,
ADHD According to Zoë, as well as her previous bestseller, Adoption Reunions.

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • http://abaftquilt3965.skyrock.com/: This discussion will help the physician in understanding the amount of an...
  • Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.: Hi Aaron. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree that more research would...
  • aaran: Zoe, thank you so much for the article… children are born with ADHD, however emotionally abusive family...
  • billb: Hey Zoe First, let me thank-you for your articles on ADD. They have helped me a lot. I too was diagnosed late...
  • ADHD Mom: I had to post this to my fb because not all my friends and family understand what’s it like living...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!