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If It Is Broke, Should You Fix It?

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On Wednesday I said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” about people who’s ADHD predated a diagnosis and who seemed to be making things work.

And I meant it. It’s absolutely imperative that we recognize that ADHD is not diagnosable if there is no perceived negative impact. That’s part of the diagnosis criteria … and it’s a good thing!

Someone could well have all the symptoms they need for a diagnosis. And they could also have had those symptoms since childhood, another criterion for diagnosis. But if they cannot relate to the diagnostician any negative impact, they should not be given a diagnosis.

A disorder is a disorder, right?

I’m not suggesting that they do not have ADHD, but ones ability to cope is directly affected by ones belief that they can cope. Telling someone they have a disorder and listing the differences that disorder is defined by may take away someones determination.

But …. but …. ???

” […] I often wonder whether I’d be farther ahead or farther behind right now if I’d never found out.”

Yes, it may not have that effect. It may make them more determined, but if they are already doing okay, is that a chance you would want to take for them? Is it a risk you’d take yourself if given the choice?

I’m glad I know about ADHD. I’m happy to be aware of it. But I often wonder whether I’d be farther ahead or farther behind right now if I’d never found out.

Is it my place to judge someone’s success?

Nope. It isn’t. I don’t have to decide that. And I’m thankful every day that decisions like that will never be mine to make.

But it is the task of diagnosticians, and it must be difficult. Imagine having to decide whether or not a diagnosis might make things worse, might actually cause more of the negative impact that a person with symptoms would obviously  want to avoid.

Imagine having to decide if someone knowing that their symptoms add up to ADHD would be the right way for them to live the rest of their life. And while making that decision you also have to be aware that if you decide yes, they will never really be able to go back.

For most of us, a diagnosis is like someone opening a window blind. You suddenly see everything in a new light. You suddenly understand things.

But you also suddenly realize why you’ve had problems with certain aspects of your life.

And you suddenly realize that you are always going to have those problems. There’s no cure, there’s no remediation. How much enthusiasm will that remove from your attempts to deal with those problems?

Lots. Trust me. I know.

So if it is broke, should you fix it? A diagnosis isn’t a cure. In that respect, you can’t fix it. And treatment should be left to the professionals. If they decide that a diagnosis isn’t going to help, that’s their idea of the best approach.

And I’m glad it’s their decision and won’t ever be mine, I couldn’t take the stress.

If It Is Broke, Should You Fix It?

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2015). If It Is Broke, Should You Fix It?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 9 Apr 2015
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