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Impulse Engines On

I couldn’t help it …

Why is there so much debate over the existence of ADHD?

I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know what is at stake for those who insist that it does not exist. I can’t figure that out.

I understand why debate is possible. There is so much ambiguity in just defining the disorder. Additionally, there is a great deal of uncertainty around the diagnosis. This leads to some people being on the bubble or considered potentially diagnosable.

Let’s just take one aspect of ADHD and consider how nebulous the definition and the diagnosis of that can be.

Let’s talk impulsivity

People with ADHD are prone, so the literature says, to impulsivity. I’m not denying it. Just look at my Amazon history, or at the six guitars in the music room here, or my list of half done projects, or … well, we don’t really have time for that just now.

Impulsive is the word used to describe certain aspects of the behaviour of someone with ADHD. But is that really a fair description? Consider that anything that anyone ever does, begins as an idea and then is accepted by that person as the correct thing to do.

We decide what we’re going to do …

Oh yes we do. We decide, for better or worse, every thing we do. Just as others do. An impulse is a sudden wish or urge to do something, but I submit to you that any thought to doing anything is a sudden wish or urge.

The thought wasn’t there, and then it was. People impulsively do things every day, all day long, ADHD or not.

Diagnosed or found guilty?

The diagnosis is based on whether the things we do are consistently done without contemplating the outcome, and that is determined by whether or not the outcome was to our advantage.

What I’m saying is that when I impulsively do the laundry, no one recognizes my ADHD in that action. I’m never found guilty of doing the laundry, I’m considered responsible for my actions, merely because they were the right actions.

But … what?

So what if someone with ADHD goes undiagnosed because their impulses are to do things that meet with the approval of others? What if I impulsively did my taxes on time every year? I used to do that. Yes, impulsively.

I also impulsively do and say things just for fun. They aren’t necessarily wrong or bad, but they do not come about as a result of careful consideration. I once heard someone describe ADHD as having Tourette Syndrome but speaking in full sentences. And there is a connection between Tourette Syndrome and ADHD, it is one of those “is more common among us than among the NTs” things.

So, what’s the final word?

I don’t know. It’s not for me to say. Are we more impulsive than others? Or is that just the misguided categorization because we don’t consider our actions and their results enough?

And even if you do call it impulsivity, how impulsive is ADHD impulsive?

This is why it’s hard to define

ADHD exists, of that there is only doubt in the uninformed mind. But defining it is still an ongoing task.

But bear with us, we’re becoming more knowledgeable with each passing day. And I’m not just saying that.

Impulse Engines On

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. (2017). Impulse Engines On. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from


Last updated: 17 Mar 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Mar 2017
Published on All rights reserved.