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The Stupid Part Of ADHD Diagnosis

Diagnostic info …

I have studied the diagnosis criteria for ADHD for some time now.

I’ve also looked into past criteria, did you know it changes from time to time? Yep, it does.

And the reason it changes is not that they can’t make up their minds … well, maybe it is, sort of, but it’s really more about the fact that they’re learning more about this insidious disorder all the time.

Learning is good, right?

By learning more, I don’t mean the natural health nuts observing the placebo effects of their latest mystical potion and declaring that they’ve learned the cause and cure of ADHD.

I mean that the medical community and the CDC are constantly trying to solve the riddle of what causes ADHD and what helps mitigate the symptoms and possibly, some time in the distant future, what will actually remediate it.

But what’s the stupid part?

Yeah, see, I’m not sure that there will be agreement here, but hear me out, won’t you?

My problem is that, in order for a diagnosis to be made, a number of symptoms have to be present, but that’s not all. They have to have been present in childhood, or it isn’t ADHD.


Imagine being told this, “Yes, you seem to have all the symptoms of ADHD, but you have no history of those symptoms in the past, so we can’t diagnose you with ADHD, you have mental health issues of an indeterminate type. Oh, and without a diagnosis, we can’t prescribe treatment … sorry.”

Now maybe that seems okay for some, but I think that’s utterly ridiculous.

And that’s not all …

There’s another issue I have a problem with. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD these symptoms must be impacting your life in a negative way.

And I have two problems with that criterion.


First, who decides what a negative impact is. I spent fifty years of my life making excuses for my bad luck, blaming everything that went wrong in my life of timing and other factors. I was so proficient at it that if you had told me everything that was going wrong in my life was because of me before I figured out the whole ADHD thing, I’d have laughed at you.

So is it possible to have these negative impacts be dismissed between the minimizing of them by the reporter and the potential misunderstanding by the diagnoser? Of course it is.

And the other problem is …

What if the impact isn’t considered negative by anyone? What if there is no negative impact? What if Joe Trust Fund manages to make his way through university, goes to work at dad’s company that is set up to run itself, and he just never needs to do anything that could be sabotaged by his symptoms?

Yet, he still has those symptoms

So then what?

My gut reaction is to say, “Ha, don’t give him the diagnosis! He doesn’t deserve it.” And then I remember that none of us deserve it. It’s neither a reward nor an award.

And I remember that the diagnosis is help, and everyone deserves help.

And who’s to say that he might not become a philanthropist who helps people with ADHD? Who’s to say his life and his community wouldn’t be better with treatment for ADHD.

… oh, right, someone decided he didn’t have it, only the symptoms.

The Stupid Part Of ADHD Diagnosis

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). The Stupid Part Of ADHD Diagnosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2017/07/the-stupid-part-of-adhd-diagnosis/


Last updated: 5 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.