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Why Is It Called ADHD?

No deficit
If there is a deficit …

Remember when I questioned the use of the word “Deficit” in the name Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder?

I pointed out that we don’t have a deficit of attention, but rather a deficit of attention control.

If we’re not paying attention to the important thing, it isn’t because we’re not paying attention to anything … it’s because we’re paying attention to EVERYTHING!

Well, now, I’m going to tell you why the word Hyperactive is in the name.


It was called ADD until a few years ago, and that would have bothered me a lot more. Because that would have meant that it was strictly an Attention Deficit Disorder and again, there is no deficit.

Okay, there are deficits, just not of attention.

So why, instead of addressing this obvious error, did they decide to add a symptom that isn’t always represented in people with ADHD?

The answer is …

It actually is represented in us all. It just isn’t seen in all of us.

The inattentive subtype of ADHD has a hyperactive mind, the impulsive subtype has a hyperactive life. We combined subtype types, we have hyperactive minds that spill out into our lives randomly.

The positive thing about calling this disorder ADHD instead of ADD is that it addresses the person with the disorder, rather than the observations of the rest of the world.

What you see isn’t what I’ve got!

If you see someone sitting at a desk, hand on a book, eyes looking a thousand miles away, you see someone whose attention is not on what they were doing. You see what appears to be someone dreaming, but do you see what is in their mind?

You don’t, but you’re tasked with the job of labeling this situation, so you call it a lack of attention.

The person may have just read a line that caused their mind to suddenly gel on a potential solution to the current conundrum of cold fusion. They may be racing through all the possible objections to this radical new idea, possibly even solving some of the roadblocks along the way.

But, yes …

Let’s call this a deficit of attention and discount this person and any possible ideas they may have.

In fact, let’s not even listen to them, they’re clearly suffering from a debilitating mental disorder. If anyone is going to solve cold fusion it won’t be someone with a mental deficit, right?

Understand. Please …

Even when I’m cruising Facebook, I’m not inattentive.

I have no deficit of attention.

And my mind is racing, making connections, finding things that fit or discarding things that don’t. It is hyperactive.

And the name?

The name isn’t wrong because of the inclusion of the word hyperactive.

It’s wrong because of the use of the word … deficit.

The deficit is all in the perception of the disorder’s manifestations.

Why Is It Called ADHD?

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 on the traditional lands of the Chippewas of Nawash in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or 7 generations and my First Nations friend's families go back hundreds of 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 am a freelance writer and I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about living with 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. (2018). Why Is It Called ADHD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Sep 2018
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