ADD/ADHD in America

I chose to ADD, or ADHD because the majority of my family has it, including myself.  Most of my family is either on, or has at one time tried, medication for it. The exceptions would be myself, being epileptic it’s not something I’m able to do and have learned to make do, my grandfather, who used it to his advantage running his own dental practice, and the few who have not experienced any problems due to it.  However, as prevalent and obvious as it is in my own family, I believe its often over diagnosed and even more often over medicated.  With a CBS, as with any, so prevalent among society as ADD (affect up to 1 in 20 children in the USA) its difficult to take a step back however. ADD is actually just shorthand for ADHD, which is a behavioral disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention and/or impulsivity and hyperactivity.  These can significantly impact on many aspects of behavior and performance of ones life, and can do so throughout childhood and well into adult life.   I read an article that suggested ADHD may not be as predominanetly american as it seems, it merely caught on quicker here & we’ve done more research. It argues both sides, arguing social & cultural stresses are causation.

7 thoughts on “ADD/ADHD in America

  1. I believe that ADD/ADHD in America is a perfect example of a culture-bound syndrome. As stated in the post, people being diagnosed with the illness occurs far too often, as does the prescription of medications for treatment. Up until a decade or two ago, the term ADD/ADHSD wasn’t even part of the popular vocabulary and now it is used as a broad labeling of people that can’t sit still or have a short attention span. In our current society, this tends to be an illness that people use, especially parents, as a way to explain why being over active, having a short attention span, or performing poorly in school. I don’t want anyone to think that I am completely discounting a person’s diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, there a people that truly suffer from the illness, it is just there are a large number of cases which can be attributed to a child be very active compared to other children. In addition to being diagnosed with the illness, there is an over use of medication as a method of treatment. Growing up, and even now, a lot of those around me have either had been prescribed or currently are prescribed medications in an effort to treat their diagnosed ADD/ADHD.

    In a different culture, this condition would probably be explained in the same manner I stated above. They most likely view some children as being more active or hyper when compared to other children of the same age.

  2. I am responding to Sarah’s post on ADD/ADHD in America. It is a classic example of a CBS in the United States. Only in America would it have become so over-diagnosed and medications prescribed for it to the point of about 2 out 3 children being diagnosed with it. Some of these kids do not have ADHD, they are very active kids and possibly badly behaved kids.. Some of the time they can just be kids acting like kids. In school, a lot of teachers just want these children to sit down and shut up and listen to what they are telling them. It is a culture bound syndrome in the American culture and I do not believe it is treated the same way in other cultures. In other countries, children are more disciplined and I suspect their are fewer kids with “true” attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In other cultures I think more time is spent focusing on children and their needs and making sure they grow up in the way that is expected for that culture. If some kids need more attention than others they are given it and more time is spent with them. Over-active kids are given outlets for their extra energy and they work through it and they get more individualized attention to what they are having difficulty focusing on.
    Culturally, this disorder-problem if you will is a syndrome primarily seen here and is overdiagnosed and much over prescribed for the symptoms it has and not treating the underlying problem that causes it. We should take a clue from other countries and how they deal with it.

  3. Hmm, I would have to say that I see ADD and ADHA as culture bound syndromes. It seems to me that for some children this is a legitimate diagnosis, but many others do not seem any more hyperactive than normal children. While I will concede that ADHD is a disease, there is a tendency to over diagnose children with this syndrome. I think that many children seem to be hyperactive at times, but this hyperactivity is always thought of in adult terms, rather than in the children’s terms. The advantages and disadvantages of having ADHD as a non-culture bound syndrome would be giving more credence to the doctors and medicine, while reducing stress on the parents though the use of calming medication on the children (also through attention enhancing drugs to help with schoolwork). I feel that an outsider looking in on our culture might be a bit disturbed to see that we attempt to reign in energetic children through the use of drugs. They would most likely see the children who have ADHD as being regular children, who are loud and animated. To tell the truth, I am a bit uncomfortable with the treatment of this disease on so many children, except in the cases where the child feels his or her life has been improved.

  4. A perfect example of culturally bound syndromes, would be regarding ADD/ADHD and its prevalence in America. In no other society, has anyone ever seen children, whom are naturally hyper and don’t pay attention all the time, to be forcefully given medication that slows down their processes, so that they can sit still in a classroom. For some children, this is an accurate diagnosis and these individuals need to be able to receive some sort of treatment, and are able to effectively concentrate and pay attention in class; however, it has been so overly diagnosed, that these children are on medication that they don’t need to be on, and it could most likely be causing negative side effects.
    If an individual from another culture looked at what we were doing to our children, they would be shocked and dismayed that in order to control our children, we need to medicate them so extremely and so vastly, that they literally just sit there and are unable to do anything, let alone think. This individual would see normal children, that get hyper and excited at times, and would not be able to fathom the reasoning why children are medicated in this manner. Personally, I don’t agree with this form of treatment at all, unless the child is a rare case that needs this in order to have a regular life.

  5. I do believe that Attention Deficit Disorder is indeed a culture bound syndrome, with validity in some cases. The amount of over diagnosis in America is however, incredible. Once again, it seems to be another pseudo-disorder for pharmaceutical companies to profit from. There are legitimate cases, but overall the disorder has been used to indirectly exploit the public. My biggest issue with this disorder is that it seems to be represented largely in our youth. Children naturally have more energy and desire to be active than adults. Ultimately, this whole world is new to them and everything is coming at them fast. It makes sense that focus would at times be an issue. A lack of focus could often easily be explained by youth trying to find themselves and figure out the world around them. School, which is often where the issue of ADD seems to surface, obviously might not be a child’s number one priority. This to me, does not deem medication necessary. Showing an inability to focus could be seen as a positive/advantage in a person, because it could indicate complexity and an ability to be interested in a multitude of things. In another culture, ADD could and often is seen as an American disorder. ADD in another culture could just be seen as an individual being energetic and unfocused naturally.

  6. I do not see ADD/ ADHD as a culturally bound syndrome. Brain scans show I difference between an ADD/ ADHD brain and a normally functioning brain. Some cultures just might night see it as a problem. This may be from a variety of causes. They might be either to primitive to have an advanced educational system (or any at all) or an economy that requires long periods of concentration and attention to detail. These attributes would most likely be needed in a manufacturing or information based economy. All though it might not be recognized as a problem there are other well-known problems that existed even before they were recognized. I think an example of this would be post-traumatic stress disorder. It was a very real problem even if the masses did not recognize it. It finally started being noticed after the civil war when it was referred to as soldier’s heart. Although it might not have been recognized it did without a doubt exist, throughout history. The writings of a 14th century knight provide interesting insight (I will include a link to the article.
    This being said I think ADD/ ADHD is WAY over diagnosed in the United States, and medication is given to extremely young children who don’t need it, or even do not have the condition at all.

  7. I think that you choice of a CBS is quite interesting. I when listening to the lecture ADD/ADHD was not one of the first things to come to mind as a CBS. Reading over your argument I would have to say that I agree with your choice. It is slightly different in the fact that there is medications that you can take to hep deal with the effects of the CBS but in my opinion it is still influenced by the preset standards of society. In America I find that we overall are attracted to things that move faster and work easier for us. So when it comes time to diagnosis a child with ADD or ADHD it is often done without much of a second thought. The child may just be slightly excited while at the appointment and then next thing the parents have a prescription for medication. The advantages of recognizing this as a CBS is that the environment around the child will be looked at more closely maybe a environmental trigger will be figured out and lifestyles can be adjusted accordingly. Also by recognizing ADD/ADHD more people will be accepting of methods of treatment that do not include the use of drugs.
    I don’t that in other culture ADD/ADHD was viewed as some sort of problem that the child had. I feel that in a more rural, native culture the child would be viewed as having an active spirit that keeps him excited and moving around. I don’t think that they would see it as something that needs to be fixed by medical intervention.

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