Attention deficit disorder

I think ADD is a prime example of both themes we have explored this week: culturally misunderstood illnesses and placebo effects.  ADD is a common ailment among young people today.  I for one could hardly count how many people were clinically treated for it in middle school, and even more who told their teacher they had it to get an extension on a project.  There are objective signs and symptoms of ADD-type illnesses; chemical imbalances and so forth.  But I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that none of my junior high classmates were subjected to a cat scan during the testing process.  Most, I assume, were locked in an office and put through hours of testing, just like I was.  I think culture influences this experience because our expectations of students has changed over the years.  It could also be that the resources we provide students, both at school and at home, have changed in a way that has made this “disorder” more apparent in this generation than those before it.  Nobody seems to know for certain.  However, this changes the illness experience for those who are diagnosed.  In some ways, it can be a benefit fo the afflicted person.  I know I was relieved to have the diagnosis.  I had spent the majority of the previous four years grounded because my grades weren’t good and finally i had some justification as to why.  We have also come to expect quick treatment through ADD drugs like adderall and vivanse for treatment.  However, I think that the cultural implications and the strong belief in these medicines create somewhat of a perfect setup for a placebo scenario.  It is a mental condition who’s symptoms seem to be somewhat vague combined with a powerful psychotic drug that very few people could argue is ineffective.  Ultimately, it seems hard to measure what is more effective: the medicine or the effect.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Moriah Hill says:

    In my opinion, attention deficit disorder is definitely a misunderstood disorder. Before I actually did my research on the illness I thougnt that most people with the disorder were mentally illl or had some type of retardation. Although, in reality most do not, they just have more trouble than others paying attention to things and focusing for a long period of time. Signs of attention deficit disorder usually include but are not limited to not being able to pay attention to things, making simple mistakes, not being able to focus, being distracted very easily, not listening very well, not following directions well, unorganization, not finishing tasks, and sometimes losing things.
    Cultural perceptions of this illness is that the person has some type of mental problem that they cannot concentrate and handle things like others without the illness. This disorder is more often found in children and teenagers, although adults can have it too. The biomedical perception is that something in the brain is not right, like Christopher stated, a chemical imbalance. Attention deficit disorder can be controlled by medications like adderall and etc. But the more the individual focuses and keeps a positive outlook, the better they will be with dealing with ADD.
    Friends, family, and social institutions give people with ADD special attention since they need more time to process things than others without the illness.

  2. Danielle Boore says:

    I have always understood attention deficit disorder to be repeated incidences where someone has trouble paying attention, a difficult time sitting still, or performing actions that are not well thought out. My mom is an elementary school teacher, started in first grade and now fourth. She could often tell when one of her students suffered from ADD however, the parents did not believe medication was necessary. What the parents may not realize is that the medication would only help, it does not change who their child is. As Christopher mentioned he saw an improvement in his grades after he had received the proper diagnosis and medication. As you get through more schooling you hear more people blame their lack of concentration when studying on the fact that they have “attention deficit disorder” even though they have never been diagnosed. I personally do not have ADD so I’m not sure if that is offensive to people who do, but I can imagine how it would be. Also throughout college I have seen adderall being abused multiple times. Students do not only use adderall to improve their studying but use it so they can stay out longer and drink more when they go out. This might not be true because I don’t really know how adderall affects each individual but it seems that some people who take it who are not prescribed it completely change when the drug is taken. I think that a majority of this behavior is a mind game they play with themselves. If they take it to help them concentrate while studying they may over exaggerate the fact that their progress is all because of adderall, it could just be because they know they should be studying with or without the drug. After talking to my mom about her students she believes that if a kid is properly diagnosed with ADD then they should take the necessary medication.

  3. Natasha Mehta says:

    I definitely agree that ADD is a misunderstood illness in our culture. I am surprised that you had many people diagnosed with it at your middle school, because I had not even heard of the disorder till college. However, I have heard that up to ¼ of children are now diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, whether they are “treated” or not. I believe the rising number in diagnosed children definitely has to do with our society’s increasing pressure on productivity in school. As you stated, cultural expectations have changed throughout the decades, and this could very well be a cause of an increase in people with ADD. I personally believe that ADD is over diagnosed in children. While there are many that may actually need medical assistance in focusing at a normal rate, many children are diagnosed too early in life. And to start taking such mind-altering medications such as adderall at such a young age cannot be more beneficial than harmful, in my opinion. I think my perception of ADD being over diagnosed comes from my family, because growing up in an Indian household, I’ve always been expected to get good grades and just be able to do my assignments and study with no problem. Because of this, I feel like if I were to tell my parents that I think I have ADD, they would not take it seriously.

  4. Ava Peera says:

    I strongly believe that attention deficit disorder is a misunderstood medical condition. I started hearing a lot about attention deficit disorder once I got into high school and heard about it even more once I got to college. I understand this medical condition as not being able to focus, wandering thoughts, and difficulty staying on task. I also believe that ADD is often mis-diagnosed. Some people that don’t actually have ADD are diagnosed with it and some people that actually do have ADD are never diagnosed and treated. In our society today, I believe that doctors also tend to diagnose children with ADD when they might not have it. It could just come with the young age and it may get better over time. Also, in college I have witnessed many students selling their ADD medicine to other students that don’t have ADD. The medication is badly abused on college campuses. Growing up it never crossed my mind that I may have ADD so I don’t have much experience with it other than what I have observed around me. No one in my family has ADD either and I don’t believe they know much about the medical condition. I believe they would have been happy to have me get diagnosed and be treated.

  5. Carrie Blackwell says:

    Just like you I understand that Attention Deficit Disorder is a true chemical imbalance in the brain. However, I believe that because it is an illness that we do not know too much about people are receiving false diagnoses. In other words, patients who do not actually have ADD are getting prescriptions and they necessarily do not need them. Just like you have mentioned, our culture is something I think is to blame for the recent surge of so many patients having the diagnoses of ADD. Now a days there are so many requirements that need to be matched, schools kids should get into, and in the long run careers. As a culture we are constantly on the go and striving to be better. Some people feel that they cannot keep up and they lose focus and when they go to get help they may be diagnosed with ADD. The prescription drugs that are used to treat ADD do truly help someone in need. The down side is that someone who may not necessarily need a prescription drug but just more attentive help can experience side effects. Some negative side effects are an increase in heart rate, excessive weight loss, loss of appetite, headaches, dry mouth, and even depression. So in summary, ADD is a valid illness and does hold a lot of merit in many patients’ lives. However, misdiagnosed and a patient could be harmed.

  6. Maureen John says:

    Attention deficit disorder is probably one of the greatest examples of disorders that are misunderstood in our culture. I have not done much research on attention deficit disorder, but I do know that many who suffer from it have a hard time focusing for long periods of time. Many patients suffer with their grades and are often confused as to why they can’t focus. Cultural perceptions of ADD for the longest time have been that the patient is making some sort of excuse for not doing well in school or work. Some cultural perceptions also imply that the patient just wants special attention and that there is nothing really wrong with them. Biomedical perceptions of ADD imply that it is a mental illness. One important factor that I believe that caused an increase in attention deficit disorder is the increase in technological advancements. There are so many new ways to get distracted now a days that weren’t available a few decades ago. Students can easily get distracted with social media and many other technological outlets that are easily available to them. I personally know a handful of people who suffer from attention deficit disorder. Most of them take adderral and it significantly helps them focus better.

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