Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Neurobiology of a Disorder or a Difference?

analytical Essay
1837 words
1837 words

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Neurobiology of a Disorder or a Difference?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a phrase that has moved out of the realm of pure science or psychology and into common parlance. Like depression, the public has a general and vague sense of the "type" of person who may have ADHD, and has heard the name Ritalin, the main drug used in treatment, bandied about. As the name of the disorder implies, its symptoms present generally as "inattention and a combination of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors" (2). ADHD has only recently been able to be tangibly identified in the nervous system, and its' diagnostic criteria has continued to be revised. The discovery of specific physiological differences in the brain has enabled scientists to correlate the behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD with specific differences, mutations, or malfunctions in the brain. Though the scientific burden of proof cannot be ignored, the way in which we choose to define these differences as a "disorder" is debatable. Given both the scientific understanding of the sheer size of the nervous system and the more poetic notion of individuality, the neurobiological differences associated with ADHD are difficult to adequately define within the unlimited permutations of human personalities.

The current official American criteria for diagnosing the condition of ADHD, according to the DSM-IV, is based on a child presenting at least six symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or both, that have persisted for at least six months (3). Additionally, some symptoms must have been present before seven years of age, and some type of social, academic or occupational impairment must result from these symp...

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3) DSM-IV diagnostic criteria

4) fabulous paper by Bonnie Craymond linking ADHD and the creative personality

5) article from "The Medical Post" by Harvey McConnell

6) great graphic

7) pharmacology information on Ritalin

8) list of myths and corrections about ADHD

9) article from "Time" by Claudia Wallis

10)"Scientific American" article by Kristin Leutwyler

11) part of Barkley article diagramming a psychological model of ADHD

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that there is an underlying genetic mutation and that it is heritable, so that families will present similarities in adhd behavior.
  • Argues that the use of a labeled "disorder" and the negative connotations that accompany it must be questioned.
  • Argues that the social implications for educational and social success for the adhd child are perhaps the most important point.
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