University of Toronto, Canada
Title: Validity of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) as a neurobiological disorder of the central nervous system.
Biography: Ms Kaliopi Dimitrakoudis
Years of medical research have confirmed the validity of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) as a neurobiological disorder of the central nervous system. However, ADHD has been misunderstood from the beginning. For many years both physicians and lay persons questioned the existence of ADHD. More recently, rather than deny its existence outright, ADHD is challenged more indirectly by having its importance trivialized. This popular trivialization of ADHD is my topic. The trivialization of ADHD takes many forms: in claims that ADHD is seriously over-diagnosed, that its treatment is a stimulant medication rather than a prescription, and that what people see as ADHD is just the effects of new cultural developments weakening our capacity to stay focused. It points to traits accentuated with new digital technologies that present information in an emotionally satisfying but limited way. Similarly dismissive is the myth that ADHD is a condition that affects everyone in the population. (Aren’t we all just a little ADHD?). Other popular tropes are that ADHD is a social construct (in some de-legitimizing sense of that term), the product of bad parenting, or the result of living in the modern world. In this paper, I challenge the trivialization of ADHD on three grounds. First, I discuss how ADHD involves the dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems. This section will discuss ADHD from a molecular biology standpoint, focusing on neurotransmitters, drug targets, and neuroanatomy. Second, I argue that the popular myths of ADHD are not supported by the most current neuroscience into the disorder. This then leads into the third and final point I want to make: the recent trivialization of ADHD can have tragic consequences for those with the disorder: namely, they create stigma and are a form of epistemic injustice. I draw on lived experience accounts to show how the myths of ADHD lead to harmful consequences for those with the disorder. Recognition of the reality of ADHD patients as unique is a necessary pre-requisite to promote the well-being of those with ADHD.