The Natural History of ADD?

I have just enough experience in this category to be dangerous. I took a couple of years of abnormal psychology in college. The topic depressed me too much so I switched to astronomy. I didn’t graduate in astronomy either.

I’d like to start this long-winded rant with a poll if you don’t mind. Think carefully about the question if you would.

If I were in school today

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Getting back to the subject, I was listening to Dr. Dean Adell today on our local talk radio station and he hit a topic, and a rant, that made some sense to me. He got cut off and didn’t fully elaborate his particular opinion, but I liked it so much I wanted to explore it here. The following is not Dr. Adell’s opinion, he just laid the very basic concept out, the opinions are purely mine. ( Unless he wants to share credit in this rant. )

Namely, ADD and ADHD are not actually disorders. This struck me as a radical thought, but frankly, a thought I’ve had for a long time. He just put it in a way I had never heard before, but hear me out, it makes sense.

For 99% of the history of mankind, he relied on two abilities only, hunting and farming. The instincts for farming are to be able to concentrate on the task at hand, to be very methodical, and, most importantly, to be very patient. The instincts for the hunter are the exact opposite. You have to be alert, you have to be aggressive, you have to have very quick responses, and, the task at hand had to be very brief. Those hunters that did not have those abilities would have succumbed to those that did. Evolution was not very generous for about 100,000 years. The process of the weak being eliminated eventually bred the fastest, most alert, and most adaptive hunters. This process evolved realistically until the 19th century.

Now, fast forward to the 1990’s. Kids who concentrate, are methodical, and patient are rewarded in school. Kids who are alert, aggressive, and can’t deal with a process that takes very long ( studying ) are punished. Now we’ve even given them titles to identify those traits, ADD and ADHD. We give them drugs hoping they can adapt to concentrate, be methodical, and patient. In other words, hoping the hunters become farmers.

In today’s society, our school systems can’t deal with the hunters. The education system is based on learning rote. We don’t do this in active ways, we do it in passive ways, reading. We expect them to sit quietly in class while information is pumped into their brains like a factory. The hunters are genetically not equipped to do this. And I, in agreement with Dr. Adell, don’t think it’s necessary that our hunters become farmers. The reason mankind overwhelmed the rest of the animal kingdom was because man was more adjustable to all climates and conditions. The reason this was true was because man could either hunt or farm. No other animal has that capability. It bought man enough time to develop his mental skills to develop his own environments and technologies that now separate us completely from the animal kingdom. And, the skills of the hunter and farmer both are equally as important today. The farmer has established his place in today’s society, but the hunter seems to be having a problem.

Not everyone needs to be book smart. In fact, most people don’t need to be. That does not mean they can not contribute to society. The hunters are the ones that build things, protect us, and do the jobs the farmers don’t have the skills to do nearly as well. But, society IMO is doing itself a total injustice by treating the hunters as if they have a mental problem. Rather than diagnosing kids as ADD and ADHD and doping them up so that they can sit in a classroom, let’s put them in vocational schools and treat those schools as respectfully as we do book schools. Today’s mechanics make as much as most lawyers. Hell, we need a lot more mechanics now than we do lawyers.

Think about this for one second. We’re giving amphetamines to kids for a “mental disease” that didn’t exist 20 years ago. We’re teaching these kids that the only way to be normal is to be hooked on drugs.  That’s wrong folks, that’s bad wrong. A lot of people are now finding “reasons” for the sudden blight of ADD and ADHD, blaming it on video games and such. It’s not the kids, all kids are addicted to excitement. It’s the adults. We’ve got too many farmers and not enough hunters in our school system.