Gongol.com Archives: March 2024

Brian Gongol

March 4, 2024

Health Must everything stem from a diagnosis?

A Twitter user whose profile touts their status as a "neurodivergent blogger/author" submits the observation that "ADHD-ers usually have an interest-based nervous system. Meaning that a task needs either novelty, urgency, competition or interest for them to be motivated or focused. Learning this and adapting boring, everyday tasks to fit into one of these categories can be life-changing." A fine enough observation, perhaps, but what on Earth makes that an observation specific to a clinical diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder? ■ Strip away the para-scientific prelude sentence, and it describes most anyone with consciousness and sentience. Nobody enjoys "boring, everyday tasks" -- by definition! That's the literal purpose of the word "boring". Finding tricks to make boring tasks seem more interesting is probably productive for people with ADHD. It's also probably productive for most people without ADHD, as well. ■ Little passages like this one wouldn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, if it weren't for the insidious way in which they encourage people to think of perfectly normal stimulus responses as being symptoms of "neurodivergence" -- or to think that whatever makes them different also makes them unknowable to others. ■ Worse, it may well give people a permission structure to self-diagnose (and, worryingly, to self-medicate), rather than to pursue a documented opinion from a qualified professional. People are self-medicating with powerful prescription drugs, and the lack of clinical supervision can be dangerous. Even more dangerous is the emergence of black-market drug exchanges accessible via mainstream social-media tools. ■ There's nothing wrong with people offering personal testimony online; authenticity is widely sought, after all. But there are just so many examples of people touting their amateur observations as pseudo-professional claims that they cannot be divorced from the many worrying examples of unqualified, unsupervised, and underaged people convincing themselves that they can self-diagnose rather than getting real help. ■ And with contaminated and counterfeit drugs flooding the market, it's not out of line to call out the hazards early in the chain of events. People of goodwill shouldn't be comfortable with the trivialization of mental wellness into the province of self-appointed influencers.

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