Thursday, August 16, 2012

Short Definition of ADHD (my own definition)

"All-o-pathy," was the name of one kind of doctor a hundred years ago.  It supposedly was all schools of thought in medicine which were being combined into one.  However, they had a poor reputation for being focused on relieving a patient's symptoms, but not being completely focused on healing the patient.

Many have said this is still the case, where our current healthcare standard doesn't want you to die, but they don't exactly want you to get better either, they just want you to keep coming back (not my quote).

Also, our medical community have allowed the standard-of-care to be changed out of both fear of malpractice suits, and greed by increasing the number of billable procedures.

I'd like to take a step back and prove this point by illustrating briefly how this works in the case of pregnancy in America:
Most women in America have been led to believe they should have their baby in a hospital under the supervision of a doctor.
Women take a long time to give birth.
Doctors don't want to be stuck attending to one patient for that long.
Doctors don't want to be sued for malpractice because their insurance rates may go up.
Doctors are at risk of malpractice suit for things that happen in the birthing room when they are not in the room.
So, doctor's are in effect "pushed" into pushing their patients to deliver by Cesarean Sections both because they mitigate their risk, and because the extra procedures make them more money.
The most common drug used for effacement during C-Sections is linked to complications, but continues to be used.
The FDA has posted a warning against the drug's use during birth, but can not force the doctors to stop using it.
As a result the United States has a higher rate of infant mortality and complications than many other countries because the women are exposed to a higher number of procedures.
The current rate of C-Sections in the U.S. is 30%.  Many doctors' practices are pushing them to go up to 80% C-Sections.
The world average is 7%, and the World Health Organization say it should not go over 15% nationally.

Similarly, our medical community came up with the name ADHD to represent a condition marked by lower dopamine activity in the brain: focusing on describing and treating it's symptoms rather than a focus on the underlying condition. As I've said ADHD is a brain condition marked by lower dopamine activity in the brain, and dopamine is now the only neuro-transmitter or chemical in our brains associated with the human ability to maintain focus and attention.  Dopamine today is also known as the Human Reward System.  When people can not access their Reward System they develop a kind of stress called "Reward Deficiency Syndrome," which is akin to a form of drug withdrawal symptom, even though it is experienced without any outside drug having been taken.

The human need for experiencing our dopamine Reward System is rooted in our genetic nature.  In the absence of dopamine a kind of drug withdrawal is experienced, which is a very real source of stress.  The person experiencing Reward Deficiency Syndrome actually is "driven" to alleviate the stress.  The dopamine pathways they develop are often not ones natural to our species (though every attempt is really seeking the experience of Love, connection, and a real sense of calm.

What does it take to get it right? Parenting which fosters an environment that lends itself to natural expressions of dopamine.  Namely for the parents to remain emotionally calm and emotionally available, and to allow the child to emotionally bond with them.  The bonding process, and careful maintenance of those emotional connections, is the first place a child begins to subliminally learn the use and control of our Reward System.  It is in this way that the Human Reward System encourages both the building and maintenance of family connections and a larger community.  It really does allow re-framing of the term Family Values in the sense that a caricature of an atomic family of man, woman and child is not what fosters family values, but instead it is respect of the importance of teaching this one trick we can do with our brains which allows us to focus on long term plans and to become successful in our pursuits.

How can someone be treated, or healed from this condition?  In my opinion, many of negative and even some of the moderate ways people deal with this condition are attempts to alter their brain chemistry, but little focus is given in our society on what the accepted ways of expressing it are, and instead overly much attention is given to the casting the health issue as a criminal one.

So, the proper means of treatment should be to teach the person the right ways to love, and helping them clean-up any negative pathways.  This would get the person to a point where they can concentrate longer, and so then can start to learn the skills they may have avoided learning before (reading of books, organizational skills, impulse control, math etc).  Also, a need to clean up their thinking process must be dealt with to encourage re-structuring the meanings they attach to things with reality and the cultural limits (CBT, Anger Management, Mood Logs).

Except in our culture a war on drugs and alcohol and tobacco was started about 75 years ago, seeking to cast drug users as people of poor character who simply want to get high.  This in the face of the reality of their condition is ludicrous.  These are people who grew up not knowing how to love, and not getting any instruction in school.  And our television networks understand that many of their viewers are limited to taking in new information by television, but these companies do not want to educate their viewers as they rely on them, so they can be made to vote a certain way by framing the issues of the day in certain ways that do not account for recent facts or realities.  We have been taught by our Criminal Justice System to think of these people as damaged or broken, when they are simply hampered by patterns formed during what should be called an abusive childhood.

Do we want to pat ourselves on the back for putting into prison, and refusing to help, anyone suffering from a bad childhood?  Especially when it is known that these people are not as responsible as their peers?  And, I don't mean they don't want to be responsible, but are incapable.  

Many of the ways people with ADHD self-medicate for their condition have become criminalized: gambling, drunkenness,  drugs, hoarding, certain forms of fantasy (which can have devastating effects on others if acted out), but even the ones that aren't illegal can get you into trouble.  Simply coming to rely on television as your only source of certain types of information can lead you to become a part of someone else's great scheme to damage our form of government.  Watching television too much leads to a dysfunctional view of the world around us (research Mean World Syndrome and the Manufacturing of Consent), but the TV networks aren't about to let you know about those things, they rely on you to stay glued to your TV set.  You end up voting based on what you see on TV instead of through personal research, and so miss the essential perspective of the candidates history and who they are loyal to, and even drop out any historical perspective.

But, people self-medicate, and usually do not understand why they must, but know what works, and are driven to repeat it (until they learn perspective of the chemical component and until they learn what they really need and how to get it).  Drug laws do not work as a deterant to someone with ADHD, they are guided by their nature and will disregard most attempts by the outside to modify their behavior, unless they are offered a reasonable substitute.

We see hundreds of thousands of American's who have attempted to resolve the co-morbid conditions such as drug addiction and alcoholism or even addictions to pornography without first understanding what it is they will fill that void with.  Many are lucky enough to find God or religion, and in prayer/worship/meditation they are able to express dopamine in a way more natural to our species and that really does have the power to alter their previous behavior patterns.

In one way of looking at this, everything they try is simply trying to get a bit more dopamine into their lives, but not understanding what it's about, and so get-it-wrong in very basic ways.  Relationships with people where you take drugs together instead of finding ways to bond emotionally are one example of getting relationships wrong in a very basic way.

But it should never be forgotten that these people are "experiencing life with the volume turned down," they are enjoying life much less than their peers, and every attempt or pathway they develop to their dopamine should also be seen as an attempt to experience what others take for granted in their daily lives.  They may be getting it wrong, but they are trying, and need help, not incarceration, or to be fired.

Finally my Short Definition...

People with ADHD are children who grew up not "knowing" how to love.
And, it causes them great stress, which creates a drive to find behaviors that contribute to their dopamine landscape.  It also makes it almost impossible to focus and concentrate on anything they are not obsessed with.  It makes everything else enormously difficult.

Then they end up looking for love in all the wrong places, and hiding their own failures from others and themselves.
---  --  ---
But it's not their fault, no matter how strong the societal messages are to avoid certain behaviors.  It all started before they were capable of being aware, and before they were developmentally capable of dealing with the stress.

They are being blocked from learning their true condition by our Popular Media and the voices of intolerance who seek to continue framing them as bad people who should be excluded.

Remember the words of the American-deposed President of Haiti, "Exclusion is the problem.  Inclusion is the answer."

Thank you,

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