We’re Hyper On Account of Our Genes!

Gee, Officer Krupke. . .Can’t keep your mind on that blasted report due by 5 PM? Don’t blame yourself, blame genetics! From a psychiatrist in  today’s NY Times:

There are two main reasons the diagnosis of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is high in the U.S. First of all, our gene pool is loaded for A.D.H.D. Consider the central symptoms of the condition: distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness. Consider also the positives that so often accompany A.D.H.D.: being a dreamer and a pioneer, being creative, entrepreneurial, having an ability to think outside the box (with some difficulty thinking inside of it!), a tendency to be independent of mind and able to pursue a vision that goes against convention. Well, who colonized this country? People who have those traits!

Back in the 1600s and 1700s, you had to have special qualities — some would say special craziness — to get on one of those boats and come over to this uncharted, dangerous land. And the waves of immigration in subsequent centuries also drew people who possessed the same special qualities. In many ways, the qualities associated with A.D.H.D. are central to the American temperament, for better or worse. I often tell people that having A.D.H.D. is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. If you can strengthen your brakes, you can win races and be a champion, as so many highly accomplished people with A.D.H.D. are. But if you don’t strengthen your brakes you can crash and burn as, sadly, many people who have A.D.H.D. but don’t know how to manage it ultimately do.

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