The Sunday Times is a British newspaper owned by the well-known socialist philanthropist, Rupert Murdoch. The Times was always a conservative newspaper but obviously it lurched hard to the right when Murdoch added it to his global media hate factory.

Columnists working for that newspaper often indulge in click-bait style articles designed specifically to confirm the beliefs of its right-wing readership. It's the unfortunate nature of modern political and social discourse that you can't get in print these days unless you're taking a gigantic arse-splitting shit on an individual or group of individuals.

So I can't say I was surprised to discover an article in the Sunday Times by the Eton and Oxford educated far-right hack Dominic Lawson, ridiculing ADHD. I was expecting uninformed illiterate garbage from Lawson and when I read the article I certainly wasn't disappointed.

Well, you've said your piece Mr Lawson and now, in the spirit of balance and in the words of Pulp Fiction's, Jules Winnfield, allow me to retort.

You're Full of Shit

It pains me to send some traffic, no matter how minuscule, in the direction of that shrivelled walking scrotum that is Rupert Murdoch, but I think you should know what is being said about you by people with more international influence than the United Nations.

Lawson's hatchet job on ADHD appears to have been triggered by the British comedian Johnny Vegas saying on breakfast TV that everybody had ADHD to a certain extent. Maybe Lawson is in the habit of accepting the medical prognostications of British comedians, but if he'd bothered to spend three seconds Googling it he'd have discovered that if Johnny did say that, he was talking complete bollocks.

But a basic principle of journalism is to always check your facts and so I went and found the original interview. This is what Johnny actually said,

"It's that sense of disorganisation and doing basic tasks. Everybody has an element of it - it's how strong your filter is, I think. When you don't have a filter at all, very simple things become very time consuming."

Johnny Vegas

That, I am sure you'll agree is very different to Lawson's interpretation of Johnny Vegas's words that 'everybody' has ADHD. All Johnny is saying is that we all have problems with impulse control but people with ADHD suffer particularly badly in that department.

Lawson then goes on to bemoan the fact that it's trendy for celebrities to admit they have some kind of medical or neurological condition. He then lists five people who have revealed they have ADHD. Wow. Five people. It's a veritable fucking tsunami of celebrity confessions, I can see how it would trigger a far-right establishment shit-stirrer like Dominic Lawson.

In an attempt to perhaps suggest that ADHD is some new-age invented malady, Lawson then says that the British medical establishment only decided ADHD affected adults in 2008.

Ancient History

Never mind the fact that the British physician Sir Alexander Crichton first identified ADHD in 17 fucking 98. Or that the British paediatrician Sir George Frederic perfectly defined ADHD in 19 oh fucking two. Or that the yanks had begun prescribing the stimulant Benzedrine for ADHD back in 19 fucking 36. Dear me no. Because the Brits only officially recognised adult ADHD in 2008, it's all apparently to quote Lawson "a bit of rush".

If you thought that might be the extent of Lawson's twattishness then I'm going to have to disappoint you, he was only getting started.

Lawson then says,

"Previously it had been defined as a childhood condition — a neurological description of boys (mostly) who would once have been written off as naughty, inattentive and disruptive. Once it became seen as a clinical matter — an illness, in fact — it provided a ready market for the pharmaceutical companies, with Ritalin (a stimulant akin to amphetamines) becoming the most prescribed drug."

Dominic Lawson - I'm Sorry But All This ADHD Doesn't Add Up

So to summarise, firstly ADHD is just boys-being-boys and secondly it's a conspiracy designed to peddle drugs for big Pharma. What a fucking twat. ADHD has always been a clinical matter, Lawson, you dead-eyed mouth-breathing tool.

It's a clinical matter, Dominic, because it's a neurological disorder, a genetic malady of the brain passed down through the DNA across the generations in much the same way that your family have been genetically blessed with pasty white skin, monobrows and a predisposition to feelings of towering superiority.

Also Dominic, yes Ritalin is a stimulant akin to amphetamines and we take it because we are chronically neurologically unstimulated. It's not a new medical technique you know - when your body is lacking something - you take a pill for it. For instance judging from your anaemic complexion you're lacking in vitamin D, so you could take a vitamin D pill to compensate for it.

And as if Lawson hadn't demonstrated his full boomer credentials, he then lists the commonly described symptoms of ADHD - fidgeting, forgetfulness etc and then suggests that, "half the population could make a persuasive application to join this burgeoning club".

And yes, if forgetting your keys was the core of ADHD that would be correct, but actually the manifestations of ADHD are living a shitty unfulfilled life often in poverty because you burn through jobs, substance abuse, failed relationships, car accidents, criminality, obesity, depression, self-hate and dying 10 fucking years earlier than people who don't have it.

And for the record the number of people who have ADHD in society is actually estimated at between 1 and 3 percent.

Lawson's unthinking essay continues with the suggestion that people are queueing up to be diagnosed just because "their lives could be enhanced by state-funded stimulants."

Here's an alternative argument, you repugnant fuck, how about the fact that ADHD is chronically undiagnosed in society? How about the fact that, as you yourself pointed out at the start of your little article, official recognition of ADHD is relatively recent in your neck of the woods? How about the fact that whole generations have passed through the school system and out into the world of work oblivious to the fact that they're afflicted with a chronic disability? Could that perhaps explain the long waiting lists to get diagnosed and not, as you so delightfully imply, because they want to get mashed off their heads on pingers and have it large in de club?

I tell you what, this article is the gift that keeps on giving, if by gift you mean bathing in raw sewage with open wounds.

Diagnosis - Despair

Lawson goes on to quote the former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the delightful-sounding Professor Sir Simon Wessely, who apparently said, "We don’t need people to be more aware. We can’t deal with the ones who are already aware. I’m really worried that we will overstretch and demoralise our mental health services if all we do is raise awareness."

In case you didn't get the direction Lawson's pushing his argument, the next bit might make things clearer. He quotes an American research paper that suggested that ADHD was over-diagnosed and that it was all a construct of the pharmaceutical industry ever-keen to flog ever more expensive pills on the feckless and needy.

Which of course proves that, as per the central precepts of confirmation bias, you can find anything to support your line of thinking if you spend 10 minutes on Google. Never mind the fact that the overwhelming bulk of research on this subject says quite the opposite - that vast swathes of our societies are walking around undiagnosed (up to 40% of the prison population for instance) - but, you know, there's this one paper from 2014, so it must be true mustn't it Dominic.

Pushing his misguided and staggeringly poorly researched article towards its conclusions, Lawson then pointlessly lists a few side effects of Ritalin. You get these arse-covering legal loop-hole side effect lists on all medications, but never mind that, eh?

These side effects apparently include a possibility of "prolonged and painful erections, sometimes requiring surgical intervention". I can't say I've ever had any problems in that department Dominic, but as a man of a certain age I'd have thought a prolonged perma-hard-on would be a desirable outcome for someone like you. Surely you'd enjoy having an erect prick, rather than just behaving like one.

So what, ladies and gentlemen, is Dominic Lawson's staggeringly brilliant insight for the treatment of ADHD?

"The best treatment might be to disconnect their phone for a few hours a day."

Dominic Lawson - I'm Sorry But All This ADHD Doesn't Add Up

Sweet fucking Jesus, Lawson. Seriously? You are suggesting that the reason for ADHD is Tik-Tok, Cut the Rope and SnapChat? All our problems will go away if we power down the iPhone? There is no doubt whatsoever that objects of distraction such as smartphones, games consoles and TVs loom large in the lives of people with ADHD, but they do so as a result of the ADHD, not as the cause of it, you stupid cunt.

Mr Lawson finishes his toilet-ready newspaper article with the inference that ADHD is not real, that it is all just a part of the "human condition" and that we just need to show a little compassion.

Well let me tell you Dominic, I have no feelings of compassion towards you, at all. You are a dim-witted dinosaur, an establishment shill, an angry boil on the arse of humanity, an unthinking, uncaring, narcissistic wanker with all the empathy of the ebola virus. Your awful skid-mark of an article has contributed to the continued misery of people with ADHD whether they are diagnosed or undiagnosed. I reward you with a hearty golf clap.

The three minutes you spent researching ADHD has painfully demonstrated that you know less about ADHD now than you did before you sat down to toss off this utterly worthless 1000 words.

The next time you're in your car, Dominic, perhaps driving someone you love to some appointment or another, consider the fact that individuals with ADHD have between a 42 to 47 percent increased rate of serious transport accidents compared with individuals without ADHD. Then, Dominic, consider that taking stimulant medication drops that accident rate back to normal levels and then give yourself a great big old pat on the back, you total, and complete, fucking arsehole.

Stimulants are a powerful drug for people who have ADHD. They have been prescribed for decades now and study after study shows that they work and can have a meaningful and useful impact on the lives of people with ADHD. The ADHD brain does not produce enough dopamine on its own and stimulants boost dopamine levels to the point where the brain is more conducive to being productive. However there's one benefit of stimulant use that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere - self awareness.

Back in the 1990s there was a brief craze for stereogram images popularised in a book called Magic Eye. These images were, at first glance, just a weird collection of colours comprised of dots, but if you stared at them for long enough, a hidden 3D image would suddenly appear. It took a bit of patience, but once you trained your eyes to kind of relax, it was possible to see these hidden 3D images fairly quickly. However, if you didn't know there was a secret image hidden in each illustration and just flicked through the Magic Eye book you'd have absolutely no idea.

Sometimes, in order to properly understand something, we have to experience it first-hand and you also have to be told that it's there in the first place. And it's this first-hand experience that I believe is one of the most under-rated benefits of stimulant medication for ADHD.

woman art girl festival

I'm now in mid-50s and was only diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago. For almost my entire life I never knew what it felt like to have a normally functioning brain that was capable of being motivated for stuff that wasn't wildly interesting. People who do not have ADHD are able to self-motivate themselves to do the basics such as keeping the house clean, brushing your teeth and holding down a job, but we struggle with all of these things.

So when I was officially diagnosed and began taking Ritalin to treat my ADHD I found it hugely beneficial. It enabled me to get stuff done that I would ordinarily have put off, avoided and otherwise ignored. The diagnosis and subsequent treatment changed my life. However the Ritalin also gifted me with the ability to realise when my brain was not stimulated.

Here's an example. The other day I was working on an update to a client's website. It had to be finished before Christmas and in time for the Boxing Day sales. I clicked open a new tab in my browser and hit the YouTube bookmark. As I scrolled down the page looking for a cool video to watch, I suddenly asked myself what I was doing. And because I now know I have ADHD and because I know how I feel when I take my Ritalin, I realised my brain had dropped out of 'task positive network' (TPN) and into 'default mode network' (DMN) because I had not taken my afternoon medication. Prior to my diagnosis I would have been completely unaware of this and I'd have scrolled through that Reddit feed without a care in the world, oblivious to the fact that my active brain had deserted me.

DMN is the standard state for an ADHD brain - it's when it's not really tuned into a task - which is to say, most of the time. It's a scientific way of describing that daydream-like state our ADHD brain sits in. When explaining this to people who do not have ADHD I ask them if they've ever been stood in the shower and just let their thoughts go where they will and then before they know it, it's 10 minutes later and they don't really have any memory of what they were thinking about that whole time. Before Ritalin granted me self awareness I would have no conscious idea my brain was in DMN and now I do.

Just as a painter creates an image with the use of negative space, stimulants give us the ability to see when we are ‘without’ just as easily as when we are ‘with’. Recognising when your brain has slipped into DMN is incredibly useful for those of us who've unwittingly lived there our whole lives and means that for the first time, we can take action to remedy the situation.

I was recently invited to appear on a documentary panel TV show here in Australia called Insight. The episode in question was covering the subject of adult ADHD and how it impacts everyday life. The panel was a mixture of people with ADHD and family members and professionals - a scientist, a psychiatrist and an ADHD coach.

The filming of the show was fairly nerve-wracking and, since it went for over two hours without a break, most of us made sure we took our meds just prior to filming. It was an interesting experience and great to hear the stories from the other panelists about how ADHD had affected them.

There's an article about me on the SBS website here and if you'd like to watch the show yourself, it's linked below - you'll probably need a VPN to view it outside Australia.

we are adhd

Trail-blazing, hyper-focusing, risk-taking, fun-loving, fast-thinking, quick-talking, level-headed, time-wasting, dopamine-deficient
Raising Adult ADHD Awareness
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