Occam’s Razor is the idea that the simplest explanation is most likely the truth.
So when confronted my inability to complete work, to focus, and simply pay attention, the temptation is to call myself lazy.
Two things are going on here.
First, there’s the implication that there’s a choice. Second that the majority of research into the subject of ADD and ADHD is simply irrelevant.
I have a great number of things I want to do. What I don’t want is to be so foggy in my head that I can barely focus my eyes. I don’t want to be behind on work. I don’t want to be procrastinating and avoiding things because I think they’ll be too hard. I really don’t want to take double the time to complete something because I’ve accidentally missed a step or have simply forgotten how to do it. I don’t want to dive down rabbit holes searching for solutions, like Elmer Fudd after Bugs Bunny, when it’s obvious to everyone else that Bugs is simply standing beside the hole wearing a dress and talking falsetto.
I want to finish things. More than anything. When I can’t, because I can’t focus, I can’t concentrate, and I just want to stop, I really do feel lazy. I see other people able to do things. Why can’t I?
But the problem is that laziness implies choice. It’s a choice to not do things because you can’t be bothered. I’m fighting tooth and nail through a solid fog to just stay standing. And that’s what the research seems to conclude. I can find 127000 results in Google Scholar on ADD and ADHD. Not all of them will support the diagnosis, of course, but the fact there IS research going on means this is much more than mere laziness. First cab off the rank is Steven J Farone et., al. who say:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder believed to affect up to 1 in 20 children in the USA (1). It is characterized by symptoms of inattention and/or impulsivity and hyperactivity which can significantly impact on many aspects of behavior and performance, both at school and at home. In approximately 80% of children with ADHD, symptoms persist into adolescence and may even continue into adulthood.
They did a project to pull together research on ADD and ADHD from around the world. The objective was to identify if the condition was culturally American in nature or was something that affected people everywhere, which is basically what they concluded:
Analysis of these studies suggests that the prevalence of ADHD is at least as high in many non-US children as in US children, with the highest prevalence rates being seen when using DSM-IV diagnoses.
We’ve got the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual version 5 now), which apparently gives a little more clarity to the diagnostic criteria for ADD and ADHD.
But it’s all very well having medical science back up what I experience. It’s only half the solution: the other half is how to live. It’s how to look the boss in the eye when I haven’t done something I said I would. It’s how to address the problem with peers and friends, and to deal with the internal disappointment when I realise I’ve become so absent, so detached that I’ve let people I care about down.
A diagnosis helps in a lot of ways. But sometimes saying “It’s the ADD” feels like a terrible excuse for poor manners; it relies on other people’s patience. And it relies on Occam’s razor being ignored as it swooshes down at me like it’s held by Sweeney Todd planning his next meal.