My letter to the APA Monitor on females and AHD - 2003
Women and ADHDREGARDING NICOLE Crawford's excellent article, "ADHD: a women's issue," (February Monitor ), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a well-known disorder that is not known well. What is not known well is that gender stereotypes contribute to missed opportunities for identification and effective medication and psychological treatments for female adults with ADHD. For example, many females do not present with the classic "Dennis the Menace" triad of ADHD symptoms--restlessness, distractibility and [lack of] self-control. Rather, they suffer severe chronic and pervasive difficulties with distractibility--a difficulty filtering out external distractions that is often misdiagnosed and sometimes associated with disorders such as anxieties, substance abuse and depression.
A core problem in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD is that scientists know much about how brains and minds work but have no knowledge about how brains produce minds. This wide brain-mind gap is often filled by political ideologues--both liberal and conservative--claiming they do not "believe" that ADHD exists, or at least know it is vastly over-diagnosed. Liberal ideologues tell us we mask the problems with medication. Conservative ideologues say ADHD is another myth of mental illness.
Until we have a medical test to identify ADHD, no amount of scientific knowledge, clinical experience or testimonies from those with the disorder will convince some citizens of the validity of neurophysiology disorders such as ADHD in adult females or anybody else. Your article does much to clarify the influence of stereotypes and myths about adult females with ADHD.
STEVEN J. CERESNIE, PHD