First, a disclaimer: the title of this entry is only tangentially related to paper clips, and not at all to the economy.
Most people I meet seem to have an opinion about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, from the opinion that it's a serious condition that needs to be addressed to the opinion that it's normal child behavior that's been called a disorder so that drug companies can sell stimulants to kids. I'm generally cautious about telling people outright that I've been diagnosed with ADHD. Even my teachers, to whom I sometimes shamefacedly hand disability accommodations letters, don't know exactly why I need extra time in a quiet room to take exams. I don't want to know what their opinions are on this matter, not when it can and would affect me personally.
There was a time when I was dismissive of ADHD. I don't think I ever denied its existence, but certain people that I knew had it got very much on my nerves, and it seemed that they did so deliberately. It was hard not to be a bit sympathetic, when I saw that they didn't particularly want to be a pain in the neck, but I wondered in annoyance why their parents allowed bad behavior. Mine certainly wouldn't. I chalked up their lack of self-discipline to a lack of parental attention. After all, if my mom and dad never told me what to do or how to behave, then I'd run amok too!
That's all changed. I can't say that I like the kids I knew with ADHD any more now than I did then. But I realize these days that because of my particular situation and the very different ways ADHD can manifest, that I can't be as self-righteous about how I was a calm, quiet, well-behaved if sort of weird little girl. I was homeschooled and I never had to fit into any mold but the one I made for myself as long as I did well on my schoolwork. And doing well was never much trouble for me, although I had a knack for procrastination.
For me, ADHD has been a subtle monster. It manifests by my inability to multitask, in my forgetting things almost as soon as I hear them, in being hyperfocused on drawing a picture of my professor's double chin in intricate detail and in talking under my breath during class. It manifests in writing lame poems and horrible fanfiction instead of writing lab reports. It manifests in chores left partially done, in a desk piled so high with crap that it's unusable. It manifests in me wandering off to do my own thing, taking naps in trees and staying up until three a.m. trying to figure out how to build a robot that moves like a snake. These things sound quirky and harmless, and I don't think people know how heavy a toll it takes on my productivity. My boyfriend, bless him, has taken it upon himself to keep me focused when I'm against a deadline. My brother has become my manager, denying me access to the front door, the television, or YouTube until I've made acceptable headway on an assignment. I hate making them baby-sit me like this. It's not fair to them. I'm trying to make things better, to have the mental discipline to get things done without needing someone to crack the whip.
This is why it hurts me when people tell me that ADHD doesn't exist. I'm an engineer; I like facts. I like proof. When something happens, there is a reason for it. I generally trust scientists to at least know what they're talking about.
A good friend of mine, upon hearing that I have ADHD, promptly told me that he doesn't think it's a good diagnosis, and that the doctor who diagnosed me was trying to sell me medications. I tried to point out that this doctor would get no benefit from any diagnosis except what I paid her initially, and in fact mentioned that many people with mild ADHD may not need medication to get along. She recommended books and that I talk to the (free) counselor at my school. There'd be no reason for her to make this diagnosis unless she genuinely thought that this was the cause of my problems. But that's not much of an argument against a person who's set in their beliefs.
On the other hand, I've gotten a lot of pressure to medicate. A friend of mine (also diagnosed with ADHD) says that it has helped him a lot. My family has recommended that I turn to chemicals to relieve my problems with distractibility and time management.
In the end, I suspect most people's problem isn't with ADHD, although they may deny that such a disorder exists. It's a problem of whether one should medicate, whether one should trust the psychiatrists, psychologists, and physicians. It's a matter of ignorance. People don't trust what they don't understand, but rather than admit that they don't understand, they say that they are being lied to somehow.
Spreading ignorance and conspiracy-theorist thought is frankly sad. It dismisses the very real problems that those of us with ADHD have. It's not bad parenting, it's not moral ineptitude, and it's not mere stupidity. If that were the case, then I'm sure we'd not have thousands of people who had good parents, strong morals, and bright ideas trying desperately to hold their lives together.
Some links about ADHD, the controversy surrounding it, etc.: