The Mayo Clinic website says “the exact cause of ADHD remains a mystery….” No one has yet determined what ADHD actually is, yet proponents keep telling us it exists – that it’s a behavior “disorder” in children and adults. The website myadhd.com says “heredity is the most common cause of ADHD,” but goes on to say that “studies do not identify specific genes linked to the disorder.” I’m no scientist, but that’s not good enough for me to believe it.
I would like to offer an expert behavior definition and explanation of ADHD “symptoms” that show they are actually normal behavior in people with certain behavior types. In 1928, Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston first defined the four DISC behavioral styles in his book The Emotions of Normal People.
That’s NORMAL people.
In my 15 years as a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, my colleagues and I have done DISC personality testing on hundreds of thousands of people using the DISC assessment developed by Target Training International (TTI), and based on Dr. Marston’s findings. People are either high or low in each behavioral style and that determines how they do things.
Symptoms – of what?
According to webmd.com, some of the most common symptoms of ADHD are:
• An inability to pay attention to details and a tendency to make careless mistakes. (As opposed to careful mistakes?)
• Being easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli; i.e. noise or events. (I have a problem with the word “irrelevant;” according to whom?)
• Disorganized work habits.
• Failure to complete tasks.
• Talking excessively.
• Not listening to others.
• Not following rules.
• Fidgeting when seated; getting up frequently to walk or run around.
• Frequently interrupting others.
One of the pages in TTI’s DISC assessment is entitled, “Descriptors.” These are words that describe a normal person’s DISC behavioral style, according to Dr. Marston and TTI:
D (Dominance): extroverted, task-oriented. High D descriptors: Demanding, Driving, Strong-Willed, Forceful, Determined, Aggressive, Inquisitive.
Adults and children with a Core D behavioral style tend to be impatient, multi-tasker types who are variety-oriented and get bored with the status quo. They want to move on to another task or project when their current one becomes routine. People with a Low D style are the opposite. Low D descriptors: Cooperative, Low-Keyed, Cautious, Agreeable, Modest, Unobtrusive.
I (Influencing): extroverted, people-oriented. High I descriptors: Effusive, Demonstrative, Enthusiastic, Magnetic, Persuasive.
Those with a Core I behavioral style tend to talk excessively and be poor listeners, often interrupting people. Their strongest psychological need is to verbalize and socialize with others. Being people-oriented, they can easily become distracted by other people when working on a task – especially one they don’t find stimulating. People with a Low I style are the opposite. Low I descriptors: Reflective, Factual, Calculating, Logical, Undemonstrative.
S (Steadiness): introverted, people-oriented. Low S descriptors: Mobile, Active, Restless, Variety-Oriented, Impatient, Impulsive, Impetuous, Hypertense. (Note: these are normal behaviors in the Low S person.)
Children and adults with a Low S behavioral style need to move around; they get restless when they have to sit for long periods. People with a High S factor are the opposite. High S descriptors: Passive, Patient, Consistent, Deliberate, Steady, Stable.
C (Compliance): introverted, task-oriented. Low C descriptors: Self-Willed, Stubborn, Unsystematic, Uninhibited, Arbitrary, Careless with Details.
People with a Low C behavioral style tend to bend or break rules. They are careless with details and tend to be disorganized. People with a High C style are the opposite. They are extremely organized and detail-oriented. High C descriptors: Careful, Cautious, Neat, Systematic, Exacting, Accurate.
Since all four of these high and low behavioral styles are natural and normal, where did we get the idea that only the High S and C are appropriate behavior? I suspect it began in a classroom. I am a former public school teacher, so I know teachers like for students to be quiet and studious in class, complete their assignments, sit still, and not speak without raising their hands. This is easy for introverted children with High S and C, Low D and I behavioral styles – and difficult for extroverted students with High D and I, Low S and C factors.
Somewhere along the way we labeled children as being abnormal and having a behavior “disorder” if they didn’t fit a particular (quiet, easy to manage) behavioral pattern. Those children kept that stigma into adulthood and now we have people like Howie Mandel claiming on the Internet to be “one of the 10 million adults in the United States who may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” (At least he says “may” have.)
Many of us who are behavior specialists have a serious problem with the hypocrisy of telling children not to do drugs to hype themselves up, but to do drugs to calm themselves down. It’s also a shame that many adults use the excuse that “I have ADHD” in order not to improve themselves or do things they don’t want to do.
People who have claimed to me to have ADHD say they have trouble focusing on tasks. I ask them if they have trouble focusing when they’re doing something they really enjoy. To a person, they’ve all said, “No.” If they had a chemical, genetic, or otherwise behavior disorder that kept them from focusing, how could they focus on anything, ever?
Some of the most successful people in the world have the High D/I, Low S/C behavioral style. For example (besides Howie Mandel): Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Julia Roberts.
The same goes for people high in the S/C and low in the D/I styles. For example, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Steven Covey, and Meryl Streep.
There would be a lot more well-adjusted children and adults in society if parents, educators, physicians, and bosses would study DISC behavior, learn how to manage and relate to people with different behavior types, and allow people of all ages to be who they really are.
How about let’s start treating people as equals, beginning in childhood, and stop telling half the population there is something wrong with them. Because there’s not.