The individual’s responsibility to fix themselves

In a recent video [1] on the ‘How to ADHD’ channel an interesting point was raised, namely the notion that it is generally deemed the responsibility of people with ADHD and similar to ‘fix’ themselves. These ‘fixes’ are so that they (i.e. people with ADHD/ADD) can participate in society. If they use time-management tools like certain smartphone apps and notebook techniques, get therapy, perhaps even take medication, they can blend into society and not be noticed despite the flaws in their brains. Or else they are bad people and bad friends, or something.

Apparently there is not only some idealised view of what a well-adjusted member of society is, but also that society as it exists today does not need to adjust and is essentially perfect. But isn’t that backwards? As noted in the referenced video, this idea puts the responsibility and also the entirety of the flaws that are presumed to exist at the feet of the affected people. For the referenced video’s host, this is also the point where the idea that she has also contributed to this view becomes apparent.

When the topic of your YouTube channel is to teach people with ADHD ways to achieve this blending into society, with the idea being that this makes them happier, what is the lesson that is being taught here? Is having ADHD or ADD really so wrong? Does having it mean that you can essentially give up on a ‘regular’ life unless you work yourself to the bone trying to figure out better ways to disguise it, expending many times the energy on basic things which are easy for everyone else?

If so, then having ADHD and not putting in all this effort then by definition would mean that you do not intend to be happy and live a happy life. That you’re either a bad person, or someone who cannot be bothered to struggle for the rest of their days to pretend to be someone who they are actually not.

Because in the end, isn’t that what society is about? That we are all unique individuals. The very notion that there’s some societal ideal that is perfect and unchanging is nonsense. Even the most flawed individual is part of society, even if society does its utmost to cast them out. In fact, one could argue that the way in which the rest of society treats these individuals reflects more on them than those ‘flawed’ individuals.

Naturally, in a society nothing is a one-way street, meaning rights and obligations for everyone. Thus while it could be expected from people with ADHD that they do a reasonable attempt to align themselves with society’s expectations and demands, society itself should do a reasonable attempt to do the same. Fair is only fair.

When I look at this issue from the perspective as someone who has found themselves in the uncomfortable corner of PTSD as well as giftedness and the overlap this creates with the areas of ADHD/ADD and autism (ASD), the referenced video brings a lot of recognition. Even though it could be argued that PTSD is a real, neurological flaw that should be treated, it’s also the cold reality that at this point in time it is only treatable, not curable. Not unlike ADHD and ASD, it is a neurological property – or set of properties – that deeply affects your life.

Of course you want to be rid of PTSD and never deal with any of that again. I imagine some people would be happy to be rid of their ADHD, ADD or ASD. But when that is not realistic, all you can do is make the best of it. All that you are asking from society in return for doing your best is that society also does so.

As controversial as mental health topics are still in modern day society, it would seem that more than ever do we have the means to address the topic in a meaningful way. Rather than to advise ‘flawed’ individuals on how to hide their undesirable traits, ways for general self- and societal improvement could be explored.

Topics such as what mental model of society we are (subconsciously) maintaining, addressing transgenerational traumas, as well as cognitive and other biases. Because clearly, to maintain the notion that society as it exists today is a perfect form for people to squeeze themselves into is a notion of Kafka’esque Dunning-Kruger proportions.



Leave a Reply