Faking Out The Fakers: A Litmus Test For ADHD

Let’s not pull any punches here; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has meaning only so far as people give it meaning. It’s not a real “disease”. It’s a bogus “disease”. Belief in “mental illness” gives the “disorder” life and keeps it “breathing”. ADHD as a sect of the “mental illness” religion would collapse under any serious sustained assault from skepticism and responsible parenting.

Well, now a study has been conducted on people who fake having this fake “disease”. Bloomsburg Businessweek covers the subject with an article in their executive health section, Some Fake ADHD to Get Meds, Special Treatment.

“People who want to fake ADHD could be able to do a good job of faking on a number of standard clinical instruments that are used to diagnose ADHD,” said David Berry, senior author of the report appearing in the current issue of Psychological Assessment. Obviously, health-care professionals need to be concerned, he said, adding that “our evidence suggests [fakers] are pretty good at it if they want to be.”

Why fake this fake disease? Why, of course, drug dealers need drugs while bad students need performance enhancers and other shortcuts to success.

Seventy-three University of Kentucky students were split into two groups, one of which was instructed to respond honestly to questions on standard assessments of ADHD. The others were given five minutes to review easily accessible information from the Internet on the condition and told to do their best to fake it. Their incentive: $45 if they succeeded (in reality, all participants were given $45 at the end of the study).

A third control group consisted of people labeled ADHD sufferers.

“Almost nobody [in the fakers’ group] failed the test,” said Berry.

“Drugs is the obvious [motivation], but there are others,” he continued. “Most universities provide people who have a diagnosis of ADHD with a variety of things that vary from one institution to another — extra time on tests, copies of teachers’ notes that they’re lecturing from. They may get special accommodations in terms of where they’re staying at the university, a single room versus a double room.”

Having a diagnosis of ADHD has its perks then. Should we call these kids disabled or previleged?

A review of the data from other studies had suggested to researchers that 8% – 35% of the current ADHD cases were phony.

Some of the “side effects” of the stimulants used in the treatment of childhood are touched upon briefly in the article. These “side effects” include high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, heightened anxiety, and chemical dependence.

Berry advocates using additional anti-fraud screening — also called “malingering” tests — to sort out the ADHD frauds from the legitimate cases. (In medical terms, “malingering” means fabricating or exaggerating symptoms of physical or mental disorders for a variety of “secondary gains” motives, such as drugs, money, or even sympathy and attention.)

I would suggest instead that we remove ADHD from the “mental disorder” category altogether, and consider it a misnomer for misbegotten traits of childhood and adolescense. Childhood and adolescense are not disorders. You’re malingerers test, in this instance, would only be good for separating the con artists from the con artist victims while the main con artist grouping, those people who have convinced people of the reality of ADHD, gets off scot free.

What they don’t tell you is that attaching this label to kids can lead to other and more serious “mental illness” labels being attached to them. It’s not because we’ve got an infectious “disease” label here. It’s because the drugs used to treat the disorder trigger effects that resemble other “mental illness” labels.

Nope, there are better ways to treat children and adolescents. Perhaps the time has come when we should return to some of those better ways.