Monday, July 07, 2003

Myth of ADHD?

Interesting piece on Attention Defecit Disorder, that begins like this:

In 1851, a Louisiana physician and American Medical Association member, Samuel A. Cartwright, published a paper in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal in which he described a new medical disorder he had recently identified. He called it drapetomania, from drapeto, meaning to flee, and mania, an obsession. He used this term to refer to a condition that he felt was prevalent in runaway slaves. Dr. Cartwright felt that with “proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented.”1

If Dr. Cartwright would submit his paper today, even to the most unrespectable medical journal, it would merely raise a laugh, or Dr. Cartwright himself would be considered disordered. But in 1851, slavery was still acceptable and therefore his invented disorder was not frowned upon.

A great opening!