ADHD, Disaffection, Compassion

February 27, 2008

Maybe I just end up on his incendiary posts, but for all the good things I’ve heard about Al Mohler I am consistently not impressed by his glib arrogance in the face of complicated issues. I am certainly against over-diagnosis. But the lengths to which this brand of conservatism (I’m looking at you, Biblical Counseling proponents) will go to demonize or ignore people with problems that don’t fit into their evaluation of the world is almost laughable, sometimes.

Certainly there are cases of ADHD where the child merely needs the chance to get out and play outside, and not spend so much time under pressure to perform in an increasingly academic primary school, or playing video games. Some kids can get homeschooling, or live in a place where they can safely run around. Not all kids get that chance … I know firsthand how impossible it is nowadays to have a single-income family. There are also a growing number of kids (or, perhaps, more are being identified, as opposed to in the past when folks like Mohler ran the show they were swept under the carpet) who just can’t cope.

The Christian response to a person who has these problems should be the transforming power of the gospel, and not the pharisee-and-publican style of judgment that Mohler and so many like him employ.

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7 Responses to “ADHD, Disaffection, Compassion”

  1. nathanwells Says:

    You have to admit, Dr. Mohler’s post is pretty funny ;D

    But you are right, he comes short of showing any Biblical solution to the parent of a child who would feel quite hurt by his words, especially since there are plenty of Dr’s that will tell them their kids have no hope but drugs.

  2. Ben Says:

    Yeah. I think, too, that though he may be right about some kids … there are some kids out there that really do need help. Drugs may not be the answer, but “go outside and play” probably isn’t either. Some people just have messed up brain chemistry, the same way that some people are born with a weak heart or bones.

    Just because many people will use ADHD to excuse their own problems, doesn’t mean that some people aren’t seriously handicapped by it.

  3. Lee Says:

    I think there is a middle ground out there somewhere, but I also think that he, like you, probably tweaks his posts (and commentary on his radio show) in the controversial direction for the sake of generating discussion.

    I definitely agree that there are some kids that have a genuine, serious need that needs to be addressed. But I also agree with Mohler’s fundamental point that it’s tough to find 6 to 12-year-old kids who don’t fit the description in the advertisement, and with layman’s view that it seems like the condition is over diagnosed, with potentially dangerous repercussions.

    On the other hand, besides missing a compassionate approach showing a Biblical solution for those with genuine conditions, he is also not addressing the question: is something else at work which needs to be addressed? Is there really a qualitative behavioral difference in today’s children vs. past generations, and why? Or, to put it another way, do more kids today have messed up brain chemistry? If so, why?

    — Yes, it is a funny post 🙂

  4. Ben Says:

    Yeah, I’ve often wondered that … you know, when you read about autism or ADHD being on the rise and things like that. Whether it’s due to TV, or radiation, or something, or whether these things were just not understood in the past and different categories were assigned to them.

    I don’t know, it seems like so many things that were not well understood in the past are being brought to light … autism, for instance, really didn’t exist as a classification until 1938. Everyone’s favorite, Martin Luther, encountered what was probably an autistic child and … “thought the boy was a soulless mass of flesh possessed by the devil, and suggested that he be suffocated.” (according to wikipedia)

  5. Lee Says:

    I just happened across this: http://ypwr.blogs.cnn.com/2008/02/25/blake-taylor

    The comments are interesting – particularly the one from Kris (February 28th, 2008 8:03 am ET).

  6. Sam James Says:

    I think you missed the entire point of Dr. Mohler’s post. It wasn’t even directed towards children, or really even parents. He was laughing at the idea that paid medical professionals are using donor grants and (presumably) taxpayer’s dollars to determine that a child who cannot sit still is mentally aberrant. That is absurd. MOST children, the overwhelming majority, do not have ADHD.

  7. Ben Says:

    I don’t think I misunderstand Mohler here. He’s making fun of the doctors looking for a solution to a real problem, and belittling parents and children dealing with that problem by saying it isn’t real.

    If this was the first time I’d encountered this attitude on his blog, instead of the second or third I would certainly be more restrained and forgiving in my evaluation.

    I don’t really see how this research being public funded or not is relevant. It could just as easily be a drug company looking for a new drug to sell. And when you say MOST children, what do you mean? 98%? 95%? If so, quite a few of the kids I know are in that 5%, unfortunately, and adding the stigma of “you don’t have a real problem” to the difficulties they are already facing is callous and uncaring, hardly worthy of a person who claims to represent the Christ who healed the sick and had compassion on the poor.


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