Right-wing columnist Lukasz Warzecha decided to revolutionise the state of modern medical knowledge regarding ADHD. What grounds did he have for doing so?
In a recent post on X, Lukasz Warzecha, a right-wing columnist, made the claim that ADHD is a fabricated disorder. However, his argument was based on a 10-year-old quote taken out of context.
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Warzecha found it on the demagog.org.pl website, which, what the columnist failed to report, also explains why it does not prove the non-existence of ADHD. It's worth noting that Warzecha also tried to persuade a prominent psychology professor in Poland to support his views but was unsuccessful.
Łukasz Warzecha denies the existence of ADHD
The quote on which Warzecha based his theses is quite revolutionary when viewed in light of current knowledge of the human psyche and neurodiversity. It is derived from an article published in the German tabloid Der Spiegel in 2012, which cited a 2009 interview with Leon Eisenberg - a famous child psychiatrist and one of the pioneers of diagnosing ADHD.
According to the cited interview, Eisenberg allegedly stated that "ADHD is a bogus disease" and that "the genetic predisposition to ADHD is highly overestimated." Interestingly, the article in Der Spiegel is the only source of this quote. Moreover, it is unclear what the source of the 2009 interview, cited by the tabloid, is. It should be noted that Eisenberg himself passed away in September 2009.
The original text appeared to be a quote from an article that discussed the over-diagnosis of ADHD in children and the lack of attention given to non-pharmacological treatments for the disorder. In this context, Eisenberg lamented the fact that child psychiatrists do not take enough time to identify the psychosocial causes of behavioural problems, such as family issues or disagreements with parents. Despite this, the prescription of pills has become the primary solution, which is a quick fix but not necessarily a sustainable one.
It appears that Łukasz Warzecha took Eisenberg's statement out of context, as he did not include this part of the article in his reporting. The creators of demagog.org.pl, where Warzecha found the quote, commented on Warzecha's post, urging him to read the entire article rather than just one paragraph.
Reading the entire article could also aid the conversation with Professor Wojciech Dragan from Jagiellonian University, whom Warzecha attempted to engage when the psychologist commented on his post, saying: "Oh, so now you are an expert in psychiatry? A disgraceful comment". Warzecha replied: "Please take a look at the next tweet, it will make you realise to what extent you have just made an idiot of yourself". The publicist was referring to the fact that he used an aforementioned quote from Eisenberg, which was proven to be taken out of context.
"Do you really think that if you call me an idiot, it will change anything? You have no idea how science works," Dragan replied. In response, Warzecha retorted with the classic "psychology is not an exact science" argument. While it is true that psychology is not an exact science, it is an empirical one. It is worth noting that psychiatry, which deals with diagnosing ADHD, is a branch of medicine.
ADHD is a disorder that affects about 5-8% of children who require specific developmental support. The latest medical knowledge from sources such as who.org can provide more information on this topic.
It's important to note that research on ADHD and neurodiversity did not stop in 2009 with Eisenberg's death. In fact, many researchers are continuing to study this topic today. Psychiatry and psychology are constantly evolving fields, mainly due to technological advances, which allow us to observe the human brain in new ways.