Thursday, June 21, 2007

Paris Hilton & ADD. It's Hot!

(cc) Douglas CooteyDoes ADD poster child Paris Hilton get a pass for bad behavior because of ADD? Judging from some of the articles I've read she does, but did you ever get a pass for ADD? Neither did I.

I have a life beyond the gossip rags, so I missed this little gem last week where TMZ got the "scoop" of the decade. According to unnamed sources, Paris Hilton suffers from extreme Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and claustrophobia. These sources also fingered Adderall as Paris' particular poison of choice, and claimed 'twas pity that spared the beast when the ole Sheriff learned of Paris' panic attacks from lack of medication. All across the tubes site after site regurgitated the above sentences without skepticism. Not a single site, not even Foxnews, could corroborate this information separately. Yet all sites seemed relieved to finally have a medical reason to blame Paris' behavior on.

"See? She's not really a pampered brat," we are led to believe. "She has ADD. Poor thing..."

What do we really know about Paris, though? Heck, all I know about her new home in Lynwood came from a Weird Al album. I'm not an expert on celebrities, especially Paris. However, I do know a thing or two about ADD and even ADHD. Let's consider some implications of this "news".

Ever arrive late to work because you took the wrong bus? I sure would have liked to blame ADHD on that day. It was at fault, after all. I was just an innocent victim panicking because I was late and leapt on the wrong bus without thinking. In fact, all that high risk behavior in my youth, all the feet I crammed in my mouth, and all the friendships I left burning like abandoned husks behind me can be squarely blamed on ADHD.

It's not my fault. I don't have to be responsible. Wow! This is exhilarating!

Far be it for me to avoid an opportunity to wag my finger at the media, but I see a deeper problem here besides scapegoating. If I blurt out how much you dislike the hostess' dress to the hostess in a moment of AD/HD brilliance, do your feelings stop hurting because I can blame AD/HD? If I forget to tell you about a meeting that costs you your job, will a "Whooopsies! I have AD/HD!" set things right? There seems to be a concerted effort in the press of late to justify aberrant behavior through mental disfunctions such as Depression and AD/HD, as if a medical label makes everything all better. The trouble is that only apologies and reparation makes things better, not labels.

Where is our society going when we happily divorce actions from responsibility? Why are celebrities and monsters not held accountable in the press for what they do and instead are given excuses to avoid responsibility? Who knows, but if we excused all our bad behavior on ADHD would we grow? Would we mature? I don't believe we would, and that would be a terrible waste of living.

I propose instead that we take responsibility for our actions, even stupid and embarrassing ones. ADHD may explain how our reason left us for a moment, but only we can repair the damage we have done. Sometimes we lose the job. Sometimes we lose a friend, but by and large we grow when we accept responsibility. In my experience, taking responsibility has saved more for me than lost, especially with friendships.

And what of forgiveness? Frankly, one can't demand that from people even if they are being unfair. We first need to make reparation as best we can and hope for the best. I realize this will be difficult. AD/HD actions like taking out a third mortgage on the house to lose on risky stocks isn't going to go over well with the spouse, but neither will blaming it on AD/HD. By taking responsibility, your spouse is more likely to forgive you if you are upfront about things. Or at least your spouse might let you sleep on the couch instead of the dog house.

As for Paris, I'd like to see her learn some coping skills instead of pining for medication, but fortunately, we only have a gossip site's word that she has AD/HD in the first place. Can we please choose a new AD/HD poster child now? I'm available.

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6/21/07 10:08:45 PM Edited for spelling.