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Thom Hartmann's ADD/ADHD Newsletter

January, 2002

It's now official: what we call ADD or ADHD increased the survival potential of people during the hunting/gathering era of humanity, from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. You can find the story of the new research, just released by the University of California at Irvine College of Medicine, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The web link is here.

"Our data show that the creation of the 7R allele [linked to ADHD] was an unusual, spontaneous mutation, which became an advantage for humans," said Robert Moyzis, professor of biological chemistry at UCI. "Because it was an advantage, the gene became increasingly prevalent. This is very different from other genes that predispose to genetic disorders, where the mutations are detrimental. We believe this helps explain why a disorder with such a strong genetic association is so common today."

The researchers found that the gene for ADHD emerged before agriculture, when all humans were hunter/gatherer people. As Thom Hartmann had predicted back in 1993 with the publication of his book "Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception," people with ADHD aren't diseased or broken - they're merely different, and often different in ways that can confer advantage.

"This study, that was done cooperatively by UCI and Yale and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is a solid validation of my original hypothesis," Hartmann said. "I'm particularly pleased that somebody has finally gotten around to tracking back the genetics of this in the context of the way humans have lived for most of the history of the human race."

Hartmann proposed in 1993, and in 6 other books since then, that people with ADHD would be more competent than "normal" people at tasks that recreate "the hunt" but would find tasks that recreate "farming" to be painfully boring.

He suggested that people like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Teddy Roosevelt were classic cases of "ADHD gone right," and that by helping children with ADHD make it through the school years with their self-esteem intact we could create more Edisons and fewer of the emotionally wounded adults we see today.

This involves parents understanding and supporting their ADHD children, and a transformation of our teaching systems toward something like that modeled by Robin Williams in the movie "Dead Poet's Society" or by Jamie Escalante in the movie "Stand And Deliver."

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