Monday, March 02, 2009

Men Are More ADHD, But Are Less Handicapped By It

Susan Pinker reports that more boys than girls are diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. This I knew. I did not know, though, that about twice as many boys get this diagnosis in North America as in Europe - 10% vs. 5%. Pinker says the Europeans regarded the idea of a disorder called "hyperactivity" as an American fad, though they are changing their minds and catching up to us.

One of the things I like best about The Sexual Paradox is that Pinker follows up on the boys she treated years ago to find out what they did as men with their various disorders. She found that many hyperactive boys found ways to turn their vice into a virtue by making their work more efficient. She tells the story of the man who invented e-tickets because he was so ADHD that he kept losing his paper tickets.

Men are more likely to find ways to work around handicaps and deficits if they see them as a competitive challenge. ADHD is more of a problem in school than in the world of work. Girls do better in school in part because they are less likely to be hyperactive, as well as being more socially compliant. In the work world, though, Pinker suggests, hyperactive boys are more likely than hyperactive girls to compete to succeed.

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