'

Talent as a disability

The privacy we expect from medicine, the protection we expect from the law, make it imperative that we learn to read the open book of life with compassion.

janus-from-wikipedia.JPGToday's post is late due to a personal crisis. (The Vatican's bust of Janus is from Wikipedia.)

It's caused by a genetic condition called ADHD/ADD. I have it, and always have. I survived school by the skin of my teeth, I was in constant trouble at college, and it was only after I confirmed my 30-year old diagnosis that I got some relief.

When it comes to mental health, knowing what you have can be half the battle. You can't quit drinking until you accept you're an alcoholic. I didn't know what was right with me, or what was wrong, until I learned about ADHD/ADD. It's why I write, every day, sometimes compulsively, and why I sometimes say too much.

The public policy question is this. How do we account for ADD? Today we call it a disability, so there are bureaucratic hoops you need to learn about, and jump through, in order to get help. They mark you. If you're a kid, or a parent, you're bound to resist.

But I have learned lately that resistance, in this case, is futile. Without the diagnosis, and whatever stigma goes with it, you have no legal protection. Mistakes commonly made by young people with ADD/ADHD become crises.

Similarly help for young dyslexics (it's a common ADD side-effect) comes under the heading special education -- you're classed with the dummies even if you're as smart as George W. Bush. (This may be why he denies he has it.)

All this has to go into a lifetime medical record, one which is easily compromised, where it can be used against you in business, in job-seeking, or in politics. (Bush was considered an idiot long before he became unpopular.)

When people say, "I don't want an electronic health record" this is one of the concerns they have. We're all different. We all have genetic time bombs inside us, waiting to kill us. And we all have gifts, from the two-faced God Janus.

The privacy we expect from medicine, the protection we expect from the law, make it imperative that we learn to read the open book of life with compassion.

The ethics of good medicine must become more common, throughout our culture, in the age of the Internet.