The Holy Grail for many proponents of ADHD is establishing its ‘genetic basis’. The logic being that establishing a genetic basis for ADHD validates it as a psychiatric disorder. In September 2010 the world’s media buzzed with the news that British researcher’s had proven the genetic basis of ADHD. The psychiatrist who led the study, Cardiff University Professor Anita Thapar, proclaimed ‘now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease.’
Professor Thapar was wrong on two counts. Firstly despite the hype, Professor Thapar’s (et al) study did not establish a genetic basis for ADHD. Secondly and most importantly, if a genetic basis of ADHD is eventually established it will validate ADHD as a ‘genetic difference’ not a ‘genetic disease’.