The importance of a diagnosis


Name it to Tame it
“Label Stigma” is very OLD thinking

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Will this NEVER die?

Do we “label” eyes brown, green or blue?  Would the color of anybody’s eyes change simply because we don’t put a name to that color for fear of subjecting them to preconceived notions about eyes (or color)?

If some narrow-minded person has a prejudice against people with light eyes, does identifying the color of those eyes as “blue” make the slightest difference what-so-ever?

How about height and weight “labels?”

SURELY nobody really believes that as long as we don’t define size by measurement we can pretend everybody is exactly the same — even though we can easily see that they aren’t.

  • Is there some evolutionary advantage to pretending that identifying certain characteristics specifically isn’t relevant – or important?
  • Does it really change anybody’s self-identity or position in the universe to find out exactly how tall they are?
  • Does it change how we think about our role in the world to know how much we weigh?

And yet . . .

Labelling theory, prominent during the 1960s and 70s, with some modified versions still currently popular, has long asserted the exact opposite.

It postulates that, once “labeled,” individuals are stripped of their old identities as new ones are ascribed to them — and that the process usually leads to internalizing this new identity and social status, taking on some kind of assigned role with its associated set of role expectations.

And society seems to like to go along with this BS!!!

When I look around, the most comprehensive internalization I see is the result of the self-identification with STIGMA.

Out of the fear of having their children “labelled” with a mental illness, too many parents avoid taking their kids for diagnosis and treatment – because they don’t want their children to have to suffer the stigma of a diagnosis.

Out of that same fear, many otherwise sensible adults – who would certainly go for treatment if what they suspected was wrong with them were physical – are leading limp-along lives because they refuse to accept diagnosis and treatment for anything that concerns their mental health.  Few realize that they’ve actually internalized the very stigma they think they are avoiding.

MY point of view

As I see it, the reticence to accept mental health “labels” for fear of pigeon-holing or stereotyping allows society as a whole to remain in serious denial about the crying need to stand up and be counted, joining together to sling a few other labels that desperately need to be slung – like intolerant, bigoted, small-minded, parochial and provincial, to name just a few.

And then there’s the label that is my personal favorite to describe a particular kind of tool I’d like to call a spade: BULLY!

I’m calling out mental health stigma for what it is:
SMALL MINDED IGNORANCE!

(unless, of course, you want to label it cowardice)

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Do you love THIS Raymond?


Everybody Loves Raymond

(from an upcoming book, The Impulsivity Rundown © – all rights reserved)

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of The Challenges Inventory™ Series

It’s impossible to keep a straight face around Raymond – he can make anybody laugh! Where does he come up with all the craziness that comes out of his mouth?

The sky’s the limit for this guy — TONS of potential — they say he really should be a stand up comic or a talk show host. He’d make a million.

People would pay just to hear him laugh.  Really.  He is the essence of fun.

He’s smart, can DO practically anything, and has tried to do practically everything.  He is just the nicest guy you’d ever wanna’ meet.

He got so many responses to his profile on “Find Your Soul-mate” he barely had time to meet any of them because of the hours and hours he spent following up online. Most of the dates he did make started out badly when he was so darned LATE, but Ray was able to turn things around (that date, anyway).

Talk about selling snow to Eskimos — Ray wrote the book!  He seems to be able to talk anybody into ANYthing (as long as they don’t get to know him too well!)

Even his exes find it hard to find a bad thing to say about the guy.  Except that, Nobody could live with him.  He’d drive anybody crazy.”

That’s a real shame, too, because Raymond would really like to find his soul mate . . .  and his ideal job . . .  and a group of friends that isn’t always trying to change him in a million little ways (or help him get into hot water).

  • He has no idea how he keeps messing up one good relationship after another.
  • He’s always surprised when he finds out that his job is on the line . . . again.
  • He doesn’t understand why his friends and family are so angry;
    he said he was sorry. And he really IS, every single time
    even when he doesn’t really understand exactly what he DID.

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ABOUT Rainbow Brains


Exploring Neurodiversity

Guestpost from Heather McCrae
Neurodiversity Coach and Blogger

Intro by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, MCC, SCAC

If you’ve been following this blog for very long you are surely well aware that  I strongly believe that pathologizing any difference, disorder or disability is a crying shame.  

You also realize, no doubt, that I am ALSO reluctant to jump on the “it’s a difference, not a disability”  bandwagon.

The Power of Diagnostic Identification

In my 25 years in the coaching/training field, primarily working with (and training other coaches to work with) individuals with non-neurotypical brains (aka. “vanillas” – unflavored by the “mix-ins” we find in ADD and/or any of the other spectrum disorders), I have seen the power of an accurate diagnosis to finally turn a life of struggle into one of freedom with accomplishment – time and time again.

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ADD seldom rides alone


ADD Cormorbidities

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC

ABOUT ADD Comorbidities, the introductory article in this series, explained that a comorbid disorder refers to additional conditions, syndromes or disorders frequently found in a specific diagnostic population more often than the condition is found in the neurotypical population — to a statistically significant degree.

In other words, we’re talking about accompanying conditions that are not automatically included in the diagnostic criteria for the “main” condition, but are frequently seen in that particular population of individuals.

Regardless of the Reason Why

The overlap may reflect a causal relationship between the two diagnoses, and they may reflect an underlying vulnerability in common. The important concept is that two or more conditions co-occur more frequently in our “target population” than in population norms otherwise, and to a statistically significant degree.

From a behavioral standpoint, these additional conditions sometimes occur with similar or overlapping symptoms, and sometimes they show up with additional symptoms – those not necessarily seen in other individuals with the original or “base” diagnosis.

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Brand New Brain-Based Resource


#1 in a Series on Brain-Based Resources

Introducing BrainFacts.org

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC


There’s a new kid on the block!

It’s not brand-spanking new, but new enough you may not have been aware of it’s existance — until NOW.

It’s also not ADD-specific, but it does include some ADD content you will want to read.

Ahem, BRAINFACTS, for those who’d love another place to send some of their Doubting Thomas friends and family members for an update to their [lack of] information base.

BrainFacts.org brings a lot to the block party, so I want everybody on Team ADD to know they’ve moved into the ‘nabe.

I also want you to remain aware of a couple of conventions they have to follow, so that, when you read about ADD, you don’t think they’re saying more than they are.

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ABOUT ADD Comorbidities


Cormorbid or Co-occuring?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Wait!  Doesn’t comorbid mean
co-occuring?

Not exactly. Comorbidity refers to a specific KIND of “co-occurance.”

A comorbid disorder refers to additional conditions or syndromes or disorders frequently found in a specific diagnostic population.

In other words, we’re talking about accompanying conditions that are not part of the diagnostic criteria for the “main” condition, but are frequently seen in that particular population of individuals.

From a behavioral standpoint, these additional conditions occur sometimes with similar or overlapping symptoms, and sometimes they show up with additional symptoms – those not necessarily seen in those with the original or “base” diagnosis.

The overlap may reflect a causal relationship between the two diagnoses, and they may relect an underlying vulnerability in common, but the important concept is that they co-occur more frequently in our “target population” than in population norms otherwise, and to a statistically significant degree.

So, even if an entire hotel full of ADDers happens to be diabetic as well, we still would not say their diagnosis was ADD with comorbid diabetes, because the two conditions haven’t been proven to occur in tandem any more frequently than the incidence of diabetes in the general (non-ADD or “vanilla”) population.

So, in this example, the two conditions are co-occuring, NOT comorbid, even though it may not look that way to anyone staying in this particular hotel!

Muddying the waters further, the statistics change depending on which end of the diagnostic telescope you look through. For example, up to 60% percent of children with tic disorders also have ADD, but nowhere near 60% of ADDers have tic disorders.

The high possibility of comorbidities is yet another good reason to make sure you get an excellent differential diagnosis — but the articles in the Comorbidities Series are going to look at some of the diagnoses that frequenly hitch-hike along with ADD through another lens: SUCCESS!

Developing person-specific work-arounds and interventions to help you achieve that blessed state of Optimal Functioning that I believe is our birthright comes through identifying, understanding, and learning to work with and work around ALL of the “mix-ins” in your particular flavor of ADD.

“Learning to drive the very brain you were born with
– even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime!”™

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Occupy ADD


by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Is Your ADD-Doc GREAT?

We wanna’ know about competent ADD professionals.

How come?  Sadly (shamefully!), we see mounting evidence of a retreat to the ADD Dark Ages, and we need to jerk a knot in its tail and cut off its ugly head!

I have been disheartened, often appalled, by the accounts of patient/doctor and patient/therapist interactions that have been showing up recently on the ADD sites — in increasing numbers!

To say it plainly:

  • If the extent of ignorance we who are looking for help are finding among doctors and therapists who CLAIM to be ADD-specialists existed in any other field, we’d see malpractice suits and lost licenses!
  • There seem to be few AMA “watch dogs” with eyes on what the ADD doctors are doing.
  • Uninformed, non-medically trained government regulators seem to be more concerned with preventing drug abuse than safeguarding access to pharmaceutical interventions for those whose lives are derailed by legitimate, diagnostic disorders, made manageable through consistent access to medication.  Medication shortages are unconscionable.

THIS is not OK with me — and I hope it’s not OK with you, either.

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Top Ten Stupid Comments from ADD-Docs


The Top Ten Stupid Comments
from
[supposed]  ADD Professionals
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Ten Unfortunate [and recent]  Examples of Ignorance masquerading as Information — and
uninformed personal opinion presented as medical FACT.

———————————-
The comments on this article add information — take the time to read those too. You’ll be glad you did!
———————————-

First Things First:
Let’s not lump the good ADD doctors and the ones who made these stupid comments together!

They are not the same species AT ALL!

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Differential Diagnosis – Part 2


 Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Archery target with arrow in center of bullseye

Differential Diagnosis:
 What is it?

— and why would I care?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part Two of the Differential Dx article
in the Comorbities Series

To answer the first part of the question, click HERE to read the first part of this article.  (Click the link at the end of THAT article to come back here to read why you really need to care.)

The answer to the second part?

In a nutshell: as with everything else in life,
“The Name of the Game™ determines the rules!”

If you don’t have the correct diagnosis, there is NO WAY you will be addressing your problems in a manner that will be successful.

Pretend you are a former college marathon runner in his late 30’s.  Lately you’re having problems completing your morning run.  You can barely breathe after about ten minutes of what used to be an easy warm-up.

Obviously, you’d be headed for trouble if you were treated with asthma medication and the source of your shortness of breath turned out to be a problem with your heart.

Since you aren’t sure what’s going on, you’d want to feel confident that your doctor knows enough about “shortness of breath” conditions to make a referral to the correct specialist, even if your particular doctor specializes in sports medicine, right?

When you’re dealing with a differential diagnosis that has few quantifiable measures to identify it, it becomes all the more important to work with a doctor who has the depth of knowledge it may take to distinguish between a daunting number of possibilities with similar presentations — yet very different treatments.

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Zebras, hoof-beats and Dr. House: Differential Diagnosis


Differential Diagnosis: WHAT is it?

and WHY do I care?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,
CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
#1 of a 2-parter in the Comorbities Series

(To find out how the Zebras relate, read the article!!) 

differential diagnosis is one which examines all of the possible reasons for a set of symptoms in order to arrive at an identification of the cause (or combination of causes) of a presenting problem.

It’s a fairly simple process of elimination that can become unblievably complex in an eye-blink, “simply” because so many diseases and disorders present with similar symptoms,

Although the term “differential diagnosis” initially referred to issues of physical health, today many doctors in the mental health field also use this system of diagnosis.

Diagnosticians specialize in differential diagnosis.

Everybody’s favorite Diagnostician

And who would that be?

Why, House, of course!

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10 Questions to Ask to find a GRRRRreat! ADD Doc


ADD* & Looking for a Doctor?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Ten great questions to ask in the initial interview

Cartoon of a Doctor in a white lab coat with clipboard, glasses. and doctor's bag

Most of us are desperate for help by the time we look for it. 

ADD affect combined with a shortage of time and money means we often approach the process as beggars at a banquet, accepting a crust of bread as eagerly as a balanced meal.

If you don’t want to have to “Return to GO” when you find out later that things aren’t working (leaving your $200 on the table with the first doctor!), take some time to think first about what you need, and to find out whether your needs will be met by the care provider you are considering.

—————–

SEE: ADD: What’s in a Name? for why I don’t use the “H” – even though you ADHD-ers are definitely included in the articles you will find here.

© Updated 2011, Madelyn Griffith-Haynie,CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC-orig. on ADDCoach.com – 07/05/95

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