March 24, 2006
More than Just Quirks?
Today I met with some friends to discuss problems that have been going on in a student group I’m involved with. Daria*, an older woman who acts as an advisor to the group, was expressing concerns over the actions and behavior of our president. At one point she asked me “Do you think Kelly might have a social disorder? You’re pretty good friends with her, and known her for quite some time- have you ever noticed- something odd about how she relates to other people, her body language, the way she talks? Has she ever been tested for any kind of disorder?” (Well, that’s roughly what she said- I can’t remember exactly what traits she ticked off) I’ve made some amateur disagnostic speculations in my time- (haven’t we all?) but this is one person I’d never considered.
Well, she does have some unusual mannerisms- but I just thought they were her individual quirks. (They’re more than just quirks, insisted Daria) Her brother has ADD- so it’s possible should could have some of that as well, or something similar. It’s pretty common after all. Yeah, she does seem kinda ADD, come to think of it- rather fidgety. Well, everyone’s a little ADD anyways- it’s only when it causes them problems that it’s worth dealing with. So I wasn’t going to bring this up with Kelly on the basis of vaguely defined quirks that don’t seem to be causing any problems in the rest of her life.
(*- Names changed to protect anonymity)
I think it’s good to examine the reasons _why_ we do our amateur diagnoses. Are we doing it out of concern for the person, as a way to excuse their behavior- or our behavior toward them. Sometimes people are irresponsible, behave badly, have bad habits- just because- or because there’s something going on beneath the surface- some unique neurology that hasn’t been identified.