Look out, the sanctity of daydreaming may be on the path to obliteration. There’s a new psychiatric disorder in our midst, folks, and I almost laughed it off until I remembered this country’s propensity to allow pharmaceutical lobbying to turn blatantly ludicrous things into a part of our everyday lives. That, I fear, could be the future for “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo” (SCT), especially since the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology dedicated 136 pages to SCT in its January issue.
The disorder’s name itself is enough to make you guffaw (or snort, which is my go-to response). Add to that the following description of kids with SCT, given by Dr. Keith McBurnett, a researcher who has co-authored several papers on the topic, “These children are not the ones giving adults much trouble, so they’re easy to miss. They’re the daydreamy ones, the ones with work that’s not turned in, leaving names off of papers or skipping questions, things like that, that impinge on grades or performance. So anything we can do to understand what’s going on with these kids is a good thing.”
Great, let’s better understand these little tadpoles! Fill your boots and do the research! But wait, who is paying for that research? You don’t get any guesses, I’m just going to tell you: Eli Lilly, that’s who. A recent New York Times story says, “Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.”
Ah. So I’m guessing the research doesn’t include meditation, diet analysis, sleep analysis, boring-teacher analysis, or just accepting that maybe not all kids are snappy, and leaving it at that. Because, God, who has ever left their name off of a school assignment more than once and lived to tell about it, right?
Is there a voice of reason in this discussion? Somebody? Anybody? Dr. Allen Frances, a vocal critic of excessive diagnosis, has stepped up and written a piece called No Child Left Behind for Psychology Today. He’s probably getting paid for his content on a per-word or per-click basis, fairly standard for a publication like that, and Frances’ opinions are his own. With psychologist Russell Barkley, a leading writer and researcher who is “pro” SCT, the source of his opinions is less clear: Barkley received $118,000 over four years from Eli Lilly.
As for me, I’m a writer, not a psychologist. The last time I checked, daydreaming is how creative types like myself develop new ideas. Or are we out to obliterate those, too?
What are your thoughts on Sluggish Cognitive Tempo as a legitimate psychiatric disorder?