No Prosthetic Currently Available

            Fundraising time at the local public television station. Time to wheel out the doo wop daddies and the various charlatans of health and financial well being (Recently unemployed and homeless? No problem. What an amazing opportunity for becoming a gazillionaire!). All this exceptional “regular” featured programming displaces the normally scheduled Frontline exposé of where the money really goes. Incentives for membership have become “media sized” with coffee cups, T’s and key chains taking a back seat to books, CD’s and DVD’s. One offering was for “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!” Who could resist?

            The book is actually You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!: a self-help book for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo (both having been diagnosed with this disorder). The representation of ADD, its diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, etc. are excellent. Kelly and Ramundo point out that its variations make it a slippery subject, with what appear to be contradictory manifestations each being attributed to ADD. But the book’s intent is to be a “self-help” practical guide to dealing with the everyday of this condition. It is here that it leaves the reader begging the question as to “if this is a disorder, I wonder what ‘normal’ is”. Their practical tips, suggestions and strategies for managing “things” after this diagnosis read like Norman Vincent Peale’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People”. ADDers are described as being adverse to writing, organization and rules. The solution is- you guessed it- ways to get organized and create rules, most of which entail a great deal of writing! Recognizing the affliction is key to dealing with it. But this otherwise scientifically oriented text suggests what other’s have repeatedly promoted as essential to successful living since before ADD was ever imagined, let alone identified. These other texts never referenced any scientifically determined disorder as a reason to heed their expertise.

            Shades of Foucault! One senses “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” lurking in the shadows. The underlying assumption (that although afflicted with a neurological disorder that is part and parcel of one’s being, you too can be a productive, successful member of society. Don’t let what it is you are keep you from being what it is you can be.) sounds a lot like the age old Christian teaching of original sin, where a hereditary defect is part and parcel of one’s created being. Some ancient writers even went so far as to describe this as a happy curse, an opportunity for joyous redemption. Kelly and Ramundo do likewise with a final chapter that celebrates the uniqueness of those with ADD (“From Obstacle to Opportunity”). The parallels are uncanny. Thus the religious approach to being wonderful while being defective, hence the religious appeal of Norman Vincent Peale (no pun intended), and Kelly and Ramundo’s creatively lacking “ditto”. The surprise isn’t with Kelly and Ramundo, who genuinely want to empower others afflicted with this condition to be in control of their destiny. The surprise is that, although understanding and representation of this condition is attributed to scientific inquiry and expertise, science is mute with regards to living with this condition in the everyday. Accumulating the data (evidence) that the world’s oceans are on the verge of demise is one thing. Saying what needs to be done, in what order, priority and degree is another. It is on the latter point that science exerts no authority, is silent, both in regards to the condition of the oceans as well as that of ADD. It is regarding this “matter of concern” that Latour and Weibel suggest the authority comes from the assembly, rather than the science (data, study, etc.). The surprise with Kelly and Ramundo is that, if they represent an aspect of assembly, then the “making public” of living with this condition hasn’t shifted much from the age old religious “making public” of living with the knowledge that what accounts for the propensity to screw up when the intention is to do right is the fact that one was created with a hereditary defect by an omnipotent creator (who may also be an ADDer).

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