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Could it be that ADHD is code for Harry ain’t that bright?


GOT to hand it to business guru Harry, who brought home the bacon on Saturday as he found that there are people prepared to pay £17 a pop to watch his therapy session. Harry danced for our entertainment led by a new partner, trauma specialist Dr Gabor Maté, with highlights including casually chucked-in ADHD and trauma diagnoses. Problem is it’s all getting a little old. The glamour is wearing thin. Familiarity is breeding boredom. Like Harry, the child emperor in me is sighing, pushing the plate away, asking for something new. And I worry for Harry that I’m the general public. How often can you listen to the ‘poor me’ talk over and over and over again? Oscar Wilde summed it up: ‘You used to stir my imagination, now you don’t stir my curiosity.’

Boringly, Harry joins the throng of celebrities who are coming forward with ADHD, an appealing diagnosis that implies you might be really bright but really scatty (yawn). His good doctor Maté wisely stayed away from ‘intelligence’ issues or mention that people with learning difficulties also have a short attention span. That would have roused me from my apathy. And yes, I was professionally a little concerned that assessing Harry as having an attention issue without some sort of ability test was lacking in depth, but then I remembered that maybe a televised assessment from a man who’s met Harry twice is a bit flimsy. Could it be that ADHD is code for Harry ain’t that bright? Would it make this show less boring? Alarm bells might ring when Harry portrays Meghan as extraordinarily wise and exceptional. I tried to stay interested by noting his attention span increases when talking about subjects that interest him. In his case, himself. He can talk and listen and ponder himself for quite some time. Is that ADHD or narcissism? Couldn’t possibly say.

Harry suggested that 99.9 per cent of people are traumatised. His doctor didn’t seem to feel the need to correct this notion, or suggest that some resilience can make a difference even if life is a bit rubbish for you. I stifled a yawn as Harry was diagnosed with trauma and ADHD, the tediously routine guys of psychological issues. No risk of being diagnosed with something fun. He wasn’t found to be delusional, a bit dim or emotionally delayed. I thought of our better times when he was doing his ‘oh God I hate my family’ thing, but can see now that Harry mistook interest in family fights as interest in his inner workings. Turns out, it’s just not that fun any more. It’s not working for me, Harry. It’s not me, it’s you. Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m all out of faith and our conversation has indeed run dry.  

Harry does have some (oh God he’s so mundane) issues. He is scarred because his brother will be king and he won’t. That must pinch a bit. He, like many a younger brother, wants to be better, wants to win. It’s not complicated. Accepting that life isn’t fair would be a good place to start.   

If Harry wants to dabble in the world of social science, he should have a look at people who have actual crappy lives. He might find that his victim status diminishes and who knows? He could just get over it, hold his head in shame and see himself as others see him. And that I’d pay to watch. Until then, Harry, I’m out.  

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Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald
Gail MacDonald is a professional psychologist and writer. Views expressed here are her own.

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