By now, every child in the United States except for two in Minnesota and one in New Jersey has been delcared to suffer from "ADHD" or "bipolar disorder." They're required to take expensive medications, be monitored by a slew of doctors, lawyers, social workers and other helpers, and now have a handy excuse for why they're getting bad grades or into trouble.
In America's courtrooms, these diagnoses are treated as holy writ. I've never heard a lawyer or a judge question any of this. And on the strength of these claims, planets must be moved and fortunes spent to accommodate the "special needs." Sprawling industries are nurtured.
Once upon a time, of course, we simply said that kids were rambunctious or had ups and downs. By the onset of adulthood, these things had calmed down. All perfectly normal.
Mrs. Anonymous Attorney observed the other night, however, that many of the adults who today make these diagnoses do not have children of their own: the legions of (usually white) female lawyers who, despite working as "guardian at litem" or for the Youth Services Department, are childless, the male social worker who's unmarried and childless, the psychologists and psychiatrists who have no children, etc.
(Personally, I find it amusing that the defiant white female who graduated from Brown with a degree in feminist studies and a vow never to give birth sees no inconsistency in going to work for a non-profit in Manhattan called Help the Children or down to Bolivia to cradle peasant babies in her arms. Children are OK, they just have to be brown-skinned and birthed by someone else.)
Of course these people don't get that a little girl can go from happy to meltdown in 15 minutes... they've never seen it. Of course they don't understand that a little boy wants to run outside instead of sit for a class... they've never seen it. They expect that kids should be, to borrow a phrase, "little adults". Being forced, against all nature, to sit for hours at a time might just require medication. Then the kids get obese and we wonder why.
In other words, we don't actually have an epidemic of mentally ill children. We have an epidemic of childless professionals.