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Surprising Science

Is ADHD Really Children Behaving Narcissistically?

Behavior that would constitute psychosis in adults may be (an unpleasant) part of children's natural emotional development.

What’s the Latest Development?


More children than ever are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, but the notoriously slippery diagnostic guidelines may have more to do with natural childhood behavior—albeit in exaggerated states—than a clinical disease. Enrico Gnaulati, a clinical psychologist based in California, argues that children are naturally given to narcissistic tendencies which, to adults, appear as symptoms of a menacing disease. According to Gnaulati, these tendencies can be boiled down to: Overconfident self-appraisals, craving recognition from others, expressions of personal entitlement, and underdeveloped empathy.

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What’s the Big Idea?

It is well known that human children have longer “nesting” periods than other animals, and that this is due to the complexity of our cerebral development. In other words, the price we pay for greater intelligence is a longer developmental stage. Behavior that would constitute psychosis in adults may be (an unpleasant) part of children’s natural emotional development. “When we truly listen to parents and refrain from shoehorning their descriptions into nifty behavioral phrases, overlaps begin to emerge between what is often described as ADHD phenomena and normal childhood narcissism.”

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Read it at the Atlantic


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