April 12, 2014

Meet the new attention deficit disorder: sluggish cognitive tempo.

The symptoms are "lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing," and the experts think they see it in maybe 2 million children.

It better not be that this is crystalizing into a disorder because they've got a drug for these symptoms. I swear I wrote that before I read this:
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.

65 comments:

Michael K said...

The story of anti-depressants is the model for this stuff.

The early ads were for its use in depression. Then the ads showed happy women using them. Then they evolved into a "normal part of life." Then you couldn't be normal without them.

Pure salesmanship.

Michael K said...

This is he book with the history of anti-depressants I attended a talk he gave 20 years ago. A very impressive guy on the history of psychiatry.

n.n said...

Erratic syndrome creation is closely correlated with institutional earnings.

As for a sluggish cognitive tempo, I think they underestimate its prominence. This disorder is quite common and is closely correlated with boredom. Not everyone enjoys performs well in the rarefied atmosphere of ivory towers. Some people, many people, just want to have fun.

rhhardin said...

sluggish cognitive tempo

I recommend El Fandago de Candil

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Whut?

Amexpat said...

Sounds like how I felt for most of my public schooling. But that was an environmental problem, not a medical problem.

Freeman Hunt said...

"These lazy, daydreaming kids. There must be something wrong with them!"

Ha ha ha.

madAsHell said...

Eureka!!
A cure for the common childhood!!

Now, we need to solve the problem of long hot summer days, frying ants with magnifying glasses, and tearing the legs off Daddy-Long-Legs.

fivewheels said...

Who will help me (and give me disability payments) for my debilitating Generalized Not-Giving-a-Shit Syndrome? I demand official medical and government recognition and compassion. It's a civil right.

madAsHell said...

....and when we are done with that!!

We will conquer the experiments with household chemicals. The fruitless dis-assembly, and re-assembly of bikes, and motors.

Have you sucked all the fun out of it yet!!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Apparently, with SCT when they day dream they literally go blank. Like.. there's NOTHING going on in their heads...

As opposed to ADHD where the reason I'm not listening to your lecture is because I'm carefully planning my Mars colony, down to the contents of the hydroponic gardens.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe we need to label a lot of these kids with one disorder called Not Doing What My Parents Want Often Enough for Their Taste Syndrome.

Freeman Hunt said...

As opposed to ADHD where the reason I'm not listening to your lecture is because I'm carefully planning my Mars colony, down to the contents of the hydroponic gardens.

Planning the Mars colony is probably the more intelligent thing to be doing based on the average lecture.

Freeman Hunt said...

Apparently, with SCT when they day dream they literally go blank. Like.. there's NOTHING going on in their heads...

Meditation prodigies.

Ann Althouse said...

Might as well accept medical marijuana.

Start with a drug and reason backward to whatever condition it changes and call the condition a disorder and characterize the change as an improvement.

Whatever else happens -- e.g. getting high, apathetic -- is a side effect.

Wilbur said...

My mama had a swift, sure cure for this ailment: application of the terminal part of the human arm to the gluteus maximus. Repeat as needed.

Freeman Hunt said...

Might as well accept medical marijuana.

Start with a drug and reason backward to whatever condition it changes and call the condition a disorder and characterize the change as an improvement.


I bet medical marijuana could help with Too Controlling Parent Disorder.

Captain Ned said...

I can tell you right now that back in my elementary school in the early 1970s, once baseball season had begun every single boy in that school suffered from "sluggish cognitive tempo". Doubly so if it were sunny & warm outside.

Bloody idiots trying ever so much harder to make it impossible to be a boy these days. I'd like to see the sex distinctions in this diagnosis.

Fernandinande said...

"Children with SCT appeared to have slow processing speed and reaction times."
(Wikipedia)

"Sluggish Cognitive Tempo" is a pretty good euphemism for "stupid".

Not the best, tho, but how does one top "exceptional" and "special", when their definitions as applied to kids are the opposite of normal usage? As in "he was an exceptional marathon runner because he weighed 600 pounds and couldn't get out of bed."

Hagar said...

Some kids' systems can't tell the difference between amphetamins and articial coloring agents, especially the red/orangy stuff. So the school nurse diagnose them with ADHD and prescribe Ritalin that comes in nice red colored capsules.
Gets the kids coming and going.

BTW, if your kid has this problem, just do your level best to keep articial colorings and sweeteners away from him or her, and he or she should grow out of it naturally by age 10-12. It is jusr a rate of development problem; not permanent.

Fen said...

More Psychotropics = More school shootings.

http://www.cchrint.org/school-shooters/

Patrick said...

"As horrible as the diagnosis was,
it was a relief to know."

Patrick said...

Can't tell if I messed up the link with the moderated comments.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/more-us-children-being-diagnosed-with-youthful-ten,248/

Seriously, I think the problem is that too few kids are like this.

Carol said...

Sounds like a new name for the ol' Borderline IQ Disorder, or possibly the Escapist Daydreaming Because my Homelife Sucks Disorder.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The mean part of me would point out that the "SCT" kids are often the 'teacher pleasers' who can't retain information. So the kids who sit quietly, never get up at inappropriate times, color in the lines, get A's on all the homework because they do it ALL, even the stupid 100 page packets of busy work.... and then fail the tests.


Where, in my experience, the ADHD kids are the ones who won't do the busy work, wiggle incessantly, ask off-topic questions, forget to raise their hand when they're excited, and piss the teacher off..... but who get A's on all the tests.

Both of these extremes must be fixed, because all people must be the same.

n.n said...

Might as well accept...

Start with a solution and reason backward to whatever policy it changes and call the behavior normal and characterize the change as progress.

Whatever else happens -- e.g. devaluation of life, denigration of individual dignity, evolutionary dysfunction, moral hazard creation -- is a side effect.

"Might as well accept" is a pro-choice argument. It lacks substance and is often exploited as an emotional appeal to avoid addressing issues on their merits, or as a capitulatory response.

Ann Althouse said...

""Children with SCT appeared to have slow processing speed and reaction times.""

I totally had sluggish cognitive tempo reading that. SCT has been my abbreviation for Supreme Court as I've taken notes over the past 30+ years. What a daydream I had trying to think about how the topic had changed to the Supreme Court!

Freeman Hunt said...

Perhaps there's something to the Neurodiversity Movement.

Jupiter said...

This is the Educopsychiatric Complex'es answer to childhood. Have you ever stopped to think how little you actually learned in school? And how much time they wasted teaching it to you?

As Richard Brautigan put it;

My teachers could have ridden with Jesse James
For all the time they stole from me.

If your children aren't guilty, don't send them to prison.

traditionalguy said...

Pharma guys have an idea. Sell a Pharma treatment for marijuana Pharma caused slow minds.

They get it both ways. They will now need a trifecta Rx.

Patrick O said...

I get this everyday around 2pm.

SOJO said...


Just let the poor little buggers get through their stealth masturbating years unmolested (as it were), why don't they?

wildswan said...

You think people will not fall for this. But if a syndrome is named and its symptoms are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and drugs are listed as treatment and then you go into the doctor and list a majority of those symptoms then the doctor must prescribe the medicine or face lawsuits.

I think people need to learn to look up their symptoms (or even [GASP] ask someone about them) before they go to a doctor. Otherwise people, especially older people, end up with ten bottles of drugs all interacting in unknown ways with their body and with each other. It's getting like one of those all you can eat buffets out there - all you can medicate including dope.

Anthony said...

Fernandinande nails it. And there ain't no cure for stupid.

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann, I would suspect a significant number of your students are using Adderall or Ritalin. The dirty little secret is that these things help everyone do better, not just the ones with real clinical problems. Good article: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/superman/2013/03/adderall_ritalin_vyvanse_do_smart_pills_work_if_you_don_t_have_adhd.html

glenn said...

JFC.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Mandatory preschool and medication starting at age 2!! ANd increased pay for the teachers unions for having to deal with this!!

Moose said...

Lots of syllables for calling someone a "slacker"

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


I bet it will be shown to have a disparate impact when looked at by Race.

madAsHell said...

I'm thankful they found a cure for Restless Leg Syndrome because men are a third more likely to suffer from it.

gadfly said...

Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine had this to say about SSRIs (Selective seratonin reuptake inhibiters):

"When it was found that psychoactive drugs affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain, as evidenced mainly by the levels of their breakdown products in the spinal fluid, the theory arose that the cause of mental illness is an abnormality in the brain's concentration of these chemicals that is specifically countered by the appropriate drug."
----------------------------------
"That was a great leap in logic … It was entirely possible that drugs that affected neurotransmitter levels could relieve symptoms even if neurotransmitters had nothing to do with the illness in the first place (and even possible that they relieved symptoms through some other mode of action entirely)."

As Angell states, using this logic you "could argue that fevers are caused by too little aspirin!"

John said...

It better not be that this is crystalizing into a disorder because they've got a drug for these symptoms.

Did you use crystalizing on purpose? As in crystal, as in crystal meth?

Back in the day, crystal meth was available but bi-phetamine was greatly preferred by people like me who enjoyed using speed in excess. We knew it was pharmaceutically pure (more or less) and not cut with rat poison.

Biphetamine, also called black beauties, now called Adderall.

Sounds like they want to do something similar with a new drug.

It sure will break a kid, or an older teenager as I was then, out of any sluggishness.

Just what our kids need. More meds for kids. As if they didn't have enough.

Hey kids, take this tip from an old timer. If you are doing to do drugs, do them for fun, not because it makes your teacher's life easier.

But don't do speed. As Canned Heat tells us:

"Your mind might think its flying, baby

On those little pills

But you ought to know it's dying, 'cause

Speed kills"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMzoqpyUbhg

John Henry

Sam L. said...

If uppers show down the "hyper-active", will downers perk up the hypo-active?

John said...

just occurred to me:

Ann Althouse

Child of the 60's

A bit of a hippie chick from some of the photos she has shared with us. (Meant as compliment, not an insult)

Nicknamed Annie?

Could have hung out with Canned Heat.

Conclusion:

Is our hostess the Amphetamine Annie immortalized in the song?

She does seem to have turned out somewhat better than OK, though.

John Henry

n.n said...

Have they considered other causes of sluggish cognitive tempo, including: malnutrition, irregular sleep habits, dehydration, physical inactivity?

The couch potato syndrome (CPS) alone is sufficient to explain an irregular or erratic cognitive tempo.

Eric said...

Jackpot!

Ann Althouse said...

I've never gone by the nickname Annie. My father called me that sometimes, but no friends or sweethearts ever called me that. My first husband used to call me Baruch (while I called him Smyth, pronounced with a long "i") and sometimes we called each other Smedley, and my current husband used to call me Crackers (only because I ate a lot of crackers).

sydney said...

Since the drugs they are talking about are prescription speed, of course they would help " sluggish cognitive tempo" disorder. Anyone would be less sluggish on them. No wonder American medicine is in the crapper.

Wilbur said...

John Henry, I know you from posts on Craig Newmark's blog. I post under another name there.

In my drug taking days, my favorite drug was speed; I could do a week's worth of law school work in a weekend morning six to noon straight through. It was incredible how focused and confident it made me.

And that scared me. I only would take it in the morning, and then only two or three times a year.

Unknown said...

Apparently there are some boys they are not drugging in school, so they need a new disorder.

Freeman Hunt said...

Actual conversation I had today. Timely.

My two year old stepped in front of a passing six year old, and they bumped into each other. Neither was upset.

Six year old's sister to the six year old: "[Johnny!]"
Me: "Oh, it's okay. It wasn't his fault. My son stepped in front of him."
Sister: "Mom! [Johnny] just knocked down a little kid!"
Me: "No, no. My son stepped right in front of him."
The Mom: "[Johnny]! There are little kids here, you have to watch out!"
Me: "Really. He couldn't possibly have stopped. My son caused it. It's okay."
The Mom indicating her son who is standing right there: "He has ADHD. I don't want to keep him on his meds all the time, but then I don't and things like this happen." Big sigh.

It was as though no one in that family could hear me.

Ambrose said...

I was going to comment earlier, but I kept getting distracted and then my mind would wonder off ...

whswhs said...

Lethargy, daydreaming, and sluggish cognitive tempo? That sounds like it's saying that if you're a boring teaching who can't get the class to pay attention, you'll sending them in to get medicated. Easier that learning to teach better, and more profitable for the pharmaceutical industry, especially if Obamacare pays for it.

Bill Stoddard

Deirdre Mundy said...

Freeman - My favorite is always "Little Percival can't help beating the other children into a bloody pulp because he has ADHD!"

Apparently ADHD just means whatever you want it to mean.

John said...

remember 20 years ago when Michael Fay was caned in Singapore for vandalism?

My recollection was that he tried to get off by pleading ADD or ADHD.

(Some people "get off" on caning. Not Michael.)

It is an all purpose excuse.

The US Govt managed to negotiate it down from 6 to 4 strokes. According to Wikipedia.

John Henry

Al from Chgo said...

"Stupid is as stupid does" or so I was told...

D.M.Dutcher said...

Oh it's worse Ann. It's about creating a syndrome that affects girls as much as ADHD affects boys. You see, girls don't seem to manifest ADHD symptoms much, but CST? I wonder. There's a whole untapped market out there, you know.

God, I'm cynical.

SOJO said...

Of course Adderal helps people do better at studies - it's legal meth. But it's unfortunate that it's become so ubiquitous those who don't have access to Rx meth are now at a disadvantage.

Rusty said...

I got a cure.
A tree some boards and some nails and a hammer. In about ten seconds they're all engineers.

tim in vermont said...

I am going to admit something. I take Nuvigil. It has changed my life. I went from semi retirement, because I just couldn't focus anymore, and struggled to put in a full day's work, back into working full time, sometimes 18 hours in a day, if needed. I do try to balance my life, because if I just let the drug control it, I would be working every waking minute.

The insurance companies won't pay for it, and it is expensive, but it pays for itself in increase earnings and it is worth it just for return of self confidence. I haven't felt like this in fifteen years.

I guess according to the puritans on here, I just should have slipped into an early grave bu getting fatter, more lethargic, and stupider.

gerry said...

Meh. Once one detrimental and abnormal behavior is normalized, any normal behavior may be declared harmful.

It's what happens with quasisciences.

gerry said...

Meh. Once one detrimental and abnormal behavior is normalized, any normal behavior may be declared harmful.

It's what happens with quasisciences.

Leit Bart said...

A commenter at the NYT mentioned this recent article in Esquire called "The Drugging of the American Boy." Here's an excerpt:

"God bless the women's movement—we needed it—but what's happened is, particularly in schools where most of the teachers are women, there's been a general girlification of elementary school, where any kind of disruptive behavior is sinful. What I call the 'moral diagnosis' gets made: You're bad. Now go get a doctor and get on medication so you'll be good. And that's a real perversion of what ought to happen. Most boys are naturally more restless than most girls, and I would say that's good. But schools want these little goody-goodies who sit still and do what they're told—these robots—and that's just not who boys are."

http://www.esquire.com/features/drugging-of-the-american-boy-0414

Ralph Thayer said...

On the lighter side, per LOLCatz, see:
https://twitter.com/BAPSBrooksAB/status/449945170738290689/photo/1

Peter said...

"Sluggish cognitive tempo" is what happens after eating too much.

Fortunately it's temporary- as with most medical conditions that afflict young people, it gets better all by itself, without medical intervention.