If you do a google search of "ADHD & Over-stimulation", you will find many articles directed at the connection between sensory and affective over-stimulation and misbehavior in children with ADHD. Interestingly, these reports all seem to focus on children who already have ADHD diagnoses (a "final common pathway" diagnosis, which means that there are many routes one can take to get to the same outcome) and the affects of over-stimulation on them. I would suggest there is a type of over-stimulation that is part of the causation of the ADHD epidemic which is rarely remarked upon.
In related news, in yesterday's Washington Post, Michael Gurian has an article, Disappearing Act: Where Have the Men Gone? No Place Good, which discussed the relative dearth of young men on college campuses. Dr. Helen picked up on the thread and in her discussion it was clear that the paucity of men in college was explicitly connected to the difficulty boys are having in our educational system:
Yes, maybe if we made the learning environment more appropriate for boys and stopped demonizing boys and men for being bad learners, airplane pedophiles and just plain jerks, the mysteriously vanishing male might reappear.
[Robin Herman's suggestion that there is only a relative dearth of men, because women are now going to college in great numbers does not change the question much at all; if women are more successful in getting to college, why aren't men doing as well?]
Boys are action oriented, typically less comfortable and fluent with language than girls, and as such, are heavily over-represented among those who we label as having ADHD. Children with ADHD are medicated, treated with punitive methods, and in general, poorly served by a school system that requires learning to take place in quiet classrooms with rows of desks in which the young charges must be semi-permanently affixed.
What is the connection between ADHD, the poor showing of boys (relative to girls) in academia, and over-stimulation?
First of all, what I refer to as over-stimulation refers to any experience which is so intense that a child is unable to adequately contain and conceptualize it; in short, the experience is traumatic. The quintessential traumatic experience for children is sexual abuse by a parent. In such cases there are specific, damaging, effects that target the youngster's ability to learn.
When a child is sexually abused, there are a number of aspects of the situation that are traumatic. They have all sorts of feelings within their own bodies that are hard to define as arising from internal versus external sources. Worse, the one who is hurting them also is the one they need to love them and care for them. The combination is uniquely designed to make it impossible for the child to comprehend the experience and integrate it into his perception of the world in which he lives. Leonard Shengold referred to the resulting damage as "vertical splits in the ego." In effect, what happens is that the child cannot create new meaning out of the mixture of old and new experience; there is simply no way to synthesize "my father loves me" and "my father uses me for his own needs and pleasures" in a way that can make sense to a dependent child; it is just such creation of new meaning that we refer to as "learning". When the "synthetic function of the ego" is damaged in such a way, especially with repeated trauma, the ability to learn can be permanently impaired.
Certainly, not every learning disability has such a derivation; most do not. However, sexual over-stimulation of children, even without overt abuse, is destabilizing, impossible for them to comprehend in a meaningful way, and subtly damaging to the "synthetic function." For the marginal case of a child with a "good enough" upbringing, who grows up in a supportive environment, over-stimulation may be the difference between success in academia and LD, with all its attendant difficulties. Boys are especially vulnerable to such over-stimulation. They tend to be more overtly fascinated by sexual content, especially in latency, and are especially prone to visual over-stimulation. No one would dispute that we have a culture in which almost nothing is taboo; a hat tip to Papadoc at the Pink Flamingo Bar and Grill for this incredible example from the Brussels Journal. In the guise of sex education, we are now treated to this bit of witlessness, which, by the way, exhibits absolutely no understanding of what children require in the way of sex education:
“In the exhibition you are allowed to peep into the bathroom and overhear what is happening in the bedroom. Even dirty jokes are permitted,” one newspaper burbles.
“We want to teach the children that willies come in all shapes and sizes. There are hands-on activities for six-year olds, with crooked, straight and circumcised willies”, the organisers tell another newspaper. Yet another paper: “Onto a doll covered in Velcro they can stick bodyparts at will, choosing between small breasts or sagging tits, between big willies and small ones that stick out in all directions.” The local councillor for education proudly proclaims: “We have no taboos here.”
A journalist from Antwerp writes: “By turning blocks the children can put together a mum or dad of their own. Naked or dressed. Or they can make two mums or two dads. All types of relationships are shown. When you peep through a hole you can see two bears buttering bread and much more [from a Dutch nursery rhyme along the lines of “the animals went in two by two”]. And you can see the sleeping beauty having safe sex with her prince.” “And through the peephole you also get to admire various sexual positions: the two bears illustrate that it doesn’t always need to be a man on a woman,” adds another.
And they go on: “In the orgasm corner you can explore Ken and Barbie’s erogenous zones with the click of a mouse on a computerscreen.” “The best part is the little room where the children can experience it all themselves. You can hear the sounds and watch a film showing the mouths of people in orgastic climax.” “Anyone who is at secondary school gets a condom as an ‘entry ticket.’ So they can practise how to use it on an artificial penis at the end of the exhibition.”
This would be sad if it weren't so damaging. The idea of using primal scenes, in all their permutations, to educate, when in fact it does the exact opposite, is ludicrous; this is child abuse on a grand scale. However, even without such overt over-stimulation, passionate kissing, partial nudity, unmarried cohabitation, and more, are completely unexceptional on our TVs, all hours of the day or night, and in newspapers and magazines, not to mention all over the internet.
If you want to destroy a culture, and have the luxury of time, contrive to get them to destroy their children's ability to make moral distinctions; better yet, if you can induce them to do just those things that damage their own children's ability to learn, all you will have to do is sit back and wait and they will crumble of their own accord.