Your question gets at the heart of what is known
as the 'nature-nurture' issue. The most
fundamental distinction is whether what Mother
nature gives us when we are born shapes our
development or whether the nurture we receive from
the environment leads to our state of development.
As with most theories, it is a little bit of
Certainly, the disorders you mention have
something to do with physical brain states, which
is why they are receptive to certain drugs.
However, to a large extent, they are affected by
the environment. For example, Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD) is not suprising to me in the least
given that many youths have to deal with a
preponderance of information that begs their
attention: TV, Instant Messaging like AIM, video
games, email, cellphones, and parents once in a
Besides these environmental factors,
some scientists have claimed that certain toxins
in the environment might cause developmental
disorders. Most shampoos, hand creams, and
cosmetics have a chemical called
methylisothiazolinone (MIT for short) that kills
bacteria and helps keep the shampoos more 'fresh'.
I remember reading a study where a neurologist, a
doctor that studies brains, did a study exposing
rat embryo brain tissue to MIT. He found that the
brain cells, also called neurons, grew only half
as big. It is a big step to take this finding and
generalize it to human beings, but it is an
interesting piece of evidence nonetheless.
This is a question that is still under research.
To some extent, this is genetic. To a different
extent, it's environmental. Also, some conditions,
hyperactivity in particular, can actually be good
under certain circumstances. Most scientists, for
example, are obsessive (about science). It's what
makes them successful - they're willing to work on it.
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