Sorry, what was the Question?

by Kieran Healy on September 21, 2006

Here’s an Ad from Amazon’s front page, designed to sell the drug “Adderall”:

The sketch writes itself, I suppose. Thank you for calling 1-800-GOT-ADHD. Please listen carefully as our menu of options has recently changed. If you have questions about ADHD diagnosis, please press hey, have you ever put a bunch of Mentos in your mouth and then drunk some Diet Coke? I did that once and it was a blast. I want to go outside.

I’m sorry. I’ll get my coat.



Sandals 09.21.06 at 6:48 am

I was on adderall a few years ago…

For about a week.

stuff fucked me up but good


Chris C 09.21.06 at 8:37 am

But wait… Ty Pennington wouldn’t be a star if it weren’t for his ADHD.


Jacob Christensen 09.21.06 at 11:46 am

You have a very wicked sense of humour, Kieran.

Keep ’em coming.

By the way, in Danmark the term “letter children” (bogstavsbørn) entered public discourse some years ago as a sceptic reaction to all of the “letter diagnoses” floating around in child psychology. Is a corresponding term used in English?


Bill Gardner 09.21.06 at 12:02 pm

I have many concerns about direct-to-consumer advertising of medications, and about misdiagnosis of pediatric mental illnesses. The joke is funny, but jokes that exploit mental health symptoms reinforce stigma. Please refrain.


pp 09.21.06 at 12:03 pm

our equivalent here in the US are called “homeschooled”.
BTW that is a joke but I am going to start using the danish term, especially for those cases that are parent diagnosed. Funny.


Bryan O'Sullivan 09.21.06 at 4:31 pm

Yeah, ADHD is a bucket of laughs, all right, Kieran. Try dealing with a kid who suffers from it for long and see how many sketches you’ll feel like penning afterwards.


Timothy Burke 09.21.06 at 8:40 pm

I had a private bet about how long it would be before someone said this was unfunny because it promoted stigma or some such. I guessed three responses. So close!


tim 09.21.06 at 9:20 pm

hey, i have adhd, and i found it funny.

also, i totally forgot to call the hotline yesterday. and i can laugh about that too.


derrida derider 09.21.06 at 9:52 pm

Lighten up, Bryan – of course ADHD is serious, but that’s all the more reason for joking about it (“No comedy without a victim” as Woody allen said).

But yeah, we all are too keen on fitting “different” people into a recognised category – unfortunately medicalising things is one way we do that.

My son had a terrible time in primary school when he was just thought a weird, asocial and stubborn kid. But when he was formally classed as “Asperger syndrome”, suddenly all sorts of help became available. His teachers started treated him as something other than a particularly refractory unit and they did something about the other kids’ intolerance. It turned his life around.


Chris Clarke 09.22.06 at 12:07 am

I have ADD. It’s made my life hellish, has brought me to the brink of suicide moe than once (in the dim past) and has colored every damn part of my life for a half-century. I can wave the bloody shirt of ADD as well as, or better than, anyone. (You think “dealing with” a kid with ADHD is bad? Try BEING the kind being “dealt with.”)

And this was funny. Get a grip.


Jon H 09.22.06 at 12:37 am

For me, the ADHD-er response to the ad is “What? They close up at midnight? Talk about not knowing your market.”


Saint Fnordius 09.22.06 at 4:47 am

I think a better term for bogstavsbørn would be “Acronym kids”. “Lettered” sounds like they got a degree.


nnyhav 09.22.06 at 6:50 am

Thinking of Bankruptcy?

Creative Destruction Interior Demolition Specialists is having a Going Out of Business Sale!

Everything Must Go!

Wipe the slate clean! Our professional anarchyologists can help erase prior history! Back to the very beginning!

Imagine … wide open vistas! Room to expand! Space available!

Get a brand new start — for less! Nothing down, EZ terms — what have you got to lose?


Jacob Christensen 09.22.06 at 10:22 am

Saint fnordius: You’re probably right, in the Scandinavian languages “letters” wouldn’t have any academic connotations.

But just to complete the lingustic line of argument – if you translate acronym kids back into Danish it becomes forkortelsesbørn. Bogstavbørn (as I think it should be on second thought – explaining how you connect words in Scandinavian languagues is rocket science) are a couple of syllables shorter – and of cause also implies that the acronyms are occasionally applied gratuitu… grati… oh, well.


RayCeeYa 09.22.06 at 7:24 pm

They kept me on adderall and ritalin for almost a decade. I started when I was 10. By the time I was 18 the dose was up to 160mg of adderall every day. This is equivilant to a gram of methamphetamine every week. I quit cold turkey six years ago. The withdrawl was one of the most painful periods in my life, and I still suffer from long term damage to my heart. This stuff is nothing to laugh about.


auntiegrav 09.24.06 at 10:13 pm

I am ‘probably’ ADHD, and I didn’t even look at the copy to start laughing at the guy’s hair. Did somebody forget where he left his comb today?
Nature creates an environment, and we adapt to that according to a bell curve. The environment changes, and guess what? Everyone dies except the fringe. God, I love being outside the box. For the whiners, you are trying to hard to put your little geniuses in the box. Let the cats play, man…
Was I doing something?

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