Last week, I saw a report on television about the number of children that have likely been misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. As I watched the television piece, I was reminded of a common problem I see when people start to apply the DISC model of human behavior.
Here’s the challenge:
People often use disorder descriptions to speak about normal behavior.
The most common misdiagnosis I have observed are:
D behaviors described as if they are indicative of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
I behaviors described as if they are indicative of ADD/ADHD.
S behaviors described as if they are indicative of Social Anxiety Disorder.
C behaviors described as if they are indicative of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
While it might seem funny to some people to use the illness descriptions to speak about normal behaviors, I don’t really find it that humorous. In fact, I find it a bit offensive for several reasons:
- Using illness descriptions to speak about normal behaviors minimizes the frustration and struggle of people who do have the psychological condition.
- Using an illness description to speak about someone who does not have the illness implies that their behavior is, in some way, bad or wrong rather than just driven by different perspectives.
If you have read much of my writing yet, you know that I am a strong proponent of using the DISC model as a way to better understand how another person might see a situation and how I might best adapt to connect with them. I hope you also see that I strongly disagree with any attempt to use the model to label or artificially categorize people.
Generally, I have seen illness descriptions used by people to describe other people with the opposite style. For example, people with strong Cautious traits saying that people with strong Influencing traits are ADD/ADHD. Or people with high Inspiring traits saying that people with strong Cautious traits are OCD.
If you want to use the model to communicate more effectively, connect with others faster, and to build better relationships, I encourage you to beware of the temptation to use illness descriptions for any of the four primary behavior styles.