Tardy man gets medical diagnosis of 'chronic lateness'
But skeptics question if lateness is a true medical condition.
Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Jim Dunbar, 57, is late for everything. He recently tried to get to a movie on time by allowing himself 11 hours to get there; he arrived 20 minutes after the film started.
"I’ve been late for funerals and slipped in and hid at the back of the hall. I arranged to pick my friend up at midday to go on holiday and was four hours late,” Dunbar, who lives in Scotland, told the Daily Mail. “It has affected my entire life.”
Chronic lateness affects many people, as the punctual crowd can attest to. In fact, a recent study from San Francisco State University found that out of more than 200 participants, 17 percent were always late. Those unable to make it on time often share similar behavior patterns, including anxiety issues and trouble with self-control.
When Dunbar went to Ninewells Hospital — he was 20 minutes late to his appointment — he received a medical diagnosis of “chronic lateness.”
The problem is believed to stem from the same area of the brain affected by those who have Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), making it difficult for them to understand how long a task will take to complete.
But not all of the experts are comfortable with Dunbar's diagnosis.
“The condition isn't in the DSM5 [the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] so I'm not sure you can really call it a condition,” said Dr. Sheri Jacobson, psychotherapist and director of Harley Therapy Clinic in London.
"Repeated lateness is usually a symptom of an underlying condition such as ADHD or depression but it can also just be habit,” she added.
But regardless if the condition is officially recognized or not, it has helped Dunbar.
“I blamed it on myself and thought ‘Why can’t I be on time?’ I lost a lot of jobs. I can understand people’s reaction and why they don’t believe me,” he said. “It’s depressing sometimes. I can’t overstate how much it helped to say it was a condition.”
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