Yes, really – see above picture*. It’s impressive that Holford can get things wrong on so many levels.
Firstly, the idea of a hierarchy is itself rather unhelpful and old-fashioned (is depression ‘better’ than ADHD, for example?) However, even if you were to draw up a hierarchy, what Holford has come up with is really rather odd.
A first thing to note is that different ‘diseases’ vary in how much they impact on a person’s life. Depression can kill, or can be relatively mild. Autism is a spectrum – and can thus cause relatively minor and benign ‘symptoms’. As mental health problems go, it seems peculiar to put ADHD as ‘worse’ than depression and only slightly ‘better’ than schizophrenia, but I’m not even going to try to guess why Holford believes this to be the case.
Secondly, I’m not at all sure how the arrows showing one’s health/adaptive capacity leaking out of the cylinder relate to the conditions listed. For example, drugs and personal trauma can both impact on one’s health in negative ways – but I don’t think anyone believes that they cause autism? Do they?
This is one of those times when I’m really not sure if I’m missing something. Is Holford really arguing for a hierarchy of mental health and disease? And is he making such peculiar suggestions re. what factors are involved? Or have I completely missed the point?
* Taken from p201 of 2007 Piatkus edition of New Optimum Nutrition for the mind. Graphics somewhat revised, for copyright reasons – but, to the best of our ability, the meaning is as in the book.