Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common neurological condition largely diagnosed in children (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). The disorder is characterized by the subject’s inability to maintain attention, stay focused, and control their impulses (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, has created a fact page aimed at parents concerned about their children’s neurological conditions.
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The site lists the facts and statistics of the disorder, and thoroughly lays out the current research, causes, diagnoses, and treatment plans for children with ADHD (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). In addition to this, it discusses professional opinions on the subject, including the importance of early diagnoses and treatment, and dispelling common notions on the causes of the disorder—including poor parenting decisions and difficult home environments. The website outlines the disorder such that parents can read through and attempt to determine if these symptoms match what their own child is displaying, and at the end of the page, the site states that if the parents see these symptoms, they should seek help as soon as possible. Overall, the website provides a thorough overview of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children, but it appears to have been created solely for parents, and only skims over the subject of the disorder in adults. Rhetorically, the Center for Disease Control’s website on the facts of ADHD appears to be focussed on appealing to the parents of young children, using the principles of ethos, logos, and pathos to direct their concerns, but neglects to address other audiences, such as struggling adults, in the same way.
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Dr. Edlund presents definitions for these guiding principles in his article “Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Three Ways to Persuade” (2016). Ethos, he notes, is most adequately translated as “image” in the context of rhetoric and persuasion. It pertains to how a speaker is perceived by his or her audience and how much credibility that speaker should be afforded. Logos is defined as logic and rationality, or reasoning. Pathos refers to the emotional impact of a speech or speaker.
The CDC utilizes the principals of logos throughout their website in an attempt to persuade their audience towards current ADHD research and treatment options, and away from speculative theories. Throughout the CDC’s website on ADHD, they thoroughly lay out the common symptoms of the disorder, in addition to the types of ADHD that can present itself in individuals, and the possible causes. The website also dispels incorrect common opinions on the disorder, stating that the popularly held views that ADHD can be caused by poor parenting decisions such as: excessive sugar consumption, television watching, poverty, and difficult home environments, are not supported by research (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Further, they assert that medication should not be the only treatment that parents should consider for ADHD; they should additionally explore behaviour therapy options, especially for young children (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). In laying out the facts and attempting to guide parents away from popular opinions, the website is using the principles of logos, or a logical appeal, to persuade their audience towards their points of view. They maintain this use of logos throughout the site, through offering reasonable claims about the facts of ADHD, and offering proof to support their claim, in terms of linking additional information and citing research (Edlund & Pomona, 2016). Through utilizing logos, the author is able to attempt to logically persuade their audience through facts and figures, in addition to utilizing other rhetorical devices.
The Center for Disease Control’s website on ADHD is a largely factual site that attempts to use the principles of ethos to supply proof and credibility to their claims through consistently linking themselves to other research and professional organizations. Following each factual section of their website: signs and symptoms, types, causes, diagnosis, and treatments, the CDC provides additional links to internal and external websites to solidify their supplied knowledge. For instance, in their “Causes” section, they cite scientific research in order to dispel incorrect popular opinions on the disorder, and then link to the National Resource Center on ADHD. Through citing science, research, and official centers, the CDC is able to solidify their trustworthiness on the subject, which helps to convince the audience that the information they are providing is truthful. Further, at the end of the article, they cite the American Journal of Medical Genetics’ report on ADHD, to give additional credibility to their claims. In following factual information about the disorder with follow-up websites and fact-sheets, the Center for Disease Control is utilizing the principles of ethos to give the audience a good perception of their authority (Edlund & Pomona, 2016). Through this, they are able to more effectively persuade the audience towards their points of view and to accept the logical arguments that they are providing.
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Within their logical arguments and statements of authority, the CDC also provides some principles of pathos to help further persuade their audience. First, the CDC focuses on the signs, symptoms, and effects of the disorder on children, rather than adults, to make people feel more passionate about the disorder. Throughout the website, they only show pictures of happy children and doctors, in an attempt to appeal to the parents that they know what is best. In addition to this, within their final section, they emphasize the need to follow their given instructions by creating a heading stating for them to “Get Help!”, with an exclamation point, singling out this section from the others (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Within this section, they state that “In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for ADHD as early as possible” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). This statement particularly shows the usage of pathos within the article, stating that if the parents do not listen to the provided information, their children may not grow up to be as great as they could be. The CDC subtly utilizes that principals of pathos throughout the article to appeal to their primary audience’s sense of self-interest, and their emotions, to ensure that their logical arguments and facts will be clearly understood and believed (Edlund & Pomona, 2016).
Throughout their website on ADHD, the Center for Disease Control uses the principles of logos, ethos, and pathos, to help solidify their facts and arguments within the minds of their readers. They state logical facts and arguments throughout the website, and follow them up with cheerful images of children, and links to other respected websites to fully appeal to their audience. By using these rhetorical principles, the CDC has created a website that can be respected and understood by a variety of people from their intended audience, parents.
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“Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” (2016, October 4).
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (2016, March). National Institute
of Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml
Edlund, J. R., & Pomona, C. P. (2016). “Ethos, Logos, Pathos: Three Ways to
Persuade.” Cal Poly Pomona. Retrieved from: http://web.calstatela.edu/faculty/jgarret/3waypers.htm