Reread Huckleberry Finn today, and just try to keep track of the disorders Huck and Tom Sawyer would be diagnosed with as kids today: oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder right off the bat, writes Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. It's "weirdly reassuring," in a way—"a certain kind of boy has always had trouble paying attention in school. A certain kind of boy has always picked fights with friends, gone smoking in the woods and floated down the river on rafts."
Tom and Huck turn out fine, but remember that in "19th-century Missouri," there were plenty of places where "bored and fidgety" kids could land. "Nothing like that is available to children who don't fit in today," writes Applebaum. "Instead of striking out into the wilderness like Huck Finn, they get sent to psychologists and prescribed medication—if they are lucky enough to have parents who can afford that sort of thing. Every effort will rightly be made to help them pay attention, listen to the teacher, stop picking fights in the playground. Nowadays, there aren't any other options." (Read more Tom Sawyer stories.)