Saturday, December 13, 2003

The Myth of ADHD

Interesting piece. This is a flash point topic for some, sure to enrage a few.

When I was teaching high school, I remember one afternoon we had a presentation by the science department on ADHD. The head of the department, a nice intelligent woman began with her struggles to deal with her brainy son to no avail until the counselors told her that he must be ADHD. She didn't want to believe it (for good reason) but finally they convinced her.

Next up was the Biology teacher who began his presentation with something reminiscent of an AA meeting by declaring that he (in his mid 50's) was ADHD. He recounted how all his life he had been viewed as an odd ball (he was even with ritalin) until finally after studying ADHD and its effects on some of his students he had come to the conclusion that he too was ADHD. His entire childhood had been a disaster because of the unenlightened educators who had expected him to be like the rest of men (people). As an aside this is a constant theme of modern life "Lord, I thank you for not making me like the rest of men!" vs. "Lord be merciful to me the sinner."

As the afternoon went on though and the questions got tougher it was pretty clear from the biologist's own admission that their really was no objective test to give from a chemical perspective. Although it was interesting that the unscientific basis for this disease did not bother the science department at all.

My conclusion--some people are just more active than others and more imaginative. In my experience those often "diagnosed" with ADHD (even the adults) are highly imaginative and interesting folks that most of the pack (read unimaginative and boring) would rather have drugged into submission. Ritalin makes these gifted individuals into zombies.

From Insight Magazine--Baughman Dispels The Myth of ADHD:

"Insight: You've spent 35 years in private practice as an adult and child neurologist, diagnosing real diseases. What spurred your interest in the ADHD diagnosis?

Fred A. Baughman Jr.: Through the 1970s and 1980s the ADHD 'epidemic' began to impact all of us, and the numbers of children being referred to me were increasing dramatically. I'd examine these kids to determine whether they did or did not have real diseases. After giving them thorough examinations, doing such tests as I deemed were necessary, I couldn't find anything wrong with them.

I was becoming more and more aware that something was afoot from the tone with which the diagnoses were being made in schools and by psychiatrists who were part of the school team. And never mind that I could find no scientific basis for the diagnosis. But here were pediatricians and school psychiatrists practicing mental health in ways that did not make sense. Principals and teachers would threaten that if I didn't diagnose ADHD they'd find someone who would. As a neurologist, I'm in the business of diagnosing real diseases, so this attitude on the part of people who should know better was very disturbing."