Take the ADHD “Test”:
An Inside Look at ADHD’s Diagnosis


Just so we are clear, on page 61 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the “creators” of the diagnosis for ADHD (the American Psychiatric Association – APA), admit there is no test sensitive or specific enough to actually diagnose ADHD. Given that the Drug Company-funded “experts” in charge of writing the ADHD diagnosis for the APA admit there is no test capable of diagnosing ADHD, nor are there any biological markers or brain scans capable of serving as a diagnostic, it’s been on my to-do list to produce a video documenting the hypocrisy and lunacy behind this ADHD diagnosis conundrum. How can there be no test or diagnostic for ADHD, but somehow they have a diagnosis capable of diagnosing 6.5 million kids with ADHD?

Last week I was inspired to finish such a video after one of my Debunking ADHD FaceBook supporters (shout out to ya Roberta!) alerted me to a blog I was mentioned in written by the conservative truth slayer Matt Walsh at The Blaze. Matt Walsh wrote what I felt was a rather insightful and powerful piece suggesting ADHD doesn’t exist. Within one day of publishing the ADHD blog he had more than 800 comments posted on his blog site; he obviously had a hit a hot spot with his more than two million readers that visit his blog every month.

About half of the comments he received on the first day of posting the blog reflected that a handful of readers did not like his opinion on ADHD. Many of the unhappy campers claimed Matt is basically an idiot, has no idea what parents of ADHD kids face, and he should stop playing psychologist. As I read the responses to his blog, I wondered if he regretted writing the piece. But then I saw how many people had shared his ADHD blog; about 8,000 shares of the ADHD blog were documented after one day.

Now with nearly 19,000 readers since that time having shared what he wrote via social media, however, I get the feeling his message rang loud and clear and for the most part was well-received by the vast majority. For someone like myself trying to share a similar message with caring adults worldwide, this is great news to celebrate. I get the feeling that if more folks could start learning about just how easy it is to be diagnosed ADHD, they might see what the drug makers don’t want you to see … the truth.

Therefore, this weekend I added a new video to the “Debunking ADHD” YouTube Channel. The video is titled The 7-Minute ADHD Diagnosis. Given ADHD can be a touchy subject for some folks and the minutia of mental health can feel quite boring and corn-fusing at times, I tried to make it a fun learning experience with a simple message. Through a spunky yet funky pirated sound track and an abundance of cute kid pictures strategically placed to lighten the mood and hopefully make you smile, I have tried to make it humorous, compassionate and also factually stimulating. I hope you take the quick 7 minutes to watch it today. I believe, or at the least hope, it can make a difference to a few children being pulled into the pseudo-scientific world of ADHD.

I hope this latest video can support Matt Walsh and others’ efforts trying to help kids avoid a childhood of unwarranted mental disorder labels and dangerous drugs they want you to call “medicine.” I also hope the video can help those, not currently understanding the lack of science behind ADHD, find the willingness to want to reconsider what they are being told about the benefits of drugging kids for ADHD. It’s beyond time for millions of parents to stop using their child as a subjective,bias sample of one confirming ADHD’s legitimacy, while ignoring research on large samples incapable of justifying ADHD is “real” and the drugs “work.”

Last year, I wrote a blog on the ADHD diagnosis process if you would like to read more. But the new video is intended to detail how, despite science not being able to develop a test or capable of discovering a biological marker or brain scan capable of identifying or documenting the existence of ADHD, all they really have to go on are 18 simple symptoms. These 18 common childlike behaviors they call symptoms can supposedly miraculously replace such scientific shortcomings.

So, if you are willing; watch the video and take the test!

Our kids will thank you. They deserve nothing less.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


  1. Yet, there are thousands of tests that prove there are clear differences between those who have it and those who do not. The delay in the maturation by 3 years of portions of the brain in ADHD, see Smalley, UCLA, is a lead in the pursuit to mark the differences. Surely, we don’t stop seeking the science behind what we don’t understand.

    • No, we don’t stop seeking the science, but until we have it, we don’t drug millions of kids with highly addictive substances that have been shown not to work!

      At present there is no science to support the diagnosis or the drugging.

      ….and perhaps accepting that kids develop at massively differing rates and are subject to environmental factors might just help too.

      • I was taught not to take speed when I was a child, now the doctors are handing it out like candy to the children.

        But at least the parents of these children can get SSDI payments, and the schools can also receive money by labeling children with the so called “mental illnesses.” May we suggest that perhaps the lazy parents and school employees defaming children with these garbage diagnoses have possibly lost their minds due to their greed, stupidity, and apathy?

        Thanks for trying to protect our children, Surely.

          • Oh, forgive me, I’m one of the people who had bipolar created by having the adverse effects of a “safe smoking cessation med” misdiagnosed as bipolar, then had anticholinergic intoxication syndrome created with the antipsychotics to emulate the symptoms of bipolar. So you are correct, that is not my field of specialty. Forgive me.

            But I have been to cocktail parties and listened to groups of women with jobs like special ed teacher or school counsellor stand around discussing which children need to be put on which stimulants. Drugging the children, I’ve heard, is very profitable for the schools. I did get a school teacher last week to agree to read Whitaker’s book, though, so I’m hoping to help educate the teachers. And I’ve had lunch with a head of the largest child drugging organization in my area and gave him Whitaker’s book. I’m not certain he’ll decrease the number of children drugged up through his organization or not, though. But I do think trying to educate people is very important.

    • First off, these statements about 3-year delay in development are not based on any clear science that I am aware of – I’d be interested to see if you have a link to a real review of the literature, rather than an opinion piece or a single study. Second, any such estimate is undoubtedly the product of averaging and norming, as there is nothing close to a definitive “test” for “ADHD.” Third, I’d be interested in seeing/hearing whether those with delayed maturation are controlled for stimulant use, as stimulants are known to cause alterations to the brain, even at low doses.

      Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, it appears that the “ADHD” brains do, in fact, catch up in time, according to this three-year delay theory. Combined with the clear but generally unacknowledged fact that 50 years of research have failed to show long-term stimulant treatment to convey any advantage in terms of long-term outcomes, how can we possibly rationalize drugging millions of children annually, down to preschoolers and toddlers, when we know that the “treatment” won’t make a difference and that the kids will eventually mature out of it anyway?

      —- Steve

      • To wit, from the link in Michael’s post below:

        “Researchers also found surprising results regarding the effectiveness of medicine in treating ADHD. In contrast to children in United States, youth in northern Finland are rarely treated with medicine for ADHD, yet the ‘look’ of the disorder — its prevalence, symptoms, psychiatric comorbidity and cognition — is relatively the same as in the U.S., where stimulant medication is widely used. The researchers point out that this raises important issues about the efficacy of the current treatments of ADHD in dealing with the disorder’s long-term problems.”

        Those results were not surprising to me at all. That’s what the long-term literature has been saying since at least 1978.

        — Steve

      • They also seem “surprised” to find that PTSD rates are much higher among the “ADHD” population. I am not at all surprised, since PTSD symptoms overlap extensively with ADHD symptoms. I work in foster care, and a highly disproportionate number of traumatized kids get labeled with “ADHD”. There is literally next to no way to distinguish them from each other. But since they want to believe “ADHD” is entirely biological, they are somehow “surprised” to find that trauma is highly associated with “ADHD” traits. This should, of course, call the entire diagnostic approach into question, but naturally, the facts are conveniently “explained away.”

        —- Steve

      • Re-read the data when you find the time. Some ADHD kids catch up by 15. She says many don’t and they struggle for the rest of their lives. Take a look at the way you reject and accept results from the same study.

        I think you have ADHD, Steve. No intention to insult you, at all. I think you manifest a number of the characteristics. Bright, creative, passionate, a strong family link (it seems), big hearted. I sense, and that is all it is is a sense, that you haven’t achieved nearly as much as you hoped and prepared to, worked hard to, dreamed of. I sense that is a deep, deep source of pain that hangs on in your gut and that just doesn’t go away.

        • Your condescending attitude marks you out as a “true believer” in the psychiatric religion, and as such, I don’t expect you will every be able to hear anything that doesn’t fit with your DSM “bible” and your psychiatric priesthood.

          You also don’t appear able to read very carefully. I am not talking about whether the “symptoms” continue to adulthood sometimes, which I would not argue with in the least. I’m observing that yet another large-scale, long-term study shows that kids who get stimulants don’t do any better than kids who don’t get stimulants. They are a short-term symptom-reduction strategy and nothing more.

          The authors clearly state that the differences are a result of averaging and that you can’t assume any individual would have these characteristics. So we are unable to even clearly define who “has ADHD”, and the “treatment” doesn’t make any difference in the long run on the average. Again, why are we “treating” millions of kids with these stimulants on the basis of such sketchy science?

          Additionally, you don’t bother to respond to the obvious “diagnostic” issue – if ADHD is purely biological and distinguishable from other “disorders,” why is it so much more common in people who have been traumatized in childhood? Are you suggesting that “ADHD” children are causing themselves to be abused by adults? Or is it just possible that being traumatized can cause “ADHD” symptoms that are indistinguishable from biological “ADHD?” In which case, what is the difference?

          I do have a deep, deep source of pain in my life, but it is not because I have “undiagnosed ADHD.” It’s because I see the wasted potential for positive interventions in kids’ lives, like open classrooms and positive adult supporters and the freedom to explore what drives them, because people like you dogmatically insist on having all kids marching along dully to the same boring curriculum, day after day, week after week, year after year, leading to increasing dropout rates and disaffection with society. The pain is because I see people like YOU pathologizing kids and adults for being “bright, passionate, and big hearted” as you put it, instead of critiquing the social institutions that are designed to snuff out passion and big hearts like mine. I feel sorry that yours has apparently been completely smothered.

          Your arrogance to assume the ability to “diagnose” me based on a few posts is simply beyond the pale. I don’t have words to describe how disgusting I find that behavior. I am not prepared to “diagnose” you just because you annoy the crap out of me with your dogmatic narrow-mindedness, but I am prepared to ask you to keep your presumptuous and insulting “diagnoses” to yourself in the future! I can only assume that you haven been deeply hurt yourself and I hope you are able to find a way to heal, but insulting me while saying you don’t mean to isn’t a likely path to healing.

          — Steve

          P.S. I was a very compliant and hard-working student in school, even though I hated it and was bored out of my mind. I was the farthest thing from “ADHD” that you can imagine. Not that I need to defend myself, but your assessment, besides being inexcusably arrogant, is 100% wrong!

          • And BTW, you know bupkis about my career and what I have achieved. I won’t bother with details, but just add that once again, you are 100% wrong, I’ve been extremely successful at almost every job I’ve ever had, and I am very proud of the many things I’ve accomplished over the years, including being a published author and getting a law passed to protect foster kids from condescending professionals who think they can “diagnose” and drug them without bothering to find out who they are or why they behave the way they do.

            Please save your diagnoses for someone who is sufficiently deluded to give a rip what you think.

            — Steve

          • Not condescending at all. I don’t believe having ADHD is a negative, at all. I pointed out positive qualities you have.

            It isn’t an informed opinion, Steve and I said that. I said I sensed it, that’s all. And I meant it as something pretty cool. People with ADHD are known for having an uncanny ability to intuit. I found that interesting when I read that years ago because it was true of me. I wondered how the heck would they know that?

            Take care Steve. Hope that you continue to do well. I know you are very capable. That’s what I wanted to say. Sorry.

          • Sorry, it’s condescending to “diagnose” another person in my view. If you wanted to be complimentary, you’d simply state what you observed to be my strengths. This is one of my objections to diagnosis – it comes across as a power play, that you somehow “know” something about me that means you can categorize me in a little box. Well, I reject any boxes or categorization. I see many strengths in most of those who get put in this box, but I don’t tell them about the box, I tell them about the strengths, as well as encouraging them to address the challenges they may face.

            I also find it condescending to believe you can identify the source of a person’s pain or passion. It’s more polite to just ask them.

            — Steve

          • Excederin, please take a moment to review our posting guidelines for the site: http://www.madinamerica.com/posting-guidelines/. Personal attacks are not allowed, and “armchair diagnosing” is a personal attack, regardless of how enamored with diagnostic labels one might be. Since Steve’s replies have been instructive, I will allow your comment to remain for context, but any further attacks or baiting will be removed. If you are unable to keep your comments within our guidelines, this may not be the right conversation environment for you.

    • How are kids who are hyper going to avoid mental labels? Does anyone believe ADHD kids want to act in ways that will bring derision upon them?

      Observation, close, prolonged, intense, directed observations of a person’s behavior and an examination of his school records, incorporating teachers input, family interviews, a thorough physical workup plus relevant PET Scans or related test results are sufficient to make an accurate diagnosis Dr. C., aren’t they?

      If a person doesn’t have ADHD and he’s given an RX of stimulants to last 3 days because of a misdiagnosis, generally speaking, how much damage to the person can be done? Most people do not have severe reactions. If the diagnosis is accurate and the person responds like most do, and he can fulfill his potential now that he can direct his attention, do you think it is appropriate, as a physician, to try him on an RX for 3 days, Dr. C?

      • “”How are kids who are hyper going to avoid mental labels?””

        The question you should be asking is how do we avoid giving anyone who has neurological differences a mental disorder that stigmatizes them for life in horrendous ways while making sure their needs are addressed.

        “”If a person doesn’t have ADHD and he’s given an RX of stimulants to last 3 days because of a misdiagnosis, generally speaking, how much damage to the person can be done? Most people do not have severe reactions. “”

        There is absolutely no good data on how many people have severe reactions because for all meds, only 1 to 10 % of all adverse reactions are ever reported to the FDA. So you can’t make that assumption that most people don’t have severe reactions to meds.

        “”If the diagnosis is accurate and the person responds like most do, and he can fulfill his potential now that he can direct his attention, do you think it is appropriate, as a physician, to try him on an RX for 3 days, Dr. C?””

        You’re forgetting that many people without ADHD respond very positively to stimulants. A positive reaction is not evidence of ADHD.

      • The writer should know that response to stimulants is not a valid way of diagnosing “ADHD”, even within the accepted DSM heirarchy. Judith Rappoport disproved this back in 1978 by giving stimulants to “normal” teens, and found the exact same response to low doses of stimulants: decreased motor activity, narrowed focus, reduced distractibility. She called the believe in the “paradoxical effect” an “artifact of observation,” because people were LOOKING for a change in those features and were happy to find it. Whereas in a “normal” child, such a change is not particularly noticeable because no one felt these kids were overactive or distractible to start with.

        Bottom line, stimulants are not specific “treatment” for “ADHD” and don’t affect “ADHD” diagnosed people differently. They are general stimulants and affect everyone’s brain in pretty much the same manner. It is unfortunate for the writer to be indirectly implying this discredited myth to be true.

        — Steve

        • execedrin asks, “How are kids who are hyper going to avoid mental labels?” One answer would be to attend Dr Sami Timimi’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinic, which I belive is in Lincolnshire in the UK and is provided for by government funding under the NHS. He runs a diagnosis and drug free clinic which has outstanding outcomes. His clinic’s treatments are conversation with the child, family and others in the child’s life.

          Repeatable and growing in popularity: http://oocamhs.com/

          • John,

            We had this discussion regarding autism as I would greatly distrust someone who call autism a myth. While I don’t think autism belongs in the DSM just like I don’t think ADHD belongs there, to call it a myth is the opposite form of extremism from the folks who think that drugs are the answer to everything.

          • AA – luckily the people who commission Dr Timimi’s service trust the outcome figures.The clients trust the clinicions, which is good as most get better in a reasonable time and never use that or any other service again.

      • “If a person doesn’t have ADHD and he’s given an RX of stimulants to last 3 days because of a misdiagnosis”
        Oh that’s a good joke. I don’t know if you know that but amphetamines don’t have any special effect on “ADHD” kids – they lead to similar effect in anyone (like hyper-focus, insomia etc.). Plus some people react very badly to them and develop psychosis so putting kids on them even for 3 days is a risk. It’s “Dr House’s” style diagnosis and it’s laughable.

    • “The delay in the maturation by 3 years of portions of the brain in ADHD”
      Really? One would think that should make the news. There are no reproducible markers for ADHD – if they were they would be used for diagnosis. It’s all bs based on questionable fMRIs and other imaging studies which have an irritating habit of implicating almost every region of the brain.

    • Who told you drugs for ADHD are benign? Packaging info lists the risks.

      We are talking about and confusing 2 separate things. First, either ADHD is real or it is not. How it is best treated makes no difference if it isn’t, if it is fictitious. Do you think it is real? If not, there is no reason to continue to debate how to treat it, is there? I mean, debate by all means. I’m just wondering what difference does it make to discuss/debate the safety of drugs when ADHD is a fraud. Are you trying to say it is not real because some people experience negative side effects by using a remedy for the very thing they don’t have?

    • Safer than aspirin taken as prescribed. The science behind the diagnosis of ADHD is overwhelming and has been verified over and over for decades.

      The DSM Manuals have had nothing to do with the creation of ADHD. It has been an acknowledged issue for centuries. Barring the afflicted from receiving efficacious treatment for such a disabling disorder would be cruel.

      • You’re just repeating talking points. There’s very little science other than observation that some kids are more active than the other. Also it has come about with the DSM, never before have I seen ADHD being referred as an illness or anything like that. The treatment is also not efficacious as evidenced by long-term studies showing no improvement in academic outcomes etc. The drugs are also not save – they’re essentially narcotics.

  2. I agree, we should never stop seeking science behind what we do not understand.

    But they have been seeking such science to justify drugging kids for 60 years and still have not found enough to support what they claim related to ADHD. I’m fine if we continue on 60 additional years or more, but there are a few things I feel are important to consider.

    First, I am not sure we are reading the same study. Smalley and colleagues at UCLA seem to find that while there may be some differences, there are also some very peculiar similarities… http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/new-thinking-revealed-about-adhd-43193

    Second, without a validated statistical assessment to serve as a way to actually document who does or doesn’t have adhd, as well as a way to more precisely measure the severity of a supposed disease or mental disorder, how can a piece like that even get published. In my world, where I do not own a pharmaceutical company, reliable and valid assessments are a requirement for peer reviewed publication. But somehow they use brain scans (real science) to measure differences between kids with or without adhd and yet they use “feelings” to assess if the kids actually have ADHD. Seems like a major limitation to all of the ADHD studies.

    Third, it makes perfect sense to me that when we look at brain differences between kids who differ slightly on such common behaviors, could we not just say kids that act a little different with less conformity have brains that have not yet given in? Are we not just studying different levels of creativeness or communication traits? Why can’t we study the difference of brains and how kids develop without trying to tie it to a profit center for a mental disorder that let’s face it, is based on the most simplistic symptoms.

    Let’s study how best to help all kids and not more reasons for medication or labels.
    And quit calling me Surely.;-)

    • Dr., Which scientist is conducting research on ADHD to justify drugging kids for profit? Do you have a name and address? She should be fired. IOW, manipulating test protocols to achieve a predetermined outcome for the purpose of deceitful packaging of a product for profit violates the law. She should charged with theft.

      • Joseph Biedermann would be one clear-cut example. He was sanctioned briefly by his university, but is apparently back at work full time. He promised Eli Lilly that he’d deliver a positive study result before he even did the study! He is certainly not alone in his corruption.

        There are no doubt many others who aren’t explicitly working for a pharmaceutical company, but who are influenced deeply by how things are framed in these discussions and what kind of results are easily accepted vs. what kind of results will lead to controversy. This is a lot harder to track, but it’s clear from reading about the experiences of people like David Healy and Peter Breggin and even Alan Sroufe that psychiatrists who don’t follow the “party line” will frequently be attacked professionally.

        —- Steve

      • Please buy my book excederin. I think you will find I am not a conspiracy theorist. At one point I believed adhd was a serious issue for our youth. And then I researched the topic for years and discovered far too many questions to give it much credit. It’s hard to provide all of the evidence you seek with a short blog and video. But if you and others take the time to read the mass of research on adhd, in nearly every peer-reviewed study you will find that the authors disclose which pharmaceutical companies they have done paid work for. Take the coveted mta studies for example. I think they had two whole authors not reporting direct compensation from the pharmaceutical industry. And while your are at it Maybe explore how big pharma
        contracts with Madison Avenue marketing gurus to hire ghostwriters to sign on as authors to justify inhouse research completed by drug companies that the ghostwriter had little to do with. Look at how much the open payments report documents as payments to doctors if you want specific names. I’m not saying all doctors treating kids for the behaviors associated with adhd are evil, but from my research and
        firsthand experience I can tell you nearly every community has an adhd clinic where that is all they do. And by that I mean they diagnose every kid that walks in the door as adhd something. And they prescribe a drug for them to make the child behave more normal. This is not right in my opinion. Thanks for your input to the discussion today.


    • You assume the results don’t count because of money, or they yield nothing that holds up under scrutiny because of money. Since when did science dismiss common sense? Wouldn’t the conspiracy to take over the world via drug sales through the drug cartels of Wall Street be more difficult to accept, scientifically?

      By far the vast majority of scientists, medical doctors, PhDs, doctors of education and on and on — recognize the symptoms of ADHD and the profound impact drugs have. Honestly, no one really doubts its reality as a disorder and anyone not blind can see how dramatically drugs change people who are out there. It is about semantics but more it’s about sensibilities. You know, I can’t define pornography exactly, but I know it when I see it. That kind of thing. But, in reality, we get closer everyday to unraveling the puzzle. We have so much information from so many sources screaming at us that we must keep working on developing the best treatment modalities. It is a given that it is real, has distinct markers and in most cases treatable.

      Read Sue Smalley’s little piece on her ADHD husband. She was a PhD professor at UCLA who has lived intimately with ADHD for 40 years.

      I find it fascinating that you and others, people who have never met me and know nothing about me, do know without a trace of doubt, absolutely positively, that I do not have the thing that destroyed my life for many years.

      • ADHD didn’t officially exist until 1980 when the DSM III was published. The “experts” had something they called “minimal brain dysfunction” going back to the ’60s, maybe before. Problem. When you don’t officially designate something, you have a lot less of it. ADHD is drug selling scheme pure and simple. We can take this weird or slow kid theme and spin it in all sorts of different directions. Bottom line. You have your religion. I’m an atheist.

      • “You know, I can’t define pornography exactly, but I know it when I see it.”
        Except that if you go and look at some pornographic images from a few decades back they will look less like porn to you than some of the current day commercials. Social context defines what is pornography and what not and same goes for ADHD – normal childhood behaviour gets pathologized because parents and/or teachers don’t have time. will or resources to deal with it.

        “anyone not blind can see how dramatically drugs change people who are out there”
        Yeah, heroine does that too – it’s really stunning. Or any psychoactive drug taken for a long time.

        Whatever label you want to paste over your own forehead it’s up to you but don’t push the same labels on other people.

    • Dr. C., the slight differences you describe may be where we are having a semantic challenge. I would say if the behavioral differences are slight between normal kids and ADHD kids, there would be no justification to concerned. This is where we part ways I guess. And what you call minor differences in their brains I get, but they add up, don’t they? Seems to me that quite a few tests on various parts of the ADHD brain consistently show differences that suggests an entire network isn’t functioning.

      I don’t see tests conducted on unknowns. Their labeling may not be based on the precision we’d like, but even Alan Schwarz supports the reality that ADHD exists. Matthew Herper of Forbes is doing some interesting reporting, btw.

      I think most involved in serious work on this matter are doing the best they can with what they have. I don’t think the research can be described fairly as 60 years of trying to justify drugging kids. Do you really believe that Dr.? Wouldn’t it be easier to manufacture and charge a fortune for a placebo with no stimulants and announce it as the answer? Here’s xyz, the replacement for stimulants you’ve all been waiting for? (Come to think of it, that may not be the dumbest idea I ever had!)

    • Dr.,
      I Will contact you at your workplace. I don’t know how often you check here for comments and questions. I am reaching out to a number of the “writers” here personally just to let you know ahead of time. You appear to be scholarly and devoted to the welfare of children.

  3. Why would you connect conducting research on ADHD with making money as your first argument? Take the profit motive consideration out of your analysis, then examine the science.
    Dr., many objective scientists see the overwhelming body of evidence that ADHD is a disorder. Although much work needs to done, Smalley, before she retired, amassed sufficient empirical data to be convinced that ADHD is a heavily genetically linked set of characteristics to have her work accepted by independent esteemed scientists.

    • Its almost impossible to disconnect scientific medical research from making money because the big research grants tend to come from 2 sources – the federal government (who isn’t very interested in ADHD) and the Pharmaceutical companies (who are extremely interested in ADHD).

      • I know what you mean. When it costs a lot to move a new drug all the way to the market, only so many people can afford to do it. It is a messy project necessarily when so much rides on the outcome, I think.

        Do you remember the lawsuits and the contradicting medical evidence over the Dow breast implant litigation? Even the editor of the NEJM faced criticism for her interpretation of the evidence.

  4. Hi,
    Great piece (again).
    ADHD has just “landed” in France and is the latest “hot topic” on social media. However no one discusses or even explores the validity of the diagnosis and any criticism is met with another, i.e. it’s all very well criticising but what do you do with the suffering of these children?
    The language is emotive, it’s a way of reasserting positions and blocking said criticism.
    Still outside of stating the usual, i.e. let’s stop pathologising what is essentially a sociocultural issue with psychological implications (e.g. worn out parents in need of answers), no one seems indeed to mention what can be done in such situations. I am therefore interested in your thoughts… Thanks
    PS: I answered “yes” on pretty much all the “symptoms”, but then I was called an extrovert as a kid….

  5. I’m not a science type, but I get the general drift about the indeterminacy of the assignation, the over-diagnosis and the reliance on presciption medication to address these things. Of course that is a huge problem.

    However, there just are kids that have these types of behaviours at substantially higher levels than their peers, who have started to be a huge diffficulty for their parents to manage from a very young age (like 3) and who subsequently get into their 30s without having put the difficulties usually assoociated with adolescence in their place yet. Before the ADHD diagnosis came along these kids were typically just labelled naughty bad kids likely to go to the bad and that’s it.

    So yes, I do see a problem with labelling, and also with excessive reliance on the drugs option, but picking up and recognising certain things as being a potential lifetime issue early on and addressing them proactively if necessary with things like cognitive behavioural therapy surely can’t be a bad thing, can it?

    • No problem identifying problem issues young and addressing them. The problem is that by calling it “ADHD” and a “mental disorder,” the tendency is to pathologize the child rather than addressing the issues at hand.

      For example, it’s by now pretty clearly established that kids with the “ADHD” label do better in an open or informal classroom where they have more control of what they do when. But you NEVER hear any of the lead researchers talk about this option, even though many parents (like me) discover that this is a much better option for their kids. Such classrooms would be a welcome addition to the mix of options for kids in elementary school, but they are seldom offered or available.

      I’d be the last to deny that some kids are harder to raise than others, and need more specific assistance early on in their lives, as I raised two of them. But being difficult for adults doesn’t make a kid mentally ill. And giving it the “ADHD” label (as well as providing the option of drugs) allows parents, teachers, and clinicians off the hook for trying to do something more specific to help the individual child succeed. And the child is the one who suffers when the adults are let off the hook.

      —- Steve

      • Kids in a free academic setting didn’t learn anything, either.

        If you trust the results of one observational study of 8 children with ADHD from 40 years ago, before they knew that non-attentional ADHD existed, consider the studies and tests, double blind and controlled, PET, SPECT, MRI scans and more that have become a mountain of information that is indisputable.

        • My last response to you: Kids in free academic settings learn a ton. My oldest and youngest went to such settings, both graduated with honors from HS and the youngest is currently attending Evergreen State College and is incredibly engaged in his own education. The oldest is a website developer and trainer and makes a solid salary, and has been lauded as an employee everywhere he’s worked. Both fully met the “ADHD” criteria as kids, neither experienced a milligram of stimulants, both are very successful adults. Colleges are actually very anxious to accept kids who are homeschooled or educated in open settings, because they are much more self-motivated. From what I recall of academic testing results, these kids didn’t do as well as “standard” classroom kids at 4th grade, but were caught up by middle school and exceeded their “standardized” peers by high school. You are again operating off of bias and “conventional wisdom” without looking at the other side of the issue.

          It is also scientifically extremely tacky to criticize a study based on how long ago it occurred. The periodic table of the elements was fleshed out in the 1800s. The Rutherford Gold Foil experiment showing atoms to be mostly space was performed in 1899. Atoms still are mostly space over 100 years later. And “ADHD” kids still do better in open classrooms, despite your bias against them, 40 years later. Again, you only want to say things that support your own views. I’m not playing any more, but I want to make sure people see what you’re really up to here, which appears to be to argue and discredit anyone who disagrees with you.

          I’ll close with the fact that those who claim “a mountain of indisputable information” are usually ones who are trying to disguise the lack of actual foundation for their arguments. I’ve addressed your claims above, as have others. Your mountain is by no means indisputable, because I and Michael and many others have plenty of data to dispute it. That you are able to blithely dismiss anything you disagree with does not help your case. Perhaps you should open your mind and listen instead of preaching the “c0mmon wisdom” to those who know better.

          —- Steve

          • Hello Steve,
            I just wanted to sincerely thank you for your great insights and positive educational promotion regarding this issue. In my daily job, unfortunately I see this “ugly phenomenon” occurring often, as a quick “solution” to parent’s complaints regarding their children’s odd behaviour. Parents complain that their 3 year old child asks many questions, or that they are running, jumping, laughing, talking all the time. I even had 1 parent that had put her child on a stimulant, diagnosed with ADHD because this 12 year old boy would touch himself in his sleep. ( I always thought that is a normal thing to happen for a boy that age, out of his control)
            As a mother (of a 3 year old wonderful daughter) and healthcare professional, I always wondered…isn’t that though what a child does that brings joy into our boring trouble some adult life? – Asking a lot, talking, running, playing, jumping all over, never sitting still, expressing their boredom when put on a classroom with 50 other kids being asked to do and follow the exact same rules, learn exact same things as the others, like they are some kind of sheep…:( It saddens me to have to watch our children being labelled with a mental disorder, have them act and learn things we (adults) decide they should learn (not yet realising that the most de-humanizing mistakes are made by adults and not children) ultimately become the reason why our children are losing their individuality! And not to mention the children who have suffered trauma in their life, and instead of spending time in understanding their pain we have it easier to give them drugs.

            I apologize if my comment has even the slightest meaning of insult to anyone. I only meant to thank you, especially Dr. Corrigan for this article and his work.

            Thank you 🙂

          • Well said. The biggest problem with this phenomenon is that giving the “ADHD” label provides license for the adults to blame the kids for acting in a natural way, instead of reconsidering the bizarre and developmentally inappropriate expectations we are putting on them. I remember Kindergarten being about finger painting and singing the ABC song and reading stories and PLAYING! Now they expect kids to READ by the end of Kindergarten, and some even have homework!!! I never saw homework before fourth grade. It’s ridiculous what we expect of kids. They’re supposed to run around and tease each other and jump from one activity to another when they’re bored. They aren’t supposed to sit still and all do the same thing at the same time without complaint. It’s time we stopped blaming kids and started looking at our own behavior.

            —- Steve

        • excederin

          As a former teacher I will have to say that you are wrong about kids not learning in an open academic setting. I taught for fifteen years and never once ran into any student that I would label as ADHD. They just didn’t exist. Of course, I quit teaching right before the huge explosion of ADHD kids, and explosion created by the drug companies and shady psychiatrists, what an unholy alliance took place when those two groups got into bed with one another.

  6. I have a child with this diagnosis (well he’s an adult now). But I read up on this a lot and from what I read it seemed it was mostly a shortage of motor neurons in the brain causing uncontrollability issues. Example you start to tell them to be careful not to run into a wall and before you finish your sentence they do and then turn around and ask ” were you saying something?” My son was excessively bad with this type of behavior. When he was diagnosed I was skeptical because I did not want him to take anything that he would get addicted too. What was explained to me is that it would work opposite of someone say taking a controlled substance. So instead of giving him a high it would be more calming for him. It did work – at least for him. I have not yet met another kid however who is as hyper as mine was making me believe that it is overprescribed. I also sadly would like to mention that in my own personal opinion believe there is a connection to parents drug use that causes this issue in children. I do not do or ever have done anything but his dis enchanted father has. I think more research is needed with that.

    • Glad to hear your child responded well to medication. That is wonderful. That’s what it is all about. We don’t drug kids to make money. Parents drug their kids so they can better function.
      Drugging children with juvenile diabetes with insulin saves their lives.

      • That stuff about “ADHD” kids reacting differently is complete nonsense, btw. Judith Rappoport et al disproved that back in about 1978. I am glad it worked for him. We chose to take a different path for our boys, and they are also doing quite well as adults.

        So, Excedrin, when you say “We don’t drug kids to make money,” who are the “we” you are talking about? Because there are lots of docs who would not fit into that “we.”

        Also, the insulin-for-diabetes analogy is a pretty weak one, since we aren’t providing controlled and carefully titrated dosages of dopamine to kids after measuring a specific shortage. We’re firing a dopamine shotgun at a speculative target and hoping it does more harm than good, IMHO.

        — Steve

        — Steve

        • Judy proved her hypothesis that the frontal lobes mature more quickly in non-ADHD teenagers to the age of 15, when many ADHDers catch up.

          Would you mind sharing the names and addresses of 3 of them?

          Pet scans reveal the increased flow of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, through the synapses in the brains of ADHDers with medication

          • Stimulants increase dopamine flow. Anyone familiar with the basics of amphetamines knows that. The question is whether increasing the dopamine flow does anything helpful in the long run. Science says it doesn’t make a difference. And it probably makes the dopamine situation worse, if there is such a situation to begin with.

        • Plus there’s no evidence for dopamine shortage while in diabetes type I it’s pretty easily measurable and even tracked to the loss of specific cell type. As fr as dopamine shortage goes there’s a very specific neurological disorder known as Parkinson’s disease that’s linked to loss of specific cells and is treated largely by dopamine precursors. ADHD has nothing to do with that.

    • “shortage of motor neurons in the brain causing uncontrollability issues”
      There is no evidence for that claim at all.

      “What was explained to me is that it would work opposite of someone say taking a controlled substance.”
      That is not true either. Stimulants work in more or less the same way on all people who take them – hyperactive or not. There’s a reason why amphetamines are illegally taken by students during exam session (there’s a huge black market for ADHD drugs fro that purpose). What you’re describing is the common effect of amphetamines, the myth taht it works somehow differently on ADHD brains is pharma’s propaganda, there is no evidence for it at all.

  7. It is no wonder that kids (and everyone) is somewhere on what could be called the ‘sick’ sprectrum. Whether the label is ADHD or schizophrenia, or any number of auto-immune diseases, the blame can be found in what our diets and environment have become. These epidemic rates of degenerative disease are new to human history – approximately as new as the up-side-down diets of the last century and the production of non-organic and processed foods. It would be great if reductionist thinking were left out the picture here, and educated minds were open to learning about why our ancestors survived with strong minds, vitality and fertility, but only until their traditional, nourishing diets were replaced with commericalized ‘food.’ The Weston A. Price Foundation and the books, ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ by Dr. W. Price and ‘Gut and Psychology Syndrome’ (GAPS) by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride would be great starting points. We are what we eat and what our food ate. What is going on with these medications is nothing less than a crime against our children and future generations.

    • The children I know who have been diagnosed with ADHD all seem to have poor diets. Sadly their parents don’t seem to understand what a healthy diet is and continue to feed their kids lots of grains and dairy products. They tell me they can’t get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables. A lot of doctors don’t seem to get it either.

  8. Excederin: Unfortunately, your antecedent for “they” is “parents,” and I believe you are right. Parents DO drug their kids so they can function better. That leaves the kids drugged.

    Michael: I’m glad to see you put up a note on the video about the rationale for most drugging labels in use today. The push to be paid by insurance companies was actually at the root of the insistence on these labels as categories of physical illness. I think the huge denialism over the validity of these labels has led to the kind of fairy-tale diabetes analogue which justifies the situation now in the minds of both parents and prescribers. Thanks for all you continue to say on what is really an unforgivable ongoing crime. I think of the millstones around the necks of those who harm children.

  9. As a teacher and a parent I am very conflicted about ADHD and the prescriptions used to treat it. My son was diagnosed with ADHD, started on ritalin. He also changed from a regular middle school to a montessori school, and does not take the ritalin on the weekends. I feel like maybe now we can wean him off, and that much of his difficulty was due to an educational environment that simply did not work for him. He’s still not an A student, but is no longer straight Fs, and we get no notes home anymore about behavior. So, it is hard to say whether it was the new school or the medication, or both. I think he was, because of the riatlin, able to experience “focus” for the first time in an academic setting, and is able to do it more on his own. We tried all sort of behavior interventions, and none of it worked. It was heartbreaking.

    As a teacher, I am sympathetic to parents who don’t want to use medicine, but those students who use it really seem happier, able to focus, have self esteem because they can get their work done. I am not the kind of teacher who expects students to sit quietly for an hour, I have a very active classroom, and still some students just can’t function no matter what I do. I try everything. They just can’t, or won’t. It is frustrating. I’ve had students not helped by the medication, but for most, it really does seem like a miracle.

    • For most it really does seem like a miracle

      I know. I had no expectations when I was diagnosed. I thought they just didn’t realize how brilliant I was. No pill I took was going to make them see it! A test sophisticated and finely tuned enough to sufficiently measure my genius just hadn’t been created yet!

      I never knew how much I had missed out on until that first dose. It was like a real miracle. “Beauty I’d always missed with these eyes before… ” it wasn’t just cold hard data I’d failed to process. In a rapid rush and hectic race to keep my head above water, I was so revved up, not much was enjoyable; couldn’t savor the scenery very well at mach 2.

      • Hmmmm. its key to examine testimonials of people who have been taking stimulants- especially for prolonged periods of time….

        Lots and lots and lots of adverse reactions. Even the people who rated the drugs high (4 and 5) describe lots of adverse reactions.


        Take a close look at what many kids are going through when taking speed…Here’s a few testimonials of people who have been taking adder all for a long time…

        “Very OCD, depression, loss of sex drive, impulsiveness, any symptom you can think of I had while taking this medicine. I have serious heart problems, social anxiety, rice developed an eating disorder, lost every friend I’ve ever had from isolating. I don’t feel like a human being anymore, nor do I remember how to live a normal life. I permanently feel bugs crawling on me and have destroyed my skin from the length if time on this drug. I am a pretty girl but adderall has ruined my appearance more then you can imagine. It’s great at first, your on top of the world but it doesn’t last and it is NOT worth what I’ve been though with health problems the past year linked directly to adderall. ”

        “I can tell through years of taking it that my brain goes fuzzy when I don’t. Even now when I’m on it I seem to have trouble with my memory. When I mix it with alcohol (horrific mix) I only need a drink or two before I blackout. I fear telling people when I do because I don’t want to know what I said or did. Lately, I have been having bad insomnia. I’ve taken this for years and didn’t have this problem until recently. I’m trying to get my life together, doing things I don’t want to do, which this pill is good for, but I’m starting to think the physical side effects and long term damage aren’t worth it. So then what? Fuck off my life until I give in and start taking it again? I’ve seen this medication do wonders, I’ve seen it wreck lives. I don’t really know where I fall in this spectrum, but I know this stuff is nasty… super bad for me, but I depend on it now. I truly wish I had never taken this stuff. Parents or people considering taking this drug, seriously reconsider….”

        “It’s tricky, because Adderall has done some wonders for me, but not without it’s heavy price. Most significantly: I am much, much more antisocial when I take Adderall. I used to be a hard partier, going out four nights a week. Now I go out once a month. I’ve lost touch with many friends. I get irritable or uncomfortable around people. I get very paranoid. I have a hellish sleep schedule. I was always lean, but I’ve lost about 20 lbs. I have to force myself to eat.”

        • Wow, great site! I think it does a great job of demonstrating the tradeoffs. So many people talked about being socially withdrawn or irritable and hostile. Interesting that one person mentioned feelings of superiority…

          I’d think real informed consent would involve having someone read a site like this and consider what the possible pros and cons are. Clearly, some people felt it benefited them, but some of the other stories are quite harrowing. It seems to show a thin line between successful treatment and the development of OCD, and there are a number of people talking about feeling great initially but having the effects wear off over time, very much in line with our knowledge of stimulants as addictive substances.

          This really supports Johanna Moncrief’s view of these agents: they are drugs with nonspecific effects. Some people find these effects helpful, some don’t. They are not a “treatment” for a “disease,” if only because their effects are so unreliable and variable that for each person who calls them a “miracle” there is another who says “they ruined my life.”

          Thanks for sharing this link!

          —- Steve

          • No problem Steve.

            This has been my “go-to site” for anyone interested in starting a course of psych drugs (of any kind). There are plenty of pro-drug reports so it is not one sided. But the reports of adverse effects are common and overwhelmingly tragic.

            It is important for people to know they are rolling the dice when they start psych drugs. This site is about as clear as day on those risks.

          • I should be no surprise – we all are supposed to remember how a meth addict looks like. But somehow when these drugs get nice sounding trade names and are sold in a pharmacy they become safe and effective.

        • Thanks for your thoughtful responses. You obviously care about kids.

          Why is it key to look at these responses? If they were all positive would that make ADHD a valid disorder? (Do you believe all that you read there?) If lots and lots of people praise these drugs, how do you interpret that?

          • What do you think it is like to have ADHD? Do you think it is important to listen to the testimonials of people who have it?

            It is good to see your heart in the right place. No one wants to harm little kids. No decent person. And not you. You go out of your way to try to protect them, don’t you? Gotta love it.

          • Why would you not believe them? What interest would someone have in coming to that site other than informing others of their experience?

            Perhaps the more important question is why would be inclined to assume they are lying, just because their experience doesn’t comport with your own? Perhaps you are not being as objective as you would like to believe?

            —- Steve

        • Jon, why do you think drugs provide such powerful short-term improvements for the ADHD sufferer?
          How? ADHD doesn’t exist, so drugs don’t act on those kinds of symptoms or their root causes or molecular precursors I guess, if I follow the logic. But, if you recognize how wonderfully the drugs do relieve the ADHD sufferers quandary so that he can participate in the classroom successfully and on the playground, etc., isn’t it paramount to find out how that happens, because the ADHD that is fictitious is becoming manageable. And we all want kids to succeed. So, what do these chemicals do, any thoughts? And what kinds of improvements do they actually make?

          • I have covered this already. They have the same kind of impact on anyone, because they are stimulants and act like stimulants. If a person is looking to be better able to concentrate, stimulants will do that, just like drinking alcohol will reduce your anxiety levels at low dosages for most people, regardless of “diagnosis.” The fact that stimulants increase concentration levels proves nothing except that the person who wants that outcome will get it. The problem I have with this is that 1) kid get no sayso about whether they take them or not, 2) informed consent is almost non-existent, as people bandy about mythology about stimulants having positive long-term benefits that they don’t have, and 3) the stimulants have a side effect profile that can be very serious in some cases, including anxiety, depression, and psychotic symptoms (which is almost never shared with the client/patient). And we know that there are other approaches that work better, such as a less rigid classroom structure that allows more movement and decision making. So why spend so much time and money promoting a drug that has short-term effects that are viewed as beneficial, but has no long-term benefits for the group as a whole and has risks that could otherwise be avoided.

            My own kids are proof that the alternatives I’m talking about can work. There are others who have done the same, and I think our testimonials should carry as much weight as those from folks like you who found stimulants to be remarkably helpful. A look at Jonathan’s site should easily convince everyone that stimulants are not always benign, and that the adverse effects in some cases are pretty dramatic. Why not look at alternatives? My experience says that attentional skills can be learned with the right approach, not easily, but they can be taught and learned. That’s where I think the emphasis needs to be placed, because a learned skill can be practiced and developed over time, whereas a drug can only be consumed with the hope of this outside agency providing relief. The skill-building approach is more empowering, and I believe much more likely to lead to the improved outcomes we’re all looking for.

            —- Steve

          • The whole idea that an amphetamine…sorry… adderall….is effective and benign medicine for people who suffer from ADHD but is a dangerous illicit drug for everyone else is just a fanciful mythology.

            Speed makes *anyone* concentrate harder, work more efficiently, get things done, stay more clear and focused….in the beginning.

            Excederin take the time to really read the testimonials. Go through them one by one- especially the long term users. There are some positive ones- but by far you will see a list of woes…a litany of misery and heartbreak.

            Frankly I don’t care if they find a biological marker, gene codes and brain imaging scans that absolutely tells you you have “ADHD.” That just doesn’t translate into- and therefore you should take amphetamines the rest of your life. Craziness.

            Look at the types of things Steve recommends. There are plenty of ways of helping kids that does not involve drugging them with speed. They don’t get to say…no thanks.

        • Thanks. I wanted to hear from the teacher but I appreciate your feedback. Interesting to know she found the typical reaction as miraculous. I read how that is often the case.

          Out of 4,500,000 how many would we expect would have negative side effects which are listed on the packaging material? If they are dissatisfied, they should switch to Ritalin, or other drugs. If they experience side effects on those, stop.

          They work, obviously. If the price is too great, stop. They improve one’s concentration whether the person is crippled by his incapacity to focus or not. Measures on working memory are not the same across the board. Not everyone needs corrective lenses. Not everyone likes to wear corrective lenses. For millions, drugs offer the opportunity to perform in the classroom and in life nothing else does.

          • Well if you look at the testimonials…it seems like a large share of people have experienced very poor effects. I would suggest looking at the long term users of both ritalin and adderall (similar testimonials). At that point…”if the price is too great”, they can’t just “stop.” These testimonials describe the harrowing suffering inherent in withdrawing and then the severe post-withdrawal issues.

            If you don’t like corrective lenses, you can, indeed, just stop. For those who have been taking them a long time…”just stopping” sounds ludicrous.

            Here’s someone who rated adder all a 5 out of 5…

            “This is a life long decision with a high potential for negative outcomes. I think you should allow yourself or your children to be the way they are, and find social, mental, physical outlets and ways to be accomplished and successful without the drug. Also research what it does to your dopamine stores in your brain. Coming off of it after years of use can lead to a pretty lack luster view of life. That being said… time for another dose. Sigh.”

            Another “positive” testimonial…

            “I’ve become reckless. And it’s addictive as all get out. There are many days I find myself taking twice my dose. If I run out early, I count down the days to my refill, finding myself incapacitated otherwise. But – I’m a junior at a prestigious college and I have straight As. My teachers rave about my work ethic and my dedication. It’s boosted my sex drive significantly, as has my confidence. I juggle a full school schedule with several internships, side projects, a boyfriend, etc. My focus is often streamlined and my the work produced is high caliber. Ultimately – it’s a double sided sword. Has it helped me? Enormously. Am I a different person than when I started taking it? Unquestionably, almost unrecognizably transformed. So seriously weight the consequences before you start. Because no matter how strong you think you are, the drug will suck you in. Some days, it’s beyond worth it. Some days i’m in hell.”

            Please don’t preach pollyanna…or ease in stopping. These people will tell you your wrong.

          • Taking meds as an ADHD teenager has prophylactic benefits.

            ADHD exists
            ADHD does not exist

            ADHD interferes substantially
            ADHD is no big deal

            ADHD often responds dramatically to medication
            ADHD is fake. Something times nothing is nothing

    • Any other teachers interested in sharing your observations? How many miracles did you see altogether laureleafy? I knew a young boy who was incomprehensible for a week or two after I met him. Couldn’t understand a word he said. Nice kid. Pleasant, but way out there. Saw a psychiatrist and the next time I saw him. He was lucid, playing like little guys do and an entirely different child. His folks said he was diagnosed with ADHD and started on Ritalin.
      I was amazed. Knew nothing about it at the time and certainly never dreamed within a year I would be joining his team.

    • Did he get Fs because he didn’t learn well or because he didn’t learn all that well plus was annoying to teachers? I remember from my school how much teachers expectations influenced the grades one got for his/her work. We even did experiments such as swapping essays and guess what – the bad student’s essay signed by a good student got higher notes and vice versa. Putting a kid on stimulants changes his/her behaviour and gives the teacher certain expectations.

      As to the kids being “happier, able to focus, have self esteem” – this is all a result of social context. Their low self esteem and presumed unhappiness is totally understandable when they get nothing but criticism from all the adults. If then the kids goes on drugs and gets calmer he gets less criticism and even prize.

      • I love that experiment! You should gather the data from your erstwhile classmates and publish it.

        And I agree with your last – this assumption that because “ADHD” kids are miserable it’s because of their “ADHD” is tautological. We know that they are much happier being homeschooled or working in non-traditional self-paced or open classrooms. Wh aren’t we “prescribing” this kind of classroom if we’re so worried about their “happiness?” Because schools are not about happiness, for the most part, nor are they primarily about learning. They are about COMPLIANCE WITH AUTHORITY.

        95% of “ADHD” goes away when the kids are no longer required to function in a traditional classroom.

        — Steve

        • It reminds me of the season of the Wire dealing with education system. It shows really well how kids are labelled with all kinds of stuff when it turns out they have problems dealing with abusive and neglectful environment which school only reinforces and how they become fully “functional” if only given care and attention they need.

  10. Best to focus on the young people with ADHD symptoms rather than focusing on the conspiracies.
    Have a look at http://www.addyteeen.com, a site I created for young folks with ADHD, the majority of which is focused on my digital guide – Embracing your ADHD. The most important aspect of this topic is learning to thrive with the way your own brain works, be it ADHD, or some other condition.

    You may argue about the diagnosis and what it means, but as a young person with ADHD conditions, and the daughter and granddaughter of ADHD sufferers, you should know the experiences shared among millions are real indeed. Best to focus on adaption and success than criticism of those who suffer.

    • A diagnosis of ADHD almost always leads to a prescription of stimulants…

      More testimonial fro askapatient.com….http://www.askapatient.com/viewrating.asp?drug=11522&name=ADDERALL+10

      “Insomnia, flushing of face, anxiety, sweaty at random times, back pain, teeth grinding, depression, Loss of social interaction I only took this drug because I felt pressured from how my grades were and my parents when I was a freshman in high-school, my grades went from d/f’s to B’s and A’s feeling like I was on-top of the world(especially after the first couple of months).. now a senior I feel like I’m really depended on it, this drug has messed my life up in every way possible. Yes I got those grades, but is it really worth it to now have anxiety, depression, dependents on adderal, secluding myself from society?… ”

      “Adderall seemed to work for me at first. But it’s facade quickly faded to reveal a chain-smoking, binge drinker. I became socially withdrawn, lost my job, & lost my passion for life. Adderall has caused me to lose the best years of my life. I hate this drug with my whole heart. Never ever take adder all.”

      “weight loss, lack of appetite, rapid heart-rate, failing vision, bruxism and resulting tooth fracture, gum recession, personality changes, seasonal depression, anti-social behavior, bipolar & borderline personality disorder tendencies, hair loss, decreased libido, insomnia, poor short term memory, headache, hyper-focusing on unnecessary tasks, dry mouth, increased thirst, rapid decline in BMR (basil metabolic rate), cold hands and feet, abnormally low body temperature, overall detachment from the natural ‘cadence’ or rhythm of life.”

      Why are we giving these drugs to our children?

      • I am currently renting rooms to a former foster youth who was on Adderall for 8 or 9 years. I just talked to her about this last night. She describes Adderall leaving her feeling like a zombie, having no emotions, and feeling trapped. She did not feel she had a choice whether to take it or not, and attributes some of her wild behavior in her mid-teens (including cutting on herself) to trying to get her emotions back from her zombified state. She said it did help her concentrate on one thing at a time, but this also had a negative side effect of having her stay focused on some of the bad experiences she had while at home and in foster care and being unable to redirect her attention to something else.

        She was in an emotionally abusive foster home for most of those years, but of course, no one ever asked her about why she had a hard time concentrating or what her home life was like, because they “knew” that her difficulty concentrating was due to her “ADHD” and no other reason was ever considered.

        She said she hated Adderall with a passion and would never take another psychiatric drug as long as she lived. She said she liked being able to feel things, even if they are hard feeling sometimes, and she needed to feel them to work through them and to heal. She is a hard worker and has a great sense of humor and also has gained a lot of insight into people and social situations as a result of some good therapy and her own hard work on gaining personal enlightenment. Drugs were not a part of her healing; she saw them as a barrier to her healing and learning how to let go of her past.

        For every “success story,” there is another story like this one to balance it out. Stimulants are not a panacea – they are a short-term symptom relief measure that works for some people, and makes some people’s lives worse. Some people like the effects – more power to them, as long as they understand the attendant risks. But acting like they are some miracle cure for anyone who has trouble paying attention in school for whatever reason is absolute nonsense. These drugs are quite capable of doing serious emotional harm, and they also often prevent adults from looking deeper for causes and possible solutions to their children’s behavioral challenges.

        —- Steve

        • To me, stimulants like adderall/ritalin, are a lot like their counterpart benzodiazapenes such as valium/xanax/klonopin.

          At first they seem miraculous. They indeed “work” in the short term providing immense short term benefits. But like speed and downers, they start to catch up to you. They start to not work. You can’t stop them without horrendous withdrawal effects and they lead to complicated emotional and health problems down the road.

          Like downers and speed, both benzos and stimulants are sold illegally on the street for a reason- they get you high. But for some reason we’ve created an entire field of medicine that supports them as being effective and evidence based.

          • Too true. Alcohol is an awesome anti-anxiety drug. But I wouldn’t prescribe it as a “treatment” for “anxiety disorder.” Just because something makes you feel better temporarily doesn’t mean you’re sick or that you just received “treatment.” That substances alter our emotions and perceptions is not new information, but messing with consciousness is not a form of medicine.

            — Steve

        • “attributes some of her wild behavior in her mid-teens (including cutting on herself) to trying to get her emotions back from her zombified state.”
          I know how that feels. The so-called “anti-psychotics” and “mood stabilizers” do that too. I believe people can commit mass murder on these drugs just to make themselves feel something.

          Btw, Steve, you seem to be much better informed than I am about ADHD drugs – do you know any credible source which links Ritalin to depression and insomia (for insomia specifically as an effect of long-term but not short-term use)? I am concerned about someone who is on this drug…

          • It’s in the product information. Insomnia is one of the most common side effects. Ritalin is also “contraindicated” for people with depression or severe anxiety, as it can make these conditions worse. I’m very close to quoting the product insert there. This is on the label, but it is systematically ignored. A good starting point might be to have your friend read the full product insert, including the contraindications.

            There is also good evidence that sleep problems are highly associated with “ADHD” behavior. But they “treat” it with something that disrupts sleep. Makes sense to me…

            — Steve

          • I know insomia is a general side-effect but what if it has presented itself only 1-2yrs after starting on a drug and not shortly after? As an effect of long-term use? Is there anything other than anecdotal evidence on that?

          • I am not aware of any evidence on that. They generally don’t even do long-term studies on side effects, because no one who wants to know that badly has the money to fund it.
            I think anecdotes are all we have to go on. I can imagine that messing with the dopamine system over time could have all sorts of interesting effects, including chronic insomnia.

            —- Steve

    • Your wisdom exceeds your youth. Rarely, if ever, do people seem to comprehend what ADHD is like and the devastation it causes. I wouldn’t be able to imagine it either. I wish I could trade brains for a minute with a normal brained person. With treatment I’m glad to have the brain I have. It is a pretty cool brain. I wouldn’t trade it.

      What are your strengths?

    • Hi there AddyTeen,

      I do not think that anyone (here at MIA) disputes or calls into question the existence and “realness” of your, and others’, experiences, as you indirectly hinted at by writing:

      you should know the experiences shared among millions are real indeed – AddyTeen

      Of course your experiences are real, otherwise you wouldn’t experience them, and there would be nothing whatsoever to talk about… 🙂

      So, why would you (want to) think of your very own experiences, of your life, of your way of living your life as an illness, as a disease, a “manifestation” or “expression/symptoms” of an illness, a disease – so-called ADHD?


  11. While I am more than willing to consider any and all opinions, I am troubled by your need to describe Matt Walsh, the author of the ADHD piece, as a “conservative truth slayer”. Whether that’s his self-descriptor or no, it implies a bias toward his belief system which I find concerning. I’d have felt better if you’d just given his name and website and let me make up my own mind when I got there.

    Having said that: I’m on the fence about many of these so-called “disorders”, especially when they’re used to pigeonhole children. The range of human experience and characteristics is vast; to cut off any of that range and pathologize it–particularly in a child–seems dangerous and ill-considered.

  12. I think some commentators may be missing the point of Dr. Corrigan’s analysis. I do not presume to speak for him, but I assume he acknowledges that people differ in their attentiveness and activity levels. Some people are the high end of the attention and activity continuums, and as a result experience problems like difficulty conforming to accepted rules of classroom behavior. Thus, for some people, being inattentive and/or hyperactive is a real problem that has real consequences. I assume Dr. Corrigan accepts these realities. I further assume they are accepted by all reasonable people.

    Where Dr. Corrigan appears to differ from proponents of the ADHD diagnosis is that he believes that science does not support the existence of “ADHD” as a valid diagnostic entity. He believes this because there is no biological test that can distinguish between people with and without ADHD with enough accuracy to cleanly separate them into distinct groups. The science does not support the claim that “real ADHD” exists and can accurately separated from “not real ADHD.” I know of no reputable ADHD researchers who claim otherwise.

    ADHD is not unique among DSM mental disorders; there are no biological tests capable of diagnosing any of them, which means they are not valid as categorical disease entities. This fact that is readily acknowledged even by the most fervent disease model proponents like NIMH director Thomas Insel and DSM-5 chair David Kupfer.

    Those who take issue with Dr. Corrigan’s analysis seem to be saying that he is wrong because he denies that inattention and/or hyperactivity are real problems with real consequences, and because some studies have shown statistically significant differences between people with and without ADHD on some biological tests. I assume that Dr. Corrigan does not dispute these observations, but rather believes they miss the point because they are not valid criteria for defining a disease.

    • Academic, thank you for the thoughts and insights. If folks read my book they will understand that I understand and agree behaviors such as inattention or hyperactivity or anger issues or a whole host of other behavior issues can be and quite often are a challenge to raising children and helping them develop into healthy young adults. And I also feel that many should seek professional help if their children have major issues. But all I am trying to do is get folks to first and foremost focus on getting more holistic or behavior focused help from people and experts who don’t start by assigning a mental disorder to get paid and writing a prescription. Take autism for example. Most start with getting help that focuses on the child’s needs. The last thing they do is ask for drugs.

      Also I am trying to point out that you can’t have a sound statistical analysis, whether it be a correlational or means analysis, if your independent or dependent variables are not measured with a reliable and valid instrument. Adhd is often the dependent variable in many studies claiming drugs helped. Also in the research course I teach I warn people to beware of the c-word and p-word. Cause and prove. If anyone claims their research proves something or shows a direct cause, unless they have replicated findings from sound experimental research using valid assessment, they are overselling the results.

      Again I appreciate the whole discussion all have provided today and for keeping the discussion civil. Although presenting conflicting views might seem like an attack to some, This should be something both sides of the debate should be able to discuss freely. This way concerned adults can hear both sides of the story, read the contrasting research, and make up their own minds. But right now no such research explaining the dangers of drugs or the lack of a valid assessment are shared in most offices kids go to get diagnose.

      • What I am trying to say is simple. ADHD is only a disorder when it interfers significantly with a person’s potential. Have symptoms out the wazoo, have 27,906,209 symptoms every day all day. Who cares? You move a long, singing a song. You aren’t exactly going to be Einstein, but you get by and have a few laughs.

        Not our boy with ADHD. His life is a long parade of failures, disappointments, underachievement, inexplicable broken dreams. He is the Willy Loman of Willy Lomamville. He’s the guy no one gets. He has what it takes. Bright, personable, energetic, loves to help people. Yet, for some strange, unknown reason, he always takes two steps back after a giant brash one forward.

      • Dr. Corrigan, the replicable outcome of scientific testing is established. There is no disputing it. Clearly, without question, ADHD is flush with significant differences from the rate of metabolism of glucose to the thinning of brain matter in frontal lobes. The markers are coming. We have so much empirical data compared to 40 years ago, if they knew then what is known now, questions about a genuine diagnosis would be moot, today.

        • Not so. It remains as debatable a diagnostic tag as it ever was, if not more so. When they are giving kids speed for this would-be “disease” of childhood, adolescence, concentration, what have you, is the brain tissue loss an outcome of “disease” or drug use. Ditto, negative outcomes and performance deficits.

          What once was a disorder peculiar to children, has now grown up. In other words, bunk has come into it’s own.

          ADHD didn’t officially exist 40 years ago. Now it is thriving. Ditto ADHD treatment drugs, the so-miss-called “performance enhancers”. I would imagine that expecting adult performance from juveniles is not going to get you very far, although you might start receiving more juvenile performances from adults as a result.

          • There isn’t really a debate. JAMA Sept 9, 2009 on pathways of dopamine is just one additional source of data confirming what those who have it keep repeating.

            This study included 53 adults who never used stimulants.

          • The symptoms are the target of the meds. They diminish significantly usually upon proper medical intervention. What underlies those symptoms? The data suggests several specific areas of the brain are involved. Work continues to pinpoint precisely the biochemicals and structures in the brain responsible. One’s ability to focus his attention dramatically increases with the introduction of chemicals to those regions. Uncontrollable behavior is mitigated. Millions have found relief. Millions of people have experienced profound improvements in cognitive function. Those making money from manufacturing this life altering med deserve to make money. The vast majority of medical doctors in this country subscribe to the belief that stimulants play a significant role in treating this disorder. They support the research that is examining the importance of neurotransmitters, synapses, blood flow, which bear directly upon this crippling problem.

          • I wonder why pharma does not push steroids for the “skinny kid” disorder? (I know I should not be giving them ideas). Kids are different, some kids are more attentive than others or smarter than others or like physical activity more than others. Giving them very dangerous and addictive drugs to make everyone into perfectly identical drone is the sickness straight from an authoritarian wet dream. Disgusting.

        • The finding of a significant difference in test results between groups is NOT sufficient to claim we have a test for ADHD. As I noted above, no biological test that can distinguish between people with and without ADHD with enough accuracy to cleanly separate them into distinct groups. Any current biological test for ADHD has an unacceptably high rate of false positives and would be worse than useless as a diagnostic test.

          As for your claim that “the markers are coming,” you must understand we have heard this for decades. Billions of dollars of research later, we there are still no markers. Faith is not a substitute for scientific evidence. Wake us when the markers are here and we’ll have a look. Until then, we are not obligated to take your faith seriously because the burden of proof in science rests on those who make a claim.

          • “It” is a “girl”, not a “disease”, and the people who “get her” have been sold a bill of goods, too. All sorts of people who are literally not sick, now think of themselves as “sick”. This is because you have a field of endeavor making money out of identifying non-disease as “disease”. 9 % of the juvenile male population of the USA is now said to have “ADHD”, and heaven forbid that they should ever reach maturity. Of course, “mental illness” by pseudo-scientific definition tends to be a seen as a kind of immutable “immaturity”, that is, “lack of judgment”, and “irresponsibility”. Join the program, and you, too, can make a killing in fraud.

    • The study reports averages over the cohort. Not everyone studied had low dopamine transmission. And including 53 non-medicated adults doesn’t help unless you compare them to the stimulant users. And you’d have have medication naive people, not just current non-users, because earlier use could have disrupted the dopamine system (since that’s what stimulants DO).

      Sorry, inconclusive.

      • Steve, did you have a chance to read the entire article?
        I think your attentional deficits are interfering with your analysis. Seriously. They measured both DAT and D2D3 receptive markers in 53 non-medicated adults and 44 control participants. They measured specific binding of PET radioligands…

        Dr. C. Would you explain the testing protocols and results to Steve if he has any further questions about this particular study? He doesn’t believe me.

        These aren’t hacks doing this research. These guys are at the top of their game and they publish their entire testing history so that it can be judged and replicated or not. JAMA is highly regarded. If you find fault with anything in this study, challenge them. That is what it is here for.

        • More condescension. Please quit referring to “my ADHD.” I don’t have any and don’t want any diagnosis, especially from you.

          They are still using averages. Give me a link to the research if you have one – all I found was a summary and it seemed that Rappoport was pretty cautious about overinterpreting these results because there was no specific finding for individuals that was consistent. I respect Rappoport’s work and was not accusing her of being a hack. She was one of the ones back in the 70s studying open classrooms and found that there was a dramatic reduction in “ADHD” symptoms without medication if kids spent a year in an open classroom. She also disproved the “paradoxical effect” theory with finality. She’s one of the more honest researchers in the field, though I have to say the bar seems kind of low sometimes.

          Averages aren’t diagnostic nor do they prove anything except that some people are different than others. I haven’t even launched into my “genetic differences don’t mean an illness” speech yet. Men and women have very different brains. They’re supposed to. I bet women have better dopamine transmission on the average. Doesn’t mean men have “testosterone poisoning.” Genetic diversity is the core of species survival. Read up on population genetics some time. People should be allowed to be different from each other. Difference does not equal disease, especially when you’re dealing with averages.

          — Steve

          • It wasn’t intended as such. Much condescension does go around here. I think ADHD is something to be proud of. I didn’t realize I was diagnosing anyone, nor that it was forbidden. I can see now why it was viewed that way. If I have been diagnosing others, I certainly wasn’t aware of it and apologize.

          • “I think you have ADHD, Steve. ” Sounds like a diagnosis to me. And I don’t think this guy really understands the meaning of the word “condescension.” “Characterized by a patronizing or superior attitude toward others.” If the shoe fits…

            —- Stefve

  13. exederin,

    You wrote
    JAMA Sept 9, 2009 on pathways of dopamine is just one additional source of data confirming what those who have it keep repeating.
    How about switching the drug regimen for those who “have” ADHD from stimulants to so-called anti-psychotics, then? Those ADHD people are in serious need of having their basic want/do not want-system – a.k.a. ‘pathways of dopamine’ – sabotaged and tampered with. Surely, these people can and should be “helped” to reach their full potential, in life, and beyond…

    This study included 53 adults who never used stimulants.
    Whoops, overwhelmingly representative study evidence… 53 adults, all in all, and these 53 adults never used stimulants, maybe they did not attend kindergarten, either, who knows?

  14. Excederin:

    I think you should read a book I just finished by Peter Gotzsche, a physician and researcher in Denmark. Its called “Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime.” In the book, Gotzsche copiously documents how medical research is distorted by pharmaceutical companies who often fund the research universities and the trials as well as (in the US) pay for regulatory approval. The deception extends to medical journals as well who make money with favourable drug article reprints and, of course, advertising. It’s an eye-opening look into things in the medical industry today.

    • I am sure it is. The problem is this. Publishing results of testing opens the door to anyone seeking to dispute the results. If the tests are bogus or the results are or anything is off, it can be shown by anyone in the world who would like to.

      I don’t trust anything without verification. I’m a nutcase. I have to toot my own horn here a little. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me could be real. It just couldn’t. If something was too good to be true, it wasn’t. So, I studied everything I thought was substantial by scientists and experts from NEJM and Harvard and so on. I learned quite a bit, challenging everything along the way. The ADHD mind sis a Zambezi machine when something captures its attention. It is unreal. Anyway, I am satisfied that many sincere, dedicated scientists of the first order have more than enough evidence that proves beyond a shadow of doubt the reality of this disorder or trait or whatever it is. And that there are reasons to be hopeful improvements can be made in those who have it.

      • Nonsense. Mine any “mental illness” excuse for all it’s worth, and it’s still an excuse. I give you permission not to malinger, but that’s just it, isn’t it? Now that you can con everybody with your “adult ADHD” excuse, it doesn’t matter. You’re set for life with it. You’ve got to help yourself without it. Well, I hope that somebody can unset you then. One way to “cure” people is to pull the money out from under them. Can you swim? If not, goodbye.

        I’ve got perpetual clowning disorder. Hollywood hasn’t discovered me nonetheless. If I work at it, maybe I can get it into the DSM ?. The government owes me a living. I can dysfunction like you wouldn’t believe. There are many people who make their living, in fact, this way, but…Long but. If the government paid me money, I wouldn’t have to sweat it. No cure has been found for perpetual clowning disorder. Many psychiatrists are thought to be among the biggest offenders. Oops, I meant among the most afflicted. Whole sections of the DSM are attributed to it.

          • Hm, now exederin says his life was ruined until he got help. So maybe he found ritalin helpful? Fari enough. However Dr Sami Timimi in the UK runs a drug free and diagnosis free child and adolescent mental health clinic that is funded by the state. about 70 – 75 % of his clients are out of his clinic never to return to either child or adult mental health clinics. So he, “Cures,” people who in other settings would get life long diagnosis of ADHD without drugs and does so relatively quickly using – er, conversation…..

            I personally find this more interesting than one study on small and debateable brain differences in young children.

          • execderin – the state will not pay for your treatment at Dr Timimi
            ”s Clinic as it is in Lincolnshire in the UK and you are in the USA. However it does pay for all the children and young people in the catchment area for the clinic, same as all the other clinics in the UK for whatever the speciality is.

            Hope the lesson on UK health policy is of interest. Not sure what your point is.

            Also, it is a child and adolescent clinic and I believe you are an adult so you wouldn’t get treated by this clinic even if you lived in the area. Pay attention Dear Boy, pay attention (can someone report me for condescencion please?)

            He has some clients who come from outside the area, maybe they move there and change clinics, I’m not sure. They are on drugs and have diagnosis. He explains the benefits and downside of drugs and diagnosis and allows them to decide if they want to keep either. Usually after a short period they ditch both and yet still get better.

            It seems to be an approach the NHS is promoting so there maybe more clinics in the UK over the next few years. This is partly due to the excellent outcomes.

        • Perpetual clowning disorder? Not bad. I think I have that, too. Haven’t seen too many use PCD as a money maker, yet, but we never know.

          You raise a topic, indirectly however, that sheds light on the merits of ADHD. Millions advocate for it. Millions are touched by it, directly or otherwise. Scholars, M.D.s. PhDs, psychologists, educators, social workers, parents, kids, adults find there is merit to the assertions that it is and without treatment, it’s impact is negative. If there really wasn’t anything to this dilemma, it would go away. The vast majority of people who recognize it would have diminished. Doctors prescribing drugs for kids without a damn good reason to, would have to be fools. Most doctors want to help others.

  15. Since there wasn’t an immediate reply button, I’m copying Juliana’s great, wise comment here and seconding her praise for the calm, intelligent, very well informed, compassionate and always sensible voice of Steve McCrea who has spent a great deal of time here debunking the toxic ADHD stigmatizing and drugging of our nation’s children since psychiatry sold out to Big Pharma in the 1980’s, which is all too well documented in Robert Whitaker’s books like Anatomy of an Epidemic, Dr. Peter Breggin’s books like Toxic Psychiatry, Dr. Fred Baughman’s ADHD Fraud and all too many others. Thank you Steve.

    on February 25, 2015 at 1:13 am said:

    Hello Steve,

    I just wanted to sincerely thank you for your great insights and positive educational promotion regarding this issue. In my daily job, unfortunately I see this “ugly phenomenon” occurring often, as a quick “solution” to parent’s complaints regarding their children’s odd behaviour. Parents complain that their 3 year old child asks many questions, or that they are running, jumping, laughing, talking all the time. I even had 1 parent that had put her child on a stimulant, diagnosed with ADHD because this 12 year old boy would touch himself in his sleep. ( I always thought that is a normal thing to happen for a boy that age, out of his control)
    As a mother (of a 3 year old wonderful daughter) and healthcare professional, I always wondered…isn’t that though what a child does that brings joy into our boring trouble some adult life? – Asking a lot, talking, running, playing, jumping all over, never sitting still, expressing their boredom when put on a classroom with 50 other kids being asked to do and follow the exact same rules, learn exact same things as the others, like they are some kind of sheep…:( It saddens me to have to watch our children being labelled with a mental disorder, have them act and learn things we (adults) decide they should learn (not yet realising that the most de-humanizing mistakes are made by adults and not children) ultimately become the reason why our children are losing their individuality! And not to mention the children who have suffered trauma in their life, and instead of spending time in understanding their pain we have it easier to give them drugs.

    I apologize if my comment has even the slightest meaning of insult to anyone. I only meant to thank you, especially Dr. Corrigan for this article and his work.

    Thank you 🙂

  16. Jon, my question concerned the mechanism of action and how drugs improve a condition that is fictitious. Drugs can’t impact something that isn’t there, can they? ADHD is made up. Speed helps everyone to focus, but ADHD has nothing to do with focusing, at least that is something that isn’t clear to me.

    Didn’t you say that it works well at first for the ADHDer? But, the ADHDer doesn’t have anything that a drug needs to work well on, that needs drugs to make help him. He is fine. Since everyone responds with better concentration to speed, why don’t ADHD supporters advocate their usage by everyone? Why do ADHDers claim speed helps them do things they cannot do without it?

    • I reiterate: alcohol works great to reduce anxiety. Many people use it, swear by it, find it helpful. It is not treating a disease, it’s just helping them relax. The condition of BEING ANXIOUS exists and alcohol eases that condition.

      The condition described by the “ADHD” criteria also exists, because it’s a description. People who fit that description are more able to pay attention, stay focused, whatever you want to call it, on stimulants, just like anyone else. Similarly, people who are anxious are able to relax, be more social, worry less, etc. if they’ve had a couple of drinks. Completely analogous situations here. Calling the one condition “ADHD” is just a way of naming people who find concentration/organization, etc. challenging.

      Perhaps a better analogy: stimulants make people eat less and lose weight. Some people have a “condition” of being overweight. Taking stimulants can make them less overweight. But being overweight isn’t a disease state. It’s just a description of a person who is a good bit fatter than average. Skinny people would lose weight, too, but they wouldn’t be interested in losing weight because it’s not a problem they want to solve.

      I am thinking you are going to be unable to understand this because of your worldview, but just because a drug makes something “better” in the sense that the person likes the effect doesn’t mean they were “ill” or that the drug was “treating” something. Unless you think that people who go down to the bar to relax after work all must have some sort of “excessive tension disorder” and require medical treatment, saying that the drugs “improve a condition” is almost tautological. The drugs do what they do. Some people find it helpful, some don’t. That does not in itself make the condition maladaptive or medically relevant or requiring “treatment.” Remember, the same kids also find the open classroom improves their condition dramatically. Does that make an open classroom a medical treatment?

      —- Steve

    • “ince everyone responds with better concentration to speed, why don’t ADHD supporters advocate their usage by everyone?”
      Because these drugs are dangerous, addictive, cause severe mental and physical side effects and stop working after a while plus they don’t deliver on half of the benefits they promise.

  17. ‘course you know the Beat writers (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassidy etc etc) often used speed. They used it so they could concentrate on thier writing. Sometimes writing for a day or more at a time in that stream of consciousness style.

    They also said drugs enhanced creativity, consciousness and life itself. They had very, “Interesting,” lives. Not sure if most of them would agree with the mass drugging of the ADHD generation though. Sounds more like State Control and Rock and Roll than the kind of enlightenment the Beats were into.

  18. Steve M,

    Regarding ADHD and sleep issues, one sleep doctor has said that 35% of kids diagnosed with ADHD actually have sleep apnea. Not sure where he got the statistics from but that makes sense since obviously, if your quality of sleep is horrible due to sleep apnea, you aren’t going to be able to concentrate worth a darn.

    Anyway, as one dealing with that issue, I shudder at the thought of all these misdiagnoses and the effect stimulants have on untreated apnea. Kind of like adding gasoline to the fire.

  19. Everyone has better concentration on stimulants. How can it be? No one needs improvement. Everyone has all they need to concentrate as much as necessary, period. People might think they concentrate better, but they think that way because everyone says it. No test indicates speed improved anyone’s concentration. And, that’s why we know ADHD is fictitious. If stimulants actually improved everyone’s concentration, that would have to
    mean the brain can work better with the introduction of certain chemicals, at least short term. We know that isn’t possible because inferior levels of concentration would mean disease. We know disease doesn’t cause deficiencies in the brain.

    Conclusion: we all pay attention very well all the time. Everyone does.

    • I shall try to use simple words here. Yes, everyone has better concentration than they otherwise would on stimulants. Are you disputing this fact, despite scientific evidence from your friend Judith Rapoport that it is true? This is not the same as saying no one needs improvement. It means that this effect is not specific to “ADHD” sufferers, as has been claimed in the past (i.e. the “paradoxical effect.”) People point this out because you claim in another post that such an effect does occur. They are merely giving you the science to back up their claims that this effect does not happen.

      No one has said that chemicals don’t alter the performance of the brain, sometimes in ways that are regarded as positive by the recipient. We are merely saying that the fact that someone likes the way a drug affects them does not mean they were ill. You may remember my illustration that alcohol reduces anxiety. Some people appreciate that about alcohol. It makes them feel relaxed. That doesn’t mean they have an “anxiety disorder” and that alcohol is a “treatment” for it. It means the drug does something they like so they choose to use it.

      No one has said that disease does not cause deficiencies in the brain. What we actually said is that you can not TELL if a person has a deficiency in the brain just by checking off behavioral items on a checklist, or just by the fact that they like how they perform when taking a certain class of drugs.

      Your conclusion, and in fact, your line of pseudo-reasoning, is not something anyone here would subscribe to. My personal conclusion would be more like this: Different people have different brains/bodies and different experiences in their past. As a result, they behave differently from each other and like and dislike different things and are good and bad at different things. A teacher’s job is not to identify people who don’t like how they teach and label them as defective. A teacher’s job is to modify the environment and their instructional methods to assure that all students, regardless of their personalities and preferences, are able to learn the material they need to function as an adult.

      There is no doubt that people are born with differential skills. Some are good at focused attention to detail, some are not. Some have artistic gifts, others are incompetent in the area. Some understand mathematics intuitively, some struggle with it their entire lives. Some are great runners and jumpers and athletic talents. Others are clumsy and slow. That’s how people are. I would not label a person who has difficulty with or limited interest in academics defective, any more than I’d call the person who can’t play football well defective. They are different.

      If we valued athletics over academics, we could come up with an “Athletic Deficiency Disorder” manifested by clumsiness, slow running, lack of coordination, and a lack of competitive attitude. We could, in fact, “treat” that disorder with stimulants, and this would allow the less athletic students to run a little faster, be a little more coordinated, and be a little more competitive. Or we could have them spend more time in the science lab, where we discover they are particularly gifted in understanding and designing scientific experiments.

      Most people would consider giving kids stimulants to make them better at sports to be a borderline criminal act. We tolerate it with academics only because it is sanctioned by the Doctors who make all things OK when they say so. It is really not so different from a performance-enhancing drug for sports. Some people feel OK about it. I really don’t, especially when we know we can teach the same stuff with less stress by creating a less formal classroom setting and allowing the child more control. Unfortunately, schools in general don’t believe in giving kids control. They believe in controlling kids. So they opt for drugs instead of changing their own behavior.

      Your explanation is insulting and seems kind of immature to me. I would suggest you try listening rather than automatically condemning anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

      —- Steve

      • Great answer, Steve :).

        I’d only add that using amphetamine for enhancing academic performance is like using steroids to enhance athletic performance. One can have a discussion if that is ethical given the medical risks but no one in their right mind will tell you that steroids treat “athletic deficiency disorder”. Not everyone has a talent and drive to become an academic just as not everyone will have those for becoming a successful athlete. It’s normal human variability. I’m for instance completely tone deaf – it does not mean I have a “musical deficiency disorder” and should be treated with something because I’ll not be able to get a job playing in an orchestra. I may want to be more musical and I can improve some of my skills by practice but I’ll never have absolute pitch. Is it a disability or disease? Not really. Does it limit the number of things I can do in life – sure. Does it have some positive influences on my life – sure, I can enjoy popular music better than someone who will cringe at every tonal mistake. ADHD is even worse defined that “tone deafness” – it will be like taking kids who are deaf, mute, tone deaf, hate your favourite music, lack skills to detect and follow rhythm, and so on and call them MDD kids (“musical deficiency disorder”). And decide the best therapy will be some drug that makes them sit down and learn notes all day long. It’s insanity.

        As for “Most people would consider giving kids stimulants to make them better at sports to be a borderline criminal act.” – I’m sorry to tell you but you may be naive – I saw a documentary (I don’t remember the title) on kids with ADHD on stimulants and part of it was about a girl who supposedly improved her athletic performance in gymnastics as a result of taking amphetamines and her parents were ecstatic about it. So apparently that’s a OK.

  20. I have a question that I wanted to post on the forums but can’t seem to stay logged in whenever I end up in that area. So here I am asking it.

    I have spoken to people who do believe the ADHD diagnosis is real, but many who have it don’t see it as a disease or disorder. They do say that they see the world differently, and some tell me that this is backed by neuro testing. But what they tell me is that what ADH….. means is that they are very well suited for certain jobs that non-ADH… never could do as well.

    A close relative of mine was diagnosed at an early age, and put on drugs. i don’t say much about that. But here’s what interests me: the family of this relative tells me that the child inherited it from my mother, that my mom had undiagnosed ADHD (here I add the D since I am quoting). My beloved mom just died, btw. Anyway, the example they gave me was how she “flew around the kitchen.” Well, that’s true, she was often in a flurry. My dad told me he loved my mom and that he loved that she “had ants in her pants” and asked me once to be more understanding that that’s how she operates. On the other hand, it seemed rather demeaning that this relative would claim that my mother was a “bad mother” due to her not getting diagnosed. I know my mother wouldn’t have wanted to! No way! She was who she was. She was fine that way, and learned to work around the ants. She was extraordinarily smart and also creative. She was a dancer, modern dance, and she was really good.

    We all adapt. I myself didn’t have trouble concentrating in school nor academic difficulties. However, there are jobs I just plain suck at. In fact, I’ll bet anyone reading this can name a few jobs or activities that they wouldn’t be that good at, nor are they drawn to these jobs or activities.

    We do need to acknowledge that difficulty concentrating exists. It can be disconcerting or even cause a person to have a hard time fitting in. I don’t fit in so well with MIA since I’m not a medical person or lawyer. I’m a writer but not a journalist, either. I’ve played in orchestras just fine as trumpet player, but due to a double-jointed thumb, I’d be terrible on violin. There are places I feel comfortable, plenty. I think we all need to look for these places, where we can be ourselves and where we are appreciated and cherished.

    That said, I was in special ed once. On my request. I didn’t like the teacher I had, and she was fed up with me, too, so they allowed me to switch to any class I wanted. I shocked everyone by saying I wanted to be in the special ed class. But they obliged. I loved it and learned many new things. I recall the variety of students there was so vast that it was amazing. So many different ways of looking at the world. I remember I was envious of this one girl who was amazing at baseball. I think she topped anything I could do that year, because that was around 1967, the year our Red Sox won the World Series…almost.