NIMH Info for Parents on “ADHD” Misleading, Researchers Say


A new analysis of the information that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) publishes for parents about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) concludes that the children’s experiences and contexts are ignored and that medication is presented, misleadingly, as the only solution supported by research evidence. The researchers also point out that “cause and effects of ‘ADHD’ are intertwined through circular argumentation,” with the materials describing certain behaviors as a disorder and then later asserting that those same behaviors are caused by that disorder.


“What seems to have been forgotten is that behaviors perceived as deviating may be reflections of normal variations in personality,” the researchers, Soly Erlandsson, Linda Lundin, and Elizabeth Punzi, all psychologists in Sweden, write.

“Expectations that society places on children of today also contribute to less indulgence toward children who do not fit in,” they add. “Instead, deviance is medicalized and even if the individual child may not suffer the problem becomes primarily a problem for other people and for the social system.”

Describing the United States as the “epicenter” of ADHD diagnoses, and asserting that how the disorder is discussed in the US influences the rest of the world, the researchers decided to investigate how the NIMH presents information on ADHD on its website. They began with the question: “Which understanding of the ‘ADHD’ discourse is taken for granted and which understandings and alternative discourses are not acknowledged?”

The following are highlights from their analysis:

“Although ‘ADHD’ is characterized as a floating spectrum of symptoms, it is transformed into a distinct entity that appears clearly defined solely by its name. While it is difficult to define the dividing line between normal and abnormal, the label ‘ADHD’ appears sharp and exact and explanatory in itself.”

“There is thus a circular argument in that ADHD is defined according to the presence of particular behaviors which the diagnosis is then proposed to explain.”

“The idea that children suffer from inherent medical disorders diverts attention away from problems that are contextual, such as, for example, problems within the school or within families.”

“No observable strengths and positive characteristics in the child are mentioned in the document. When an alternative explanation is raised, it still concerns the inner state of the child indicating signs of psychiatric disorder.”

“Contextual factors are portrayed simply as potential enhancers of inherent ‘ADHD’ symptoms – ‘the social environment might contribute to ADHD’ – a remark that serves to underline that ‘‘ADHD’’ is an inherent entity.”

“The individual is portrayed as being detached from contextual factors such as the family, the neighborhood, and the community. Attempts to examine what the child has been through or what the child strives to communicate are absent. There is no regard for whether the child has been affected by a significant and sudden change, such as the death of a family member, divorce of parents, or parent’s job loss. There is no regard for the child’s home environment. On the contrary, the focus is on finding a psychiatric label that describes the child.”

“The biomedical model is portrayed as the evident paradigm, since about a third of the document concerns medication. Professionals who do not adhere to the biomedical model thus implicitly become positioned as unable to help children with ‘ADHD.’’’

The researchers conclude:

“There has been an escalation of biomedical understanding of children’s behavioral and emotional problems and a subsequent increase of drug prescriptions for such behaviors.”

“The concept of ‘ADHD’ thus shifts focus from interpersonal dilemmas, problems in the educational system, child-rearing practices, as well as social injustice, and instead focus on dysfunctions in the individual child; a process that serves the interests of the pharmaceutical industry since medication is presented as a solution to the child’s difficulties.”

“What consequences will an increase of medicalization of human problems infer on how we conceptualize relationships and social life? To diagnose peoples’ vulnerability foremost as biomedical disorders may lead to marginalization. Humans are social beings and a great deal of our psychological distress might originate from social and close relationships early in life. Instead of making the window to ‘normality’ shrink we need to broaden our views on human growth and human conditions.”



Erlandsson, S., Lundin, L. and Punzi, E., 2016. A discursive analysis concerning information on ‘‘ADHD’’presented to parents by the National Institute of Mental Health (USA). International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being11. (Full Text)


    • You are right, both the authors and the NIMH have ignored that physiological input and experience massively impacts behavior. For example, low iron levels and sleep problems are both associated with “ADHD” symptoms and are rarely ever considered by a physician diagnosing “ADHD”. As the author aptly points out, the diagnosis provides an label that lets the adults off the hook for trying to find a more explanatory and resolvable hypothesis of what is going on, whether it’s in the physiological or psychological or social realm.

      —- Steve

      Report comment

      • Steve:

        Thanks for giving an example of an environmental toxin that might affect a child’s behavior. If you are a parent in Flint Michigan, you may be very concerned about the lead in the drinking water and and a learning disability or cognitive impairment caused by toxins, then a bogus diagnosis of ADHD with all of its drugging on top of that.

        Report comment

        • Slow wits on the part of our alleged authorities, particularly if you’re aware that literature describing subclinical lead poisoning inducing hyperactivity has been around going on 30 years. Or a pretty sorry excuse for authorities, themselves.

          Report comment

          • Oh, but that would mean we’d have to DO something about lead poisoning, and that would require time and energy and money and might also require us to take a look at who is getting poisoned and confront the ugly economics and racial politics behind these realities. Just much more convenient to blame the kids’ brains. That way, no one gets hurt (well, no one in POWER gets hurt), people make money and the problem sometimes goes away, at least temporarily. Best of all, if the “treatment” doesn’t work, instead of admitting that you are not helping, you can say he has “treatment resistant ADHD” and avoid all responsibility while still making buku bucks. What a deal, eh?

            Report comment

  1. This situation can be readily understood, given that the NIMH is a front for the drug companies which provide much of its funding. Psychological understandings that don’t place drugs at the center of the picture would be harmful to the profits of the corporations and lobbyists that are choking NIMH’s freedom of thought like weeds, while perversely sustaining the organization as a Big Pharma pawn.

    Report comment

    • I agree, all the DSM disorders are based upon circular logic.

      You became “manic” (and doctors ignore or deny the fact it was an ADHD drug or antidepressant that caused the “mania”). And instead claim the mere fact you became “manic,” is proof you are “bipolar.”

      You’re then given an antipsychotic, and combining the antidepressants and antipsychotics is known to make people “psychotic,” via the known drug induced toxidrome called anticholinergic toxidrome. But this “psychosis” is proof that you are “bipolar,” or is upgraded to “schizophrenia.”

      The DSM is all one giant, iatrogenic illness creation scam, resulting in millions of lives destroyed, and million of lives lost, and billions of dollars made by the psycho / pharmaceutical industries.

      But since this make up “mental illnesses” out of thin air, defame, torture, and murder millions of innocent people scam, is more insideous than the Nazi psychiatrists’ similar crimes. And it appears today’s psychiatrists have murdered even more people with their DSM and drugs, than the Nazi psychiatrists murdered Jews. It seems we may conclude today’s psychiatrists are more morally repugnant than the Nazi psychiatrists.

      Report comment

      • Or perhaps they’re stupid, and owe all their patients for their malpractice, since they were only trusted in the first place, because they had malpractice insurance to pay for their ignorance and mistakes.

        Is this circular reasoning? I don’t think it is.

        Report comment

      • Someone else: I think it all boils down to a great deal of deep rooted conditioning that happen in schools and in medical schools that make the upcoming generation to unquestioningly believe that materialism is an “absolute reality.” Rupert Sheldrake explains this well in his banned TED talk – he talks about the difference between “science as a method of inquiry based on reason, evidence, hypothesis and collective investigation vs. science as a belief system or a world view” he says that “the latter has started to inhibit and constrict free inquiry, which is the life blood of the scientific endeavor.” This worldview is the materialist worldview.
        Here’s the link to his talk:

        Report comment

        • I call that “Scientism” vs. actual science. “Scientism” involves the belief that certain super smart people do “science” that determines “what is true” and that all the rest of us have to do is listen to these smart experts in lab coats and we can be considered smart by association. It is a very authoritarian religion that punishes blasphemy severely by excommunication and/or shunning. Real scientists are, of course, considered a great danger to “Scientism” because they threaten to expose the flimsy assumptions on which it is based. Psychiatry is all about “Scientism” and condemns any real scientist who questions their dogma as heretics.

          Report comment

  2. ADHD is another syndrome masquerading as a disease, just like the other major so-called psychiatric diseases. Some of the different conditions that provoke this syndrome can be very easily treated without drugs. Unfortunately, there’s no opportunity to accumulate vast sums for providers, should they approach the ADHD syndrome this way.

    Report comment

  3. Wile we debate this ADHD thing the New World Order or the “elites” or what ever the popular term these days is for the highly intelligent yet soulless psychos at top that view us like farm animals have decided that drugging kids in the indoctrination centers, I mean schools, is a good idea and will continue.

    Society could evolve in 100 different ways so to keep that from happening and to stay in control they need a stupid population. Public school is scientifically designed to dumb you down.

    Its working to, how often do you hear people utter that mantra for loosers and stupid people “it is what it is” ?

    That is totally unfair and not right ! but “it is what it is” said the stupid looser.

    Try this Google search “public school indoctrination centers”

    Meanwhile keep believing it’s the children who are sick and it so called ADHD that’s the problem if you want.

    Report comment