ADHD:  The Hoax Unravels


At the risk of stating the obvious, ADHD is not an illness.  Rather, it is an unreliable and disempowering label for a loose collection of arbitrarily chosen and vaguely defined behaviors.  ADHD has been avidly promoted as an illness by pharma-psychiatry for the purpose of selling stimulant drugs.  In which endeavor, they have been phenomenally successful, but, as in other areas of psychiatry, the hoax is unraveling.

. . . . . 

In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics published Clinical Practice Guideline: Treatment of the School-Aged Child With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  Here’s a quote:

RECOMMENDATION 3: The clinician should recommend stimulant medication (strength of evidence: good) and/or behavior therapy (strength of evidence: fair), as appropriate, to improve target outcomes in children with ADHD (strength of recommendation: strong).

The clinician should develop a comprehensive management plan focused on the target outcomes. For most children, stimulant medication is highly effective in the management of the core symptoms of ADHD. For many children, behavioral interventions are valuable as primary treatment or as an adjunct in the management of ADHD, based on the nature of coexisting conditions, specific target outcomes, and family circumstances.”

Clearly, this recommendation is pushing the drugs (evidence good), and is downplaying the usefulness of behavioral interventions (evidence fair).  The reference to behavioral interventions “…as an adjunct…” doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in their use as the primary intervention.  And, indeed, this is how “treatment” of “ADHD” has developed in the intervening years:  pills for all, and occasional behavioral programs, many of which were geared towards accepting one’s “illness” and promoting “medication compliance.”

And all of this in a context in which ADHD was being fraudulently promoted by psychiatry, and by its pharma partners, as a neurochemical imbalance which was corrected by stimulant drugs.  Here’s what the eminent Harvard psychiatrist Timothy Wilens, MD, wrote on the matter in the article Paying Attention to ADHD in Family Circle magazine on November 20, 2011:

“ADHD often runs in families.  Parents of ADHD youth often have ADHD themselves.  The disorder is related to an inadequate supply of chemical messengers of the nerve cells in specific regions of the brain related to attention, activity, inhibitions, and mental operations.”

“Contrary to what most parents think, medication is one of the most important treatments for ADHD and is essential for long-term success of these kids.” (p 65)

The above quotes were clearly aimed at mothers, were designed to break down parental resistance to drug-taking, and are typical of what psychiatry generally has been saying on this subject for decades.

Dr. Wilens is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, and works as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.  In 2014 he was named Chief of Staff in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  So promoting the chemical imbalance hoax has certainly not harmed his career.

. . . . .

In recent years, psychiatrists have been experiencing increased scrutiny and criticism from the media, the general public, and some legislators, for the “pill for every problem” approach.  In this context, the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2011, published an updated set of guidelines for ADHD under the title ADHD: Clinical Practice Guideline for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents  In this revised document, their recommendations for treatment are divided into three parts:  preschool children (4-5); elementary school children (6-11); and adolescents (12-18).  Here is a quote from each section:

Action statement 5a: For preschool-aged children (4–5 years of age), the primary care clinician should prescribe evidence-based parent and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as the first line of treatment (quality of evidence A/strong recommendation) and may prescribe methylphenidate if the behavior interventions do not provide significant improvement and there is moderate-to-severe continuing disturbance in the child’s function.

Action statement 5b: For elementary school-aged children (6–11 years of age), the primary care clinician should prescribe FDA-approved medications for ADHD (quality of evidence A/strong recommendation) and/or evidence -based parent- and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as treatment for ADHD, preferably both (quality of evidence B/strong recommendation).

Action statement 5c: For adolescents (12–18 years of age), the primary care clinician should prescribe FDA-approved medications for ADHD with the assent of the adolescent (quality of evidence A/strong recommendation) and may prescribe behavior therapy as treatment for ADHD (quality of evidence C/recommendation), preferably both.

Note in particular that for preschool children, the recommended “first line treatment” is behavior therapy administered by the parent and/or teacher, and the pills are recommended only if the behavioral interventions are not effective, and the problem is moderate-to-severe.  This is a sea-shift from the earlier guidelines.

Note also that for older children, pills and/or behavioral therapy are recommended, “preferably both.”  Here again, behavioral interventions are being emphasized a good deal more than was the case in 2001.

Later in the guidelines document, the authors clarify what they mean by behavior therapy:

“Behavior therapy represents a broad set of specific interventions that have a common goal of modifying the physical and social environment to alter or change behavior. Behavior therapy usually is implemented by training parents in specific techniques that improve their abilities to modify and shape their child’s behavior and to improve the child’s ability to regulate his or her own behavior. The training involves techniques to more effectively provide rewards when their child demonstrates the desired behavior (eg, positive reinforcement), learn what behaviors can be reduced or eliminated by using planned ignoring as an active strategy (or using praising and ignoring in combination), or provide appropriate consequences or punishments when their child fails to meet the goals (eg, punishment). There is a need to consistently apply rewards and consequences as tasks are achieved and then to gradually increase the expectations for each task as they are mastered to shape behaviors.  Although behavior therapy shares a set of principles, individual programs introduce different techniques and strategies to achieve the same ends.” [Emphasis added]

Note that what’s being recommended here is that the parents be trained in the ordinary, time-honored principles of effective parenting.

And remember, this was in 2011 – five years ago, but the shift in the pediatric guidelines has not resulted in a significant shift in practice.

In response to this inertia, on May 3, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a press release titled More Young Children with ADHD Could Benefit from Behavior Therapy.

Obviously the CDC considers ADHD to be a disease, but if you can bear with the medicalization wording, here are some interesting quotes:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that before prescribing medicine to a young child, healthcare providers refer parents to training in behavior therapy. However, according to the Vital Signs report, about 75% of young children being treated for ADHD received medicine, and only about half received any form of psychological services, which might have included behavior therapy.” [Emphasis added]

Note that what’s being stressed here is the need to refer parents to behavioral training.

“Parents of young children with ADHD may need support, and behavior therapy is an important first step.  It has been shown to be as effective as medicine, but without the risk of side effects. We are still learning about the potential unintended effects of long-term use of ADHD medicine on young children. Until we know more, the recommendation is to first refer parents of children under 6 years of age with ADHD for training in behavior therapy before prescribing medicine.” [Emphasis added]

“CDC is calling on doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals who treat young children with ADHD to support parents by explaining the benefits of behavior therapy and referring parents for training in behavior therapy.” [Emphasis added]

In addition to the press release, the CDC also provided a press telebriefing in which reporters were able to put questions to senior CDC officials.  One of the questions was from Ariana Cha with the Washington Post.  Her question was:

“Hi.  I had a quick follow-up question about the — about insurance.  And when you say that these should be covered, are you also talking about kind of the gold standard, which is A.B.A. [Applied Behavior Analysis]  Therapy, which is incredibly expensive and usually used for autism but also to address a lot of the same behaviors that you see in ADHD?”

Two CDC officials responded.  First was Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director for CDC:

“No, you know, the treatments are quite different.  And I’d like Dr. Georgina Peacock to comment on that because we don’t believe the same interventions for autism should be used for children with ADHD.”

And then Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH, FAAP, Director, Division of Human Development and Disability:

“So we are talking about behavioral therapy, but this particular behavioral therapy is parent training.  So parents learn skills that help promote positive behaviors in their children.  There’s also a strengthening of the relationship between the parent and the child.  And some of the other things, some of the examples of things that happen, is parents learn about limit setting.  They learn about applying appropriate consequences for inappropriate behaviors and learn about how to improve communication between the parent and the families.  That’s the type of behavioral therapy that we are talking about and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for families.” [Emphasis added]

It is clear from these responses that the CDC is not conceptualizing these recommendations as the provision of some kind of specialized treatment to the children, but rather as training the parents in the basic principles and practices of effective parenting.

. . . . . 

In other words, as we “mental illness deniers” have been saying for years, the problem does not reside in the child in the form of some hypothesized brain dysfunction.  Rather, the problem is the direct result of ineffective discipline, training, and correction on the part of caregivers.  And the truly ironic thing is that older people, with no particular training in psychology, psychiatry, social work, counseling, etc., have been saying this for decades, shaking their heads in sadness and disbelief as they watch their children and grandchildren accept pharma-psychiatry’s hoax, and feed the serotonin-disruptive drugs to their children in ever-increasing numbers.  Grandparents – nature’s own trainers in parenting skills – have been effectively silenced by pharma-psychiatry’s spurious, self-serving insistence that these kinds of misbehaviors constitute a brain illness which needs the attention of medically-trained experts.  These unsubstantiated assertions undermine parental confidence, open “uncooperative” parents to accusations of child neglect, and create an environment in which the levels of mastery and self discipline that were the norm for children fifty years ago, are rapidly becoming the exception.

Even CHADD, not noted for challenging the ideology of their pharma benefactors, makes some concessions in this direction.  Here’s a quote from their About ADHD document:

“Problems in parenting or parenting styles may make ADHD better or worse, but these do not cause the disorder. ADHD is clearly a brain-based disorder. Currently research is underway to better define the areas and pathways that are involved.”

This, incidentally, is a truly delightful example of typical psychiatric mental gymnastics.  Let’s take a closer look.

“Problems in parenting or parenting styles may make ADHD better or worse…”

Now, as is well known, ADHD is defined by the presence of six or more habitual behaviors from either or both of two checklists of nine items each.  So if it is being conceded that “problems in parenting” can make ADHD worse, this can only be in terms of a deterioration on one or more of the criterion items.  But since all the criterion items are continuous variables, this inevitably entails a recognition that problems in parenting can push a child past whatever threshold of severity or frequency is required to constitute a “hit.”  Which in turn entails the fact that problems in parenting can produce the six or more hits required to make the “diagnosis.”  In other words, problems in parenting, by CHADD’s own admission, can cause ADHD.  Obviously the drafters of the document realized that they had opened this door, and immediately tried to slam it shut by countering even their own logic with their customary mantra-like assertion:  “ADHD is clearly a brain-based disorder,” the proof of which will be forthcoming any decade now!

. . . . . 

And incidentally, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines includes a section on the adverse effects of stimulant drugs.  Here’s a quote:

“An uncommon additional significant adverse effect of stimulants is the occurrence of hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.”

In 2009, Mosholder et al conducted a study on the incidence of these kinds of events and found:

“A total of 11 psychosis/mania adverse events occurred during 743 person-years of double-blind treatment with these drugs, and no comparable adverse events occurred in a total of 420 person-years of placebo exposure in the same trials. The rate per 100 person-years in the pooled active drug group was 1.48. The analysis of spontaneous postmarketing reports yielded >800 reports of adverse events related to psychosis or mania. In approximately 90% of the cases, there was no reported history of a similar psychiatric condition.”

Eleven cases in 743 person-years (i.e. one in 68 person-years) sounds like a small effect.  But in any given year, about 3.5 million American children take a stimulant drug for ADHD.  And if we assume that each of these children takes the pills for an average of six months (almost certainly an under-estimate), this amounts to approximately 25,700 drug-induced psychosis/mania incidents each year in the US alone.  To the best of my knowledge, no large-scale, systematic study of the outcome of these incidents has been undertaken.

. . . . . 


The 2011 pediatric guidelines, reinforced as they were by the CDC’s recent press release and telebriefing, represent a formidable broadside against psychiatry’s promotion of ADHD as a brain illness residing within the child.  If this “illness” can be “cured” by improved discipline/correction on the parents’ part, isn’t it eminently reasonable to conclude that ineffective discipline was the precipitating cause of the problem in the first place?  We can be sure that pharma-psychiatry are already working on counter-measures to neutralize the impact of these documents, and we should not expect the bastions of bio-bio-bio psychiatry to crumble overnight. But as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice put it so lyrically back in 1968:

“But if my analysis of the position is right,

At the end of the tunnel there’s a glimmer of light”

(Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)

On all sides the hoax is unraveling, and psychiatry has  no response other than the repetition of the same unsubstantiated assertions, laced generously with PR, obfuscation, and the assignment of blame to others for their own errors and deceptions.



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.


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  1. Don’t be confused by the labels psychiatrists have arbitrarily come up with. “ADHD” is merely anxiety or even more simply– fear. As a clinician, I have NEVER seen a child with “ADHD” behaviors that did not have one or more of the following experiences: 1) a parent or parents who was also anxious, impulsive, oppositional; 2) the parental relationship was high-conflict; 3) the child had experienced developmental trauma or attachment trauma; 4) parents had poor emotional intelligence skills and failed to be emotionally attuned to the child; 5) parents used fear-based, consequence-based, behavioral-based parenting styles. Children are very emotionally skilled and highly attuned to the emotional status of their parents. Children either model behavior of parents or, due to natural “emotional contagion”, pick up on the anxiety of their parents. ADHD is a child experiencing “fight-or-flight” who developmentally lacks the cognitive abilities to manage or regulate his or her emotions, largely because the parents are dysregulated when they should be regulated. Children learn to regulate their emotions from parents who are regulated and calm. I always focus interventions on parenting changes, especially improving attachment behaviors, improving emotional listening and attunement skills, love-based parenting versus fear-based/behavioral-based parenting, mindfulness and self-calming — FOR THE PARENTS. Then I engage with the child to teach mindfulness skills as well. No one wants to blame the parents — but where exactly do children learn emotional, social and behavioral skills if not from parents? If we don’t blame the parents and correct their behaviors, then the children get blamed, stigmatized and shamed. Too many children come to therapy ashamed and suffering with low self-worth, believing they are defective, mentally ill and even unlovable. Given a choice between blaming parents and blaming children, the choice seems clear. For more, go to

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    • Thank you for posting this. It’s the most sensible thing that I’ve ever read about the entire ADD and ADHD hoax that psychiatry and the drug countries created. I taught for fifteen years before the advent of direct to consumer advertising by drug companies and the rise of the DSM and I can say that I never in those fifteen years experienced a student that I would say was afflicted with ADD or ADHD. The issues and difficulties that some students exhibited made all the sense in the world when I met their parents on Parent/Teacher nights at school. Sometimes parents inflict problems on their children not because they’re do so intentionally but because of their own problems and issues and misunderstanding and lack of education and training. But if you try to talk about this today you get attacked from all sides for doing something horrible to the poor parents. If the shoe fits then they need to wear it.

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      • There is one huge problem and that is that your explanation excludes many of the things we understand about human nature. People who lack basic needs, people in abusive relationships, and those raised in abuse are filled with anxiety. Your polarization of blame one person or the other doesn’t do much to resolve the numerous problems that exists behind your simple solution. A parent who hasn’t come to term with their own struggles, one who must live in denial to function will not change beyond a superficial level. A parent who faces an abusive partner isn’t going to benefit from mindfulness while enduring continued abuse. A parent who doesn’t know how they will keep utilities from being shut off isn’t likely to either. You forgot to mention that there are fear responses that exist for a very legitimate reason for many people. Ignoring that fact doesn’t do anyone suffering much good.
        It seems the approach should be to understand the mechanisms and create bonds that can heal everyone.

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  2. I’d still want to find out what everybody was eating. Remember, these parents and children are on the same diet- if it’s primarily junk food, there’s no surprise discovering that both parents and children will show maladaptive behaviors of one sort or another. And all of them may be very well incapable of properly absorbing and using the information you’re trying to implant in them.

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  3. “To the best of my knowledge, no large-scale, systematic study of the outcome of these [stimulant induced psychosis] incidents has been undertaken.” Most of those children were likely relabeled “bipolar,” then put on the antipsychotics, since that does seem to be what the doctors have been doing for decades. Blame the child, not the drugs, is the medical communities’ mantra.

    “If this ‘illness’ can be ‘cured’ by improved discipline/correction on the parents’ part, isn’t it eminently reasonable to conclude that ineffective discipline was the precipitating cause of the problem in the first place?” Yes. But we’re currently living in a society where the social workers want to drug a well behaved child, because he surprised the social worker and overcame very early child abuse, thus went from remedial reading in first grade, to getting 100% on his state standardized tests in eighth grade. Possibly due to firm but loving and compassionate parenting, and definitely thanks to God’s gift of good genetics.

    While our society allows parents who abuse other people’s children, not to mention were negligent in the death of their own first born child, to adopt a child, and keep their natural born subsequent children. Which resulted in two out of three of those children, raised by child abusers, being arrested prior to the age of 21. Likely due to bad parenting.

    Absolutely, it does appear this country, in general, is upside down and backwards in how it is being run today. We need to start arresting the child abusers, rather than defaming and drugging concerned mothers and child abuse victims. “By the way, the prevalence of childhood trauma exposure within borderline personality disorder patients has been evidenced to be as high as 92% (Yen et al., 2002). Within individuals diagnosed with psychotic or affective disorders, it reaches 82% (Larsson et al., 2012).” And placing trust in corporations, which are legally required to behave as psychopaths worshipping short term profits only, is a stupid approach to governance.

    “But if my analysis of the position is right,

    At the end of the tunnel there’s a glimmer of light”

    Hoping and praying we turn it around. Thanks as always, Philip.

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  4. Yep, the same old. It’s hard to imagine the authors of these “recommendations” really see the people behind these bizarre non-illness labels like ADHD… there is no mention of the social or psychological context or meaning of behavior whatsoever. The tenor of the descriptions of these “people with ADHD” is so far removed from the subjective reality of relationships that people exist in as to be reminiscent of one of the stories by Franz Kafka, in which a senseless, inscrutable, cruel, bizarre situation confronts the protagonist.

    This example of ADHD policy is why I keep wondering if leading psychiatrists are really aliens implanted onto our planet from a forward operating base on Alpha Centauri, to mastermind the takeover of Earth via getting everybody so drugged up so that we can’t resist. But I guess if I told anyone this theory I’d probably get diagnosed with some severe mental illness and forcibly drugged by the extraterrestrials.

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  5. Before we ascribe the definition and management of the entity(ies) most recently named ADHD to a pharma cartel, let’s review a bit of history and some basic principles.

    A “Defect in Moral Control”, described at the turn of the last century, identified a number of children who couldn’t consistently follow rules or succesfully complete series of sequential academic tasks. Corporal punishment, the mainstay of discipline at that time, intensified these behaviors. Many such children clustering in families, suggested a genetic inheritance pattern. Many other such children had histories of central nervous system insults, like meningitis, head trauma or prolonged seizures, suggesting subtle forms of brain damage.

    Mid-century, the chance observation some children with the “Defect” prescribed Benzadrine for headaches, and whose “Defect” abated on the medication, alerted scientists to the possibility brain chemistry could be favorably altered. The subsequent development of more effective medications with lessened side effects is, as they say, history,

    The designation “Defect in Moral Control” was next replaced with “Minimal Brain Damage”, then with Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity). The key word to note is “Disorder”. A behavioral disorder is defined by its consequences on a child’s performance – specifically on age-related skills within the areas of physical, social and intellectual abilities, the reactions of others in the child’s environment and the child’s ability to abide by reasonable rules. The norms for each of these criteria vary with a child’s age and with the specific environment. But when performance in ANY of these areas is deficient for age and environment, a “disorder” is defined. Disorders may be managed by changing the environment, changing the levels of expectation by the adult guardians/authorities, changing the child’s brain chemistry, or a combination of these approaches.

    The diagnosis of ADHD begins with the recognition of the last “D” – disorder. The ADH part is then defined by any number of available measures, including characteristic behaviors (such as on Vanderbilt Scales), subtest patterns on tests of intelligence, or even on PET scans. At this stage, there is no influence by “pharma.”

    Once a management approach has been chosen, progress can be judged by monitoring the presence or absence of the defining criteria of “disorder.” Cessation of treatment is appropriate when the criteria of a disorder are no longer met. Ignoring any accurately defined disorder eventually becomes life-endangering, since children who cannot express age-appropriate skills, relate meaningfully to others or follow reasonable rules become either depressed or angry with eventual risk suicidal or homicidal behaviors.

    In summary, ADHD is real and not a figment of “pharma’s” imagination. Ignoring it is not an appropriate option. Effective treatment strategies include manipulating the environment, if possible, and adjusting expectations. Medication, prescribed by an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner, is usually a safe and effective component of treatment and offers the possibility for a child to successfully sequence complex tasks, focus on chosen tasks in distracting environments and choose rewarding behavioral options.

    Alan M. Davick, M.D.
    Behavioral-Developmental Pediatrician
    Author: ADHD-What parents need to know

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    • Hi, Alan,

      While your rendition of history is, for the most part, accurate, I think you are supporting a very subjective and therefore dangerous re-categorization of a behavioral/personality tendency, which of course could be described and identified in a number of people, as a “need” for medical treatment, which should be defined by something observably malfunctioning in the person’s body. You mention the possibility that a brain chemistry anomaly might be present, and yet despite decades of research, you will have to acknowledge that no such anomaly has ever been verified in most or even a large number of “ADHD” cases.

      You are also not taking culture into account here. There are a wide range of expectations that we put on our 5-year-olds which are developmentally inappropriate for their age and yet are accepted as “norms” for our youth, and when kids very understandably don’t meet those “norms,” we diagnose them instead of questioning whether our expectations are inappropriate. Supporting data include that French kids are admitted to school a year later and yet still learn more than US kids by the time they reach high school. They have VERY low medication use rates compared to the US, and yet their kids don’t appear to be adversely affected. Add this data to several studies showing that delaying a year before starting Kindergarten reduces “ADHD” diagnosis rates by about a third (!) and it becomes hard to deny that inappropriate developmental expectations play a role in “ADHD.”

      Consider further that in tribal cultures, where kids are allowed the freedom to roam and experiment and explore, the behavior described as “ADHD” doesn’t really present any problem whatsoever, and in fact, such kids may be valued more highly for their creativity or their willingness to take risks or their ability to stay “hyperfocused” on a task like shooting arrows or throwing things.

      Finally, I am not sure if you are aware of the increasing mass of data suggesting that medication use for kids in elementary school has no significant impact on any of the outcomes that adults care about for their kids, including high school graduation rates, academic test scores, delinquency rates, teen pregnancy rates, social skill development, or self-esteem. Studies supporting this conclusion include Barclay and Cunningham’s 1978 review, Swanson’s 1993 “Review of Reviews,” the Oregon State University Medication Effectiveness Project, the Raine study in Australia, the Quebec ADHD study, a comparison of Finnish and US “ADHD” – diagnosed students, and of course the long-term outcome studies associated with the MTA study, which showed that the nationally-touted small advantage for stimulant users at 14 months had disappeared by the three-year followup study.

      So all in all, the argument for “ADHD” as a discrete “disorder” requiring “treatment” with stimulant drugs is quite weak. It seems the parents who have been skeptical about this were correct – paying attention in class in the short term is less important than learning the important lessons on how to control and direct one’s own intentions, emotions and behavior, and those skills can’t be taught with a drug. They require patience, persistence, and creativity over a long period of time. There is no shortcut to raising kids.

      As a parent of two boys who clearly fit the “ADHD” diagnosis, both of whom became productive and functional adult citizens without a milligram of “medication,” I can attest to the fact that some kids are different and more difficult, but parents can and will rise to the occasion given the proper training and support. And kids can and do succeed if you alter the environment and stop expecting them to behave in ways that young kids were never designed to act.

      —- Steve

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    • I wish there was a way to have your comment posted as an article right beside this Philip Hickey nonsense. Or made the permanent top comment to this article. Alan Davick, your comment is the truth and I hope more people will come to understand. I have witnessed how much damage a teacher who does not understand can cause to a pupil. The idea that this is a hoax is lazy thinking, this is a human pattern present in a portion of population era after era. Parenting and discipline problems are real too, and only obfuscate the truth of ADHD existence.

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      • I relate to your comments, Prefer, but I think they may reflect less about “ADHD” diagnosed youth and more about the oppressive and inappropriate nature of our school system. I agree 100% that kids like this are often damaged by insensitive or thoughtless teachers or administrators, but I believe that is a result of how the school system and its expectations are constructed.

        We have two boys, both adults now, who were poster “ADHD” children – active, busy, intense, impulsive, often going from one task to another quickly, hated being bored, seeking stimulation always, rarely willing to “go along with the program” unless it was THEIR program. After doing our own research that supported this idea, we had them go to alternative schools with a more open-classroom focus, where they had more choices and control over their environment. The oldest we even home-schooled for four years. Neither had any medication, and both are functioning well as adults, the older (32) working two jobs, including training people to create websites and managing the administration of a busy educational business, and the younger (20) maintaining a very high academic and athletic (s0ccer) reputation at Evergreen State College.

        I believe the smartest move we made was to avoid the standard public school classroom, at least through the end of elementary school. It is poison for these kids, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is good science supporting the idea that “ADHD” kids do much better in open classrooms, and if you read my response above, you’ll see that there is no evidence that their medicated counterparts learn more or do better in the long run in any significant way.

        So “ADHD” exists, in the sense that yes, there are kids like that, but that doesn’t mean that medical treatment is the answer. The research suggests that such kids should be provided with a different structure that has less ordering about and more freedom of movement and decision-making, and that they will thrive in the right environment. But the standard classroom is not the right environment for active, curious, impulsive, hard-driving kids.

        — Steve

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        • Steve,
          Your comments are thoughtful and respected. There are multiple issues involved and one is the persistent belief that “ADHD” in general is a hoax, or a choice, or simply undisciplined children. This article by Hickey will only continue to aid that notion and block paths to outcomes such as yours.
          I have witnessed the very positive impact that medication can have on function, and I can say with confidence behavioral therapy alone did not improve the outcome. I am also confident that medication alone would not produce the outcome, but combined with behavioral therapy it made a marked difference and continues to this day to make a difference. I am confident because the folks who lived out this situation started with the position that medication was a hoax. After adding the medication to the mix progress was made and has been maintained (social interaction with peers, daily tasks, academic tasks all improved; and all reduced again when medication was withdrawn).

          There is another spectrum that is different than your own personal experience. There are people who do not have the “Hyperactivity” portion of the symptoms. I have witnessed, in the situation above, a very well behaved, well mannered, non-disruptive, non-impulsive child who very much fit your experience of unable to switch tasks, and unable to create organized thought and flow to tasks. He fit every measurable category for ADHD except the hyperactive actions you describe. Adding the medication to the behavioral therapy was the tipping point to a positive outcome.

          You can say that rearing, living, and educating in a different system would be all that needs to be done for ADHD. I cannot disprove that. But I can say with certainty that the economic means to accomplish what you accomplished with your kids is not feasible for the majority. And the places in society to accomplish what you accomplished are not accessible to all.

          Either way, this idea that actual “ADHD” is a choice, is a learned behavior, or is a lack of adult leadership is destructive to positive outcomes.

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          • I was indeed fortunate to be in Portland where there is an alternative public school that allows that freedom (a survivor from the open classroom movement of the 80s) and where we were able to create a charter school of the right nature, again with support of public funds. We were also fortunate enough to be able to work complimentary shifts so that homeschooling was a possibility for us. But I object to a system where only the lucky have such options! The research I’m referring to is decades old (from the 1970s) and we should already have been designing such classrooms in every district in the country!

            I honestly have no objection to people using medication if they feel it is helpful to them individually. I do, however, have an objection to folks overgeneralizing from a set of behaviors that could have a number of causes and possible solutions (including classroom expectations inappropriate for a child’s age and development) and blaming the child’s brain when the adults have a lot to do with both what is expected and what happens when those expectations go unmet. It’s just too easy for adults to blame kids for their own failure to create an effective environment. I think the “hoax” is not that such kids don’t exist, it’s that such kids all have something wrong with them and all need the same interventions, while absolving the adults involved from any responsibility for mitigating the environmental factors that make it hard for such kids to thrive in this particular society.

            I acknowledge having a lot less knowledge about how best to intervene in the non-hyperactive attentionally-challenged child, but I am sure that there would be ways to help that extend beyond medical intervention. Again, I have no trouble with individuals choosing this path, but I have a BIG problem with all individuals having such struggles being lied to about “chemical imbalances” and told that stimulants are the one and only solution, especially when the long-term outcome studies I cited above show that on the average, stimulants don’t lead to better outcomes over the long haul.

            Anyway, thanks for the respectful exchange. I think we can both agree that the situation is more complex than a simple pro- or anti-argument can encompass.

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          • So, you are happy to have your child “medicated” with amphetamines so in the short term it appears there is some benefit. Regardless of the research that shows a percentage of these children will experience hallucinations or psychosis or that as many as 25% will go on to develop “bipolar disorder” as teens and young adults, setting them on the path to polydrugging with neuroleptics and mood stabilizers?? Have you READ any of the nightmare first person stories of the stimulant drugged young people “put on” what is basically kiddie cocaine??
            And your child’s “behavior” deteriorated after the “drugs” we’re removed?? Withdrawal anyone?
            I watched a bright little 6 year old medicated bc of her off the wall, bored with the dull teacher, behavior. She soon became a focused little zombie who had teachers smiling at their success in having her drugged against her parents’ protests.
            Today she is a “rapid cycling bipolar” barely functional young adult, compromised on all fronts- academically, socially, emotionally…
            I was a teacher for 31 years… And watched with disgust as I saw child after child drugged. One child stands out bc he was labelled with ADHD and ODD- he was drugged to the point of being catatonic- no one considered the impact of the fact he was watching his drunken father physically and verbally abuse his mother and was the victim of verbal abuse himself.
            Long term outcomes “not superior”?? How about catastrophic?

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      • Hickey’s prone to that. The apologist for speeding to normalcy still misses the boat, and not only because he can’t spell Benzedrine. His hyperactive behavior disorders are merely aspects of a syndrome, instigated by one or more of any number of conditions that won’t yield a “speedy” recovery (if you like bad puns), but will respond to specific treatments.

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    • Doctors shouldn’t be pushing speed, a group of drugs even the DEA classifies with Cocaine, on children, and calling it medicine. Doctors shouldn’t be labeling childhood, and calling it “disease”. Doctors shouldn’t become “mental health” enforcers, especially as that “mental health” is merely a matter of assuming the good wind-up toy automaton role. No wonder we have such a big discipline problem. Who’s minding the kid’s, honey? Don’t worry about it. They have their pills.

      What happened to your perfect child? Sad, the school doctor tells us he has ADHD; he is, in other words, defective. Horrors, we might want a child, too. How can we get an effective one instead? One consideration might help a little if we keep it in mind. However perfect your perfect child is, that perfect child is always going to be perfectly imperfect, or it is imperfectly perfect? Anyway, distraction, lack of discipline, is certainly not a disease, and speed is certainly no cure. Expecting the discipline in school that you might see in, for example, boot-camp is expecting way too much.

      Outcomes for children labeled ADHD haven’t been good, and no wonder. What did you expect from the little speed freak? A daily regimen of stimulants wouldn’t be good for adults either. Now right there you see where a few more parenting skills might come in handy. I don’t think parents with sufficient parenting skills would give their children speed if they knew they were doing so. Disciplining them sufficiently to succeed in life, there you go, there’s something to be said for doing that instead.

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    • Nothing in what Davick said provides a basis for considering ADHD to exist as a valid and reliable disorder. The supposed diagnosis is still subjective, arbitrary, and overlaps with many other supposed “illnesses” in the fictitious DSM, such as conduct disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, OCD, anxiety disorder, etc.

      Davick’s thinking about ADHD being valid rests on rationalization and assuming his own conclusions – when defining a disease, real doctors do not start by picking a certain smaller arbitrary number out of a certain larger arbitrary number of supposed symptoms. Instead, they use a known etiology and clear evidence of causal processes to show that a proposed illness actually exists as a unitary, reliably identifiable entity. At this point, ADHD does not exist in this way, and is therefore a hoax.

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      • BPDTransformation,

        The APA’s use of the term “disorder” is an integral part of the hoax. They use the term to mean “illness” in ordinary daily usage, but fall back on the claim that it just means “unusual” or “outside the norm” or being below par on “age-related skills”, when they are challenged. In the real word, illness means biological pathology.

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    • AMDMD,

      No one is denying the reality of the problem behaviors. The issue is that, contrary to pharma-psychiatry’s fraudulent promotions, the problems do not constitute an illness. If you know of some evidence that all the children who meet the DSM criteria for ADHD have a specific identifiable biological pathology (i.e., have an illness), please send me the reference. I would be happy to have a look.

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  6. I think you are setting up a false dichotomy of it being either a parenting problem or a neurological difference of some sort that results in what we commonly refer to as a disease or disorder. As a child psychologist (school and clinical settings) I see both, and a mix of both. Of course behavioral therapy makes sense as a first-line treatment, but once you have good adherence to behavioral supports and strategies, with fidelity across settings, and you still see a child behaving so impulsively and hyperactively that they cannot sustain friendships or learn information effectively, medication is a strong consideration, as it does often yield relief from those symptoms. Sadly, I often see parents who then stop doing the behavioral supports, as they are hoping for a magic pill.

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    • You’re getting the idea, odd48. This is why you have to look deeper into the matter, investigating history, diet, exposure to aluminum, allergens,. chemicals, heavy metals and such. The speed is just a palliative, at best.

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      • It is an effective palliative though when you cannot effectively alter the environment and the child is otherwise on-track to become, or is already, disordered in the sense that Spitzer delineated so nicely – accounting for subjective distress or negative impact on social or occupational/academic functioning. I am a great fan of making sure that students with these tendencies find their way into professions that are compatible with the way they function, but they still need to navigate the educational and occupational system to get there, and that will sometimes require medication.

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        • Or perhaps a move to a school environment more suited to their strengths and needs. We put our two intense and active boys into alternative schools that allowed them more freedom and self-direction, and even home schooled the oldest for four years. Both have become productive and functional adults without a milligram of stimulants.

          Perhaps its time we stopped hammering square pegs into round holes and blaming the pegs when they are damaged?

          As to the “occupational system,” the only study I’m aware of on the topic showed employers to be just as satisfied with their “ADHD” employees as they were with any other employee. As you say, they no doubt made their way into professions that are compatible with their strengths and proclivities. It is unfortunate that they don’t have that option in school, because the research suggests that if they did, they’d select classrooms where they could move around and make decisions and start and stop things when they were ready to do so, and that in such classrooms, they’d be indistinguishable from “normal” kids. That is exactly what we experienced with our own boys when put into an environment that was flexible enough to meet their needs for autonomy and stimulation.

          —- Steve

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    • However, stimulant treatment over the long term has NOT been shown to help kids sustain friendships OR learn information more effectively. It suppresses these “symptoms” temporarily. And you’re right, the pill often causes adults to decide that “the problem is solved” and stop doing other interventions. There was a good study in the 70s that showed kids who got stimulants received LESS academic support after getting onto the drug, mostly because the teachers felt that they were going to be OK now that they had been “treated” and were demanding less attention, regardless of whether or not they were actually learning anything.

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      • In my informal research on speed many years ago it became quickly apparent that it potentiates profound productivity and creativity for a day or two then results in total system collapse if continued. I can’t imagine anyone, especially children, taking it or anything like it every day. It’s insanity. It’s criminal.

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      • Drugging kids leads to “managed” behaviour, not improved quality of life. It is for the convenience of adults and not for what is best for the child. As was said earlier, the child is not the issue but rather the “norm” that is pushed to every kid in every situation likely is. There have been many good articles published on the issue of high stakes testing alone and the anxiety it causes. Add the rest from bullying to unstable home, to hunger, etc and it becomes apparent that the problem is anything but easy and the solutions will never come in pill form. Kids are great little reflections of dysfunction but too many adults would rather ignore what they are saying with their behaviour because it’s just such a messy affair to address problems.
        “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” ~Krishnamurti

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    • Odd42,

      One of the first principles of behavioral intervention is that once you start implementing corrective measures, things will get worse before they get better. This is because the child redoubles his efforts to maintain the status quo. It calls for persistence on the part of the parents, and support for them in these endeavors; not for serotonin-disruptive drugs. But if you see these drugs as “medication” and the misbehavior as “symptoms”, then I suggest, respectfully, that you have bought the hoax.

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  7. Respectfully, the DSM 5 and the American Academy of Pediatrics, both do not use the term ‘illness’ when referring to ADHD. It is not an illness and for it to be catagorized as such is to misidentiry what is actually happening with the person that has ADHD. ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder, and as such needs to be stated rightly- that it is a disorder. Is it so difficult to get this correct? The two are no where near the same. There is no ‘cure’ for it, there may be ways to help with dealing with it, and a person may grow out of it; but the person has to figure out how to deal with the different issues that they have, (and they are different for each person) on their own, with suggestions maybe helping, but only figuring out what will work for them. There is no exact science when it comes to ADHD. It is how a person that is ADHD has to learn to deal with their life. I say ‘is’ because the neurobehavioral make-up ‘is’ exactly what they are. It ‘is’ who they are. They can not change that. They have to learn to deal with it and make themselves fit in to society with their brains the way they are. They have to face the consequences of their behaviors, learn to accept when they are in error and realize when to change — even when it is so very difficult. It is a very difficult learning process, but just as growing up is, the ADHD person has a tougher time, but still has to do it. When it is very, very difficult to control our bodies and/or to slow our minds, meds can help, Environment plays a part, how parents and family members deal with the ADHD person definatly has an affect, whether positive or negative, but that does not change whether a person is ADHD or not. Their brain is still the same. It might change other issues they could possibly have that would affect other behavior issues. This could exacerbate their behaviors negatively. Other social situations where they are trying to fit in and people don’t understand, make fun of them, lower their self-esteem, can also cause difficulties. But this does not change the ADHD itself, just increase how it may present, as well as cause other issues with the person, such as anger issues, self-esteem, shame, aggression, or other emotional issue problems. It’s damaging to try and debunk this disorder, when so many people face the reality of it and have to deal with this disorder, and is basically branding them, us, as liars. It’s difficult enough to get to the point of getting a diagnosis and getting help. Yes, there was a time when there was too much meds handed out, but that has passed. It’s time to get over that and realize most drs. are not just medicating kids anymore, but working with parents to find the best solution. But it is very unfair to call it all a hoax, when there has been so much research and so many have been rightly helped. Having lived through the life of severe ADHD, before it was called this, and finally getting meds as an adult, it has helped me to be able to have some semblance of a semi-normal life. But I would never have realized if we didn’t find out my son faced the same thing in the 3rd grade. We had to decide how to handle it, and meds were the only way. Our lives, our home, was a constant tornado, but we thought that was normal, as I was a tornado just like him. My mother, a school principle, only realized the truth after reading ‘Driven to Distraction’, as I had. She apologized to me for the way I was raised, as she saw my life in the entire book, as I did when I read it. It is horrifying to see one’s life unfolded like that, what one has gone through, the misery, and know it could have been avoided. If one could keep their child from it, it would be cruelty not to. Yes, people don’t believe in ADHD, but those are the people that don’t have to endure the disorder or have a child that has the disorder. ADHD is difficult enough to endure as it is. Take some time to consider the disservice to the many lives your destroying by your declaration of this being a hoax. As with every other situation in life, only when one finds themselves in another’s shoes, then they will understand. – Cynthia Long, M.A. BCCC, Art Psychotherapist

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    • I think you have two seperate arguments:

      1 your life is/ was different from most people and as a child adults find this difficult
      2 your brain is different from most people

      I have no evidence that the sort of behaviour is caused by any brain difference. Do you?

      I think whizzy kids are a bit of a challange but also quite exciting. Pity the psych establishment decided to medicalise them.

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    • Cynthia

      One can believe that some, or all, of the so-called “symptoms” that get labeled as ADHD exist for some people, or partially exist for others, AND still believe that the diagnosis is a hoax and a creation of Big Pharma and the APA.

      I see these “symptoms” as being related to various conflicts with the environment which may involve trauma experiences, power struggles, and exposure to toxic or allergic substances. There are other ways to address and work with these problems of conflict other than drugs. I don’t say this is an easy process but many have found successful ways to address these problems. I like everything Steve McCrea has to say on this subject and his personal experience with his sons.


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    • Hi, Cynthia,

      I can really get where you’re coming from, and certainly don’t want to minimize the challenges of being an “ADHD” kind of person in our current world. I think where we may be getting some confusion is that the hoax referred to, and I don’t think that’s really too strong a word for it, is NOT that having the symptoms or behaviors designated as “ADHD” is not real. There are absolutely people who, whether because of their biological makeup or their experience or a combination of both, have difficulty paying attention to dull things, like to be up and about and hate sitting still, and can get frustrated and impatient when constrained to do things that don’t have an immediate reward, and so forth. Such people ABSOLUTELY do exist, and such people ABSOLUTELY do have a different set of challenges from the “average” person in the population. I have two kids who grew up with this kind of personality, and I can say with certainty that neither suffered any kind of severe trauma, though the first did have to suffer through us learning how to parent a challenging child such as he was.

      The hoax, though, is in suggesting that such people 1) have something WRONG with their brains, just because they operate in a manner that is inconvenient for adults, and moreover, that 2) ALL people exhibiting these traits ALL have the SAME thing wrong with them and need the SAME “TREATMENT,” usually meaning drugs.

      Now I can see from your post that you don’t believe this yourself – you clearly state the need to view such “disorders” as having multiple possible causes and solutions. But the psychiatric profession and their allies in the education field for the most part don’t agree with you. I’ve heard countless situations where education professionals or psychiatrists or family doctors explain that “you have a chemical imbalance in your brain” and that “untreated ADHD can lead to school dropout, delinquency, teen pregnancy, etc.” The latter comment I find particularly offensive, as multiple long-term studies over 50 years or so have failed to show ANY improvements in these outcomes from long-term medication use.

      So again, it’s not that people don’t have this kind of behavior pattern, it’s that the psychiatric, education, and pharmaceutical industries have intentionally labeled these kids as defective and insisted on a “treatment” that makes them big bucks without actually leading to any better outcomes for the children involved, and in some cases, doing specific long-term damage to kids’ welfare in the process.

      I and many other people have had “ADHD” kids and raised them without medication with excellent results. The most important thing for us was to get them out of standard school classrooms and into homeschooling or child-centered alternative schools. We were fortunate to have the resources to do that, which I understand many people don’t possess. However, this does NOT excuse the school system for continuing to hammer these “square pegs” into the round holes that are available in standard school classrooms. The “ADHD” label allows schools to get off the hook for providing the kind of environment that so-called “ADHD” students actually thrive in (which has been scientifically been shown to be an open classroom setting where they get to move around and make decisions rather than being bossed around all day).

      I hope you can see the distinction. No one here (I hope) is trying to invalidate your own challenges or even your perception that stimulants were essential to your ability to navigate your life to adulthood. What we are objecting to is the pathologizing of what is in most cases simply a normal behavioral/personality variation that makes it difficult for adults to manage these kids in a herd such as teachers in public schools are required to do. It’s very understandable why teachers in particular want to believe this description of reality, as it validates their experience that these kids are difficult and provides some sense that there is an easy solution. But the long-term outcome studies prove that there IS no easy solution, and supports that each child is different, and that labeling and treating them all the same does not lead to better results.

      I hope that provides some context and reduces your sense of invalidation. This is not about individual people and their struggles. It’s about the efforts of an industry to capitalize on those struggles by pathologizing normal behavior in order to make a profit and normalize social institutions (like schools) that aren’t actually working very well for these kids, and most likely for a lot of other kids who are simply better at biting their tongues and putting up with the oppressive environment they’re expected to tolerate.

      —- Steve

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  8. As a Dr., Philip Hickey, PhD, you should know better then anyone, ADHD is NOT a hoax!!! Instead of recommending alternative solutions to dealing with ones ADHD, you perpetuate the ignorant lie. You should also mention that the main problem with psychiatry in general, is the pill pushing, money hungry, quack doctors who don’t really care to begin with. As a grown man who has had extreme issues my entire life, Been in and out of hospitals and through doctors for 30+ years, I can tell you first hand about the quacks like yourself, and how hard it is to find a competent doctor who you can actually trust. For someone, anyone, of your caliber and standing as doctor to spread such ignorance, is a complete reflection on the quality of care your patients must suffer through.

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  9. Psychologists have a professional interest in advocating ADHD is a hoax. I don’t doubt the author hasn’t come across misdiagnosed ADHD to write this article. However, many ADHD’s are physically identifiable through PET/MRI’s or other appropriate imaging technologies which are every bit as real as height, hair color and gender.
    Dr Davick’s provides a good albeit limited perspective endorsing the use of stimulant medication. Diet modifications specific to the individual are fundamental in making medication consistently effective over an extended period of time. In other words, effective management means a practical cure to ADHD.
    What you and Dr Davick lack is the perspective of someone like me who posseses the intelligence yet is pushed aside from higher professional realms via an ADHD impairment. It has taken me a long time to develop a diet and supplements particular to my needs. Aspects of my diet runs counter to many popular recommendations, emphasizes certain supplements not even on the radar of most medical professionals and uses at least 1 unconventional prescription drug that medical professionals haven’t conisidered. I know what would show if I had an MRI done (similiar yet also different than Temple Grandin) to develop strategies for my particular ADHD. ADHD diets like Feingold are more hype and not a lasting benefit to a large population of ADHD people just as a prosthetic leg is not very useful for someone with a missing arm.
    Psychologists have a relatively limited role in treating ADHD to guiding gross bad behavior to a degree of acceptability. This is also a qualified endorsement of pharmaceutical drugs: most medical doctors are simply tossing out pills to treat ADHD, with many drugs wildly inappropriate and doctors wholly ignorant of potential side effects.
    My dietary strategy (dosing on certain nutrients varies according to the environment and needs viewed in at least in the framework of a week, not daily) is something that can be observed, tweaked and taught. Risks of side effects are present, but far less than the effects from some drugs I’ve been prescribed. I have no advanced degrees, merely my body and experiences.
    Anyone wishing to contact me for my insights, my email: [email protected].

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    • Sorry, but the idea that “ADHD” sufferers can be identified through PET/MRI scans is not validated through the scientific literature, whatever Daniel Amen may say about it.

      That being said, I very much appreciate you sharing your experience with supplementation and diet, which can make a difference for many people with this behavior pattern.

      The problem is, not ALL people labeled as “ADHD” have nutritional issues or can alter their situation through nutrition. Some have very unstable home lives. Some suffered early life trauma and are highly anxious and easily triggered. Some are very smart and get bored easily because they are not being challenged in school. Some are just tactile learners – they need to move to learn and they’re doing what works for them, but the teachers won’t allow it and they get in trouble. Some have sleep issues. Some have lead or other environmental poisons on board. And some are just in need of a year or two of development before they are asked to make themselves fit into a school classroom environment. There have been a few studies now showing that delaying Kindergarten a year reduces ADHD diagnosis rates by 30% or more! Such kids don’t need nutritional counseling, they need some time to grow up. Yet others are suffering from dietary issues or sensitivities and need that kind of help.

      The problem is the label and the resultant lumping together of people with disparate needs into one category based solely on their behavior. People are different and need different things and do well in different environments. Instead of pathologizing kids who don’t do well in a standard classroom, we ought to be approaching each individual case and finding out what’s going on. You’ve done this for yourself, which is admirable. But most kids never get the chance to learn what you have learned, and as I said, it will only work for a minority where nutrition is the issue.

      Yes, people do act in the way described as “ADHD.” There may even be some biological reasons for this. But genetic diversity is the essence of species survival. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with “ADHD” behavior, and in fact there are some substantial benefits in the right venue. It is only labeled as a “disorder” for the convenience of the adults involved, who don’t want to go to all the trouble of getting to know the child and his/her circumstances sufficiently well to actually map out a solution to their dilemma.

      —- Steve

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  10. I hope people can take on Autism / Asperger’s now.

    It’s simply a matter of standing up to the therapists, doctors, and school teachers, and holding them and the parents accountable.

    Right now the child will have to grow into an adult, with zero redress, zero vindication. This must change, hold all of the parents, therapists, doctors, and school teacher accountable.

    Here, Satanic Temple teaches kids to stand up for themselves, and then it backs them up.

    We should take a similar, zero pity seeking, approach to the protection of children when dealing with Autism / Asperger’s / ADHD therapists and evaluators.

    Here, Lynn Kern Koegel at the University of California teaches parents how to psychologically abuse their children:


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  11. I agree that we are looking at a combination of factors. Still much of what you seem to have determined is moot. Not all doctors are quick to prescribe and given the immense time constraints we put on ourselves in society today, the act of living like this is producing an underlying madness. I feel if we are aware of our own time constraints, that makes for a better understanding of processing. Emotional sensitivity is the key and children today are at a heighten response. Medication is, and can be very beneficial, if it’s approached in a controlled way. The medical community has just skim the surface on emotion and ADHD.

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    • If medication is so beneficial, why is it that all the real, scientific studies reveal that the kids who’ve been drugged do not do any better in the long run, than the kids that aren’t drugged. Add to this the fact that the stimulants retard physical growth and cause some real physical problems for the kids. I still don’t understand why we say that it’s illegal for people to take speed out on the streets and then turn around and prescribe it as a “medication” to children. If it’s bad for adult health then how can we say that it’s perfectly fine to give the same damned thing to kids and say that it’s “beneficial” for them? I just have lots and lots of questions surrounding this topic.

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  12. Perhaps a little Reverse Engineering could shed some light on the ADHD problem. Big Pharma makes billions of dollars making stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD in Children and Adults. Why? Because it works. How does it work? Stimulants are Re-uptake Inhibitors of the neurotransmitter Dopamine(DA). Re-uptake Inhibitors interrupt the normal flow of DA through the Neuronal Cleft and traps the available DA in the Cleft for the duration of the stimulant’s effective period. So, what good does this do? Sufficient DA in the brain is necessary for proper signaling between the different parts of the brain.
    What is the benefit of proper signaling in the brain? Sensory areas of the brain return to normal, Executive Function, short and long term memory improves. The Child or Adult has a feeling of being normal and ‘in control’ again and this has a calming effect on the individual.

    Unfortunately, stimulants do nothing to cure ADHD.and their benefits are only temporary. The health risks of taking stimulant medications make them unacceptable for the treatment for ADHD.

    I am writing this short piece to make Three points.
    1. The cause of ADHD lies within the individual.
    2. Lower than normal DA level is a causative factor for this unacceptable
    3. Children and Adults presenting ADHD behavior are perfectly normal
    in every respect. They are unconsciously responding to their Autonomic
    Nervous System to correct a more serious problem

    Thank you Dr. Hickey for writing this article. I’m sorry that you did not feel qualified to comment on my ADHD Hypothesis, but I certainly respect your honesty.


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  13. I’m really late replying here, but I still wanted to comment. The majority of ADD/ADHD meds are essentially legal speed. No doubt it helps with concentration…indeed, I’ve used it before to cram for finals in college. But giving that to our kids, long term, while their frontal lobes and executive function skills are supposed to be developing naturally? There isn’t a doubt that these meds are interfering with that process as the brain becomes dependent on the stimulants. I’ve worked in the public schools and I’ve seen other educators and related service staff really push for the medication, and then shake their heads in disapproval after the IEP meeting if the parent seems reluctant. The thing is, typical classroom curriculums are not set up to handle 25-30 kids with NORMAL energy levels. Kids need to move. They need to multi-task. They need multi-modal approaches to learning. We are placing the problem on the kids, when it’s actually the school system that has the problem.

    As a younger elementary student, I was home-schooled. I was so motivated to learn because I was DOING things…collecting pond water and looking for amoebas and water hydras under the microscope, doing experiments with algae and different fertilizers, writing creative stories and scripts, making inventions and rube goldberg devices, etc. After going into the school system, around 5th grade, I became drained. My enthusiasm for learning evaporated after the first year. Kids don’t learn in any meaningful way by sitting almost the whole day, watching power point presentations, and filling out worksheets. Of course they’re fucking bored…of course they don’t fucking pay attention.

    This isn’t teachers’ faults…teachers are some of the most hardworking people I know. They barely have time to create simple lesson plans, on top of all the other ‘extra’ responsibilities they have that the district requires in their contracts. To create engaging and multi-modal approach activities every day, they’d have to buy supplies for 25-30 students (out of their 40K a year salaries) and spend hours of unpaid time planning each day (which they usually already do anyway).

    There is a big problem, but it’s not with the kids. Yet, the kids are the ones suffering. If you’re not passive, submissive, and do as your told…well, there is obviously something wrong with you…so here are some drugs. Way to go ‘Murica!

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