Psychologist Who Set Standard for Diagnosing ADHD Dies at 84

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From The New York Times: Keith Conners, the psychologist whose work established the first standards for diagnosing and treating what is now known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, died on July 5th. Toward the end of his life, Dr. Conners expressed misgivings about how loosely the label of ADHD is now applied.

“But in a 2013 interview with The New York Times, Dr. Conners, then a professor emeritus at Duke, expressed dismay that some 15 percent of high schoolers reported having been given an A.D.H.D. diagnosis.

‘The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,’ he said. ‘This is a concoction to justify the giving out of the medication at unprecedented and unjustified levels.'”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. So, this is the individual responsible for this nonsensical and useless label placed on children with a variety of trying or difficult behaviors that cause their parents or teachers distress?
    Not stated if the good doctor screened their background for trauma, their homes for dysfunction, their schools for being boring or rigid, their socio-economic background, or their diet.
    Reminds me of the brilliant, high energy little girl who was bored at school and of course slapped into line with Ritalin for her ADHD. She later became “bipolar” and is on a 5 drug cocktails. But for this idiot and his “studies” and “checklists”, she would have had a vibrant life.
    ADHD is a fake garbage construct
    repeating new income in its adult ADHD market.
    Too bad people like this don’t carve out a career studying moss or coconuts. They clearly know nothing about human beings…

    • Too true. I am familiar with some of Connors’ work and can attest that the “objective” screening tools he developed are totally based on teacher and parent ratings of children’s behavior as it affected them or their classrooms, and zero consideration was given to family stress or personal trauma history. You do the checklist, the kid gets a score, and no one ever even talks to the kid to find out why they might be acting the way they are. It’s a joke.

      I’m glad he came to the conclusions he did toward the end of his life, but it’s telling that neither he nor many like Allen Frances who decry the “over-diagnosis” of this or that “disorder” appear to understand that the “diagnostic” process itself leads to this result inevitably. As soon as you have a subjective element in diagnosis, especially when it involves people in a relationship with a significant power differential, the victims of abuse and neglect will be subjected to ever-increasing criticism in the form of “diagnosis” of anything they do that is inconvenient or uncomfortable. Allowing subjective “diagnosis” based on the opinions of parents or professionals opens the door wide to blaming the powerless victims of their irresponsible behavior, and given the opportunity, I’d say the majority of adults in the power-up situation are only to happy to open that door the moment a crack of light shows a possibility of passing through.

  2. ‘This is a concoction to justify the giving out of the medication at unprecedented and unjustified levels.’ So true. Shame on him for not admitting to this sooner, and his destruction of the lives of millions of American children, based upon his “concoction.”