Melissa Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sat, 21 Oct 2000 06:17:10 -0500
There are many problems with the claim that ADD exists. The biggest problem
to me is that there is no medical evidence for it. There is no blood test,
brain scan, or the like that can be given to a physician or scientist who
can look at it independently and say, yes, this indicates ADD. I would
recommend the book, Reclaiming Our Children, by psychiatrist and former NIH
advisor Dr. Peter Breggin, published in 2000, for information about this.
The way ADD is diagnosed is very subjective and highly unscientific.
Other problems to me include the following:
1. Boys are diagnosed up to 10 times higher than girls. The book The
Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian talks about the effect of testosterone on
the brain and how the *normal* brain biology of boys leads to behavior that
is labeled ADD but is in the realm of normal behavior for a boy stuck in the
completely abnormal situation of a traditional classroom. (Not to say that
it's not a pretty unnatural situation for a girl, too!)
2. Ritalin is a stimulant that improves anyone's concentration. It works
on "normal" adults and children just as it does children labeled "ADD".
Many people see the difference in their child when on Ritalin, and assume
that since it makes a difference, the child must therefore have ADD. This
is not true. I think of Ritalin as a performance-enhancing drug, like
steroids are for athletes.
3. It is illogical to me to think that in the United States we have an
unbelievable epidemic of ADD that has simply sprung up out of the middle of
nowhere in the last 30 years, but in other countries around the world, this
has not happened. Couldn't there be other reasons for this trend?
For example, could our tendency to call a situation a medical condition and
attempt to medicate it have anything to do with the incredible changes
society has encountered over the past century? Certainly our society does
tend to look toward science and technology and think the answer should be
there, since science and technology have answered so many of our questions.
Yet we are living lives in ways so totally different from the ways human
beings have lived during the entire realm of human existence. We think that
kids are having problems concentrating simply because they have some
hitherto undiscovered mental condition, yet we are living in unbelievably
different times, when demands on children are so completely different than
they ever have been historically. We often forget to look at our lives from
such a perspective.
Or, could this ADD epidemic have anything to do with intense marketing by
the pharmaceutical companies? Guess who financed the big mental heath
conference the Clintons and Gores had in the early 90's. Yep. The
pharmaceutical companies. That's right, the pharmaceutical companies that
Gore now wants to demonize. (He didn't mind taking their money!) And
surprise, surprise, the psychiatrists there recommended using lots of drugs
to treat mental health problems. One psychiatrist there stated that he did
not think 10 million US children treated with drugs was too much. In fact,
he stated that he thought that was not enough! And guess who made big
contributions to CHADD, a support organization for people with ADD? You
guessed it again! The pharmaceutical companies.
4. I've read something about the research done on ADD since the 70's, and
it seems to me that much of the research is questionable at best. I read
somewhere that there has been almost no study at all to see if there is a
relationship between parenting practices and "ADD" type behavior. Wouldn't
you think that this would be one of the first things researched? The
research on ADD leaves much to be desired, but there is certainly an
unwillingness on the part of many researchers to question basic assumptions.
5. I've talked with many parents about using drugs for their kids, and
almost every one of them says, "I know it's overdiagnosed, but MY kid really
needs it." I can't tell you how many times I have heard that. I find that
pretty suspicious. My biggest concern is that diagnosing and drugging kids
is an easy answer to problems that would otherwise require parents to
seriously question many things about lifestyles, parenting, schools,
society, spirituality, etc that they don't have to deal with because they
have a pill that takes care of the problem for them in a much easier way.
So, having said all this, I want to make it clear that I don't wish to
object to any individual's decision to treat a situation with drugs. I
think that is a personal decision that no one else can make. My personal
opinion, given what I have read and seen up to this point, is that there is
a wide range of behavior resulting from the way the brain operates, and that
people classified as ADD perhaps fall on the furthest end of a range. I
don't think of it as a medical condition or illness, like their brains are
missing something or somehow misfiring, but if someone chooses to take drugs
to improve their concentration, I support their right to make that choice.
However, in order to make such a choice, people should be given all the
facts, and they, by and large, are not.
Also, when it comes to children, I think much more research needs to be
done, and assumptions need to be questioned, before jumping on the ADD
bandwagon. Like, for example, maybe the way we treat kids has something to
do with all this. Maybe the way schools are structured are a contributing
factor, or even a cause. Unfortunately, there is too much vested interest
in this not happening. Jumping on the bandwagon is just soooo much easier.
Please note, Maddie, I am not suggesting that you fall into this category!
I don't know how I as a parent would make the call if my child described
that, "on a daily basis your head will not calm down long enough for you to
do one thing and do it well even when you are personally motivated to do
such or when it interferes with what YOU (being the inner you) want to
accomplish it." That is certainly a question only parents and their
children are in the right place to answer. I would do everything in my
power to find an answer that did not involve drugs, but I can acknowledge
that, having never been in such a position, there is no way I can know for
sure whether or not I would eventually resort to drugs. My hope and my
expectation is that with my children in a Sudbury school, that is a position
I will never have to be in.
Liberty Valley School
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