ADHD:  A Destructive and Disempowering Label; Not an Illness

In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing number of articles and papers from psychiatrists in which they seem to be accepting at least some of the antipsychiatry criticisms, and appear interested in reforms.  It is tempting to see this development as an indication of progress, but as in many aspects of life, things aren’t always what they seem.

Last month (June 2015), The Lancet Psychiatry published a paper online in their Personal View series.  The paper is titled Childhood: a suitable case for treatment?, and the authors are Ilina Singh and Simon Wessely.  Dr. Singh is Professor of Science, Ethics & Society at King’s College London, and is cross-appointed to the Institute of Psychiatry.  Dr. Wessely is professor of psychological medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The article opens with an abstract:

“We examine the contemporary debate on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in which concerns about medicalisation and overuse of drug treatments are paramount. We show medicalisation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be a complex issue that requires systematic research to be properly understood. In particular, we suggest that the debate on this disorder might be more productive and less divisive if longitudinal, evidence-based understanding of the harms and benefits of psychiatric diagnosis and misdiagnosis existed, as well as better access to effective, non-drug treatments. If articulation of the values that should guide clinical practice in child psychiatry is encouraged, this might create greater trust and less division.”

And already there are some red flags. Firstly, the title Childhood: a suitable case for treatment? evokes the kind of concerns often expressed on this side of the issue, that the creation of the “ADHD diagnosis” is essentially a systematic and self-serving pathologization, on the part of psychiatrists, of normal childhood activity.

Also, the term “medicalization” which occurs twice in the quote, is usually used on this side of the debate to indicate the spurious assertion that a non-medical problem (in this case, childhood distractibility/impulsivity) is a disease.  But this is not how the term is used by Drs. Singh and Wessely.  As becomes evident later in the paper, they clearly endorse the disease assertion, and use the term “medicalization” merely to indicate the assignment of the “diagnosis” to individuals who don’t actually have the “disease”.

BIOMARKERS

The authors discuss biomarkers, and point out that:

“Psychiatry has yet to discover, let alone use, well established biomarkers in diagnosis and treatment…”

But they continue:

“It is also worth considering that biomarkers do not resolve the ethical concern about the diagnosis of ADHD as a violation of childhood: should this particular set of childhood behaviours or capacities be labelled a medical disorder requiring observation or intervention? This aspect of the problem of diagnostic uncertainty in ADHD is not about whether or not the diagnosis is correct; it is more fundamentally about whether or not medical diagnosis is the right thing to do. From this perspective, biomarker evidence might contribute to better (that is, more accurate) diagnosis of ADHD, but clinicians might also get better at doing the wrong thing.”

This is a complicated paragraph, with, I suggest, some muddling of issues.

First, let’s consider the notion of biomarkers.  In general medicine, a biomarker is a biological factor that establishes, usually with a high level of confidence, that a particular illness or disease is present.  For at least the past five decades, psychiatric research has been preoccupied with discovering the biomarkers for the various “mental illnesses” listed in the DSM.  Despite the highly motivated nature of this research, the quest has been a dismal failure.

The central question at stake in this context is:  Do the various behaviors used in the DSM to define “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” constitute an illness?  The only way that this question can be answered definitively is to identify a biological pathology, and show that this pathology is present in all the individuals concerned.

At the present time, the “mental illness” known as ADHD is defined by the presence of a certain number of vaguely-defined habitual behaviors from a DSM checklist, and there is no logical reason to believe that the individuals who exhibit the requisite number of habits have any kind of illness.  All of the habits in question, even if present to a severe degree, can be adequately understood in fairly ordinary psychosocial terms.

But if it were to be clearly established, through honest, transparent, and replicated research, that the habits in question do, in fact, stem directly from some neurological pathology, then the matter would be resolved, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder would indeed be a real illness, amenable to investigation, diagnosis, and treatment within the medical model, and it would probably be given a name that reflected the biological pathology rather than the behavioral consequences.

To what extent it would constitute “a violation of childhood” is an interesting, but secondary, issue.  Leukemia, spina bifida, meningitis, polio, etc., all violate childhood, but that fact has no bearing on whether or not they can legitimately be considered illnesses.

CASE STUDY

The authors present a brief composite, anonymized case study.  John is an eleven-year-old boy who was assigned a diagnosis of ADHD at age 9 and takes Concerta (methylphenidate) every day.

Then the authors comment:

“Responses to this case presentation are likely to mirror the differences of opinion found among John’s caregivers.  Some might argue that John’s childhood represents a life of containment: across different institutional contexts, John’s behaviour is carefully managed, allowing few opportunities for the kind of liberal self-fashioning imagined by Trimble [Steven Trimble, educator, naturalist, and co-author of The Geography of Childhood]. The sociologist Erving Goffman called this process the “bureaucratisation of the spirit”.  Others will point out that adult guidance and management are essential to child flourishing; indeed, these form part of society’s obligations of care for a child.  Some of this care involves inculcation into social norms through institutions erected for this purpose.”

And

“Such arguments, which have been the mainstay of the debate over the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, are unlikely to unlock the stalemate of disagreement.”

And this, to my mind, is misleading.  The mainstay of the debate is whether or not the loose collection of vaguely-defined habitual behaviors listed in the DSM constitute an illness.  Whether the behaviors in question should be considered problematic or variations on normal is an interesting and important topic.  It has probably been the subject of debate since the dawn of civilization, and will likely continue to occupy our descendants for centuries to come, but it is not the “mainstay of the debate over the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD”.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“If a child’s spirit and freedom are potentially at stake, then we should care about evidence that children such as John are routinely misdiagnosed (that is, diagnosed with non-existent disorders), and we should ask what evidence exists about the consequences of misdiagnosis. So, what are the chances that John has been misdiagnosed?”

Note the confusing reference to “non-existent disorders”, which again sounds like a challenge to the medical status of ADHD, but in fact, as is clear from the context, means only that John doesn’t have the “illness” in question.

DISCUSSION

The authors address the questions of misdiagnosis and its consequences at some length, but this discussion is entirely within the bounds of mainstream, conventional psychiatry.

“Of course, to reject the possibility that ADHD diagnosis for John might be both valid and beneficial would be a mistake.”

There’s not much ambiguity there.

“But if John has been misdiagnosed (that is, diagnosed with a disorder when no disorder exists), then what can we anticipate for him?”

Drs. Singh and Wessely point out some of the difficulties involved in answering this question:

“No research base yet exists to address the adverse consequences of ADHD nondisease diagnosis. The design of such a study would be a challenge, in view of the ambiguity surrounding ADHD diagnosis.”

In fact, the design of such a study would be more than a challenge; it would be impossible!

ADHD is defined by the presence of a certain number of vaguely-defined habitual behaviors in the DSM checklist.  In such a context, the notion that John has ADHD and James doesn’t is meaningless, because each of the vaguely-defined items is open to interpretation and bias, and there is no way to reconcile discrepancies.

If it were discovered that the problems collectively labeled ADHD were in fact caused by an identifiable brain pathology, then the issue becomes moot.  Children who have the pathology, have the illness, and those who don’t, don’t.  In the absence of such a discovery, any attempts to refine or sharpen the criteria are futile.  Absent a clear marker of the so-called illness, attempts to identify and refine diagnosis are simply the perpetuation of error and bias.

And, as the authors themselves have pointed out, no such findings of pathology have been discovered.

But Drs. Singh and Wessely are mired in the traps of psychiatric dogma and complacency.

“For example, most people would agree that in the USA, use of medications to treat ADHD in children is excessive.  Fewer people know that the USA has problems of both overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of ADHD.”

How can they know – how can anyone know – that ADHD is over-diagnosed or under-diagnosed in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, since the criteria, as the authors themselves acknowledge, are inherently ambiguous?  If a psychiatrist in Atlanta, Georgia, says that John “often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat” and another psychiatrist in London, England, says no he doesn’t, what fact or argument could settle this matter?  How can we say which psychiatrist is over-diagnosing and which is under-diagnosing?  How often is “often”?  What kind of hand or foot movements constitute a fidget?  What kind of movements constitute a squirm?  And similar unresolvable ambiguities are inherent in every DSM checklist item.

The DSM checklist purports to be a diagnostic tool.  The idea is that if one applies the checklist to children, those who have the “disease” will be so identified, and those who do not have the “disease” will be screened out.  But, as the authors of the paper acknowledge, they don’t know the nature or pathology of the disease. So all that they’ve got is the checklist.  Tinkering with the checklist items in an effort to improve “diagnostic” accuracy is an exercise in self-deception, because there is no yardstick by which this accuracy can be assessed,

It comes to this:  ADHD is a label, arbitrarily and unreliably applied to children who are presenting problems in the classroom, to legitimize drugging them into something resembling manageability and compliance, while at the same time exposing them to the dangers of stimulant drugs.  Dressing it up in disease language is a hoax.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“We are asking for a more reasoned, less emotional approach to the problem of ADHD diagnosis and medicalisation. To properly investigate the consequences of psychiatric diagnosis and nondisease diagnosis, the impetus to immediately drive a moral stake in the ground must be restrained, to allow intuitions to be weighed against evidence.” [It is clear from the context that the authors are using the unusual term “nondisease diagnosis” to mean:  assigning a diagnosis of a disease to a person who doesn’t actually have the disease in question.]

But what kind of evidence can be adduced in this matter?  The authors are implying that there is a fundamental distinction between correct diagnosis of ADHD (i.e., cases where the child actually has the “disease”) and incorrect diagnosis (where the child does not have the disease, but is given the label “mistakenly”).  Calling for an investigation of the consequences of incorrect diagnosis vs. correct diagnosis is an exercise in futility, because there is no way to distinguish the one from the other, and there never will be unless/until an underlying explanatory brain pathology is identified.

Psychiatry has created and promoted the self-serving fiction that childhood distractibility/impulsivity and various other human problems are illnesses that need to be “treated” with neurotoxic chemicals and other brain-damaging interventions.  Suggesting at this very late stage in the proceedings that overuse of the ADHD “diagnosis” may be causing harm, and calling for more research on the “prevalence, causes, and consequences” of this “overdiagnosis” is just another way of endorsing and perpetuating the hoax.

The critical issue here is not that there have been errors of “over-diagnosis”.  The critical issue is the spurious medicalization of virtually every conceivable problem of human existence, including childhood distractibility/impulsivity.  This was not an error.  This was, and still is, the deliberate and self-serving policy of organized psychiatry, financed by pharma, and pursued avidly with disregard for logic, fact, or human integrity.

So why should “the impetus to…drive a moral stake in the ground” be restrained?  Psychiatry is the profession that routinely lies to its clients.  Psychiatrists tell their clients the blatant falsehood that they have chemical imbalances in their brains, and that they must take the drugs to correct these imbalances.  Psychiatry is the profession that allied itself with pharma’s fraudulent research and promotional efforts.  Psychiatry as a profession is, I suggest, morally bankrupt, and moral judgments are called for.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“But the diverse commitments entailed in the broader debate over diagnosis and treatment of this disorder have perpetuated reductive arguments and have scattered energy unproductively. If the goal is to answer the difficult questions that surround ADHD with evidence rather than with speculation, then a more collaborative agenda of research and public engagement is needed.”

Decades of generously-funded and highly-motivated psychiatric research have failed to establish that the habitual behaviors labeled ADHD stem from any kind of neurological pathology.  Nevertheless, Drs. Singh and Wessely persist in the notion that ADHD is a disease, and that more research is needed.  They call for evidence rather than speculation, while at the same time explicitly endorsing the standard psychiatric position, which is founded entirely on speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and disregard for the evidence.

And finally:

“The days when doctors were the sole arbiters of the boundary between normal and pathological states have long disappeared, if those days ever existed at all.”

This is a lofty sentiment, but does not reflect the reality.  Psychiatrists, both collectively and individually, do indeed see themselves, and behave, as the sole arbiters of the boundary between normal and pathological, and, at least here in the US, they have five editions of the DSM to prove it.

 

  • It’s sad to see this tired conversation about ADHD’s validity continuing in academic circles. To my mind, believing ADHD exists is tantamount to believing the earth is flat or the universe is 4,000 years old. There would be no debate about this fiction without the profit to be made from drugs.

  • all too easy

    You are a scream, bro.

  • all too easy

    Aye Matey, now ye be talking. Tis them drugs he cannot stomach. Jealousy consumes you girls. Let it go, bro. You want to stop drug abuse? Push for prohibition

  • Wow, I didn’t know Captain Jack Sparrow had an opinion on psychiatry! It’s good of you to take a break from pursuing the treasure to come and post here 🙂

  • all too easy

    Fast Eddie, did you hear about the idiot with two sons who were little terrorist monsters? They thrived w/o medication. Guess what? Based on his personal experience with his 2 boys exhibiting challenging behavior, this genius realized no one has ADHD and no one needs meds to treat it, because his boys are just fine. If you hope to challenge my unprecedented expertise in this field, good luck. You got 2 strikes.

  • What a tragedy that this man didn’t have an expert like you to compassionately convince him of his son’s illnesses and to persuade him to medicate them 🙂

    As for having “unprecedented expertise”… If you have a professional qualification, or real-life experience in the psychiatric field as a professional or consumer, share it! I put my experience out there and try to help other people. What are you doing?

  • all too easy

    Strike 3

  • Rob Bishop

    “Strike 3”? I’ve had a feeling you’re playing a game involving balks.

  • I’m so honored to have a distinguished person of your “unprecedented expertise” come on here and call strikes… strike 4? Hahaha.

  • Luther Blissett

    Calvin ball is hard 😉

  • But not so hard that this troll didn’t end up looking a fraction short of “unprecedented expertise”

  • all too easy

    Medication has given me life. I can think and hear and focus and follow conversations and stories and discussions. I can read. My brain works. I know what it’s like to have a functioning, wide awake brain. It is like a miracle. A miracle. When hope was gone, I was prescribed medication which turned my brain on, like a switch. Glory! Glory!

  • Rob Bishop

    For many years I thanked God for methamphetamine fixing my mental problems.

  • anon11

    I can understand where both commenters come from.

    Drugs do help some people. I take a bunch of them everyday, and they are of help in easing the mental feeling of distress.

    Of course, not everyone may prefer taking drugs if they have side effects which they find unreasonable.

    Does the fact that drugs help mean that they are the only thing to rely on? Absolutely not. The way we think about things, solve problems, and the problems in living we have are all things we have to make a conscious effort to deal with and to change. Drugs only go so far to help in these matters.

  • Rob Bishop

    In February, 2007, the FDA approved Prozac for dogs.

  • Rob Bishop

    Booze is a great analogy here. It’s very effective in easing feelings of mental distress, and that why millions use it.

  • anon11

    Booze and psychotropics are very different. Sure, both modulate brain chemistry to ease mental distress, but the way they act is different. SSRIs (though they may have unpleasant side effects varying from person to person) don’t get you tipsy like booze.

    You got over your problems without using psychotropics. That doesn’t apply to everyone.

  • all too easy

    What is the analogy?

  • Rob Bishop

    People claim many types of legal and illegal drugs are effective in easing mental stress. I find the mode of action irrelevant. To claim some folks can’t reduce their depression and anxiety without drugs is demeaning and crippling, since we’re all so prone to believing we are defective helpless creatures. Do you know anyone prescribe a SSRI that was tested for a chemical imbalance? Did you ask your doctor to test your blood before taking psychotropics? Has anyone here been tested?

  • Rob Bishop

    Do you give give credence to the drunk guy living under a bridge who says booze has saved him from his problems?

  • all too easy

    Last time. What is the analogy?

  • all too easy

    “ADHD is defined by the presence of a certain number of “vaguely-defined habitual behaviors” NOT TRUE. THE SYMPTOMS, WHICH CRIPPLE, ARE NOT VAGUELY DEFINED. “in the DSM checklist. In such a context, the notion that John has ADHD and James doesn’t is meaningless, because each of the vaguely-defined items is open to interpretation and bias, and there is no way to reconcile discrepancies.” Phil

    You can give the child who is being destroyed on a daily basis, an almost miraculous opportunity to use her God given abilities and to spare her from severe, deep emotional devastation. Do you think these are mere words? Or that I exaggerate? How is it possible to be so cold, so indifferent and calloused, so hard-hearted, cynical, cruel, oblivious, inhuman, to dismiss the horror and the savagery ADHDers go through? How can an otherwise seemingly normal person reject such profound suffering? Is it reasonable to believe that those who have experienced ADHD HELL for a lifetime until the profound, practically incredible transformation medication has made in our lives, by reducing our joy and gratitude to nothing more than an addiction? How would you feel? What would YOU do to try to protect every ADHD child from such damning claims?

  • Rob Bishop

    If a drug makes you feel better, keep in mind you’re under the influence of a drug.

  • Saul Youssef

    Thanks for the article Phil, I always go to “The Onion” for wisdom on these subjects

    http://www.theonion.com/article/more-us-children-being-diagnosed-with-youthful-ten-248

    – Saul

  • all too easy

    Not for me. The label accurately describes the hell I was born with and never knew I had. It was liberating and empowering to learn it had a name and that it was easily treatable. You have nerve, Phil. Never having met me, you are convinced I don’t have what I have and accuse me of wanting to misbehave and of being undisciplined. Your mission in life is to keep people, old and young, trapped in the hell they don’t deserve.

  • all too easy

    “If a psychiatrist in Atlanta, Georgia, says that John “often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat” and another psychiatrist in London, England, says no he doesn’t, what fact or argument could settle this matter? How can we say which psychiatrist is over-diagnosing and which is under-diagnosing? How often is “often”? What kind of hand or foot movements constitute a fidget? What kind of movements constitute a squirm? And similar unresolvable ambiguities are inherent in every DSM checklist item.

    It comes to this: ADHD is a label, arbitrarily and unreliably applied to children (No it’s not.) who are presenting problems in the classroom (not just the classroom. We must struggle to legitimize drugging them into something resembling manageability and compliance, while at the same time exposing them to the dangers of stimulant drugs. Dressing it up in disease language is a hoax.”

    You know Phil, you are so grossly unfair in trying to reduce ADHD to something it isn’t, you lose your credibility. You should be ashamed.

    “DSM-5 Criteria for ADHD

    People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:

    Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:

    Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.

    Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.

    Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.

    Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).

    Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.

    Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).

    Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).

    Is often easily distracted

    Is often forgetful in daily activities.”

    some hoax

    MUST MEET
    1. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
    2. Several symptoms are present in two or more setting, (e.g., at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
    3. There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
    4. The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

    Additionally

    “Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds (presentations) of ADHD can occur:

    Combined Presentation: if enough symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months

    Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months

    Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.

    Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.

  • all too easy

    To say that people are reducing their lives of unmanageable suffering in order to support a drug cartel is so bizarre, words do little to describe how hidious you are. You demean the lives of those who’ve found new life through properly prescribed drugs. You think you are cute. Clever. A debater of some merit. You are a sick, perverse puppet, repeating the ridiculous dogma of Baughman, Breggin and other jackasses who never helped anyone. You never help anyone, Steve. You have no life. You are commenting all day every day with absolutely nothing to say. You are a pompous punk. You have no idea how pathetic you are. You surround yourself with the handful of deluded dorks who agree with Baughman and Breggin and Whitaker. You will never get it. You are consumed with being right when you are wrong, with being an expert when you are an abject failure.

  • Anonymous

    Good article. So destructive to millions of peoples’ lives, this so-called “ADHD” construct that the quacks dreamed up. The psychiatry cult, and its spurious pseudo-medical creation myths, this religion of absurd “brain blaming”, truly is an appalling bull in a china shop to behold. Parents, protect your kids from this absurd “ADHD” dogma. Just because a kid isn’t currently paying attention to something you or society would like him to pay attention to, that isn’t a “brain disease”, and indoctrinating a kid to believe he’s a powerless victim of a “brain disease”, when there isn’t a shred of direct evidence drawn from your own kid’s biology for this claim, is child abuse, and setting a kid up for a lifetime of dependence on psychiatric quackery. Who does that to a kid? Oh, just millions of parents in the world today? Why? Because of blind authority worship. Scratch the surface, and you’ll see this profession of bizarre quacks called psychiatry has no genuine claim to authority, other than riding on the white coattails of real doctors by throwing around medical sounding language and giving off the impression they are practicing real medicine. Psychiatry is doing no such thing, it is a pretender to the throne of modern evidence based western biomedicine, it is a pack of indoctrinated quacks who believe their own bullshit, running around, name-calling kids and doling out drugs, and creating havoc in society, havoc that is hiding in plain sight.

  • all too easy

    Havoc that is hiding in plain sight. Golly, Steve, that’s some conspiracy you see. You
    must be suffering from the side effects of psychiatric drugs.

    Name-calling kids. I see. Those rotten boobs. How dare they call undisciplined, misbehaving children who should be thrown out of school, names! They are merely rotten no good kids, according to Phil. Everything they do boils down to intentionally defying their parents and their teachers. How dare doctors name-call them.

    Honey, you have nailed the problems. True genius. Thanks pal.

  • Rob Bishop

    We’re the only species on Earth that has “problems”. The aspects of life we judge as unwanted and we say don’t like, we try to eradicate. This is one way we cause our own suffering. So called “problems” are figments of our imagination. Delusion afflicts us all.

  • all too easy

    The kid can’t pay attention consistently to the things that demand his attention so that he can function properly. Most often, that kid grows up to become an adult who cannot manage his own life for the same reason.

    Creative haters dream up all kinds of idiotic excuses to deny ADHD. Like it is somehow the fault of others for their failures to thrive.

    Throwing around medical terms like they are real doctors? Nah. That’s what narcissistic jackasses like you do.

  • all too easy

    Medication has given me the opportunity to participate in life without having to face ridicule for my apparent stupidity. I am not a big dummy, Phil. I don’t have to be afraid of making a fool of myself wherever I go.

  • Rob Bishop

    Haters are those who say you’re normal? Many folks get pissed when told the’re normal. Your arguments for being abnormal don’t hold water. Your problems aren’t special, and neither are mine.

  • all too easy

    “To what extent it would constitute “a violation of childhood” is an interesting, but secondary, issue. Leukemia, spina bifida, meningitis, polio, etc., all violate childhood, but that fact has no bearing on whether or not they can legitimately be considered illnesses.”

    How about nearsightedness? Whether or not it is considered an “illness” has no bearing on the person’s need to be able to see clearly, does it? The haters would never argue against corrective lenses. (Most people pretend not to see well because they want to look hip and wear the latest style in glasses). A doctor, (an optometrist! HUH!) can’t tell if the person claiming to need them is just seeking to get over on the system. She must rely on the client’s word. What a scandal.

    It is the profit and the stimulant (and thoroughly tested and established to be very safe) drugs that drive haters into convulsions of jealous rage over ADHD. They, therefore, blame the person and the person’s parents for their inattentiveness, not some specific set of specific, core, disabling, crushing, damnable deficits in one’s ability to focus her attention.

    Without meds, I’d need several pots of coffee to read the nasty, hate-filled, ridiculous nonsense on this dump. But, I’m just lying, as all of us ADHDers do, right doc?

  • all too easy

    “…when there isn’t a shred of direct evidence drawn from your own kid’s biology for this claim, is child abuse, and setting a kid up for a lifetime of dependence on psychiatric quackery.” ANON

    Disturbing indeed to find statements with such ridiculous claims when the person making them obviously parrots what her heroes say.

    So, let’s define biology. According to Merriam-Webster,

    ” a science that deals with things that are alive (such as plants and animals)
    : the plant and animal life of a particular place
    : the processes that occur in a living thing”

    None of the symptoms correspond to these definitions.

    Encyclopedia Britannica

    ADHD

    “Physicians may distinguish between three subtypes of the disorder: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. Children and adults are diagnosed with ADHD if they persistently show a combination of traits including, among others, forgetfulness, distractibility, fidgeting, restlessness, impatience, difficulty sustaining attention in work, play, or conversation, or difficulty following instructions and completing tasks. According to criteria issued by the APA, at least six of these traits must be present “to a degree that is MALADAPTIVE,” and these behaviours must cause IMPAIRMENT in two or more settings—e.g., at school, work, or at home. Studies have shown that more than a quarter of children with ADHD are held back a grade in school, and a third fail to graduate from high school. The learning difficulties associated with ADHD, however, should NOT be confused with a DEFICIENT INTELLIGENCE.” My emphasis.

    No biology? No ADHD? Fascinating. What is a living human being if not a biological specimen? Examining the traits of ADHD in people involves studying the biological manifestations of a human being’s entire life, her movements, achievements, abilities to follow directions, finishing projects, staying on task, ability to comprehend, and a zillion more traits, all of which involve biological processes Everything we do and everything we are is tied directly to our biological make-up. (Our spiritual selves abide within us independently of our reasoning capacity, our mental (brain) acuity or lack thereof.)

  • Rob Bishop

    “Everything we do and everything we are is tied directly to our biological make-up”….that’s 100% bullshit

  • all too easy

    How does Talk Therapy relieve the problems with inattention, Phil? What does the literature say? Where is the proven objective testing that supports your claims? Ooops. Sorry. I forgot. You don’t have any.

    Any anecdotal claims you’d care to share? I didn’t think so. In other words you thoroughly understand how we suffer with these ADHD like symptoms, but there is nothing that you are aware of that assauges or mitigates the devastation they cause. All you know is that ADHD doesn’t even exist as a real disorder. Despite what Dr. Saul just published in the book you recommended, you believe medication for the millions who can’t manage their lives without it, is a total fraud and that Saul is a drug pushing criminal.

  • Phil has never answered your rants, so why would you think he’d start now… Who are you talking to?
    This author is empathic toward real problems that people have. On the other hand, this article is not even about psychotherapy.
    If drugs are helping you and you are doing fine, great. You can make that point in a reasonable manner without attacking people.
    As long as you continue to write in this provocative manner, it appears immature and foolish, and people won’t take you seriously. You must know that, even if you can’t admit it. Your response to this comment, if any, will demonstrate how able you are to engage in mature dialogue.

  • all too easy

    Dearly Beloved Stevie Baby,

    Why do you keep reading my comments in direct violation of your repeated instructions for all to ignore the Great and Wonderful ME? Haven’t you the slightest trace of dignity? If so, you haven’t demonstrated any. You continue to be obsessed with me. I realize I have incredible charisma, brains, wit, good looks, charm, sincerity, to name a few. But, I have told you on many occasions, I don’t like you. I really do mean that. You are not cute or slick or as intelligent as I and you cannot debate with someone like me and win. Since your ego is the root of all your distress, accept you are inferior to me and learn to live with it. Go on. Let go of your need, your craving, to get my attention and to try to prove yourself.

    Life should be lived. It all goes by too fast.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
    Omar Khayyám

    Live, man and follow your own admonitions to everyone else.

  • all too easy

    Are polls scientific?

  • You poor guy. If you had a real job, real friends, an intimate relationship, a life, you wouldn’t be writing like this.

  • all too easy

    “Like the true believers of the Westboro Baptist Church, who will sleep soundly after disrupting a funeral, or an ISIS suicide bomber, true believers in psychiatry simply see those who don’t hold the same beliefs as them as infidels to be disrupted, destroyed, denounced. This is why we have a troll coming here disrupting this tiny island of internet real estate, when he has a whole world, of websites, institutions, policies, that reaffirm his psychiatry religion, the mere discovery of a small pocket of unbelievers, has short-circuited him and turned him into a daily, agitated, constant, digital graffiti artist, unable to countenance that anybody would dare think it is absurd that children not paying attention in class is a “disease”.” (a Secret Admirer.)

    One of many, I might add.

    Fortunately, “anonymous” a.k.a. “you know who” has finally seen fit to anoint me with the same suicidal bomber spirit as the ISIS terrorists and the westboro nazis. I don’t know what to say. First, I want to thank everyone who believed in me during the tough times, my wife, my friends, Moe, Larry and Curly, Mr Ed., The Queen Of Sheba, Art Linkletter, Bono, Dr. and Mrs. Ron L Hubbard, Phil, and so many others. It is with great humility and a deep sense of my own unworthiness that I accept this honor.

    To All The Rest, see what happens when the sick refuse treatment?

    (note, that should read, “hold the same beliefs as they…”)

  • all too easy

    For challenging these idiots with facts that terrify them, they call me a terrorist troll and gay bashing Nazi. What stands out very clearly after observing them is how delicate, bitter and humorless they are. In addition, they take themselves extrodinarily seriously.

  • all too easy

    Yasmin Anwar, 27 April 2009

    BERKELEY — “Pediatricians and educators have long known that psycho-stimulant medications can help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) concentrate on learning for short periods of time. But a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, has found evidence that grade schoolers with ADHD who take medications can actually improve their long-term academic achievement, and make greater gains in standardized math and reading scores than students with ADHD who do not take medications.”

  • all too easy

    “Psychiatry has created and promoted the self-serving fiction that childhood distractibility/impulsivity and various other human problems are illnesses that need to be “treated” with neurotoxic chemicals and other brain-damaging interventions.” Dr. Phil

    Please cite the research upon which you base your opinion. You cannot. No study has been published in the scientific, peer-reviewed literature where it has been proven that taking stimulants as prescribed by a competent medical doctor for ADHD led to brain damage. This fact does not deter Phil from repeatedly making untrue comments.

    Here’s how they work.
    The acute pharmacology of amphetamines has been widely studied. Among other actions, they bind to presynaptic monoamine transporters, and act as inhibitors on these sites and releasers of the endogenous monoamines from presynaptic terminals. The main mechanism of amphetamines is the enhanced release of dopamine (DA), particularly in the striatal system, and norepinephrine (NE). MDMA binds most strongly to the serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT) and induces rapid and powerful release of both 5-HT and DA.

  • Rob Bishop

    When people say amphetamines help them “focus”, I think they mean the drug quiets their mental chatter. I’ve heard many methamphetamine users say speed calms their mind, and I personally, I’ve used a lot of crank for that exact reason – to quiet the many voices clattering around in my head. Many hundreds of drugs can quiet the mind (for example vodka and Vicodin), but that doesn’t mean these drugs are correcting a neurochemical imbalance.

  • all too easy

    Focusing means to be able to zoom one’s attention in on a topic or subject. Being unable to do so consistently is hell.

  • Rob Bishop

    The only thing that is wrong with us is that we believe something is wrong with us.

  • all too easy

    “Firstly, the title Childhood: a suitable case for treatment? evokes the kind of concerns often expressed on this side of the issue, that the creation of the “ADHD diagnosis” is essentially a systematic and self-serving pathologization, on the part of psychiatrists, of normal childhood activity.” Dr. Phil Hickey

    Phil is lying. ADHD wasn’t created. 2. It is not self-serving. 3. It is not normal to be unable to attend to matters of critical importance on a consistent basis.

    Three outright lies. You should be ashamed, Phil.

    ““Psychiatry has yet to discover, let alone use, well established biomarkers in diagnosis and treatment…” Dozens of studies point to a combination of bio/chemical/electrical factors contributing to this profound, crippling disorder. No one can take a breath without the human brain. It is perfectly and scientifically valid to attribute the inability to focus one’s attention consistently to a malfunction of this miraculous three pound mass of bio/chemical/electrical activity.

    “At the present time, the “mental illness” known as ADHD is defined by the presence of a certain number of vaguely-defined habitual behaviors from a DSM checklist, and there is no logical reason to believe that the individuals who exhibit the requisite number of habits have any kind of illness.” Phil is lying

    They are not loosely defined behaviors. They are quite specific. A habit has nothing to do with ADHD. Medication removes the inconsistencies to attend to instantaneously and without any conscious effort. Regardless who defines it, regardless what it is called, regardless who first recognized it, the inability to focus is a reality; even Phil’s friend Dr, Richard Saul dedicated an entire chapter to it and uses stimulants to treat it.

    “Decades of generously-funded and highly-motivated psychiatric research have failed to establish that the habitual behaviors labeled ADHD stem from any kind of neurological pathology.” Strange isn’t it? Phil condemns psychiatry for creating this illness and bedding down with big-pharma to fix the research, while he concedes even their rigged results don’t prove a thing. If they were rigged, the results would clearly be in their favor. What Phil fails to mention is the overwhelming data compiled over the years that proves beyond doubt that the brains of those with ADHD demonstrate repeatedly that their brains are distinctly different from those who don’t manifest the symptoms.

    While Phil asserts with utmost confidence that ADHD cannot be an illness, he’s just as adamant that he knows exactly why people have this disorder: bad parenting, poor teaching, and undisciplined children. As proof that what he knows for certain to be true, our “science is god” friend has not, can not and will not cite a single example to support his claims. Nada. Nothing. Zero, Zilch. Yet, this website is dedicated entirely to the principle that repeatable results based on established scientific testing protocols are essential in the diagnosis and treatment of “mental” illnesses.

    I’ll modify this paragraph just a tad to show to whom it really applies. “Nevertheless, Dr. Hickey persists in the notion that ADHD is merely habitual misbehavior and that he has the answers for those undisciplined children with lousy parents and lazy teachers. No additional research is necessary. Phil has all the answers although he has no evidence, just wild speculation. All the children, teens and adults who have been helped profoundly by medication must stop, immediately, no matter how much they pretend it helps them. They are all addicted liars and brainwashed, deluded psychiatry worshiping fools.”

    I am delighted to correct Phil and his comrades, but I shouldn’t have to. I am not a scientist nor have I taken formal training in this field.