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SPIEGEL: Experts speak of 5.4 million American children who display the symptoms typical of ADHD. Are you saying that this mental disorder is just an invention?

Kagan: That's correct; it is an invention. Every child who's not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: "It's ADHD; here's Ritalin." In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don't have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they'll make the corresponding diagnosis.

4 comments

  • Chet_Manly

    Chet_Manly 1 month, 2 weeks ago

    I've long suspected this to be a bit closer to the truth than medicating kids to settle them down. Now that I have kids and see the tremendous impact of lack of proper sleep, sugar, and a general lack of impulse control, I believe in ADHD even less.

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  • elancaster65

    elancaster65 1 month, 2 weeks ago

    I think many used ADHD as an excuse for normal, rambunctious behaviour. But ADHD symptoms do exist just not at the levels we see today. The symptoms are quantifiable in some. But when you have a pharmaceutical company that can make money off of a drug then the more people who are prescribed said drug the more money that can be be made...er...used to help R&D.

    "The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they'll make the corresponding diagnosis."

    As one who has dealt with the symptoms of ADHD all his life, to say it doesn't exist is too much of a blanket statement. Like with PTSD, you can tell who has ADHD and one who had one too many Red Bulls.

    I am forever grateful my Mother refused to drug me at the doctors insistence. This was early 1970's. A friend of mine in High School was a ritalin "junkie". When he was on it he was mild. When he went off he rebounded so hard it made everyone uncomfortable and he'd take more. The circle was ugly. I think once he was off completely and the drug was out of his system he did fine.

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    • Razorback

      Razorback 1 month, 2 weeks ago

      I agree. There are no doubt some legitimate cases of ADHD but over-prescribing has become an epidemic of sorts. My brother-in-law owns and operates a successful rehab center in Florida and many of the kids who come through there are addicted to things their parents/doctors provided them. Even more sad is many of those kids firmly believe they are messed up in the head and that all of this was their fault.

      Reply