Does ADHD Even Exist? The Ritalin Sham.

Excerpted from an article in titled, "Does ADHD Even Exist? The Ritalin Sham" by John Breeding, Ph.D.

Alice, the mother of a seven-year-old son, Nathan, recently visited my office for a counseling session. Nathan had reportedly been different and difficult from the beginning: exhibiting early seizure-like activity, a most challenging temperament, great sensitivity to various types of stimulation, intense frustration, aggressive tantrums, and other apparent developmental difficulties. Alice had taken him to doctors from a young age, obtaining a variety of mostly nonspecific diagnoses of developmental problems. Alice felt unappreciated as a parent, hurt and angry that the Montessori school her son had attended at ages four and five had ultimately rejected him. She felt judged by other parents, whom she felt blamed her for her son's challenging behavior. And she felt unsupported by both camps of opinion regarding "medication": the pro-Ritalin forces challenged her reluctance to use the drug for her son, and the antidrug group vehemently urged her to resist drug use.

...Lawrence Diller, author of the best-selling book Running on Ritalin, argues that: "The 700 percent rise in Ritalin use is our canary in the mineshaft for the middle class, warning us that we aren't meeting the needs of all our children, not just those with ADD. It's time we rethought our priorities and expectations unless we want a nation of kids running on Ritalin." Dr. Diller decries the trend (as I do in my book The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses), contending that this increased reliance on drugs reflects a society in distress. Rather than try to force our children to shrink into situations that do not meet their needs, he states, we need to take responsibility for our society.

..Alice, in fact, incurred the wrath of her son's neurologist because she refused to give her son Adderall, a combination of three different amphetamine-like stimulants often used as an alternative to Ritalin. Increasingly over the past ten years or so, millions of parents are nagged by their children's physicians: "If your child had diabetes," the doctors taunt, for example, "you'd give him insulin, wouldn't you?"

"What could I say to that?" Alice asked me. Her question was not so much a call for information as it was a need to express her hopelessness. It was encouraging to me that she was angry, for anger is a great antidote to hopelessness. She was mad about the treatment she had received from prior medical and mental health professionals, as well as the lack of support from two opposing drug camps. Before I would hazard a possible response for that neurologist, Alice and I talked about the feelings of relief, guilt, and anger the Ritalin issue had caused for her family. Finally, I gave her what would have been my response: the diagnosis of ADHD is itself, fraudulent.

ADHD: Nothing but a Sham

A condition such as diabetes carries detectable physical evidence of disease - abnormal blood sugar levels, evidence of pancreatic malfunction - justifying medical treatment. Families confronted with the "wouldn't you give insulin" argument could begin by asking the neurologist to provide medical evidence that a disease requiring treatment exists. Between 1993 and 1997, neurologist Fred Baughman corresponded repeatedly with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis, manufacturers of Ritalin), and top ADHD researchers around the country - including the National Institute of Mental Health - asking them to show him any article(s) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature constituting proof of a physical or chemical abnormality in ADHD and thereby qualifying it as a disease or a medical syndrome. Through sheer determination and persistence, Dr. Baughman eventually got these entities to admit that no objective validation of the diagnosis of ADHD exists.

Prescribing Ritalin for something that is not a "disease" does not, in my estimation, constitute a legitimate practice of medicine. If ADHD is not a disease, treating it medically constitutes a fraud. Yet many physicians are true believers in medically treating "mental illness," despite the consistent lack of scientific evidence of "mental illness" as a "disease." Herein lies the conflict for parents like Alice.

The Significance of Oppression Theory

Victims of oppression are not only blamed for their condition, and usually thought to be deserving of their inferior position, they are eventually conditioned to accept it as their reality.. There are two specific forms of oppression that are pertinent to the discussion of psychiatric drug use for children. The first is adultism - the systematic mistreatment of young people by adults simply because they are young.

..The second form of oppression is what I call psychiatric oppression: the systematic mistreatment of people labeled as "mentally ill" - including children diagnosed with fictitious illnesses such as ADHD. Institutionalized in our society, psychiatry is also guided by a worldview that embraces biopsychiatry. Juxtaposed with adultism, psychiatric diagnosis and treatment enforce the message that an "ADHD child" is inadequate, defective, unworthy of complete respect, and in need of drugs to control and cope with the effects of his or her "illness."