– Dr Tim O’Shea
Designer jeans, designer shirts, designer handbags, designer watches, jewelry, perfumes, neckties, shoes, – what are they? Take an ordinary item, put a name on it, a couple million in marketing and promotion, and voilà, its value is raised tenfold, or more. How? By skillfully creating an illusion of worth in the malleable, fickle, public “consciousness.”
Same with ADD. Everyone gets mildly depressed from time to time. That’s ordinary. Kids get rowdy sometimes. That’s ordinary too. Our attention wanders, we get distracted, we have difficulty finishing a task. So what? Welcome to life. But to turn these everyday experiences into diseases that can be compared with cancer or diabetes, actual medical entities that takes real marketing and dog-wagging mastery.
So what do we need? A new disease, but we don’t have time to discover one? No problema. We do have the most advanced marketing machine in human history already in place. We can create a disease out of almost nothing. But it won’t be a real disease. It will be A Designer Disease.
Even before I started researching the topic, I had instinctively doubted the existence of ADD from the time when I first began hearing about it.
Sounded very suspicious to me. I wondered, why does ADD only exist in the U.S. and not in Scandinavia, not in The Netherlands, not in France, not in Fiji, and not in Japan? A disease that respects geographic borders? Where has it come from all of a sudden, to go from nothing to being a household word in just a few short years? Like Jack Nicholson says, faced with a basic question, following the money usually brings you closer to the truth. Even a superficial glance at the billion-dollar Ritalin industry raises that red flag.
What I was not prepared for was the invidious systematic assault on American children and the shared benefit for so many players: parents, teachers, American psychiatrists, school personnel, lobbyists, the drug empire a convoluted dynamic that has taken on a life of its own and blanketed the public consciousness with the requisite superficial line of junk science and PC doubletalk. If the reader had unlimited time, in order to place this chapter in proper perspective, I would recommend that he stop reading at this point and only continue after a complete re-reading of two classics: 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
One needs to be reminded from time to time of man’s capacity for calculated treachery and for keeping the truth that lies just beneath the surface so well hidden, when great fortunes are at stake.
Doing a net search for ADD is a revelation: thousands of articles and websites spring up onto the screen, 99% of them parroting the same tired, recycled spin on the safety, efficacy, and necessity of drug intervention to “control” this “new” “epidemic.” Most of them are one or two pages, unreferenced, unsubstantiated, going around in circles, written at the compulsory 9 9th grade level, almost making me believe that ADD must really exist, because this is how its sufferers write.
Only with persistence can one come up with the body of work composing the attached reference list. A new point of view is tenable, it is consistent, and in my opinion self-evident after one resolves to answer the questions which follow.
What exactly is ADD? Attention Deficit Disorder, according to the American Psychiatry Association, hereinafter noted as the APA, is a recent disease that supposedly afflicts over 5 million Americans, mostly young boys. ADD is generally characterized by hyperactivity, with tendencies toward fidgeting, loud outbursts, learning disabilities, and generally unruly behavior. It is perhaps the only disease in American history which may be legally diagnosed by people with no medical credentials whatsoever, including teachers, school counselors, aides, principals, even parents. No lab tests, blood tests, microscope studies, or definitive diagnostic tests exist for ADD.
No consistent genetic basis or organic neurological lesions, or any verifiable physical changes have ever been identified as causative of ADD. There is no objective scientific proof that the disease exists.
On the contrary, overwhelming evidence suggests that ADD was invented in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association in order to bolster the position of its failing profession. Politics and economics took over almost immediately, seeing a way to allocate billions of dollars in drugs and professional fees to “combat” the new “epidemic.”
When reading anything about ADD, I have noted that is seems essential to keep one central notion clearly in mind: ADD is not a medical entity; it is economic and political. I soon discovered I was not alone in this sentiment:
“ADD does not exist. These children are not disordered.” Thomas Armstrong, PhD The Myth of the ADD Child
“Both the FDA and the DEA have acknowledged that ADD is not a disease, or anything organic or biologic.” Fred Baughman, MD The Future of ADD
“We have invented a new disease, given it medical sanction, 2 and now we must disown it.” Diane McGuiness The Limits of Biologic Treatment for Psychiatric Distress
“Research does not confirm the existence of an ADD syndrome There is no medical, neurological, or psychiatric justification for the ADD diagnosis.” – Peter Breggin, M, Toxic Psychiatry p 281
“Be forewarned that ADD is not a real disease, but rather a contrived illusion of a disease, a marketplace tool.” – Fred Baughman, MD
Whoa! I wasn’t ready for all that!
Why did ADD appear? To address this question, it is necessary to take a brief look at the American Psychiatry Association in the past century.
In Chapter I of his remarkable work, A Dose of Sanity, psychiatrist Sidney Walker gives an illuminating historical summary of his profession during the past 150 years. Psychiatrists are MDs who specialize in mental disorders. Classically, they study organic, physical causes of mental illnesses such as brain tumors, infections, and other diseases that might have a psychological component.
The father of American psychiatry was Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His book Diseases of the Mind, 1812, dealt with biological causes of mental illness. In other words, mental illness was seen generally as the result of another disease, such as tuberculosis, syphilis, or a tumor.
In the 1800s, psychiatrists like Griesinger, Alzheimer, and Kraeplin concentrated on brain anatomy and nerve cell irregularities as the cause of mental disorders. For over a century psychiatrists sought the underlying physical causes of mental illness. Microscope study of brain slices was employed by world class psychiatrists like Adolph Meyer in the late 30s, looking for brain lesions that could be linked with mental problems.
This scientific approach began to change with the emergence and prevalence of the notions of Sigmund Freud around 1940. Although Freud’s ideas about sexuality and the unconscious mind have made a lasting impact on the study of the human mind, Sidney Walker feels that for the first time, the brain was left out of the picture. Physical disease processes were no longer considered as the first place to look for the cause of mental illness. Freudian psychology concentrated on “the mind” itself, as if the mind were separate from the brain. For the first time in its history, the direction of psychiatry was no longer guided by medical physicians. Instead, psychologists took over the field, with their focus on “the psyche.”
Most mental illness, they said, resulted from “adverse events,” such as childhood trauma, parent relationships, and early experiences. Never before has a medical specialty been assumed by “non-medical participants.” This was a mistake from which it would take psychiatrists 40 years to recover.
In the 1950s and 1960s we saw the rise of psychoanalysis: the talking doctors. Their promise was to cure mental illness by psychotherapy. Sidney Walker attributes the decline of psychiatry before 1980 to the failure of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to deliver.
By and large they didn’t work that well. Ignoring the biological and organic causes of mental disease was the reason, according to Dr. Walker. The profession had abandoned its roots, which held that mental illness was generally “in reaction to” some underlying physical disorder. They had traded a scientific approach for a non-scientific one. The 1970s saw the emergence of the fore-runner of ADD: minimal brain disorder.
Same pseudo-scientific underpinnings as ADD – vague rationales for targeting a vulnerable new market for “treatment,” supported by the drug companies.
Same opportunities for liberal, socialistic expansion and job creation to “diagnose” and monitor the newly discovered epidemic. Nixon’s own psychologist, a Dr. Hutschnecker, penned a now-famous memo in 1970 in which he recommended mass testing of very young children in order to ascertain possible “pre-delinquent” behavior patterns. Even though the memo was discredited by the APA itself, political support snowballed and became the focus for policy for the coming decade.
The new magic words were “disability” and “intervention.” It was the dawn of the age of the Professional Victim. The story is told with detail and clarity in Peter Schrag’s The Myth of the Hyperactive Child. Having failed to reform the malfunctioning institutions, the new game was to reform the individual. With no scientific basis, new words came into use: “pre-delinquent” “dyslexia” and “learning disabled.”
By 1995, over 50% of American children are identified as either “learning disabled” or ADD! Schrag outlines how an entire empire of social, educational, political, medical and economic power willed itself into existence in a few short years.
The shoddiest of scientific studies were thrown together, funded by the drug companies, in support of the new politics of the state’s new right to determine “normal” emotions and behavior. Though all the studies were eventually discredited, they served as a foundation for similar “scientific documentation” during the 1980s, in which nonconformity suddenly became a medical condition requiring treatment.
During the 1970s, people were going to family doctors, psychologists, social workers, priests, and marriage counselors for their problems, none of whom were prescribing drugs for minor complaints of depression. Year by year, psychiatrists were failing to attract voluntary patients, simply because the need was not perceived 4 by most people.
So with the stock of the APA at an all-time low, we come to 1980 and the now famous APA Committee meeting. It was at this meeting that the APA decided to “re-medicalize.” That meant giving up on this talking-cure psychoanalysis stuff which was pushing the profession into the basement, and re asserting themselves as real medical professionals with the right to be successful and sell a ton of drugs.
As you might imagine, no one was happier to hear this news than the pharmaceutical industry, but we’ll get to that. Maybe they couldn’t get voluntary patients, but what about involuntary ones ? The only problem was, if the psychiatrists were to successfully reestablish themselves as medical doctors, they needed a new disease within their specialty which would be cured by drugs.
Enter ADD stage left, first named as a disorder by the APA in their 1980 meeting. Forget the fact that ADD had been around for almost a century under 25 different names, listed on p 8 of Dr. Armstrong’s book. That didn’t matter. What was of major significance was that now ADD had reality: it was finally named and described in the APA’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, known hereinafter as the DSM.
Breggin, Armstrong, Wiseman, and Baughman go on for pages about the significance of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I direct the reader to them for a fuller understanding of the insidious role this book has played in catapulting a declining profession into a position of wealth and respectability, at the expense of the well-being of millions of defenseless children.
If that sounds harsh or strident, I’ve got a feeling it’s an understatement. Don’t take my word for it.
Now, about the Manual. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was first published by the APA in 1952. The DSM is a catalogue of mental disorders. Each disorder has a list of symptoms under it. A patient may be “diagnosed” as having a particular mental disorder if enough of the listed symptoms are present. Although the instructions in the DSM caution psychiatrists against using the DSM as a “cookbook” because there is so much overlap and so many other factors to consider before a supportable diagnosis can be made, in actual practice the cookbook method is precisely the way DSM is most commonly used. Psychiatrists have been very busy since 1952.
Each new edition of the DSM is bigger:
Title Year # of Mental Disorders
DSM….. 1952….. 112
DSM-II ..1968….. 163
DSM-III .. 1980….. 224
DSM-III-R . 1987….. 253
DSM-IV .. 1994….. 374
DSM-5 .. 2013….. 374
Lest the reader assume that each of these “illnesses” was researched and studied in the same scientific manner as a physical illness, before it appears in pathology textbooks, here are what a few professionals have to say:
Renee Garfinkel, a psychologist and representative of the APA who attended DSM meetings, told Time magazine: “the low level of intellectual effort was shocking. Diagnoses were developed by majority vote on the level we would use to choose a restaurant. You feel like Italian. I feel like Chinese. So let’s go to a cafeteria. Then it’s typed into a computer. It may reflect on our naivete, but it was our belief that there would be an attempt to look at things scientifically.” (Walker p22)
Al Parides, MD, a psychiatrist, states that the DSM is not scientific at all, but a masterpiece of political maneuvering, in which the normal problems of life are turned into psychiatric conditions. (Wiseman, p 357)
How a mental disorder winds up in the DSM in the first place is a long and enlightening story, for which the reader is directed to the studies by Walker and also by Louise Armstrong.
“To read about the evolution of the DSM is to know this: it is an entirely political document. What it includes, what it does not include, are the result of intensive campaigning, lengthy negotiating, infighting, and power plays.” – Louise Armstrong
An unsuspecting neophyte like myself might expect that for a mental disorder to appear in the primary handbook of the profession licensed to treat mental disorders, years of research, experimentation, and double blind studies would have had to come first, right? Guess again.
Armstrong cites the story of the origin of a disorder called “self-defeating personality disorder.” The chairman of 6 the DSM committee, Robert Spitzer, thought up the disorder on a fishing trip, and when he returned, persuaded enough of the committee to include it in the Manual. It goes on from there. (And They Call It Help)
The DSM is the only way that ADD is diagnosed. Here’s how it’s done. In the DSM-IV, ADD has nine symptoms listed under it. If a child has any six of them, in the opinion of the doctor (or the teacher!) that child may be diagnosed as having ADD. That’s it! Funny thing is, it seems like most of these entries on the list are not symptoms of a mental disorder, but just symptoms of being a kid:
1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
2. Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
3. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it its inappropriate
4. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
5. Is often on the go or often acts as if driven by a motor
6. Often talks excessively
7. Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
8. Often has difficulty awaiting turn
9. Often interrupts or intrudes on others
Sound like anyone you’ve ever known? Some may ask if there are any kids who would not fit six of these criteria. The reader should understand that this is the only “diagnostic” “testing” that exists for determining ADD. Six out of nine. No lab test, no blood tests, no physical examination whatsoever, no standardized batteries of written or verbal psychological testing. Just these nine.
And unlike any other disease in history, the diagnosis may be made by anyone in authority, with no medical credentials or training whatsoever: the school nurse, school counselor, a teacher, the principal, a coach.
DSM cookbook diagnosis of any disease is a ridiculous oversimplification and the primary reason so many modern psychiatrists are embarrassed by their own profession. Differential diagnosis of any disease, especially a mental disorder, requires time-consuming, thorough testing, analysis and thoughtful consideration, ruling out several possibilities, one by one, before arriving at the final diagnosis, which itself is still subject to change.
DSM cookbook diagnosis, by contrast, which is standard in the profession according to most sources, is quick and easy and  absurdly oversimplifying. Many patients are often labeled ADD after a 15-minute interview with a pediatrician, who has no training in mental disorders at all.
As Dr. Walker says, DSM is usually a “substitute for diagnosis” not part of any scientific differential process of ruling out likely possibilities. As we approach the millennium, psychiatry has lost its identity as a profession, according to psychiatrists like Peter Breggin, MD. Today psychiatry has sold most of its traditional values in exchange for being “dominated by the interests of the multi- billion dollar pharmaceutical industry as the profession becomes wholly dependent on the drug companies for its survival.”
In the meantime, several million Americans “will suffer permanent brain damage from psychiatric drugs and electroshock while the profession denies it is happening.” ( Toxic Psychiatry, p17). Labeling is the new game, the new psychiatry, the new bait and switch. Labeling is what psychiatrists now offer in place of diagnosis.
Take a moment to understand the difference. When a patient with a mental disorder presents to a doctor for the first time, there are literally dozens of possible physical, organic disease processes which could be the cause. If the doctor misses the underlying disease, because it is subclinical (only beginning) or because standard physical examination is glossed over in favor of the 15-minute DSM cookbook approach, it is doubtful whether another doctor will take the trouble to look for another cause. Why bother?
DSM diagnostic labels, like “depression” or “delusional dominating personality disorder” remain on a patient’s chart for life. These labels are too frequently the end of the line, as far as trying to diagnose the cause of the mental problem. Most doctors will hesitate to challenge the diagnosis of a colleague, especially if it requires a lot of new work.
The result is that a patient may be labeled “depressed” but in actuality be depressed because of one of the following:
to name just a few.
Once labeled, powerful psychoactive drugs are prescribed, which cover up the depression. Meanwhile the underlying disease may progress unchecked, often to the point where years of illness will result.
Rare? Think again. Standard physical exams are not routinely done by today’s psychiatrists. A comprehensive study in the American Review of Medicine by Dr. Erwin Koranyi estimates misdiagnosis of easily detectable physical illness and labeling them as mental illness occurs half the time!
Koryani’s study of 2090 psychiatric patients showed that 43% of them had an undiagnosed underlying major illness. Dr. Koryani  explains that once a patient is labeled a psychiatric case, physical complaints are assumed to be “psychosomatic” and are routinely ignored. Neurologist Sir Francis Walshe describes mental hospitals as “living museums of undiscovered bodily disease . . . undiagnosed.”
For a person who has ever been diagnosed as depressed or having ADD, health insurance may be denied for life. If the person is ever injured, and litigation becomes necessary to document the injury, these labels are powerful tools that are often used against the person’s case, to undermine credibility and the reality of the injury. It gets worse.
The reader again is directed to further explore the tip of this iceberg. The bottom line is that labeling doesn’t cure anything. Misdiagnosis and cookbook labeling commonly delay appropriate treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Labeling is not treatment.
Who Benefits From ADD? Simple answer: almost everyone involved.
First the psychiatrists. To really understand the role of psychiatry in the modern world, one must come to terms with the information contained in works such as Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal. Wiseman thoroughly documents the contributions of psychiatrists to the world over the past 150 years:
• Extermination of 375,000 mental patients in Germany, prior to the Holocaust
• Providing Hitler with the rationale and method for the Holocaust itself • Over 100,000 lobotomies between 1936 and 1970
• Millions of worthless and unnecessary electroshock treatments of the brain
• Replacing the idea that the citizen is personally responsible for his actions with the notion that other factors are always to blame
• Addicting large segments of the population to dangerous drugs like Ritalin, Elavil, Valium, and Prozac
• Infecting the courtrooms of the nation with absurdities like “recovered memory,” “irresistible impulse,” “urban stress syndrome,” and “temporary insanity”
As cited above, in 1980 the APA was at low ebb. The rest of the medical profession no longer respected psychiatrists because by allowing their direction to be determined by non-medical personnel, the failures of psychotherapy were pre- eminent. After 18 years of aggressive public relations ramjetting ADD into the 9 public consciousness, psychiatrists found themselves back in the driver’s seat.
Each of the 5 million ADD children requires some $1200 in diagnostics, although not all of them receive it. Perhaps only 1 million are being treated by 2002. So that’s only about $12 billion, although with a potential of $60 billion. And that’s not even including medications.
So the immediate financial future of cookbook-toting psychiatrists looks fairly bright. The majority of them will be riding ADD into the millennial sunset, accounting for 99% of the current “informative” websites on the topic. Not all doctors are that impressed by the scientific validity of the psychiatric profession when it comes to the ethics of their intent toward children.
Thomas Szasz, MD, in his book Cruel Compassion, tells us: “This elementary fact makes the child psychiatrist one of the most dangerous enemies not only of children, but also of adults who care for the two precious and valuable things in life children and liberty. Child psychology and child psychiatry cannot be reformed. They must be abolished.”
Don’t sugar-coat it like that, Tom. Bruce Wiseman, author of Psychiatry: the Ultimate Betrayal, concurs:
“All vestiges of psychiatry and psychology should be removed from our schools. Schools are for learning. They are not for psychiatric experiments on young minds.” p385  Definitely a 21st century opinion.
Second, the pharmaceutical industry. Ciba-Geigy, the producer of Ritalin has found itself at the center of a boom market. In 1974, a prescription for 100 Ritalin tablets was $12. By 2000 it’s $150. For this one drug alone, 6 million prescriptions were written annually at a cost of about $150 each. That’s $900 million annually, and that’s only the domestic market.
There are also several other drugs for ADD, bringing in other millions, including Cylert, Dexedrine, Disipramine. Some estimates by “studies” funded by Ciba-Geigy and backed by the APA are now saying that as much as 30% of the child population may be in “need” of drug treatment for this new disease which has just been miraculously discovered. The current 1 million kids on Ritalin- that’s only the beginning!
To keep the ball rolling, Ciba donates millions of dollars every year to a “community” organization known as CHADD: Children and Adults with ADD. CHADD now has over 35,000 members in 600 chapters nationwide. It has become the de facto PR branch of Ciba for disseminating promotional information about Ritalin, describing it as “safe and effective” for treatment of ADD.
Third, teachers. It doesn’t take much study to discover the deplorable condition of today’s American education system, especially grade schools and high schools. Most studies assessing overall literacy at the 12 in at about 50%. (Wiseman) In 1900, illiteracy was about 1.9%!
Here’s a graph of SAT scores from 1966-1994:
YEAR VERBAL SKILLS …. MATH
1966 …….. 466 …. …. …. 492
1976 …….. 429 …. …. …. 470
1986 …….. 435 …. …. …. 476
1992 …….. 424 …. …. …. 476
Source: US Dept of Education
US Dept of Education Digest of Education Statistics, 1997 p 133
During the past decade, SAT scores have become virtually meaningless, manipulated as they are by the now standard practice of “re-centering.” Translation: artificially jacking pu the scores so it doesn’t look as though kids area as dumb as they actually ere.
In a nation where half of high school graduates cannot competently read or write, consider what a blessing ADD has been to beleaguered school teachers. We’re off the hook! It’s not our fault! These kids are disordered – there’s something wrong with them. Blame the victims.
Besides removing blame, an overstressed teacher may now get to remove the student as well: a diagnosis of ADD frequently gets a disorderly student out of the class and into a special Learning Disabilities class. This is another gigantic contrived social invention, along with dyslexia, but it is 11 beyond the scope of this chapter)
At the very least, the child will be prescribed Ritalin and will now be manageable. The best news for teachers is that they don’t even have to wait for a psychiatrist to pronounce a kid ADD. In our modern Orwellian setting, the teachers can do it! All they have to do is check off six of the nine DSM “symptoms” and the student may be out of there.
“The vast majority of teachers have become true believers. Between 88 and 96 per cent of teachers believe they can diagnose a hyperactive child. And three-fourths feel that they have an obligation to recommend that a doctor be informed ” – The Myth of the Hyperactive Child p 8
“Teachers who no longer know how to teach claim the children are defective.” – Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal p283
Other teachers benefiting from the new epidemic are the “ADD” teachers. Any doubts about Orwell’s accuracy about the future will soon be erased if one takes the time to research the bizarre and experimental “teaching methods” which have had to be invented so quickly to handle the new “epidemic.”
Larry Brown, MD is not letting anyone off the hook. He describes the widespread use of Ritalin as a “low point in professional ethics.”
“Where drugs are used as a cheap alternative to reform of the schools, then the practice of drugging children must be seen as a political act.” ” drugging children…represents an ominous step along the Orwellian continuum of social control through psychotechnology.” – Toxic Psychiatry pp. 313, 293.
Orwell and Huxley, over and over are cited by doctors who criticize the new psychiatry.
Fourth, the school counselors, some of whom may only have undergrad degrees in social work or psychology, but none of whom has medical credentials. For them ADD may be a dream come true. School psychologists have suddenly been raised to the level of a psychiatrist. Everyone can diagnose!
In 1950, there were only about 1000 psychologists in American schools. When ADD was invented in 1980, there were about 10,000. By 1990 there were over 22,000 psychologists in American schools! (Thomas Fagan, PhD Memphis State University)
By 2008, there were 35,400. (Charvat: www.nasponline.org/advocacy/SP_Workforce_Estimates_9.08.pdf
Fifth, the schools. A school evaluation to determine eligibility for Special Ed costs $1270. If an estimated 5 million cases are supposedly out there, that’s $6 billion for the schools. Hundreds of “learning programs,” tests, and materials have been designed for ADD. It is a growth industry. It must be real!
Special Education programs ballooned from $1 billion in 1977 to $30 billion in 1994! (U.S. News and World Report, 13 Dec 93) Ever wonder where all these “handicapped” kids appeared from, suddenly in the 80s?
Sixth, the parents. Parents benefit in several ways from the creation of ADD. The underlying causes of unruly children today are not difficult to discover. By the time he is in the 8th grade, the average kid has seen some 8,000 murders on TV.
Children’s diets are extremely sensitizing and allergenic, with the emphasis on sugar and dairy. Who does the shopping? Single parents, absent parents, drugged parents abound in our society. Too often no one’s driving the bus at home. Unrestricted TV intake is not a substitute for raising a child. For all these reasons, unruly, disturbed kids are a natural consequence.
Ultimately the responsibility lies with parents, and they are failing. Sure they have excuses; parents have problems of their own. So here comes this brand new “disease” which will again take the blame off the parents, because “my child has a disorder.” for the parents, the payoff comes in the alleviation of guilt ” – The Myth of the Hyperactive Child p65
And the best news is, he can be drugged into submission! Next problem. But the difficulty wasn’t really resolved; it was just shelved, put on hold, incubated. Know what they say about payback. Finally, the “patient.”
Once a child has been diagnosed ADD, the pressure’s off. He’s told he has a disability, and is put into a category of students who are no longer expected to perform. Adapting to expectation, he slacks off, having found the excuse he needed to glide along without working to his capacity. He makes his contribution to the above chart on SAT performance.
Many children have calmed down with just the label ADD. And a sugar pill they thought was Ritalin. Academic standards are lowered; glib and trendy pop psychology excuses are made. At the snap of the fingers suddenly everything’s all set. Few things are as permanent as a temporary solution. Other benefits for the ADD child are more time allotted to take SATs, as well as entry tests for med school and law school. Eligibility for many state and federal disability programs is on the rise. For an already confused adolescent, ADD certainly has its compensations.
How does Ritalin fit in? Ritalin (methylphenidate) is an amphetamine made by Ciba-Geigy which today accounts for about 90% of medication provided to ADD “patients.” Ritalin is an addictive drug, classed by the DEA as a Schedule II controlled substance, same as narcotics like heroin, morphine and cocaine.
Ritalin is also as an illegal street drug where a profit of about $400 can be made from an average prescription. It can be crushed up and snorted, or else mixed with heroin to enhance a junkie’s high. The U.S. uses 90% of the world’s Ritalin, and Canada most of the 13 remaining 10%.
The theory is that kids are so hyperactive, give them speed and they’ll be normal – the famous Paradoxical Effect. The reality is, long-term effects of Ritalin given to children have never been studied, according to the 2003 PDR. No known biochemical imbalance in these children has ever been proven.
As far as learning disability is concerned, Ritalin has never been shown to improve it even slightly. (Armstrong p.47) Moreover there is absolutely no evidence to show that the emotional stability of adult life can be promoted or even influenced by childhood experience with Ritalin. (A Dose of Sanity, p141)
Childhood use of Ritalin does show a high correlation with adolescent abuse of street drugs an easy transition. Ritalin brings with it the psychotic tendencies which can be brought on by the advanced drugs, like heroin, cocaine, and speed.
In light of the immense social and economic forces promoting explosive market growth of this wonder drug, it wouldn’t be so bad if it were harmless. Unfortunately most parents don’t know about the PDR. The Physician’s Desk Reference is an annual publication by the drug companies which is a general catalogue of all drugs sold in the U.S., their effects, recommended dosages, and adverse effects. The PDR is a legal protection for the pharmaceutical industry more than anything else; it is fair warning about side effects of drugs: 3200 pages of CYA. But parents are rarely told what it says.
Here are some of the side effects the 2003 PDR, 57th edition lists for Ritalin:
high blood pressure
Outside of that, it should be fine.
Tourette’s syndrome is a condition characterized by inappropriate, sometimes obscene vocal outbursts, and unpredictable and strange physical movements. It may be long term. Tardive dyskinesia is a permanent condition characterized by involuntary facial tics, jerky movements of the head and arms; in short, a movement disorder that can involve any of the voluntary muscles of the body
A 1986 study published in Psychiatric Research found brain pathology in the form of tissue shrinkage in more than half the subjects taking Ritalin. Ritalin has also caused cancer in lab animals. FDA’s response? “People are not mice.” – Detroit News 13 Jan 96
The emotional problems listed from Ritalin use may include: drug-induced neurosis, psychosis, addiction, clinical depression. In addition, the most stupid finding of all may be that long term Ritalin use can actually cause the very conditions it is supposed to cure: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity! Hello! Anybody out there?
The PDR specifically states that Ritalin should not be used for children under 6. Nevertheless American psychiatrists ignore Ciba’s own warning and prescribe Ritalin for some 200,000 pre-school children! What are we doing?
Many doctors, like Carl Kline, MD, see no need for Ritalin at all: “It is my belief that if these drugs were outlawed, children would not be at all deprived of essential medication, but that doctors would be forced to make more accurate diagnoses and seek better means of handling the hyperactive behavior of a certain small percentage of their little patients.”
Probably the most detrimental of all Ritalin’s side effects are decreased growth and suicidal tendencies. During childhood, all the systems of the body are under the control of growth hormone for their normal development. The organs of the body have not reached their full size and strength. Ritalin interferes with growth hormone. Permanent organic and skeletal deficits are likely to result even after Ritalin is discontinued.
Remember, no long-term studies of this drug’s lasting side effects have ever been done. Are parents routinely informed about all these possible side effects before the doctor writes the prescription? What do you think?
Do you think this information might be helpful to a parent making a decision? The chance for suicidal tendencies is that something for which to put your child at risk just because he has a lot of energy? Kurt Cobain was a Ritalin patient as a teenager.
No long-term statistical studies have ever been done on suicide resulting from Ritalin use, or from Prozac, for that matter. Yet all doctors and Ciba will admit that for the 20 million Americans on these two drugs, suicide is a possible result. Individual stories number in the thousands, but who is keeping track? No one wants to rock the boat. too many political interest are in place, too much money changing hands.
Virtually all the recent school shooters have been on psych meds. [CCHR International, John Spagnola]
The darkest aspect of the whole ADD scam, in my opinion is the totalitarian leveling effect that is being perpetrated on American children and docilely accepted by American adults. Children may still be able to function and to attend classes on Ritalin. But any teacher or parent will attest that creativity is usually gone. The light in their eyes goes out. Children develop at different rates, with varying degrees of stress and the ability to cope with it. As Dr. Walker says, stress and confusion are a necessary part of adolescence, essential to the learning process. Character formation.
To mute these normal emotions of frustration and elation with drugs is to steal these kids’ childhood and adolescence from them. What’s a kid like coming off Ritalin at age 14, after several medicated years? ..they come off drugs at 14 or so and suddenly they’re big, strong people who’ve never had to spend any time building any controls in learning how to cope with their own daily stress.
Then the parents who have forgotten what the child’s real personality was like without the mask of the drug, panic and say Help me. I don’t know what to do with him. They can only deal with the medicated child. [- Schrag, p 94 ]
Of course childhood and adolescence are confusing periods of growth – there’s no dress rehearsal. First time through’s a take. But what we’re doing with these psychotropic drugs is erasing footage that can never be replaced. Each lost stressful experience was an opportunity for growth and learning that was drugged out of existence, stolen from the child forever. High and lows are clipped; elation and depression are merged together as one, and the victim cruises through his formative years an insensate robot.
Huxley’s prevision accuracy is scary: in Brave New World the Ritalin of the future is a drug called soma. Soma sees to it that “no one is ever sad or angry.” An entire branch of the government is reserved for “Emotional Conditioning” and another for “Malthusian Engineering.” Extraordinary that nearly 80 years ago this author predicted the trend toward government assuming the regulation of its citizens’ emotions.
In many school districts where the parents or the child has resisted the administration of Ritalin, the authorities have actually taken custody of the student and forced this dangerous experimental drug to be administered. At least the World Controllers in Brave New World, even though they knew what they were doing, had a convincingly paternal explanation about taking away people’s freedom to experience life as being “for their own good.”
Today this pretense is not even bothered with. Our totalitarian victimization of unsuspecting children is pure politics and economics. The science is so thin as to be ludicrous, behind both ADD and Ritalin. There is nothing scientific about modern bio-psychiatry; and there is certainly nothing scientific about Ritalin. Laws are being passed making “psychiatric care” (read “drugs”) to be required whenever possible: public schools, the Medicare system, welfare, mental institutions – anywhere the state can legally intrude into the life and mind of the individual.
This is not Orwellian paranoia; it’s happening every day.
Now we certainly can’t maintain that no children (or adults) have mental disorders which require treatment. It’s obvious enough that children today can be under extreme duress, from dietary influences, from dysfunctional home life, from drugs, from dysfunctional school life, from MTV, or any TV, and from several dozen underlying physical conditions, many of which may manifest as mental disorders. Don’t miss the point here. Of course there are some troubled kids out there today who need professional help. But that help is not a 15-minute interview and diagnosis whose purpose is to feed another passenger onto a self-serving, political freight train, rolling down the tracks out of control, trying to legislate more power, more money to the furtherance of its own economic momentum. Is this your child?
What do you think his problem stems from? What do you gain from a shotgun diagnosis? Peace of mind? Exemption from responsibility? Group acceptance? Sympathy? What about the kid and his future? Have you informed yourself about Ritalin? What if you’re just covering up some serious underlying pathology in favor of the quick fix, something that’s going to smolder, to incubate, to develop, undiagnosed?
Does the child get enough exercise? Does he ever get any exercise? Sugar and dairy? Do you know that such foods are sensitizing allergens which may provide the entire biochemical explanation for chronic misbehavior? What about discipline? Wild horses run wild.
Calling someone ADD doesn’t really solve anything, unless you belong to one of the above benefiting groups. But long-term, everyone loses, except the drug companies. Alternative (non-drug) cures for the student with “too much energy” abound. They work because they don’t approach the problem from a primarily political point of view. Alternative methods focus on resolution of the problem; rather than finding excuses to prolong it, for ancillary and ulterior agendas.
For hyperactivity, the most commonly effective holistic approach would be dietary: eliminate the sensitizing allergens: milk, cheese, ice cream, white sugar, white flour, soft drinks. These are non-foods; virtually devoid of nutritive value, empty, devitalizing “foods of commerce.” In the body they have druglike, antigenic effects especially with years of daily intake. This is not a theory. Try the 60-day Program. [thedoctorwithin.com]. No change, keep doing it.
Next, exercise. According to the National Institutes of Health, only 4% of Americans exercise. Often physical education programs are the first to be trimmed by budget cutbacks. Many excuses, but children need an hour of vigorous exercise every day, especially if they are being criticized for something as ill-defined as 17 hyperactivity. Their musculoskeletal systems are developing rapidly. Such growth is inhibited by inactivity, i.e., “normal” behavior, like sitting immobile at a desk for eight hours. Try the 60-day test. The word is vigorous.
Then there is gross nerve blockage. Upper neck trauma from falls and accidents, or even from childbirth, may go uncorrected for years. Thousands of documented cases of “ADD,” as well as learning disorders, have resolved employing this simple biomechanical corrective approach: spinal adjustment.
Rarely, true thyroid imbalance may be a factor. If all the above more common approaches have failed, a thyroid panel may be considered.
Moderate doses of the amino acid phenylalanine, available in any health food store, have also proven effective. Simply getting the kid away from TV for a few months may have profound results. It’s not enough that television is a medium which caters to the lowest possible common denominator of intelligence, and that its primary purpose is not entertainment or information, but control. All that is a given.
What is much more subtle is the assiduous effect of having no image remain on the screen for more than three seconds. Except for MTV, when it’s much less than a second. This type of incessant hypnotic bombardment of the watcher’s psyche imprints a unassailably superficial view of the world. The illusion is: I saw it on TV, now I understand it. Complex issues are reduced to flashes of data – wrapped in that homogenized, canny, controlled little format. No need to do further research or actually read something on a topic. Oh yeah, I know all about that: it was on TV.
The idea of actually learning something about a subject is an alien concept.
Lastly, if all the above actually have been tried and have met with no success, the child might be evaluated by a traditional, slow-to-drug psychiatrist who would first of all go through the painstaking process of ruling out underlying physical causes. The doctor might then actually run standardized psychiatric test batteries, which are taught in the psychiatric curriculum, even including psychoanalysis (shudder! how very retro!). Happy dinosaur hunting.
In the long run, delaying normal adolescent development with Ritalin and the ADD diagnosis do not serve the child. Nobel prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel in 1939 saw the notable disadvantages of the unchallenged child:
“Irresponsible also is the youth brought up in modern schools by teachers ignorant of the necessity for effort, for intellectual concentration, for moral discipline. Later on in life, when these young men and women encounter the indifference of the world, the material and mental difficulties of existence, they are incapable of adaptation, save by asking for relief for protection, for doles, and if relief can not thus be obtained, by crime.” – Man, The Unknown p146
The ideas presented in this chapter only scratch the surface of what is really going on in the field of psychiatry, pharmacology and the politics of ADD. The reality of the situation is probably much worse than we have hinted at here. The reader is urged to use this chapter as a starting point for further investigation, beginning with the attached references, especially if there are children involved who have been diagnosed ADD. Remember, all scientific data indicates that there is no such thing. But no such equivocation exists for the side effects of the psychotropics.
The point of view put forth in this chapter is expressed by perhaps 1% of what is being written and published on the topic of ADD today. But in the words of George Orwell, “sanity is not statistical.”
Our children are the future. To allow them to be victimized for economic and political gain, supported only by some very shaky pseudo-science drug-funded studies, erodes the fabric of society by subtly and gradually surrendering the constitutional rights of the individual. The state should not tell you what degree of “hyperactivity” or energy is acceptable in your child. That is personal. That is individual. That’s your business. That’s over the line. We never granted them that right.
There’s no medical, scientific, or legal basis for it. But they’re doing it because we’re letting them. If the doctors and the drug empires and the social servants need another disease to make a few more trillion dollars from, let them figure out how to cure the diseases we’ve already got, instead of trying to pretend that nonconformity is a medical condition.
Living things mature at different rates, even within the same species. That’s a law of nature, not something that needs to be “treated.” Plant a dozen trees in the same soil. After a year are you going to ask yourself what’s wrong with the shorter ones? Or the thinner ones? Or the taller ones? What would you know about the way this tree should grow to maturity? How about trusting in its own inner wisdom?
Living things are not like PC boards in an assembly line. There’s a lot of room for normal variation. Eccentricity does not require medical treatment. Most creative people are eccentric in some way: Bill Gates, Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Linus Pauling, John Lennon, Mozart, Elton John, Michelangelo, Picasso, Nikola Tesla, Benjamin Franklin, Edward Van Halen, BJ Palmer, Sam Kinison, A.P. Hill, Madonna, A.P. Hill, Gandhi, Tony Robbins, Galileo, Versace, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk etc. What if some teacher had diagnosed these people ADD and put them on Ritalin? What would have been lost?
This chapter has been the sketchiest of overviews whose purpose has been to point the reader in the direction of further study, and to plant a seed of doubt, that the overwhelming majority of the conventional wisdom about ADD may be false, unsubstantiated, unscientific, malevolent, and motivated primarily by political and economic agenda. “Experts” will tell you this chapter is wrong, but aren’t they the ones making their livelihood by drugging your child? You don’t need them; I’ve included a list of experts that you can use to make up your own mind.
That is, if you’re still the one who does that.
Walker, Sidney, MD — A Dose of Sanity Wiley 1996.
Breggin, Peter, MD — Toxic Psychiatry St. Martins Press 1994.
Armstrong, Thomas PhD— The Myth of the ADD Child
Barkley, Russell, PhD— “Safer Than Aspirin”
Physicians Desk Reference— Me4dical Economics 57th edition 2003
Baughman, Fred, MD— “The Future of Mental Health”
USA Today 3/1/97
Wiseman, Bruce— Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal — Freedom 1995.
Baughman, Fred, MD — “What Every Parent Needs to Know About ADD”
McGuiness, Diane PhD “The Limits of Biologic Treatment for Psychiatric Distress”
Koranyi, Erwin MD Undiagnosed physical illness in psychiatric patients
Am Rev Med, vol 33, 1982
Schrag, Peter— The Myth of the Hyperactive Child
Brown, Larry MD — Children’s Rights and the Mental Health Profession
Szasz, Thomas MD — Cruel Compassion
American Psychiatry Assn. — Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
Revised Edition III-R, 1987
Detroit News 13 Jan 96
Walshe, Sir Francis —- Psychiatric Signs and Symptoms Due To Medical Problems — 1967.
Armstrong, Louise — And They Call It Help: The Psychiatric Policing of America’s Children 1993.
Huxley, Aldous — Brave New World — Harper 1932.
Orwell, George — 1984 — Signet — 1949.
Carrel, Alexis MD — Man, the Unknown MacFadden — 1939.
U.S. Dept of Education — National Center For Education Statistics: Digest of Education Statistics p 133 1997.
Batmandjlif, F MD — The Body’s Many Cries for Water
Global Health Solutions 1994.
United Nations — REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL BOARD FOR 1995 — E/INCB/1995/1 — UNITED NATIONS PUBLICATION ISBN 92-1-148096-5
Breggin, P MD — Reclaiming Our Children Perseus — 2000.
Fallon, J— ”Caring for the Child with PDD” ICA Review Aug 1999.
Coyle, J MD—Psychotropic Drug Use in Very Young Children — JAMA 23 Feb 2000, p 1059
Giesen, Center, Leach — “An Example of Chiropractic Manipulation” JMPT p 353 vol12, no5 Oct 1989.
Barnes,T — “Chiropractic Management of the Specific Needs Child” Topics in Clinical Chiropractic — p. 9 — Dec 1997.
Liesman, N — Case Study of ADHD from Kentuckiana — ICA Review p55 Oct 1998.
Plaugher & Anrig — Pediatric Chiropractic Williams & Wilkins, p 563, 1998
Barnes, T — A Multi-Faceted Approach to ADHD — ICA Review Feb 1995, p 41.
Brzozowski, W, Walton, E — The effect of chiropractic treatment on students with learning and behavioral impairments ACCA Journal of Chiropractic — 14(12) p 5127 — Dec 1977.
US House of Representatives Hearing on Autism and Vaccines—6 Apr 2000–Dan Burton, Chairman
Wiseman, B — Psychiatry and the Creation of Senseless Violence — CCHRI — 2000.
US Dept of Education Digest of Education Statistics, 1997 p 133
Upledger, J — Autism – Observation, Experiences, and Concepts
Jeffrey L. Charvat, PhD Estimates of the School Psychology Workforce September 2008
Begley, S Scientists’ Bible Finally Unveiled 16 May 2013