Attention Deficit drug ‘disaster’

“After more than 50 years leading the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Dr. Keith Conners calls the rising rates of diagnosis “a national disaster of dangerous proportions,” reports the New York Times in The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder.

“The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,” Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Duke University, said in a subsequent interview. “This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”

Fifteen percent of high school-aged Americans now are diagnosed with ADHD, reports the Times. Classic ADHD, “historically estimated to affect 5 percent of children, is a legitimate disability that impedes success at school, work and personal life.” Drugs can help, though they have side effects.

But . . . drug company marketing has stretched the image of classic A.D.H.D. to include relatively normal behavior like carelessness and impatience, and has often overstated the pills’ benefits. Advertising on television and in popular magazines like People and Good Housekeeping has cast common childhood forgetfulness and poor grades as grounds for medication that, among other benefits, can result in “schoolwork that matches his intelligence” and ease family tension.

Now,  adult diagnoses are soaring, reports the Times. “In this six-question test, anyone but the highly organized” could be deemed “ADHD possible.”

About Joanne


  1. The medicalization of eduction continues apace, and the educational approach to life’s challenges is displaced by the therapeutic approach. A tremendous amount of this has been empowered by Medicaid funding. When I taught at a psychiatric hospital for troubled adolescents, the game was census count and billable “services”–and getting kids eligible for Medicaid was the central activity. Teaching was not billable.

  2. Here are the six questions:

    How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?

    Answers can be Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, or Very Often

    How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?

    How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?

    When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?

    How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?

    How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?

    Even though I answered NEVER to ALL questions, my diagnosis was that I was “ADHD Unlikely” and that my answers “suggest that you do not likely currently suffer from an Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.”

    If NEVER doesn’t eliminate you, then everyone is a candidate for ADHD.