Reflections on “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”
I found “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder” by Alan Schwarz, December 14, 2013 on the front page of the New York Times, a courageous article. If only it could have been published years ago. In general it is difficult to get such an article published because the drug companies are so powerful, they put a lot of advertising pressure on publications. As a practicing psychiatrist for forty years, I take the condemnation of the use of amphetamines a step further.
There is no place for the use of amphetamines for psychiatry or medicine, never mind for children. Call it by any other name, it is still “speed”. It was discredited in the 1980’s after an earlier period of abuse as an anti-depressant and diet pill. It was mostly used as a street drug. Our in-patient wards were filled with amphetamine psychoses and addictions. It was originally concocted by the Nazis who used it very effectively for the Blitzkrieg and for its pilots in the bombing of Britain.
But then a strange thing happened. A new medical-psychiatric genetic brain disease got invented: ADHD. And what was the treatment of choice? You guessed it. Suddenly, speed was safe again, non-addictive, no side effects, and it didn’t generate psychoses anymore. Its sordid history went right back into amnesia. Apparently, the past didn’t happen, so we certainly don’t have to learn from it. There is no credible and definable criteria in the brain for ADHD. Yes there are certain kids with an active temperament. If they do not have the proper boundaries and discipline at home they will spin out of control. These kids do not need speed. They need proper interventions in the family so they will go back into balance and be happy and productive kids. Instead of the current idea that adults have his condition as well, we need to go back to the 60’s and 70’s and before, when there were no kids who conducted themselves this way. It was unheard of. It wasn’t under diagnosed it didn’t exist.
The only thing I differ with in this article, is that it gives some credibility to the idea that there are a smaller number of ADHD children who apparently should be on amphetamines. Even this is not true.