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Leading Scientist: ADHD Is Not A Real Disease

December 3, 2014


Dr. Bruce D. Perry is one of the world’s leading pediatric neuroscientists, and he’s making a claim that will rattle the pharmaceutical industry and parents.

Perry recently stated publicly that Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder isn’t a real disease and suggested that giving children psycho-stimulant medications to kids is dangerous.

Perry said “It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria.”

And if you look at the symptoms of ADHD, it really does seem like we could all identify a symptom or two in ourselves, right? From WebMD:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and a tendency to make mistakes at school or other activities, producing work that is often messy and careless.
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others.
  • Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities.
  • Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration.
  • Procrastination.
  • Disorganised work habits.
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities.
  • Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores.

And the list goes on. Dr. Perry is a senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas. He’s authored several books on child psychology.

His comments can be contrasted starkly against the rising diagnoses of ADHD in the U.S. and UK, as well as the rising number of children on prescription medication for the ‘disease.’

Dr. Perry believes that some of these medications are dangerous for a child’s mental development and overall health.

“If you give psychostimulants to animals when they are young, their rewards systems change. They require much more stimulation to get the same level of pleasure.

So on a very concrete level, they need to eat more food to get the sensation of satiation. They need to do more high-risk things to get that little buzz from doing something.”

“It’s not a benign phenomenon,” says Dr. Perry.

“Taking a medication influences systems in a ways we don’t always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and, over time, more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me, that’s a no-brainer.”

The doctor also suggests ways to help kids with the blanket symptoms of ADHD.

“You can teach the adults how to regulate themselves, how to have realistic expectations of the children, how to give them opportunities that are achievable and have success and coach them through the process of helping children who are struggling.

There are a lot of therapeutic approaches. Some would use somato sensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.”

What do you think? Is ADHD a real disease or are parents simply trying to prescribe away childhood antics?




8 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom R permalink
    December 3, 2014 7:02 pm

    and he’s making a claim that will rattle the pharmaceutical industry and parents.

    Yep, don’t mess with big pharma, they’re onto a real money spinner diagnosing kids and selling them drugs just fer being kids.

    Nice work if you can get it.

  2. TB Queensland permalink
    December 3, 2014 7:23 pm

    Maybe an increase in drug use is an outcome.

    ADHD has a long list of causes … none that need medication and very few that are caused immediately by the child …

    Off to watch/listen to my 11 yo play his trombone in the school band … he’s very excited its his first “public” appearance!

  3. Tom R permalink
    December 3, 2014 7:42 pm

    Maybe an increase in drug use is an outcome.

    So it’s not all bad news then 😉

  4. December 3, 2014 7:57 pm

    Reading through those symptoms, I think I’ve got it. It’s real!

  5. TB Queensland permalink
    December 3, 2014 9:37 pm

    <I.Reading through those symptoms, I think I’ve got it. It’s real!

    I’m sure you’ve got it, ToSY … I’m just not sure you are real ………………………. 😯

  6. Splatterbottom permalink
    December 4, 2014 10:35 am

    There are cases where drugs like Ritalin and dexamphetamine are very helpful and can make the lives of children very much better.

    I’ve seen a three year old speak his first sentences and vividly describe the games he was playing in the back yard 20 minutes after his first Ritalin. Previousl he had not used full sentences at all. The doctor recommended the drug because of the bruising he was inflicting on his siblings even though his parents had been working with him to modify his behaviour and interest him in conversation. The violent behaviour also dramatically reduced. He is now an apprentice, and is in a stable relationship.

    I’ve also seen a girl in first class get three improvement awards in the first week she was on the drug, having previously only got negative attention for her lack of focus and disruptive behaviour. Both she and her class benefitted from her taking the drug. She went on to get a good HSC mark, a science degree, a good job and is happily married.

    In both of these cases it would have been detrimental to the children not to give them the drugs. They allow the users to focus their thoughts better and make more considered decisions. Similar drugs have been in use in some form since the 1930s.

    The important thing is to teach the kids to respect and not misuse the drugs. Parents should also realise that the drugs are not going to work in all situations. But in situations where they do work parents should not be swayed by ideologues and idiots who, for whatever reason, are waging some campaign against drugs to treat things like ADHD.

    The logical approach is to exhaust non-drug approaches, to try behavioural methods and to realise that if these don’t produce improvement then to consider whether Ritalin or Dex might be appropriate. If it works and your child is more focussed, less disruptive in class and less violent in the playground then their lives are going to be much better than would otherwise be the case.

    My observation is that kids learn control and better behaviours as they get older and are able to give up the drugs. In both the above cases the drugs are no longer used. The kids did not like being on the drugs and after puberty they had more ability to control themselves and found a way to get off the drugs.

  7. armchair opinionator permalink
    December 4, 2014 10:54 am

    My observation is that kids learn control and better behaviours as they get older and are able to give up the drugs.

    I’ve seen lots of ritalin use and kids with ADHD, a few seem to have genuine need of the medication but many don’t, it’s almost a lifestyle condition IMO, many times I think it’s a strait jacket for kids because of useless parenting.

    ADHD also seems to be a condition caused by modern life. Parents can’t or won’t control their children’s behaviour, they are too busy and always at work, parents want a medical straitjacket for children in an attempt to have them achieve more.

    I have grave concerns about kids being addicted to speed throughout their lives because of dexamphetamine being given to them while young.

  8. Tom R permalink
    December 4, 2014 11:11 am

    many times I think it’s a strait jacket for kids because of useless parenting.

    That has become my view over time to AO

    I will admit that there are probably a few times it is actually diagnosed correctly, but most of the time it seems to be (to me) parents giving up in frustration.

    I don’t (always) blame the parents either, the Drs have given them an out, imo. I would prob take the easy route if in that situation too.

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