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ADHD is not a disease

By Jon Herring

"Hey, Phillip... do you mind if I sit here and eat with you?" I asked.

"Sure, whatever..."

"How"s school going? Are you doing well?"

"Not really. I just want it to be summer."

"Yeah, I remember how that used to feel," I told him.

Phillip is eleven years old. He"s the son of some family friends and I was at a small party when I saw him sitting by himself. I hadn"t seen him for a few years, so I wanted to remind him who I was and get to know him a little better.

As he became comfortable, he opened up a bit more. He told me his plans for the summer. He told me about his friends and the girl he likes at school. And he also told me that he didn"t care for school all that much.

"It"s hard," he said. "Plus, I have ADHD, so I don"t pay attention very well."

"Really? How do you know you have ADHD?" I asked.

"That"s what my doctor said. He said I"ve had it since I was born. That"s why I have to take medicine."

"Well, I think you"re just fine. How does that medicine make you feel?"

"It used to make me kinda nervous," he said. "And I couldn"t go to sleep when I took it. Now, it just makes me not want to eat."

After complimenting Phillip on his manners and intelligence, I changed the subject back to his plans for the summer. But what he said bothered me. Here was a bright young boy who was bored and frustrated in school... who probably had a few behavioral problems... and who had now been labeled as having a "disease" and put on medication.

And, unfortunately, Phillip is just one of millions...

I was bothered by his story because I could only imagine what that would do to the psyche and development of a child to be handed a lifelong sentence like that from a doctor. You are broken. You are defective. Your brain doesn"t work right. You are not acceptable in your natural state, but taking these drugs every day can help you.

It might be one thing if ADHD was actually a "disease"... but it"s not.

In 1987, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association and inserted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Yes, that"s right... the "disease" was "voted" into existence.

Can you imagine if we had to take a "vote" to determine whether cancer is a disease... or diabetes... or heart disease? That would be patently ludicrous. But every year, more and more disorders are voted into the DSM.

In the case of ADHD, psychiatrists made a list of the most common behaviors among children that parents and teachers object to -- and then termed them a disease. Within one year, more than half a million children were "diagnosed."

Since then, the number of behaviors that constitute the disorder has continued to grow. There are now 18 of them. That opens the door for even more children to be labeled and then put on drugs.

Today, most ADHD "testing" consists of parents, teachers, school administrators, or social workers checking off these behaviors as observed at home and in the classroom. A doctor reviews the checklist, and if six or more of these behaviors are exhibited, then the child is "diagnosed" with ADHD. In almost every case, the treatment is pharmaceutical.

Today, the "epidemic" of ADHD has grown to about seven million young people in the U.S. Most of these children are on medication. And if you add in the numbers that are on antidepressants and other psychotropic medications, the number is over 10 million. That is larger than the entire population of New York City!

You might ask, where were these kids when I was growing up?

Dr. Russell Barkley, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts, has the answer for that. They were there, he says. "They were the class clowns. [...] Back then, we didn"t have a professional label for them.

"They were the lazy kids, the no-good kids, the dropouts, the delinquents, the lay-about ne"er-do-wells who were doing nothing with their lives. Now we know better. Now we know that it is a real disability, that it is a valid condition..."

They were the dropouts, huh? The kids who didn"t fit in? The kids who found traditional schooling to be hostile, boring, and unacceptable? I wonder if Barkley was referring to "dropouts" like:

  • Bill Gates & Paul Allen (college dropouts, cofounders of Microsoft);
  • Sir Richard Branson (high school dropout, founder of the Virgin Group);
  • Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, and Steve Jobs (college dropouts, computer company founders);
  • Kirk Kerkorian (eighth-grade dropout, billionaire);
  • William Faulkner (high school and college dropout, Nobel Prize-winning novelist);
  • Ray Kroc (high school dropout, founder of McDonald"s);
  • Dave Thomas (high school dropout, founder of Wendy"s).

Almost certainly, if many of these men were in school today, they would be "labeled" with a mental disorder.

The pharmaceutical companies and modern psychiatry represent ADHD to be a biological abnormality of the brain. Along with many other "mental illnesses," it is often said to be caused by that catch-all phrase -- "a chemical imbalance."

The problem is that psychiatry has never validated ADHD as a biological entity. They have never shown even the slightest bit of proof of a "chemical imbalance" or that this is an actual brain disease. And yet, millions of children and parents are told fraudulently that this is the case.

Dr. Fred Baughman is a respected pediatric neurologist who has been in practice for 35 years. He knows what a real disease is. So, from 1993 to 1997, he doggedly pursued correspondence with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Ciba-Geigy (the original manufacturers of Ritalin), and top ADHD researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health. He asked them to show him ANY peer-reviewed scientific literature proving a physical or chemical aberration that would qualify ADHD as a disease or a medical syndrome.

After years of persistence, Dr. Baughman finally got these groups to admit that there is NO objective validation for ADHD. Today, the National Institutes of Health state that, "We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there is no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction."

And yet, hundreds of thousands of doctors still "label" children as diseased and prescribe powerful and dangerous drugs for something that they have admitted they can"t prove. That is not medicine. It is fraud.

And many doctors and social workers push these drugs forcefully and manipulatively. I heard of one doctor who asked a parent, "If your child had diabetes, you would give him insulin, wouldn"t you?"

Unfortunately, that parent probably didn"t know enough to tell the doctor that diabetes can be measured -- either by blood sugar abnormalities or pancreatic malfunction -- while ADHD cannot.

When you go to a doctor, they take blood, they do X-rays. They don"t ask how you behave. And yet, that is how the "disease" of ADHD (along with depression and many other "mental illnesses") is diagnosed.

Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the State University of New York, says, "No behavior or misbehavior can be a disease. That is not what diseases are."

Diseases are malfunctions of the human body. For example, typhoid fever is a disease. Spring fever? Not so much. Spring fever is a metaphor. It is a figure of speech... just like most mental illnesses. And yet, the treatment for this figure of speech is now worth billions of dollars a year.

Though there are now many drugs used to treat ADHD, Ritalin (methylphenidate) is one of the most common. In 1970, there were an estimated 150,000 U.S. children taking Ritalin. Today, the number is estimated to be higher than five million. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, the production of methylphenidate increased 700% between 1990 and 1997!

And the trend is to "diagnose" children at younger and younger ages. According a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, prescriptions for two- to four-year-olds increased by almost 300% between 1991 and 1995. I didn"t search for more recent statistics, but you can be sure the trend has continued.

And despite what those who promote them might say... these are NOT safe and harmless medications.

Ritalin, for example, is classified by the FDA and the DEA as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. It is listed in the same category as methamphetamines, cocaine, morphine, and Dilaudid (among other powerful illegal and prescription drugs). These drugs are powerful. They can cause harm. And they carry a significant risk of abuse.

Most ADHD drugs are a class of amphetamine. On the street, these stimulants are commonly known as "speed." And while "speed" can increase alertness and productivity, the trajectory is crash and burn.

But what are the risks of long-term use of these drugs, especially by developing children?

These drugs have been known to cause depression and psychotic states. And they can be the cause of real neurological disorders like epilepsy and seizures. They can also lead to physical dependence and have been shown to precipitate illegal drug abuse.

Studies have also shown that ADHD drugs stunt the physical growth of children and cause the brain to atrophy and shrink.

But of course, the biggest risk is death. In fact, research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that children and teens on drugs such as Ritalin have a 500% higher risk of sudden death than would be typical for children of a similar age and health status.

Not surprisingly, long-term use can increase the risk of heart attack.

And cancer is a known risk, too. In one study, researchers identified twelve children who met the criteria for ADHD in the DSM-IV and were to begin taking methylphenidate in daily doses between 20 and 54 mg. Because the test group was small, each child was used as his or her own control.

Chromosomal abnormalities in blood cells were measured before starting the treatment. Then these same tests were performed after three months of taking the medication. Three separate chromosomal abnormalities were evaluated. In every single child, significant increases in chromosomal aberrations were measured. On average, the aberrations increased by 323% following treatment. Researchers believe that greater frequencies of these aberrations equate to an increased risk of cancer.

And to balance out these significant risks... there are absolutely NO long-term studies that show positive effects from these drugs on learning, academic standards, or social behavior.

Certainly there are children who are misbehaving at school and at home. There are kids who are unable to achieve self-control. There are those who are unusually hyperactive.

But in the vast majority of cases, these kids do not need medication. They certainly do not need to be exposed to the dangers of these drugs. But do their doctors ever ask what kind of foods, preservatives, and additives these children are exposed to? Do they inquire about nutrition or give advice about the many ways that the foods children eat, the toxins they are exposed to, and the nutrients they are missing can affect mood and behavior? Of course, most doctors do not. That would require too much effort and follow-up. It is much easier (and more profitable) to write a quick prescription and usher in a new patient.

Today, we are constantly told to protect our children from drug abuse. And yet, there are some disturbing exceptions to that rule. Thomas Szasz put it well when he said, "Labeling a child as mentally ill is stigmatization, not diagnosis. Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment."

To Your Health,

Jon Herring

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This article appears courtesy of Early to Rise’s Total Health Breakthroughs which offers alternative solutions for mind, body and soul. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.totalhealthbreakthroughs.com


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