The Skinny on ADHD and Psychostimulant Drugs
Professor John Breeding, Ph.D., Psychologist
I’m John Breeding and I’m going to talk about this thing called ADHD—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I’m going to talk about ADHD in 3 sections. This first video is going to address the diagnosis and the underlying assumptions. It’s going to give a perspective about ADHD.
Then I’m going to provide a few key principles and things to remember in part II oriented towards parents or adults who work with young people who may be caught up in the dynamics going down this slippery slope called ADHD diagnosis.
In the 3rd part, I’m going to share a little bit about counseling children in a generic sense about working with children in terms of their emotional dynamics and relationship dynamics.
Part I is going to be the nitty-gritty about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and how this thing fits into biopsychiatry. I’m also using my book as a guideline. I’m happy to share this one because it’s a revised edition of data expanded of The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses and the cover is a great one from the photographic image from Tony Stromberg and Michael (?), laid out the cover for me. Thank-you to those two guys.
The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, that’s a great title for a book about ADHD that includes commentary on children most likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I like to joke about the alternative title from the point of view of biopsychiatry would be, “Poor, Sick Children Need Drugs in Order to Cope With Life,” instead of the The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, defending the spirited nature of our young people. That’s where I’m coming from and that’s where www.wildestcolts.com comes from. Attention Hyperactivity Disorder is one I’d like to address as a diagnosis, just because it happens to be the most popular one for children.
First, a little statistics. In 1970, there was an estimated 200,000 children on psychotropic drugs, stimulant drugs, in the United States. That was enough to cause the U.S. Congress to be alarmed and call for a Special Congressional Investigation. At that time, the drugs that are typically used to treat the so called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Back then it would be called hyperactivity, or hyperkinetic. Same process, same stimulant drugs. Right after 1970, these ADHD drugs were classified as controlled substances by the Food and Drug Administration because of their high risk of abuse, along with cocaine and methametamine. Now, we’re talking about Ritalin and Adderall type drugs, which are the most popular ones now. [Ritalin and Adderall has] Virtually identical effects profile to cocaine and methametamine.
Despite the FDA putting controls on Ritalin and Adderall, between 1970 and 2000, 30 years later, you have about a 4,000% increase in the number of children on psychiatric drugs, school-age children. From 200,000 to maybe 8 million [from 1970 to 2000]. Now, we estimate between 12 to 15 million if you include the various classes of psychotropic drugs [that school-age children] are on. At least 6 to 8 million on stimulant drugs, and the majority of those for so called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So, it’s huge.
What I want to emphasize to you in this segment is if you’re going to have any semblance of a clear view of reality on this subject, you have to be very, very strong in distinguishing between what’s fact, what’s theory, and what’s opinion. Because what happens is that opinions are presented as if they’re facts, such as:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a real mental illness, that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is neurologically or biologically based.
- The appropriate treatment is stimulant based drugs.
These are presented as facts in the newspapers, in the magazines, on televisions, on the radios, by the doctors, and you can accept this as fact based on authoritative opinion or you can say, “That is an opinion.”
And a scientific fact is what [when it comes to chemical imbalance and ADHD]? That there is no objective test, there is no physical or chemical abnormality that’s defined. And this is not only true for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it’s true for any problem routinely seen by psychiatrists. It’s the bigger picture. How does that work? The basic assumptions are real simple in biopsychiatry: social adjustment is good; failure to adjust is due to, you know, not a physical problem, not emotional problems, not the system’s problem, not faulty schools, or over-stimulation or too much T.V. or videos, sleep deprivation, or family trauma, child abuse—it’s none of these according to biopsychiatry. Failure to adjust is the result of “mental illness.” Failure to adjust in school is ADHD. That’s the assumption [according to psychiatry and biopsychiatry]. These are not scientific facts, these are just assumptions, but it’s important to understand them.
So, social adjustment is good. Failure to adjust in school is the result of ADHD.
Third assumption is ADHD is neurological or biological based. That’s an assumption with zero scientific evidence to support that: No objective tests, no identifiable or chemical abnormality. The best way to back up a doctor on this? Insist, “Show me the lab tests. Can you do a test to diagnose or identify this chemical abnormality? Show me the scientific literature whereby you can identify the signs to distinguish between someone who has this alleged disease and someone who doesn’t.” That’s how you back off the doctors because the answer is they can’t do it!
These assumptions are very important, that there’s this mental illness ADHD, that it’s biologically or genetically based because that’s what justifies the next step which is called the treatment, which is called the biological treatment, which is called a stimulant drug treatment, , which [drug treatment of ADHD is known to] affect the heart in a bad way, which is known to stunt growth, which is known to cause all kinds of problems with virtually every organ system in the body. That’s how you get to call this drug [Ritalin or Adderall], which on the one hand if you sell it to somebody in a schoolyard or if you buy it at the college or whatever, that will get you a prison sentence. But in this case it’s a medicine for a child. That’s a blue (?) system, that’s an assumption, that’s a redderic, that’s a claim to virtue that allows us to close our eyes and say we’ll give medicine to our children, when what’s really going on is we’re using these psychostimulant drugs to control their behavior, to shut them down.
That’s the bottom line in terms of how this [ADHD diagnosis, treatment, drugs] works. There’s that part of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a made up notion created by committees of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), ADD in 1980, ADHD in 1987, it leads to massive drugging of our children. It’s a huge profit market for the pharmaceutical industry. That’s the skinny on that and that’s the end of part one.
Part II: Remembering the True Nature of Your Child
ADHD: Selection, Diagnosis, Treatment, Drugs
This part II about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, so called ADHD. It’s important to emphasize that ADHD is a “made up construct.” That it is not a real disease. It’s also important to know that someone diagnosed with ADHD as opposed to somebody who has ADHD. I’m going to talk about a few things to remember when working with young people, but I need to say a couple of more things about this ADHD process, perse. It’s something important to remember: It’s about how ADHD diagnosis happens.
Remember, the diagnoses is not objective. There is not identifiable physical or chemical abnormality. It’s entirely subjective, meaning its based on opinions about somebody’s behavior and those opinions are subjective. One person might like a child’s behavior who’s jumping up and down because they’re a lot of fun to play with. Another person doesn’t like it because they’re kinda uptight or they need something to get done right then. Or they just have a blue (?) system who looks at the world and sees children who don’t sit still in their desk as mentally ill or biologically and genetically defective. So, they see an ADHD child. That’s a very subjective response, that doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re seeing out there. It has to do with the judgment you’re placing on it.
You might know how cancer is diagnosed, right? You don’t diagnose it based on if you feel bad or you feel pain. After all, that could be cancer. Let me see if you have a tumor, let me do a biotopsy. Let me do a lab test to show it’s malignant. Then that’s the cancer.
This is how ADHD is diagnosed: You’ve got to have at least 6 out of 9 criteria, regarding attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Things like giving attention to detail, not appearing to listen, often losing things, easily distracted, forgetful. These are the actual criteria. If you have a few of those, you can qualify for this diagnoses. Or these are even better, I think: fidgets or swarms, has difficulty staying seated, runs or climbs where it’s not appropriate. Now, that’s a real scientific concept: Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate. This is a real criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I swear I’m not making this up. Other criteria: Always on the go, blurts out answers, difficulty waiting for turn, interrupts or intrudes on others.
See, you’ve got an excited, interactive child, that’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder! That’s a spirited child. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong person, that’s a diagnoses. You see how this works? How it works is that the child is selected out. If you saw my film about the Nazi doctors, you know what you can find. It’s the same thing, the doctors had to select out to go to the work camp or to the gas chamber. The selection, right? Here’s where they select out the child who is likely to have ADHD based on their behavior.
The last thing to remember about diagnoses in the field of psychiatry as opposed to the diagnoses in the field of general medicine; Dr. Thomas Szasz said that psychiatric diagnoses are not descriptive. They don’t describe anything, they’re not describing a cancer, they’re not describing a blood sugar problem related to diabetes. Psychiatric diagnoses are prescriptive, they prescribe a course of action. And the point is that once the child is selected out that is based on their behavior, their course of action is pretty much pre-determined. You’re going to be selected based on a behavior, running or climbing where it’s inappropriate, you say to the person who performs the diagnostic, they have the diagnostic sheet that has the behaviors, you’ve already been selected on that behavior so you’re gonna qualify and get the diagnostic called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Diagnosis means treatment, treatment means drugs. So:
The selection is the key point, the rest is the prescription, which leads up to the literal prescription for stimulant drugs. That’s how it works. It’s very important to remember that. What we’re talking about is pathologising the true nature of young people, to a very large extent.
In my book, The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses, I have these things that I call Remembrances as Keys to Parent Heaven. One of those remembrances is to remember the intention of biopsychiatry, which is to drug your child. You better remember that one. But some of the others are these: One is to relax. Relax.
This whole process [selection, diagnosis, treatment, drugs] happens under a sense of urgency and pressure: Your child is sick, they’re gonna end up a drug addict, they’re gonna fail in school, they’re going to be miserable. We’re going to pressure you. You’ve got to deal with this child, make sure he’s okay, give him his medicine…It’s like, relax. Don’t trust anybody who’s coming at your child with a sense of urgency to make sure they get their homework done this week in the first grade. You’re in there for the long-term with your child and your child needs you to be relaxed and confident. You and them, that you can work it out together.
Remember the True Nature of your child. Not how to fit him in a box. That you can trust in their development if you give them the support and resources that they need. That’s one of my other book’s true nature and great misunderstandings. It’s very important to understand that young people are intelligent, they’re energetic, they’re zestful, they can get hurt and bounce back, they’re unique, they love to be close and affectionate. They’re [children] not primary mechanisms who have problems when they have biological or genetic defects and that’s how you explain their problems. Remember the True Nature of your child.
Remember the importance of limited physical activity. A lot of schools these days are cutting out recess and all that stuff. Exactly shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to an energetic child. Your child needs to move, they need to be active. You can provide a service for allowing that.
Remember the importance of being out in Nature. If your child is not having a lot of downtime in the Natural world, in the outdoors. There’s a great depravation going on there. Okay, remember that.
Remember to never give up. Children don’t need perfect parents. They need parents who keep trying and never give up. Don’t give up.
Remember to keep thinking. Don’t be lazy and let some other authority decide that your child has Attention Deficit or Bipolar or some other bogus diagnosis that sends them down this drug prescription path. You gotta think about what’s going on and being resourceful and help them.
Lastly, this is my favorite one. Remember to see your child through the eyes of delight. Not through the eyes of pathology, the eyes of delight. That’s the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and your child. If you’re not experiencing that most of the time with your child, then you need to do whatever it takes to bring yourself back into that place. Because you’re not losing these precious years in misery. See your child through the eyes of delight. Do what it takes to bring yourself back to that place. It’s a tremendous gift to yourself and to your child.
Okay, that’s part II.
Psychotropic Drugs: A drug that affects emotional state. Psychotropics include antidepressants, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquillizers.
Pathology: The scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences. Also called pathobiology.
ADD: A disorder characterized by a difficulty in retaining focus, especially on tasks, for long periods of time. One of the most common reasons children are brought into therapy, ADD is often treated with the somewhat controversial drug Ritalin®, which is thought to work by stimulating the attention-focusing structures of the brain.
A Few Simple Truths About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs
Responses to Common Professional Statements Made to Parents About Their Children
Doctors, mental health professionals, and educators often say things about "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" (ADHD) that are unproven. These same professionals often say things about drugs that are supposed to treat "ADHD" that are not true. This brochure reveals and responds to six common lies or misleading statements you might be told.
1. "ADHD" is a brain-based biological disorder, caused by a chemical imbalance in your child's brain. The simple fact is that there is absolutely no reliable test that accurately distinguishes between children that are supposed to have "ADHD" and those that are not. The simplest way to counter this statement is to ask for a medical test to prove that your child has "ADHD." Many physicians will respond to your request by saying that the test is too expensive. You must persevere and ask that your insurance company pay for those tests. You can also ask any professional to show you the article or articles in the scientific literature that proves the existence of a confirmatory physical or chemical abnormality that validates the existence of ADHD as a medical disease. The plain truth is that no such article exists. If someone gives you an article, please share and discuss it with someone who can critically analyze it.
2. The symptoms are clearly printed in a book called the DSM-IV which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition. Yes, the "symptoms" are printed there, but as described in point 1, these alleged "symptoms" in no way prove that ADHD is a disease. Furthermore, these "symptoms" are actually nothing more than someone's observations of your child's behavior, and the truth is they are not even reliable as behavioral observations. To be reliable, people must agree that your child has "ADHD." An article in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, printed in September 2000, says that the diagnosis is very unreliable. Many children who are supposed to be "ADHD" are not identified, and many children who are identified as not having ADHD are identified as having it. This means that research done to support the identification and treatment of ADHD that uses the DSM-IV definition totally lacks support. It also means that no medical person correctly diagnoses ADHD. ADD and ADHD are politically manufactured concepts, created by committees of the American Psychiatric Association. ADD was created in 1980, ADHD in 1987. The plain truth is that they are not real diseases in any legitimate scientific meaning of the term disease. To declare otherwise is not medicine; it is fraud.
3. Medication (such as Ritalin) corrects the chemical imbalance. Remember first there is no demonstrated chemical imbalance (see point 1). The brain does have chemicals that help cells "talk" to each other that are called neurotransmitters. However, when a professional says that one of these chemicals, usually a variety of something called Dopamine, needs some kind of correction, and that they have just the right kind of medicine to do this, you are being misled. This idea assumes that nerves only "talk" to nerves that use the same chemicals. That is absolutely positively false. It is a lie at worst, a gross oversimplification at best. It is unethical for a medical professional to state or imply otherwise.
4. The medication (e.g., Ritalin) is a mild stimulant with few or no side effects. "Side effect" is a euphemism; all drugs (alleged medications) have a variety of effects. It is vitally important that you personally research the effects of any drug you might consider for your child. Go to the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR), ask your neighborhood pharmacist to print you a list of side effects, and/or get the references listed at the end of this brochure. You need to find out about all possible effects -- those considered common (such as nervousness, insomnia, and loss of appetite, and those considered rare (such as toxic psychosis and death). The lie that Ritalin is a mild stimulant is even more difficult to maintain since a recently concluded study at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, not only confirmed the similarities of cocaine and Ritalin, but found that Ritalin is more potent than cocaine in its effect on the dopamine system in the brain. Referring to Ritalin as "kiddy cocaine" is not a joke.
It is important to know that the use of stimulant medication can mask the symptoms of potentially fatal disorders that could be causing your child's problems with inattention or activity. It is also important to know that if your child really is having problems with attention and concentration, this could be caused by problems within the class environment (no work breaks, poor environmental temperature regulation, poor acoustics, poor lighting, poor teaching, etc.) or within other areas of your child's life (nutrition, TV and video overstimulation, family stress and conflict, etc.).
5. If your child had diabetes, you would give him insulin, wouldn't you? This is one of the most common, and heinous statements that doctors and other professionals make to parents. It is a heavy guilt trip telling parents they are negligent and irresponsible if they don't go along with the pressure to drug their children. Remember clearly, as described in point 1 above, that ADHD is in no way a real disease; to imply otherwise is a lie. The truth is that protecting your children from toxic drugs is being completely responsible. It is those who advocate these drugs for children who are abdicating responsibility and avoiding the challenge of truly meeting the needs of our children.
6. You are going against medical advice. Physicians work for you. There is something called informed consent. If they have given you false or inaccurate information, or attempted to deceive you in any way, then the advice that they have given is faulty and you can justifiably take matters (concerning "ADHD") into your own hands. It is your responsibility to protect the short and long-term health, well-being and development of your child.
The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes "Patients" of Normal Children. Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD is an adult and child neurologist who has made "disease" (brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, etc.) vs. "no disease" (emotional, psychiatric) diagnoses daily and has discovered and described real diseases. Herein he describes the difference between psychiatry/psychology, on the one hand, and neurology and all organic medicine, on the other, and why ADHD and all of psychiatry's "chemical imbalances" are not diseases at all--but fraud. Referring to psychiatry, he states: "They made a list of the most common symptoms of emotional discomfiture of children and in a stroke that could not be more devoid of science or Hippocratic motive-termed them " diseases"/ "chemical imbalances" each needing/requiring a "chemical balancer"- a pill." In 1970, when "hyperactivity"/"minimal brain damage" (forerunners of ADHD) was first represented to Congress to be a brain disease, only 150,000 had it. Today, not by science or truth, but the "big lie" -saying it is a disease often enough, 6 million have it! Nor is ADHD the only "chemical imbalance." They give us conduct disorder (CD), oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD), major depressive disorder (MDD), OCD, PTSD, GAD, SAD, etc., a total of 374 psychiatric disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), said to be "chemical imbalances" needing "chemical balancers" --pills! In 2003 Congressional hearings it was said that 17% of the nation's school children, 8.8 million, were labeled and drugged by psychiatry. Today it is 20%; one in five; over 10 million! How better to sew the seeds of our own destruction? As if this were not enough, the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health is set to foist compulsory, government-mandated, mental health screening on all 52 million US schoolchildren. When normal people are lied to, told they have a "disease" to make "patients" of them, their right to informed consent has been abrogated and they no longer live in a democracy. When, pursuant to that lie, they are drugged, what we have is not "treatment" but poisoning. This is the greatest health care fraud in modern medical history.