It's amazing to think that as of 1996, 10 to 12 percent of schoolboys in the U.S were on an addictive drug, Ritalin, about which the manufacture states: "Sufficient data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available. ... Long-term effects of Ritalin in children have not been well established." (1998) While the statements are an effort to avoid liability for any harm caused by their product, they're also largely true: after being on the market for decades, there are few if any long-term studies on Ritalin use. But there are some clues. The manufacture's insert also notes that growth suppression has been reported. Some research suggests the possibility of brain atrophy after chronic use.
Those concerns may prove unfounded, but what if they prove true and millions of lives are forever diminished during a reckless diagnostic fad that redefines normal young-male behavior as a psychiatric disorder requiring drug addiction?
It's good to see a popular columnist like George Will take on this reckless and even totalitarian venture into mass drugging:
Boys Will Be Boys, or you can just drug them. George F. Will: http://www.sacbee.com/voices/national/will/will_19991202.html
Boys Will Be Boys, or you can just drug them.
By George F. Will (12/02/99)
One theory holds that ADHD is epidemic because of the modern acceleration of life--the environmental blitzkrieg of MTV, video games, e-mail, cell phones, etc. But the magazine Lingua Franca reports that Ken Jacobson, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, conducted a cross-cultural study of ADHD that included observation of two groups of English school children, one diagnosed with ADHD, the other not. He observed them with reference to 35 behaviors (e.g., "giggling," "squirming," "blurting out") and found no significant differences between the groups.
Children, he says, tend to talk, fidget and fool around-- "all the classical ADHD-type behaviors. If you're predisposed to label any child as ADHD, the distracted troublemaker or the model student, you'll find a way to observe these behaviors." So what might explain such a predisposition? Paul R. McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, writing in Commentary, argues that ADHD, "social phobia" (usual symptom: fear of public speaking) and other disorders certified by the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" are proliferating rapidly. This is because of a growing tendency to regard as mental problems many characteristics that are really aspects of individuality.
So pharmacology is employed to relieve burdensome aspects of temperament. "Psychiatric conditions," says McHugh, "are routinely differentiated by appearances alone," even when it is "difficult to distinguish symptoms of illness from normal variations in human life," or from the normal responses of sensitive people to life's challenges. But if a condition can be described, it can be named; once named, a distinct disorder can be linked to a particular treatment. McHugh says some experts who certify new disorders "receive extravagant annual retainers from pharmaceutical companies that profit from the promotion of disorders treatable by the companies' medications."
The idea that most individuals deficient inattentiveness or confidence are sick encourages what McHugh calls pharmacological "mental cosmetics." This "should be offensive to anyone who values the richness of human psychological diversity. Both medically and morally, encumbering this naturally occurring diversity with the terminology of disease is a first step toward efforts, however camouflaged, to control it."
READ FULL GEORGE WILL EDITORIAL:
Peter Breggin's letter to JAMA on Ritalin: http://users.erols.com/igoddard/breggin.htm Can child Ritalin use violate anti-Nazi law?: http://users.erols.com/igoddard/nazi-rit.htm Young boy on Ritalin goes on shooting spree: http://www.erols.com/igoddard/conyers.htm Excerpts from Breggin's book on Ritalin: http://breggin.com/ritalinbkexcerpt.html