Friday, 24 February 2017

Renowned Harvard psychologist says ADHD is largely a fraud

If anyone has the professional expertise and moral authority to compare psychology to a rotten piece of furniture, it is Jerome Kagan. Kagan is viewed by academics as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.

A ranking of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century published by a group of US academics in 2002 put Kagan in 22nd place, even above Carl Jung (the founder of analytical psychology-23rd)and above Ivan Pavlov (who discovered the Pavlovian reflex-24).

It may be very surprising to learn that he believes that the most modern diagnosis of ADHD is a mere invention rather than a serious condition.

So it may be surprising for you to learn that Kagan believes the diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is an invention which mainly benefits the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists.

Kagan is well-known for his pioneering work in developmental psychology at Harvard University where he has spent decades observing and  documenting how babies and small children grow, measuring them, testing their reactions and once they’ve learned to speak, questioning them over and over again. He is an exceptional and highly-regarded researcher.

According to National institute of mental health ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

The definition of ADHD includes explanation for :

Inattention – which means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized;

Hyperactivity – which means a person seems to move about constantly, or displays excessively fidgets, taps, or talks,

Impulsivity – which is associated with a person  that makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have high potential for harm.

Mislabeling Mental Illness
In an interview with Spiegel, Kagan addressed the skyrocketing rates of ADHD in America. He attributes to “fuzzy diagnostic practices” and illustrated his point with the following example:

“Let’s go back 50 years. We have a 7-year-old child who is bored in school and disrupts classes. Back then, he was called lazy. Today, he is said to suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That’s why the numbers have soared,” says Kegan in the interview.

When asked about his opinion on the disorder, Kegan told the Spiegel: “(ADHD) It is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.

” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.”

He then continues: “We could get philosophical and ask ourselves: “What does mental illness mean?” If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be categorized as anxious or depressed. But if you take a closer look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent.

Describing every child who is depressed or anxious as being mentally ill is ridiculous. Adolescents are anxious, that’s normal.

They don’t know what college to go to. Their boyfriend or girlfriend just stood them up. Being sad or anxious is just as much a part of life as anger or sexual frustration.”

According to Kagan, the fact that millions of American children who are inaccurately diagnosed as mentally ill because they think there is something fundamentally wrong with them is devastating.

Besides being a psychologist is determined to raise the alarm about this trend,  Kagan and others feel they’re up against “an enormously powerful alliance: pharmaceutical companies that are making billions, and a profession that is self-interested.”

Kagan himself suffered from inner restlessness and stuttering as a child, but his mother told him that there was nothing wrong with him, only that his mind was working faster than his tongue.

He thought at the time: “Gee, that’s great, I’m only stuttering because I’m so smart.” If he had been born in the present era, he most likely would have been classified as mentally ill.

However, ADHD isn’t the only mental illness epidemic among children that worries Kagan. Depression is another mental illness that almost started in 1987, when about one in 400 American teenagers was using an antidepressant and the numbers leaped to one in 40 by 2002.

Kegan believes that depression is also another overused diagnosis, simply because the pills are available. Instead of immediately resorting to pharmaceutical drugs, he thinks doctors should take more time with the child to find out why they aren’t as cheerful.

Since studies have shown that people who have heightened activity in the right frontal lobe respond poorly to antidepressants a few tests should be carried out (an EEG for certain).

It’s very important for distinction to be made: when a life event overwhelms us, it’s common to fall into a depression for a while, but there are those who have a genetic vulnerability and experience chronic depression.

It’s crucial to look not only at the symptoms, but the causes :the former are experiencing a certain depression caused by an event and the latter are mentally ill.

Psychiatry it’s the only medical profession that establishes illness on symptoms alone and such a blind spot opens the door for new maladies — like bipolar disorder, which we never used to see in children.

Acording to statistics,nearly a million Americans under the age of 19 are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“A group of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital just started calling kids who had temper tantrums bipolar. They shouldn’t have done that. But the drug companies loved it because drugs against bipolar disorders are expensive.

That’s how the trend was started. It’s a little like in the 15th century, when people started thinking someone could be possessed by the devil or hexed by a witch,” said Kagan.

About the alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for behavioral abnormalities Kagan said that we could look at tutoring, as an example. It’s a good start since children who are diagnosed with ADHD are mainly the children who are struggling at school.

(Source: Curious Mind Magazine)

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