The Great Debate: Does ADHD Actually Exist?

Yes, but it is overdiagnosed

Q. In your own words, define attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A. ADHD is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system that causes problems with attention spans, activity levels, and executive functions—which means organizational skills, sequential skills, self-monitoring, and social interaction. It must occur at least over more than one environment. By “more than one environment,” we mean a young child at play, at home, in school, and in day care or an older child or a young adult in work. It has to have been present, by definition, by age 7 years. ADHD must be clinically significant; for example, if you have a list of symptoms and the child is making straight A's and B's, is doing well socially, is not having conduct problems at school, and is functioning well at home, that is not clinically significant. The condition must also cause problems beyond one's functional level. In other words, a child with a 95 IQ [intelligence score] who is making a lot of C's wouldn't be expected to make A's; therefore, this behavior shouldn't be called ADHD.

Q. Does ADHD actually exist?
A.Yes. There are many models. ADHD has been around for a long time—as far back as the 1930's or 1940's. Back then, it was called “minimal brain injury,” which entailed poor coordination, learning disabilities, problems with attention span and impulsivity, and hyperactivity in executive function. In the 1960's, it was renamed “minimal cerebral dysfunction.” All of these things were considered under one rubric at that time. In the 1970's, people started to break up ADHD into separate entities. Among these were learning disabilities, which were pulled off by the psychiatrists and the behavioral part of it called Attention Deficit Disorder initially, and then Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder eventually, but we're still talking about the same clusters of kids. It occurs on two bases. ADHD itself is a bunch of symptoms that can occur with several different disorders, the attention span, the activity levels, and the impulsivity; for example, you can see that in depression, psychotic disorders, and other conditions. An entity that was called by these names before was the category labeled “neurogenic,” a type that is passed on from family to family on what we call a “minor insult basis.” For example, in groups of children who survive prematurity or in children with fetal alcohol effects or drug effects, you see this syndrome present in greater amounts. So yes, ADHD does exist; however, it is greatly overdiagnosed. Many children are labeled as having ADHD because the right diagnosis is not made, because the behavior might be a variant of normal, and because of overzealous professionals of all kinds.

Q. When was the ADHD diagnosis explosion?
A. The explosion occurred between the years 1990 and 2000, partly because corporations—not just drug companies but also nontraditional companies—were pushing it. Sometimes the literature, particularly the lay literature, spelled out the condition without really defining the parameters I explained earlier. Back in the 1980's, North Carolina, for example, indicated that, according to its Medicaid statistics, about 4.5 percent of children within the population had ADHD, or about 5,000 children. Of course, North Carolina grew in population, and in the next ten years it wound up with about 10 percent of its population [with ADHD]—about 20,000 children—but it was still roughly 10 percent of the overall population who had ADHD. So this rate had doubled. This is not terribly different than in 1990 to 1996; the amount of methylphenidate [a central nervous system stimulant drug for ADHD] produced in the United States had increased six-fold.

Where did these newly diagnosed children come from? It might be parents who have had alcohol or drugs early on in their pregnancy. You have better medical technology. Years ago, when I was doing my training, if you had a 5-pound baby with respiratory distress, the child had a 50/50 chance of it making it; now it's a 100 percent chance. These surviving babies weigh 3 pounds and less, so that's another population. Leukemia was a death sentence years ago; now a lot of these young patients survive, but they have radiation to the brain, they receive chemotherapy to the spinal canal, and so forth. Thus, all these things have pushed us up on that “subtle insult” basis. On the other hand, many kids have other things wrong, and this may be called ADHD when actually the problem may be a variant of normal.

Q. Do you find that parents project ADHD behavior on to their children to get them medicated and docile?
A. Sometimes, yes. You might have teachers who don't want structure and do not do the things you need to do in a classroom. There a lot of very good teachers out there, please don't misunderstand, but you have some who take the easy way out. If a child has a learning problem, for some teachers it's a lot easier to say, “Let's put Billy on medication and see what happens,” than to test the child to see whether the child has a learning problem or a learning disability in order to make an appropriate diag-nosis and to give the child what he or she really needs, which is help in learning. Medicine may help for a short time, but if the child has diffi-culty learning, you're still going to have problems down the line. Part of the attention span problem is that the child doesn't understand what's going on; he or she is not being walked through it. The other thing we see now—a terrible problem—is the example I gave about the 95 IQ. We see parents who want their child, who really can't make A's, to make A's. The parents might put the child in high-powered schools with high achievers. The other children there are making good grades because they've got IQ's of 120 and they're learning two years ahead of themselves, whereas this poor kid can learn normally at an average level but is two years behind the other kids. These kids are tagged as having ADHD by the teachers at those schools, and the child gets tagged as having ADHD by the parents, and the parents then want you to put these children on medication. This is a terrible ethical issue.

Q. So learning disabilities could get masked and then over time explode.
A. Sure. There is a whole list of things that can get confused with pure ADHD or the neurogenic types of ADHD.

Q. If overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis continue at their present rates,what would the consequences be?
A. I think we're already getting some recognition that there are some problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out practice guidelines and treatment guidelines—I don't agree with all of them—but I think it's at least a start.

Q. Do children ever just grow out of ADHD if they're not medicated?
A. There are two answers to your question. Number one, some studies show that children with ADHD who are properly diagnosed—I want to emphasize that—and who receive appropriate medication have fewer problems later on with juvenile delinquency and drug abuse, whereas children who are not properly treated later have those particular problems. Now, do children grow out of it? They certainly do. First of all, there is a maturation difference. Some girls get [menstrual] periods at or 10 years of age, and some don't get it until they are 16. Some guys shave at 14 or 15, others not until they're 20. It's the same thing with the nervous system. It matures at different levels and at different times, Unfortunately, kids are boxed into going to school at the exact same time, Some of that [discrepancy in] maturity evens out at a given point. Second, we're adaptive beings. We learn as we grow. We learn what things we can substitute in order to make corrections on various behaviors or learning styles that may help us. For both reasons, children do change and children grow out of [ADHD]. Children who are taking medication certainly don't have to take it all throughout life.

Q. When is the decision made to wean a child from medication?
A. I think you need to see how a child is doing. If a child doing relatively well for a period of time, let's say a year or two, I think you need to start backing up the doses and see how well the child does without it. Just do it very gradually, case by case.

Q. Does the medication interfere with any personality traits or creativity?
A. I think that if a child doesn't have the disorder, doesn't need medication, but is taking medication, it certainly could interfere. However, if the child has the disorder, his or her creativity is not going to be there either. So it's a matter of what we are talking about. Medication certainly puts us on a more direct-line orientation of things so that we don't necessarily think more “out of the box” than we would otherwise. Of course, some artists and other people have hurt themselves and done all sorts of things that were nontraditional on the basis of creativity but, at the same time, were not normal within signs of societal demands. Again, we must seek that out on a case-to-case basis. If a particularly brilliant child is doing wonderfully but some people think the child is hyperactive, and if the child can imagine and do all sorts of things and doesn't need medication and then you slap him on medication, certainly it can interfere with his creativity.

Q. What about consumer advertisements claiming that medication is a cure-all for ADHD?
A. Some ads, from both traditional and supplemental drug companies, usually list a series of symptoms; the ad might say, “If your child has these symptoms, ask your doctor about …”. The companies that put out high-dose multivitamins might focus on school problems, or a teacher might say that the child isn't paying attention. In an actual advertising dialogue between two women, one says, “You know, my child was making poor grades. He couldn't pay attention. His teacher says he has all sorts of behavior problems, and then we put him on medication.” The second woman says, “How's your child doing?” The other woman responds, “Oh, it's wonderful, there's such an attitude adjustment.” There is a big marketplace for this, and like anything else, when there's a big marketplace, people are going to try to take advantage of people and push them to utilize their product one way or another.

Q. It seems that some of the symptoms mentioned in ads are just typical child-like behaviors.
A. These behaviors can be normal variants, and that's why you have sort it out and make sure what's there. It can't be done in a 15-minute office visit.

Q. Are you aware of any herbal or natural remedy for ADHD that would work as well as the drugs?
A. No. You have an herbal remedy that might work for mild depression, St. John's wort. You have one that, frankly, I use to bring on sleep, called melatonin, which is sometimes used for kids. But there's nothing really out there herbally that works particularly well for ADHD. You also have companies that produce high-volume vitamin tablets, and from the standpoint of nutrition, there's certain sensitivities to food that sometimes produce symptoms of ADHD as well. In that situation, basically you avoid those particular products.

Q. What about the Feingold Diet?
A. The Feingold diet [a regimen devoid of food dyes, salicylates, and other additives] is very hard to keep; most children have not stayed on it. The reason it's not really around today is that just didn't work all that well. There was a “Feingold effect,” which worked in about 10 to 20 percent of the children, closer to a rate of 10 percent. In some Toronto experiments in children on the diet with and without medication, results were variable. Some children are particularly sensitive to five substances (eggs, wheat, corn, chocolate, and nuts) and sometimes will have a reaction. Again, they [these children] are about 5 percent, but they are there. In those situations, a diet devoid of those things [allergenic substances] is usually a good idea.

Excerpt from ADHD: The Great Misdiagnosis

By Julian Haber, M.D.

Although the symptom complex of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder had been around for a very long time under other labels, the intensity of radio, television, and print media coverage reached a climax only after the malady was named ADD by the American Psychiatric Association. This intense coverage, although well intentioned and informational, nonetheless frequently made inaccurate and exaggerated statements.

Journalists reported lists of symptoms without warning that these might approximate normal variants in some children when occurring in lesser intensity. Furthermore, the articles and reporters seldom communicated that those traits should only be considered abnormal if they were severe enough to cause academic failure or significant problems with interpersonal relationships. Nor did the media point out that the same behaviors could occur in a plethora of other nonrelated disorders.

The author of one article in a professional magazine for occupational therapists claimed, “One big clue to its existence in adulthood is an inner feeling on the part of the individual with ADHD that there is something not quite right.” Many entities may cause one to feel that something is “not quite right,” not just Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder!

It became common for parents to say, “Oh, I see some of these traits in me and my child. I wonder if he or T have a problem. Maybe we ought to get evaluated,” Unfortunately, this kind of thinking fanned the epidemic and, among other things, led to an array of ADD psychology, psychiatric, and medical clinics and institutes dedicated to treating this new disorder. While some of these clinics may have functioned well, there were some problems. If a facility is aimed at a particular entity, a bias developed toward making that the diagnosis. Other possible causes are overlooked.

At the height of this epidemic of misdiagnosis, many calls from parents to our facility began with, “My child's counselor in school says my child has Attention Deficit Disorder and that I should contact an ADD doctor.” My usual and standard response was twofold. First, we should not place any label on the child without a thorough workup because we really don't know what the child has. Second, I work in the field of developmental/behavioral pediatrics, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is just one of a great many disorders that I treat.

Entrepreneurism frequently overcomes logic. The great epidemic is no exception. People who sell high-dose vitamin products, for example, use the fear factor. They state that stimulant medications such as Ritalin are dangerous and there are no long-term studies about the effects of this group of medications. In truth, the stimulants have been in use for more than thirty years. By the late 1970's more than 700 studies examined the short-and long-term effects of medication related to the symptom complex we now call ADHD. By now, scientists have probably conducted more than 1,000 investigations.

When these medications are used in proper doses for the appropriate disorder, they frequently produce dramatic benefits. Serious side effects usually occur when the wrong problem is diagnosed or medication is used in inappropriate amounts. For those in this latter group, the consequences may be disastrous.

Some of the problems with ADHD medications have led to the formation of organizations such as Mothers Against Ritalin. This coalition has become a strong promoter of various alternative forms of therapy. A number of these groups, however, play on the fear that medical treatment for ADHD behaviors is dangerous.

The drug companies are not without fault. A national television program reported that a great deal of the funding for CHADD, a parent support organization, was from a company that manufactures stimulant medication. However, in all fairness, CHADD serves as an excellent support, advocacy and educational forum.

One drug company that entered the stimulant medication market best demonstrates the “you gotta have a gimmick” techniques of entrepreneurism. In the mid-1990s, Richwood Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to a Dexedrine-like product, Obetrol, aimed at diet-conscious Americans. However, sales in that arena were not really going well. The corporation renamed the medication Adderall to coincide with the add epidemic, hoping that sales would increase. One physician with expertise in the field from a developmental center in Seattle believed that the manufacturer was overly aggressive in promoting its product and was quoted in the trade publication Pediatric News as saying, “This drug didn't do well as an obesity treatment and now the company wants to cash in on a big treatment market.”

The medication contained four different kinds of amphetamines that work at different time intervals. This drug differed somewhat from similar medications on the market, and there were no generic versions of this product. This gave the manufacturer a distinct advantage.

The manufacturer approached medical professionals and sold itself as “your ADHD company.” It printed information slips and data that promoted the disability and at the same time boosted its company sales. Ciba used a similar tactic when it possessed the patient for Ritalin, as did Abbott with Cylert.

However, the manufacturer of Adderall claimed that its product was long-acting (eight hours or longer) and that therefore patients frequently needed only one dose a day to gain the desired outcome. It produced studies of more than 600 children were not included in the study because they took doses of more than forty milligrams a day, indicating a group of children required extra medication. A closer review of the treatment group revealed that approximately 65 percent of the children needed a second or third dose. In my own clinic,of 138 children who were prescribed Adderall, only eight are on this medication once a day.

Despite these contradictions to the manufacturer's advertising claims, its salespeople and literature still touted this product as a long-acting drug. Eventually the company stated that, indeed at times a second dose was necessary, but not a third dose. While this medication may work when the more traditional remedies fail, it certainly does not meet the criteria of a once-a-day medication.

This sales approach led to a dramatic growth of the corporation, which in time was bought out by a larger concern. According to literature published by the manufacturer, in 1996 only 200,000 prescriptions were written for the product; in 1998 the figure was over 2 million. Later that year, sales of Adderall eclipsed those of Ritalin and by June 1999 reached 900,000 per quarter. However, generic Ritalin (methyl-phenidate) still gains more than 60 percent of the market.

Reprinted with permission, ADHD: The Great Misdiagnostic

To order this book, call: 1-800-266-5766, ext. 1802, or visit

No, there is no concrete evidence: Fred A. Baughman, Jr., M.D.
Q. In your own words, what is attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
A. ADHD refers to a galaxy or a number of behaviors—some from a list of inattention, some from a list of hyperactivity and impulsivity—and, if according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), a child is deemed by an observer—a teacher or a parent—to have six of nine of the list of behaviors in either of those categories, he or she is said to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD. That has been the standard means of diagnosing so-called ADHD since publication of the 1994 DSM IV, authored and published by the American Psychiatric Association.

At the November 1998 ADHD Consensus Conference held at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), however, Professor William Carey of the University of Pennsylvania was invited to address the issue of the scientific status of ADHD. He concluded that these behaviors were normal behaviors in normal children and that there was no evidence in the aggregate scientific record of medicine and science that such behaviors represented a brain disease or brain dysfunction. Having heard that opinion—the bottom line as it were—from a review of the scientific literature, the panel of the Consensus conference concluded that there was no evidence that ADHD was due to brain malfunction and no test by which to demonstrate a physical abnormality in such children.

The panel concluded, according to the reading of the literature from Dr. Carey, that there is no such disease. Of interest, later in a review by the panel and the entire audience at the conference of the preliminary drafts of the panel's statement, Professor Carey stood and pled to the assemblage that they should make a strong statement that the practitioners of the country should stop telling the public and the parents that this is a brain disease when there simply was no proof of it in the scientific literature.

Q. What about positron emission tomography (PET) tests that show a difference between the brain of an adult with ADHD and one without?
A. The first claims from the NIMH that PET scan research, specifically that authored by Alan Zametkin of the NIMH (in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990), were that PET scans validated ADHD as a disease with detectable abnormalities in the brain. However, the Zametkin research was never replicated, nor has any claim of any biologic abnormality that, if verified, would be an underlying diagnosis of ADHD and the contention that it is a disease. So there is no proof. Not by PET scans, not by SPECT scans, not by MRI, or CAT scans, nor any blood or urine test. Despite an epidemic that today involves six million children in the United States, there is no objective means of making the diagnosis or proving, child by child, that they are other than normal.

Q. Is it possible that the technology isn't available yet to make such a objective diagnosis?
A. I can invent a disease today called Baughman's disease, and I could start diagnosing it and writing prescriptions for it. I could start telling you and others that I'm going to validate it sometime in the future, no sweat. Throughout my career as a neurologist, unlike a psychiatrist, I deal with organic diseases of the brain on an every-day, every-patient basis. If you come to me and you've got a complaint headache, it is my medical legal duty to you as an individual to determine whether you've got a physical disease of the brain.

I harken back to a young father who testified in a hearing in front of the Tennessee House of Representatives. A podiatrist with something of a scientific background, he testified that he had just been ceded custody of his son, who was about 10 years of age. The son, under his mother's care, had been seen by a psychiatrist and was taking Ritalin or another drug for ADHD. The father, in his first visit to the psychiatrist, had asked the psychiatrist why the boy was taking Ritalin. The psychiatrist said that the boy had ADHD, a chemical imbalance of the brain. The father asked to see the laboratory results that establish that there is a chemical imbalance. The psychiatrist gulped and said that those records had already been stored. The father continued to press for objective evidence of this disease that the psychiatrist had diagnosed. The psychiatrist became ever more flustered and eventually confessed that there was no such test and banished the father and his son from his office forever.

If you are a consumer of health care or are a party to consuming health care for your minor child or elderly parents, you have a right and a duty to ask for the objective evidence of any abnormality that is being diagnosed. If you encounter any physician who wishes to withhold that from you, you are not dealing with a scientific or ethical practitioner of medicine.

That's the status of psychiatry today. They claim that every diagnosis is a brain disease or a chemical imbalance of the brain, but there is in no single instance an objective test. What they do is pseudoscience, false science—a willful perversion of science. They seek to pronounce people as diseased to make patients out of normals, and they then generate income by scheduling follow-up visits, providing a second hook into the marketplace after prescribing medication.

All medications, regardless of what field of medicine, are foreign compounds to the body, and all are poisons. They all bring with them a potential of injury, sometimes death.

Q. How do ADHD drugs actually work?
A. ADHD drugs are euphorigenic; they cause us to feel good: methylphenidate, which is Ritalin, and dexedrine, an amphetamine; Adderol is a mix of various amphetamine salts. Gradumate and desoxin are legal drugs, but they are pure methamphetamines—the same drug we are fighting in the meth wars. I don't know if the compounds are being given legally or illegally.

So all of these are Schedule 2 controlled substances. That means they are highly addictive and have been considered to be so under the Controlled Substances Act of 1971, which was an international document. There's never been any doubt, at least in the scientific record of the addictability of these drugs. However, biological psychiatry is, today, clearly a branch of the pharmaceutical industry. They are not a scientific, Hippocratic, health-driven organization. Rather, they have long since been bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Only if you can understand that will you understand why they are inventing disease and why they regularly defend against any attempts to regulate any medication. They regularly represent Schedule 2 psychostimulants as safe and nonaddictive, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, I might add.

Q. What would be the consequences if diagnosis and medication were to continue at their present rate?
A. We're talking six million kids in this country said to have ADHD. That's a 2001 figure given on a “Frontline” show about ADHD in which I participated. We're talking about 13 percent of all normal kids. That figure is still rising, not as a function of discovery in the population of any real disease, but it's a craze being orchestrated and driven by propaganda coming from psychiatry, now in league with pediatrics and neurology. All are on the bandwagon. All are making billable patients out of entirely normal children by this scheme of psychiatric chemical imbalances of the brain. It can be understood only in terms of market, financial, and economic forces. Sad to say, ethics have been shelved.

Q. Is it possible that the symptoms of ADHD could be attributed just being in a dull school environment all day?
A. Well, no parent is perfect. If school were not optimal, home were not optimal, parenting and teaching were not optimal, yes, and those are all causes for normal children to become unhappy and frustrated. If they're not taught to read properly—entering the fifth grade with first-grade reading skills—you can predict that this is an unhappy child growing unhappier by the year. You can make a psychiatric patient out of him if you try to, and that's exactly what's going on. Our schools have become a disgrace. I don't think any U.S. child should have to go to U.S. public schools such as they exist today. Their parents cannot know what the right way to rear a child is when they are being lied to and told that every troubling behavior is a medical problem.

The children are ours to rear and ours to tolerate, to disciple, to mold, to teach self-control, to educate. If they have no disease, there is no medical intervention in this process. Parents today have been bombarded with the biological psychiatry mantra of “chemical imbalances” of the brain. Every misbehavior is a chemical imbalance that needs a drug. That whole thing has one aim—to sell a drug at the end of the day.

Psychiatrists, pediatricians, neurologists, and family practitioners have adopted this and are middlemen. They become pushers of drugs in the process. They generate plenty of billable hours by diagnosing these totally fraudulent disease entities and then giving dangerous, addictive, sometimes deadly, medications to children who, until the moment of treatment begins, are entirely normal. Once they've got the drug in their system, they are no longer normal. This is recognized by the Department of Defense, because kids bearing these diagnoses—having been on psychiatric drugs beyond 12 years of age—will not be able to enlist in the Armed Forces. There is some individuality, some appeal process because of the vast numbers of medicated children and vast shortfall of conscription for the Armed Forces. They are making some exceptions.

For instance, Eric Harris, who was one of the Columbine school killers, had been taking an SSRI [selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor] antidepressant. Very shortly before the bloody rampage, he had been informed by the local recruiting office that he had been rejected; he had tried to enlist in the Armed Forces. We're taking six million potential recruits out of the pool with these fraudulent diagnoses and subjecting them to drugs of addiction. The Armed Forces, by the way, cannot be held to the same requirement to provide employment that other employers throughout the community have. Most employers, according the Americans with Disabilities Act, have to hire the handicapped without prejudice and would be required not to discriminate against someone who has had an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. Uncle Sam himself, who oversees the U.S. Department of Education and the drugging of all of these kids, on the other hand, says we recognize that they are damaged goods, they just don't acknowledge the federal government's role in damaging all of these kids. It would interfere with the flow of drug dollars into Congress, where there is more than one lobbyist per Congressman.

Q. What about using diet to control the symptoms?
A. If you say a nutritional supplement is needed or an elimination allergic diet is needed, you are presuming that there is a medical abnormality, a nutritional deficiency, such as a vitamin A or vitamin Bl deficiency. Unless you can prove that with a test, your contention of disease is no more scientific than psychiatry's contention of a disease.

These kids we're talking about were normal at birth; they walked and talked. They are normal kids. They are getting labeled as diseased, and they shall be treated as diseased. If parents do not go along with this, they are negligent. They may lose their share of custody if they are single parents in a divorce situation, or frequently parents who are together are being reported by school personnel to child protection services. They are saying that unless the parents accept Ritalin for the child, they might lose custody of their child. This is happening to hundreds of thousands of divorced parents and tens of thousands of parents who are together in cohesive families.

Q. Are the statistics for ADHD higher or lower for children who are home-schooled?
A. I haven't seen any statistics from the home schooling organizations within the past couple of years, but drug therapy has been traditionally nonexistent. There are home schooling magazines and journals in which ADHD stimulant ads appear, but I do know that usage is very much less. Again, it's 12 to 13 percent in public education. Generally, it's vastly less than that in parochial schools, it's generally much less in private schools, and it's very much less in home-schooling. I often advise all parents who are being lied to and coerced into these drugs to get out of public school before they are in a formal legal battle with the board of education, which they can never win. If they move to a different district and put their kids in a different school, they don't usually notice or take the trouble to pursue that child to drug them.

Q. What about countries where child labor is prevalent?
A. An agency of the United Nations, called the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), coordinates all international activities and surveillance of substances of addiction, including the amphetamines. In the annual report of the INCB in the past few years, the president, Hamed Ghodsi, a professor of psychiatry in the United Kingdom, had been sounding the alarm, pointing out that while the United States has led the world in the drugging of its normal school children, the push is on from the psychiatric/pharmaceutical cartel to export the brain disease propaganda to all other developed countries of the world. We're talking the United Kingdom, France, and the European Union countries. Dr. Ghodsi points out that while the absolute frequency rates in these countries is still much below that of the United States, the rate of rise of ADHD diagnosis is increasing by more than 100% each year. So the United Kingdom and France are probably still at 1 percent or less of their school populations, but this rate is rapidly rising.

In November of 2001 I testified on this very issue in hearings before a conference of the European Union in Paris. My testimony that the representation of ADHD as a disease was fraudulent and contrived. There were psychiatrists who were duly indoctrinated by people by “pseudoscientists” from our own NIMH, who were pushing ADHD as a disease. The lead psychiatrist at those hearings was Eric Taylor from the United Kingdom.

Q. Have you faced any kind of negative reaction to your position?
A. Oh yes. The psychiatrists and their paymasters at the pharmaceutical industry don't like the things that I say, and their approach to me is to pretend that I don't exist and to not respond to things that I say and write. I also testified at the U.S. House of Representatives that any physician saying that any psychiatric diagnosis is an actual brain disease is speaking fraudulently. I was invited, temporarily, to testify at hearings in Congress on the issue of parity legislation for psychiatric diagnoses. The parity legislation being considered in the Congress and the Senate would have us believe that every psychiatric diagnosis is a disease which should be paid for by insurance schemes such as Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurances, just as if they were real objectively diagnosable medical entities like multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy. And of course, with psychiatry inventing at least 100 or more new diseases for every issue of its DSM, they can soon break the bank of medical care, and they are doing just that.

At any rate, I was told that I was going to be the one to testify on the parity legislation. [However], members of the committee had huddled with members of the American Psychiatric Association committee, and they had decided that they would rather I did not be heard.

Q. Have you gotten any positive feedback?
A. Lots. Fortunately, there are growing numbers of people in the United States, in Australia, and throughout Europe, where I have growing numbers of allies and like-minded people who are waking up to the absolute fraud that is being perpetrated. There was just an article that ADHD diagnosis has become even more common in certain parts of Australia than it has in America. And this report, authored by some psychiatrists, called for a moratorium on ADHD diagnosis and on its drugging. That's a development of recent days and weeks.

More importantly, a citizen's commission on human rights recently appealed to Holland's advertising code board saying that the psychiatric group known as the Brain Foundation, which is like our group known as Children and Adults with ADD (CHADD), are prominently propagandizing ADHD and other psychiatric diseases, representing them to be diseases of the brain due to abnormalities inherent in the children. At any rate, the challenge put to the advertising code board said that these claims by the brain foundation were false and fraudulent. The Brain Foundation had a number of prominent Dutch psychiatrists on its board and challenged the ruling that they were making fraudulent statements but in the final analysis was not able to come before the government advertising board with proof. It is my understanding that they have been ordered to no longer say that this is a disease due to an abnormality within the child.

This is among the first such stands by a government agency of which I am aware and is a landmark event. I think we are going to see other challenges of that sort, for example, to our Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There are going to be lawsuits that will challenge the legitimacy of representing these things to be diseases, and we are going to see a rise in the number of such lawsuits both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom and across Europe.

One more point that I would like to get on the record here is that very important 1998 Consensus Conference held at our National Institutes of Health. Dr. James Swanson, at the University of California-Irvine, is a prominent researcher in ADHD and undoubtedly gets vast amounts of research moneys from the NIMH. He and Xavier Castellanos of the NIMH presented a paper which was a review, not of PET scanning, but of another kind of brain scanning known as MRI scanning. They reviewed brain scan studies starting in about 1986. A 1986 report by a group at Ohio State University showed that their subjects who had been on stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin and amphetamines for extended periods of time, had marked brain shrinkage, or atrophy. The authors said we must be concerned lest this brain atrophy be the result of the drugs. They sounded the warning that it's a possibility. The only other possibility is that their underlying psychiatric disease, none of them real diseases, was the cause of the atrophy.

From 1986 on through 1998, there were maybe a dozen such studies, all of them showing “on average 10 percent brain shrinkage.” Dr. Swanson, at the Consensus Conference, said that we believe this brain atrophy is the underlying abnormality in ADHD. He said that this brain atrophy is what is causing this ADHD. I was in the audience, and I said to Dr. Swanson, “Why didn't you share with the audience that, in virtually every one of these studies, the ADHD subjects had all been on long-term stimulants, and therefore the brain atrophy was the only physical variable that we know of and is likely the cause of the brain atrophy.”

Swanson kind of swallowed hard a couple of times and said that they had never done the very simple research project needed to know the difference, that is, to take ADHD kids and not treat them, and to take another group of ADHD kids and treat them and compare them at the end of four or five years. Then you'd have your answer of whether it was the drugs or the disease. But they have never done that.






By Julian Stuart Haber, M.D., F.A.A.P. and Fred A. Baughman, Jr. M.D.

Dr. Haber's practice is in developmental/behavioral pediatrics for Cook Children's Physician's Network. He has testified before the Senate Working Committee on Education on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is also the author of ADHD: The Great Misdiagnosis (Taylor Publishing, $14.95).

Fred Baughman, M.D. has been an adult and child neurologist for 35 years. He has testified before Congress on the dangers of ADHD medication.


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