I’m not often caught completely unawares by the depths of cretinism to which my fellow primates descend, but this story (another via MSNBC) managed to do it.
Apparently there is a small trend among some parents to ask for “ADHD” meds for kids who don’t need them — so the kids will do better in school. And we’re not talking about lifting Fs here; we’re talking about raising Bs into A level.
Now let me be clear about something. I’m not certain “ADHD” even exists, and I’m not alone in that. There are a lot of mental health experts who doubt it as well. There are no clear diagnostic criteria for it; there is no medical or pharmacological test that can be administered to determine if it’s present or absent in a given child.
Whether as a blood test or brain scan, there is no way at all to objectively prove a physical condition that can be unambiguously diagnosed as “ADHD”. There is no neurological component, there is no physical component, and there is no disease agent.
Rather, “ADHD” is something that is “diagnosed” based solely on subjective interpretation of vaguely-defined behavioral cues in children suspected of having the “disorder”. Its presence — particularly in “borderline” cases — is so tenebrous that the “evidence” for it might quite plausibly be due strictly to observer bias. (I expect to find this thing; therefore, I do.)
Dowsing is as good a method as any other for diagnosing “ADHD”, in other words.
Thus I will freely admit to a bias: I don’t believe we should be pumping drugs — mind– and mood-altering drugs — into children in the name of “treating” a “condition” whose very presence has never yet been objectively proved.
But when wrongheaded parents want to turn their kids into academic übermenschen by giving them Ritalin or Adderall, there’s something deeply fucked up indeed with those parents.
There don’t seem to be any studies done on this right now, which means evidence is purely anecdotal, but some physicians have expressed concern that parents believe “ADHD” drugs will somehow make their kids into super-students, bright and academically outstanding, rather than accept the harder reality: Some kids are simply not geniuses. (In fact, statistically, most are not.)
Possibly some believe that “every child is brilliant” — which is obviously a ludicrous notion — but I think it’s more likely another case of bias: “My child is brilliant.” And if he isn’t, well, I’ll damn well pump him full of whatever it takes to make him brilliant.
But there’s a profoundly disturbing element here. Drugs used to treat “ADHD” have been linked to
[D]ifficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, stomachaches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and tics and tremors.
There is indication of delayed growth, tactile hallucination and psychotic behavior. There is also some indication that “ADHD” meds can lead to frequent depression problems in adulthood.
And yet, the FDA approved the drugs for use — the drugs are being pushed heavily by their manufacturers — millions of parents are pumping them heedlessly into their children — and some are trying to use them for inappropriate purposes.
I’ve opined in the past (mostly cynically, mostly not meaning it) that intelligence testing should be required of anyone before they are allowed to parent. This only seems to underscore the need.
Drugs do not belong in children.
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