By: Krystle Crossman
Children are hyper. It is their nature. Some parents feel that they are excessively hyper and so they bring them to the doctor once problems at home or school begin. An overwhelming number of children come back with a diagnosis of ADHD and a prescription for an amphetamine such as Ritalin that is supposed to help them focus and calm down. Is ADHD really a true disorder or is just a case of kids being kids? Harvard University psychologist Jerome Kagan believes that most of the time, ADHD is a farce.
Being one of the most renowned and respected psychologists in the country, Kagan has a lot of pull when it comes to his research and findings. He is revered as one of the top psychologists around, especially when it comes to child psychology. Kagan has performed research on the developmental habits of babies and small children. He has studied mental illness in children for years. He feels that pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists are benefiting from what he calls an invention diagnosis more than the children are. Kagan states that back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s if a child was hyper in class or not paying attention, it meant that they were bored and they were given something to do. In today’s world we are so focused on having something specific to blame that a diagnosis is given as a crutch, to try and make an excuse as to why the child is behaving the way that they are.
The characteristics of ADHD are defined as:
-lack of focus/inattention
Kagan says that the problem with diagnosing a child with ADHD is that the doctors know that there is a medication available that will calm the child down and so they will make a hasty diagnosis based on the symptoms the parent is telling them about. Often times they will not further than an ADHD diagnosis. Kagan states that 90% of the children that are given this diagnosis have no problems with their dopamine levels, which is said to be the root cause of ADHD. It can be hard to diagnose a child with a mental illness as they are still growing, learning, and adapting to their environments. Adolescents have a very rough go of it because of their hormones, their changing bodies, and their peers.
Kagan is concerned with the amount of children who are quickly diagnosed as having ADHD but also with the increasing number of teenagers that are being put on anti-depressants. He feels that they are not being accurately diagnosed and are then thrown on medication because it is available to the doctors.