One of the most common mental ‘disorders’ that seem to crop up in children today is ADHD. This stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and many believe it to be the psychological repercussions of the hi-tech information driven world that we live in.
Surprisingly, one of the most prominent psychologists in the world might have a different opinion on the matter and believes that the whole thing could be an elaborate hoax fueled by some very vested interests.
Before you call us out for being conspiracy theorists, we would like you to take a brief look at the man we’re (actually he is) talking about. Read through this and hear what he has to say. Who is this psychologist you ask? We’re talking about Dr. Jerome Kagan.
He is a tenured professor at Harvard University and is considered one of the world’s best psychologists. In fact, his fellow academics ranked Kagan the 22nd most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. This ranking put the good professor ahead of Carl Jung (Yes – THE ONE Carl Jung), who was ranked 23rd. Yet Kagan does not believe that ADHD is a real disorder. Psychologists and other medical professionals have gone on the offensive, attempting to discredit Kagan’s statements.
(ADHD) is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a paediatrician, and the paediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million (ADHD-diagnosed) kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.” – Jerome Kagan, Psychologist and Professor at Harvard University
What then is the problem for the rest of the medical community to take notice and at least analyse whether or not they are misdiagnosing thousands of children every year?
Kagan is scathing in his criticism of the pharmaceutical industry. First, physicians can financially benefit from promoting and prescribing certain medications.
Of course, this can incentivize medical professionals to over-diagnose a condition in order to earn supplementary income. Some doctors earn in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars just for working with the pharmaceutical industry. This is both an immoral and corruptive practice. We’re not even going into how the companies with the deep pockets can hold Congressmen and Senators hostage to derail and legislative process to correct the problem. You live in America. You know what we mean.
Too Much Diagnosis
According to Kagan, “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 close look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent.”
Kagan uses depression as an example here, but he says that misdiagnosis – and hence over-diagnosis – occurs across an entire spectrum of mental health conditions. In simple terms, not everyone who displays a symptom or behaviour has a mental health problem, especially children who are a “bit” prone to unpredictability.
Must-Read: How This School Solved ADD Problem Will Blow Your Mind
What’s the Solution?
In Kagan’s estimation, a number of big problems exist across the entire field of psychology. While he is sharply critical of ADHD over-diagnosis, and for good reason, the problems Kagan speak of spans the entire mental health field. As such, there are no simple answers.
But Kagan is adamant that mental health professionals must shift their approach to diagnosing ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. What then is the answer? Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to begin making diagnoses similar to how most other doctors do: by looking at the causes, not just the symptoms. Again, especially with children, who often don’t have a great ability (or desire) to fully explain themselves.
Data & Statistics at www.cdc.gov
Spiegel Interview with Jerome Kagan on Spiegel