JOHN ROSEMOND: Controversial views on ADHD create problems for public speaker
An interesting, and telling, tale: As part of a recent speaking engagement sponsored by a regional medical center in the west, I was scheduled to address a gathering of local pediatricians. Two weeks prior to the address, my contact called to inform me that the medical center’s behavioral health unit had put up such a fuss over my planned talk to the pediatricians that the center had decided to cancel it.
“Apparently,” she said, by way of explanation, “your views on ADHD and other childhood behavior disorders are fairly controversial.”
Yes, that’s true. But I contend that my views on said subjects reflect the facts, which I further contend are being withheld from both the public and children’s health care providers – withheld by individuals and groups that have a vested economic interest in those facts not being exposed. Those facts include that ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and bipolar disorder of childhood are not realities; rather, they are constructs.
If a physician tells a patient that he has a tumor growing in his left lung, that can be verified with data obtained from body scans, biopsies, and other medical means. The same cannot be done with the behavior disorders in question. A therapist who diagnoses ADHD cannot provide any evidence that the child in question “has” anything. The child’s behavior is unquestionably problematic in certain ways and contexts, but that is all that can be factually ascertained.
Therapists who make such diagnoses often tell parents that ADHD, etc. are genetically transmitted from parent to child. Has the gene or genes in question been conclusively identified? No. Do these therapists order genetic testing before making such claims? No. Does the genetic hypothesis make sense? Not in light of the fact that according to reliable reports from now-retired educators, these fantasy genes did not exist in pre-1960s school-age populations. The begging question, therefore: Where did these genes come from?
These same therapists explain ADHD, etc. in terms of something they call a “biochemical imbalance.” Has said imbalance ever been quantified? No. Can it be quantified? No, for the simple reason that there is no such thing as “biochemical balance.” As a leading psychiatrist has admitted, the term biochemical imbalance is “nothing but a useful metaphor.”
In other words, the biochemical imbalance explanation is not truthful; but it is indeed useful. It is useful in persuading parents to give their children drugs that have not reliably outperformed placebos but, unlike placebos, contain the very real potential of dangerous side effects.
Not agreeing with me is one thing. Not wanting my views to be heard is quite another (but a sign of the times). The demand on the part of said hospital’s behavioral health division that my talk to area pediatricians be cancelled was intellectually dishonest, but I expect nothing less from people who don’t have a scientific leg to stand on.
Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com.