March 12, 2015
ADHD: Evolutionary Disease
In “Generation Rx: The Risk Of Raising Our Kids On Pharmaceuticals.”, Jon Cainbridge a phycologist from California claims that ADHD is an “evolutionary illness created to categorize high energy, ill-behaved children”. He later supports this claim by giving examples of how before the 1960’s ADHD and the drug used to treat it, Ritalin, were practically unheard of and it has since evolved into a very common mental illness (35). In fact this is so commonly diagnosed that in a recent study conducted 53% of Americans knew someone who is diagnosed with this mental illness. (Young 17). If one considers the fact that hundreds of thousands of children are diagnosed every year, the question arises, “Is ADHD a fictional disease, designed by society? And if so, why does its popularity continue to increase in America? ”
While the disease is heard of, not many actually know what ADHD actually is. ADHD can most commonly be compared to that of diabetes. Meaning that there is a lack of a certain chemical in the body, for diabetics it's insulin, but for children who have ADHD it's a chemical lacking in the brain that controls moods and hyperactivity. Thomas Armstrong, practicing phycologist, supports Cainbridge’s claim in the article, “Relying on Ritalin” stating, “American society has actually invented ADHD to help preserve its social order" (23). It is no secret that unruly children are frowned upon in today’s America. However diagnosing a child as mentally ill to help control such behavior is reaching a new extreme
In accordance to both Armstrong and Cainbridge, the article “Studies of Ritalin’s Role in Drug Abuse Produce Contradictory Findings” also adds support to this theory. Dr. Peter Jensen, Chief of Child Adolescent Disorders at the National Health Institute, agrees that ADHD is a made up disease while offering a different catalyst for the disease’s genesis. The pharmaceutical companies have been known for their good marketing. With the misbehavior of so many children, the opportunity arose for pharmaceuticals to market a new drug: Ritalin. Jensen goes on saying that, "what came first? The chicken or the egg? If you don't have a disease you can't have a drug for it. If you've got a drug and you want to give it to a certain group of people there has to be a disease" (24).
Just as there are experts that are skeptics of the disease there are also experts that support its validity. One of the opposing arguments is constructed by Expert Jonathon Leo. The contradictory argument appears in “Attention Deficit Disorder: Good Science or Good Marketing.” In the defense of the relatively new disease Leo argues that, “many diseases have been discovered in later years due to new medical technologies, and just because the disease wasn’t realized until the 1960’s doesn’t necessarily mean that it never existed before that” (65). The progress of medical advancement truly changes from year to year and with a better comprehension of the adolescent brain, many news things have been discovered, making the contradictory point of Jonathon Leo a very valid one.
Seeing the disease’s rocky genesis often surprises people, because even though it is not completely accepted among experts the popularity of the mental illness continues to grow in America. Because while the disease has all but run ramped in the states, in other modernized parts of the world the disease is practically unheard of. Leo brings this to attention when he states, “It is estimated that 23-45% of children have ADHD in America; where as in England only 0.03% of their children are known to have the illness” (67). The difference between two culturally similar places is quite disturbing, and leaves many searching for an explanation. Dr. Armstrong, who originates from London, explains the major difference that there is between America and England, “In London, we don’t waste our time with general practitioners if