ADHD/Ritalin: Teachers, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Judges, Know Best

ADHD/Ritalin: Teachers, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Judges, Know Best
By Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD,


An Albany, NY, couple who faced child abuse charges for taking their son off of Ritalin has been ordered by the court to continue medicating him (A.P., July 19, 2000). Social Service charges against Jill and Michael Carroll were dropped on the condition that they keep 7-year-old Kyle on Ritalin. Social Service workers will be required to visit the family throughout the next year. Does this sound the US? Is it rare?

This is going on in family/divorce courts all over the country, with school-diagnosed, school-coerced, ADHD/Ritalin being the pivotal, divisive issue. In virtually all cases the court sides with the parent believing in ADHD as a 'disease,' and in Ritalin as proven, essential, medical treatment. The parent resisting is deemed negligent and loses their share of custody.

Having participated in 15-20 such cases, I can attest that judges almost always rule along the lines of reigning psychiatry mythology the matter. Hopefully, the science of the matter-that ADHD is not a proven disease, and that the children are NORMAL, will be aired in the near future. ]

Child psychiatrist, Peter S. Jensen, (Opposing View, 8/15/2000 USA Today, p. 16 A) advocates the legal enforcement of drug treatment for ADHD and other psychiatric problems diagnosed in school. He asks:

"So what should society do if a child with a disorder with lifelong consequences (which the panel concluded was true of ADHD) is denied treatment? The answer, of course, depends on the severity of the child's condition, what other treatments have been tried and the likelihood that treatments such as Ritalin will restore that child to normal or near-normal functioning.

Allow us to analyze Jensen's language carefully. By 'disorder' psychiatrists mean 'disease.' Non-psychiatric physicians, on the other hand, would point out that 'disease' means that a physical or a chemical abnormality can be found within the brain or body. This is not true of ADHD and Jensen knows it. Writing "treatments such as Ritalin will restore that child to normal or near-normal functioning, Jensen leaves no doubt he views children with ADHD as "abnormal," which is to say: "diseased."

The 'panel' Jensen invokes, is the panel of the National Institutes of Health, Consensus Conference on ADHD, of November 16-18, 1998. Having heard 3 days of testimony, the panel did not conclude that ADHD was a disabling, crippling, or life-threatening disease--they concluded it was not a disease at all!

ADHD Consensus Conference Panel, November 18, 1998:

".we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction."

ADHD, for which we drug 6 million schoolchildren today, remains nothing but an illusion of a disease. Jensen, having gone to medical school, knows this-- knows the difference between normalcy and disease, knows that no abnormality equals no disease!

In an interview in the January, 2000, Readers Digest, F.X. Castellanos summarized a quarter of a century of 'biological' research on ADHD:

"Incontrovertible evidence is still lacking.In time I'm confident we'll confirm the case for organic causes."

Jensen continues (FB: read carefully):

"Not all children (FB: with ADHD or any psychiatric diagnosis--none of them diseases) respond to medication and some benefit from behavioral therapy. Yet society requires that children's caretakers see that children get immunized, schooled, fed and clothed and receive treatments for other disorders such as asthma and diabetes."

About the only time authorities and the courts intervene in parental decision-making, is in the event of a medical emergency in which treatment that is truly life-saving is not being provided. Such might be the case with trauma or an operation with blood loss requiring a transfusion, or in the case of immunization in the face of a grave epidemic, such as that of an outbreak of poliomyelitis or meningococcal meningitis. These might be legitimate reasons to intervene. The examples Jensen gives are asthma, which can present as life-threatening 'status asthmaticus' or 'brittle' diabetes with the blood sugar level fluctuating wildly. I have no argument with Jensen's use of these as examples of life-threatening medical emergencies. Where Jensen must be stopped is in his clear and repeated inferences that ADHD and all emotional and behavioral, psychiatric conditions/diagnoses are akin to medical emergencies, needing and deserving the wresting of parental authority by schools, child protective services, courts and even the legislature-when, not only are they not medical emergencies, grave, life-threatening or crippling-they are not diseases at all!

Far from communicating "what the science says" (Jensen). psychiatry routinely perverts science and medicine, claiming that all problems emotional and behavioral are "brain diseases" due "chemical imbalances of the brain." Accepting this, we accept the need for 'diagnosis,' which, absent disease, is labeling - stigmatizing. Accepting this, we accept the need for 'treatment,' which, absent disease, is drugging - poisoning.

Follow the money.


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September 1st, 2000

Fred A. Baughman Jr. MD


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