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on September 14, 2003
I was the terror of the neighborhood, failed grade 1,
dropped out of high school after grade 10, then after the
army, 3 teachers talked me into returning to school. A
VERY difficult journey began - hard to concentrate, memory
problems, hyperactivity, and etc. It took a LOT of help,
but ultimately I received a BA, MEd, and Ph.D. I became a
chief of psychology in a psychiatric hospital, teacher,
therapist -- and then at 46 years of age, I was diagnosed
with ADHD. Suddenly, "everything" made sense, as the
disorder was 'classic' to how I had behaved, thought,
struggled with relationships, and etc. MEDICATIONS
comletely turned MY life around (as my wife, friends, and
work associates would affirm) - they don't work for everyone,
but for me, it was like a miracle from heaven. Of course, the
anti-medication zealots will not wish to believe this, but
my experience is like that of so many others I have seen IN MY
PRACTICE AS A PSYCHOLOGIST. When medications work, they
really do a great job. When they don't, the experience can
be very disappointing, and anger can run high. I also
conducted over 500, 1-day seminars in almost every state in
the USA, and provinces in Canada (this took place over a
14 year period). Having said all of this - the absolute
best book in the field, based on my having read scores of books,
articles, and my experiences factored in, is Dr. Amen's book!!!
I have, in fact, cleared out about 80% of all the AD/HD
literature I had, and Dr. Amen's book remains my favorite.
It is the ONLY book I now recommend to individuals who ask
for my opinion, as a psychologist WITH ADHD.
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on February 27, 2001
I really appreciated the explanation of the different parts of the brain and how they should work, but don't in the ADD brain. There is a list of 71 questions which helps you determine which type of ADD you are, and recommendations for how to change your lifestyle (diet, exercise) to give you more focus.
Unlike most ADD books, this one does not focus on children but should be very useful for children with ADD. There is a chapter for each type of ADD. Prescription medications are discussed, as are natural and over-the-counter alternatives. When you read this, it will give you a really good idea which meds or supplements are likely to work best for you, in combination with changes in diet and exercising frequently. Medication alone is most often not enough.
There is a section on ADD coaching. It gives exercises to help determine what is most important to you, and advice of accomplishing goals.
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on February 28, 2001
Healing ADD is a landmark book that every counselor, psycholgist, psychiatrist,and pastor will want to have. More importantly if you struggle with ADD or know someone who does this book is a must read. I and the therapists who are associated with me have referred over 600 people in the last four years for SPECT Brain Imaging Scans. As a psychotherapist I have found Dr. Amen's work to be truly a landmark in the field of psychiatry, psychology and medicine in general. "Healing ADD" helps the reader to identify which of the six types of ADD that they have, and then the practical steps to take for treatment. An alarming number of people are medically mismanaged when it comes to ADD treatment, and the work that Dr. Amen has done through over 10,000 SPECT Brain Imaging Scans has resulted in a system of diagnosis and medication management that brings more precision to the care of the ADD patient.So many of the horror stories and bad press that Ritalin is given are due to inaccurate diagnosis. Ritalin or another stimulant will be prescribed when another system of the brain needs to be treated first before a stimulant is given. The checklists that are provided in Dr.Amen's book will give the reader a guide as to whether the counselor or physcian they are working with is headed in the right direction with the treatment program they design. What is also exciting about this work is how it educates and empowers the lay person to truly be in charge of their care, and be able to ask their therapist, or physcian the needed questions to make sure they are getting the most up to date care and treatment possible. This is a book that the lay person and professional will benefit from. If you are being treated for ADD you might want to purchase a copy for your doctor.
Earl R. Henslin Psy.D., B.C.E.T.S. Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress Diplomate in the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress
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on June 25, 2014
This book has been instrumental in helping me with my ADD, and has even helped me to start kicking my Adderall habit. I also found a great OTC Adderall replacement to use in conjunction with the techniques in this book. You can find it on Amazon, it’s called NeuroNRG – Mental Focus and Energy Supplement.
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on April 5, 2003
My daughter will be eleven this month. About a year ago, I found this book quite by accident while browsing ADD topics on MSN. I had had continuous school problems with my daughter since kindergarten. Before that, I knew she was different from other kids. From kindergarten through 4th grade I ran from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong. I was introduced to ADD-ADHD at the age of 5-6. From there after an MRI and trips Children's Hospital - we had different maybe diagnosis' that ranged from a non-verbal learning disability to asperger's disorder. By 4th grade I was at my whit's end. A terrible year in school!! Then one day I found this book. It described my daughter to a tee!! OVERFOCUSED ADD - TYPE 3!!!! She could not help herself - she could not help being difficult!! Now let me mention that my daughter had already been on several different ADHD medications since kindergarten - and she was still having these problems!! I then took her to a PHD level Psychologist who did a full Neuro-pysch and behaviorial evaluation on my daughter who recommended a medicine - the same medicine that Dr. Amen used on one of his "hopeless" patients. "Risperdal" An anti-psychotic medication that works wonders on this type of ADD. It does not mean that the person is psychotic - just works wonders on this type of Overfocused ADD. I swear - you could see the change in my daughter within a week!!! We could never have a conversation - because something else was always pulling her away after less than 2 sentences. She could not transition - I had to drag her from one place to another. She was always fixated on things. TV - cats - rocks - bugs -gems - gliter- etc. She had no social skills. She sat like an aborigine! She ate like an animal. She was a bull in a china shop!! She was distructive. She broke all her toys. Her room was like a tornado ripped it up every night. She ruined her clothes. She wrecked the furniture........ I was at my whit's end...I was so tired of explaining.......Then exactly 6 months ago - Risperdal changed my daughter's life. Within a week we could see a change. She has done a complete turnaround in school. She also takes Adderall as a stimulant to calm the hyperactivity. With the help of special ed classes to help her "catch up" in all the areas that she missed while being overfocused, she is a different, and almost "normal" 10-11 year old. I swear she got all As & Bs this semester and all satisfactories in conduct. This is the first year in her life that we have truly been happy. I feel that if I hadn't found this book on the internet - that I would still be searching. I recommend this book as the one true source of ADHD. Much better than "driven to distraction". Thank you Dr. Amen!!! I swear on my daughter that this is the truth!!!
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on December 26, 2002
Dr. Daniel Amen describes several sets of ADD symptoms, illustrating them with images of abnormal brain activity in those who suffer from the symptoms. While I'm not convinced that his six types are all really primarily ADD, or that they are the only types of ADD, still, this book provides fascinating insight into the physical basis for psychiatric difficulties. Dr. Amen's case studies are fascinating and quite compelling, and he shows both great tenderness for his clients and great insight into the needs and difficulties of people with ADD.
This book is extremely valuable for debunking the myth that ADD is not a real disability. Dr. Amen's use of brain imaging technology demonstrates the ways that some people's brains work differently and ineffectively. It's not just laziness--when people with ADD try to concentrate, the part of our brain that controls concentration just shuts down. It's genuinely a physical disability. Although I can "feel" this, to see it verified in black-and-white was extremely validating.
While Amen's treatments might be experimental, his diagnostic methods do not seem so. It is not "experimental" to use brain imaging technology to identify where the brain is working properly and not working enough. This has been done for many years. And it's not true that Amen's work is completely "out there"--his work was reviewed by research physicians in two departments (nuclear medicine and neurology, I think) at UCLA and found to be "good medicine" and worthwhile. Comparisons made in other reviews to procedures completely unsupported by any scientific evidence are really in themselves unsupportable.
I am not a doctor and can't recommend whether the treatments outlined in this book should be implemented. I can say that people with ADD, and those around them who doubt the reality of their difficulties, will learn a lot from looking at the brain images in this book and understanding the connections between the brain's impaired functioning and the associated symptoms.
Reading this book almost makes me feel that "normal" psychiatry is working in the dark without tools... Dr Amen might or might not have made as much progress in the field as this book appears to demonstrate, but nonetheless I think he must be on the right track. I wonder whether it will one day seem to us that trying to guess what's wrong with someone's brain without looking at it, is as strange as trying to diagnose strep throat over the phone.
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on March 10, 2001
At last! Some real guidance through the difficulties of identifying, let alone trying to correct ADD. I'm the director of a nutritional therapy clinic. We have sent several people with ADD (as well as with brain injury and stroke) to Dr. Amen's clinics. Until now, though, I never understood why his medication protocols typically worked so well. His book makes it clear, using fascinating "before and after" SPECT "photos" of the ADD brains treated, that there are several distinct kinds of ADD. It goes on to explain the special treatments suitable for each. Dr. Amen also devotes several chapters to some effective, non-drug options. Like his first great book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, this one is full of inspiring case histories, and is so readable that you can't put it down.
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on July 30, 2011
I really enjoyed reading Dr Amen's book, he has a charismatic and uplifting style of writing and unique approaches to ADHD diagnosis and treatment. I purchased this book specifically because I was I was intrigued by the idea of using brain scans (SPECT) to have an objective explanation of the physical manifestations of ADHD in the brain and the biology underlying ADHD symptoms. Most books on ADHD have only a cursory explanation of the biological nature of ADHD and tend to focus instead on the symptomology as reported by those with ADHD. Having been diagnosed with ADHD and in light of questions of the validity of the condition, I was attracted to this physical evidence for ADHD being a true biological phenomena as it would help refute doubts about the existence of the condition.

As much as I enjoyed the book, I started to become suspicious when Dr. Amen began to explain his quest for acceptance among his peers in the medical community. He writes at length of the troubles he had in getting support for using SPECT scans to diagnose ADHD. Specifically, he writes about how so many experts in his field do not view SPECT as a valid tool for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, and he goes on to use anecdotal evidence of when he used SPECT to successfully treat numerous cases of ADHD. Throughout the first half of the book Dr. Amen alludes to the idea that he has this amazingly effective tool for diagnosing and treating ADHD, and everyone else is simply failing to appreciate its' value. He suggests that he has the best methods for diagnosing and treating ADHD and that other experts in the field are failing to provide optimal care due to their closed-mindedness. This type of language from health professionals is suspicious because it is frequently used by quacks; those who assert that their unproven methods are the true best ways for dealing with a particular condition, and that the medical consensus and standard of care are models for suboptimal care.

AETNA on SPECT for ADHD: "Functional neuroimaging such as PET and SPECT has been used to study patients with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although some studies have shown differences in brain structure or function comparing children with and without ADHD, these findings do not differentiate reliably between children with and without this disorder (i.e., although group means may differ significantly, the overlap in findings among children with and without ADHD results in high rates of false-positives and false-negatives). As a result, SPECT should not be used as a screening or diagnostic tool for children with ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics' Practice Guideline on "Diagnosis and Evaluation of the Child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" does not recommend neuroimaging studies in the diagnosis of ADHD. An evidence review by McGough and Barkley (2004) stated that there are insufficient scientific data to justify use of laboratory assessment measures, including neuropsychological tests and brain imaging, in diagnosing adult ADHD."

This is of particular importance because SPECT scans are the crux of Dr. Amen's treatment, and the main component of what differentiates his approach to ADHD from that of other psychiatrists. SPECT scans for ADHD are not covered by the vast majority of insurance plans, and according to quackwatch.org, "The Amen Clinics charge $3,250 for a "comprehensive evaluation," which included the patient's history, two SPECT scans (concentration scan and baseline scan), a physician consultation, and a 30-minute treatment follow-up appointment. Follow-up scans after treatment are $795 each." Dr. Amen is charging exorbitant rates for treatment centered on use of an expensive diagnostic tool with no good evidence to support improvements in patient outcomes. Furthermore, unwarranted SPECT scans expose patients to unnecessary doses of radiation.

I have only read this book by Dr. Amen but my understanding is that he (unnecessarily) advocates the use of SPECT in most of his books. From a review of Dr. Amen's "Healing the Hardware of the Soul," Andrew Leuchtner M.D. notes that For each of the vignettes Dr. Amen presents, many psychiatrists would have chosen treatments similar to those he used when confronted with the particular symptoms he describes, based solely upon clinical judgment. There is no systematic analysis of the 45,000 imaging studies to demonstrate how Dr. Amen's approach is superior to treatment-as-usual by a psychiatrist. Thus, there is also no evidence presented to justify exposing patients to the radiation of a SPECT scan and to support the considerable expense to patients, families, and their insurers."

Drs. Bryon Adinoff, M.D., and Michael Devous, Ph.D. responded with praise to the Leuchtner review, and added: "Dr. Leuchter correctly points out the absence of empirical data to support the claims of Dr. Amen. Several years ago, following conversations with Dr. Amen on how to address such concerns, the Brain Imaging Council of the Society of Nuclear Medicine offered Dr. Amen the opportunity to submit his analyses of a blinded set of SPECT scans (to have been prepared by the Brain Imaging Council) to determine how effective his technique is at correctly diagnosing subjects. Although this proposed study could have provided support for his approach, the offer was declined. Nevertheless, for more than two decades, Dr. Amen has persisted in using scientifically unfounded claims to diagnose and treat patients (over 45,000 by his own count)."

Dr. Amen has frequently responded to criticisms of his research methods and use of anecdotal evidence, but has seldom provided the data acquired from his experiments for peer-review (the gold standard in medical research). These criticisms go back many years, and year after year he has failed to provide data for review, the one thing that could legitimize his methods for treatment and diagnosis. In addition to his advocacy for unproven uses of neuroimaging, he advises people to use many nutritional supplements with little or no proven value. Therefore as promising as many of the ideas he presents may seem, at this point in time they just may be too good to be true. Dr. Amen has had ample time to prove his legitimacy and his failure to do so raises suspicion about his methods.

I rate this book a two out of five because Dr. Amen does have a very enjoyable style of writing that is fun to read, he is charismatic and I have no doubt that he has excellent rapport with his patients, however for many reasons I do not consider him a reliably trustworthy source of medical advice. Certainly much of the advice presented in the book is valid, but it is frustrating to read a book where you must frequently check if his advice is supported by evidence. Dr. Amen is prone to jumping to conclusions and promoting unproven treatments.

I suggest that anyone considering buying this book (or any of Amen's work) do research on the author. Consider reading Dr. Amen's response to criticism on Quackwatch, where his use of SPECT is critiqued and he presents his rebuttal to the critique. You can see the argument from both sides and decide for yourself, at [...].

Sources:

Leuchter AF: Healing the hardware of the soul: enhance your brain to improve your work, love, and spiritual life, by Daniel Amen (book review). Am J Psychiatry 2009; 166:625

Adinoff, Bryon, Devous, Michael
Scientifically Unfounded Claims in Diagnosing and Treating Patients
Am J Psychiatry 2010 167: 598

A Skeptical View of SPECT Scans and Dr. Daniel Amen
[...]

Dr. Daniel Amen's Response to Criticism on Quackwatch
[...]

AETNA Clinical Policy Bulletin: Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)
[...]

All accessed 07/30/2011
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on February 20, 2001
Are you a parent confused about what doctors are saying about your child's difficulties? Are you a person having a problem finding a good fit for yourself in readings about problems in attention, anger outbursts, depression, getting stuck on things, road rage, alcohol or substance misuse, or disorganization? Are you a mental health clinician or medical doctor who wonders if ADD and ADHD exist and doesn't mind telling your patients that? Welcome to the club. Happily, after reading this book, you may drop your club membership.
Daniel G Amen MD writes and talks to you about the six major types of ADD in his newest book, "Healing ADD." Confusion turns into clarity as you learn about kids and adults with ADD and the add-on symptoms that confuse even some experts.
Using specialized SPECT brain scans, Amen shows where the parts of the brain that are having trouble functioning are and how they are detected.
This book is rich in the details of the lives of persons afflicted with ADD. It brings alive the torments endured when ADD is not properly diagnosed, subtyped, or appropriately treated. It also describes the promise, indeed the results, of well-tailored treatment based on an accurate understanding of the complexities associated with ADD.
While considered controversial, physicians and clinicians are giving Dr Amen's approach increasing acceptance. More locations and physicians are offering evaluations and treatment in part based on brain SPECT scans. More centers are making these specialized scans available.
For the appropriately skeptical physician practicing evidence-based medicine, the needed research details about the role of brain SPECT scans in evaluation and treatment of ADD and its associated disorders are yet to be done. Yet many of those physicians are not conversant with such recommendations as the National Institute of Mental Health Guidelines about ADD or other recently published large research-based studies. I found it hard to read this book and not be intrigued to want to learn even more.
For parents, teachers, and persons with ADD, this book will enlarge their understanding, if not their acceptance, of the emotional and behavioral problems inflicted by this disorder. For mental health clinicians, including physicians whose practice has persons with ADD, "Healing ADD" is close to a "must read" work.
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on October 28, 2004
Through his groundbreaking research Dr. Amen, a well-respected psychiatrist, demonstrates that ADD/ADHD is a neurological disorder, which can be positively identified using brain imaging. Although some experts in the field may take exception to his characterization of different ADD/ADHD sub-types (since we have always identified many of those sub-types as co morbid disorders existing with ADD), he makes a valuable contribution to our understanding and therefore treatment of ADD/ADHD. Surprisingly, by identifying each of the sub-types, he makes medication recommendations, which have been used by many doctors for years, they just never called it what Dr. Amen does. A good read for struggling parents of ADD/ADHD kids who are not responding to standard stimulant medications and those wishing broader and more diverse knowledge of the field.

Ali Hashemian, Ph.D.
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