From Publishers Weekly
As the diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD) has increased among American children, many have begun to challenge the American Psychiatric Association's description and treatment of the problem, namely, that ADD is a disorder of the brain that can be resolved by the psychostimulant Ritalin. Citing prior reports on ADD and the effects of Ritalin, DeGrandpre, visiting professor of psychology at St. Michael's College in Vermont, argues that the effectiveness of Ritalin in treating ADD in no way proves that the disorder has a purely biological foundation. In fact, studies have shown that Ritalin improves the efficiency and attentiveness of children and adults?regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with ADD. Against the "biological" explanation of ADD, however, the author puts forward a cultural-historical critique, which identifies the modern, technological emphasis on speed as the cause of the increased sensory deficits among American children. What Ritalin use reflects, he argues, is "a temporal disturbance in human consciousness," one that "motivates an escape from slowness, thus keeping us forever in the grip of the hurried society. Unfortunately, the author's thesis is unsupported by any original research and is instead based on generalized observations and anecdotes about modern society and the trajectory of Western civilization. Ultimately, while this book may satisfy those who disparage technology, it will be of little help to the clinicians who struggle daily with the problem of hyperactivity in children.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These three books explore the controversial phenomena of ADHD, which affects two million children in the United States, where about 80 percent of all Ritalin is consumed. Walker, a neurologist/psychiatrist, contends that parents are often intimidated into accepting Ritalin for their children before a complete diagnosis is made and more benign therapies tried. He posits many other causes of hyperactivity, evaluates nondrug therapies, and suggests ways parents can become advocates for their troubled children. Comparing Ritalin to cocaine, Walker classes it with other psychostimulants in terms of addiction and potentially lethal side effects. The broader field of child psychiatry is the domain of Wilens's book. A Harvard psychiatry professor, researcher, and clinician, he presents a valuable "insider's" guide to specific disorders (e.g., ADHD, depression, anxiety, autism). Filled with helpful tables and charts, definitions, commonly asked questions, and sources for further information and support, this book should empower parents to become collaborators in their children's care. Like Walker's compendium of responsible warnings, this user-friendly catalog of current drug information is recommended for public libraries. In contrast, DeGrandpre's (psychology, St. Michael's Coll., VT) scholarly work ventures beyond simple skepticism and quibbling about overdiagnosis to question psychiatry's identification of ADHD as a biologically based brain disease. He argues that societal adjustments and a change in human consciousness are the real antidotes for this development disorder. Viewing hyperactivity in a multidisciplinary context, Ritalin Nation is richly referenced and offers a critical perspective suited to academic and specialized collections. [See also "Paying Attention to Attention Deficit Disorders," LJ 1/99, p. 59-62.]?Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansvill.-?Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.