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Ritalin Nation: Rapid-Fire Culture and the Transformation of Human Consciousness Hardcover – January, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0393046854 ISBN-10: 0393046850 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1 edition (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393046850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393046854
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,989,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter C. Dwyer on August 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I want to address the Editorial Review from the New Yorker which dismisses this book as a non-scientific, nostalgic plea for a "simpler time." That review claims great scientific progress in understanding ADHD through brain imaging, and cites placebo controlled studies showing the efficacy of Ritalin and other stimulants.
I am not a nostalgic person longing for the simplicity of the early '50's. I am a licensed certified clinical social worker, authorized to perform DSM-IV diagnosis and to do psychotherapy. I have an advanced law degree in Law, Psychiatry and Criminology. I have over five years' experience working with disturbed children in various capacities. And over the past two years I have read twenty-five books, pro and con, on ADHD, stimulants, biopsychiatry and psychiatric medication. What I want to say is this:
The New Yorker exaggerates the state of scientific knowledge about the alleged biological and genetic basis of ADHD. Virtually all ADHD brain imaging studies are seriously flawed - the studied ADHD children have been on stimulant medication. IF any abnormalities were found, they would most likely be caused by the medication, not by the disorder.
So far, the few "differences" found between ADHD and "normal" brains are only averages between the ADHD and "normal" groups studied. There is a very large overlap between the two groups; brain imaging cannot, therefore, distinguish a "normal" individual's scan from one with "ADHD."
Moreover, even if a consistent difference were found in ADHD brains, biopsychiatry couldn't tell if it's caused by exposure to psychiatric drugs, by environment, or by heredity.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Aside from DeGrandpre's masterful deconstruction of the "ADHD" phenomenon, this book offers a unique perspective on the impact of speeding up our activities and lives. This is vastly superior to Gleick's recent book "Speed," for example. Looking at ADHD as some sort of brain disorder is a uniquely North American view, and it has to be tied to larger social trends in North America. This book argues brilliantly that kids benefit least from this view, and that the longer-term impact of providing them with pharmacological stimulation are bound to be devastating. If you enjoy keeping your head firmly in the sand, don't read this book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Carson on January 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've never been one to write a review, so I'll make this short and to the point. Speaking as someone who was "diagnosed" with ADD in the 80s, I can say that DeGrandre's work has provided me with hard evidence and strong logic to rethink the reality that was thrust upon me. After deconstructing the ADD myth, DeGrandpre offers salient advice and solutions for rebuilding what has been torn apart by our fast paced society. If you or anyone you know has had to deal with ADD, I suggest this book as a real eye-opener.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chip Wood on January 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are no easy solutions to the multiple societal problems Richard Grandpre illuminates so clearly in his new book, but we would do well to pay attention to what he has to say. In a brilliantly constructed examination of our "hurried society" and the "culture of neglect" that surrounds the lives of children today, Grandpre carefully explains the effects of speed, technology and rapid cultural change on our brains and behavior. He argues that drug intervention for what is a social and psychological problem is mis-guided, ineffective and dangerous. He exposes the diagnosis of ADHD as a medical or inherited problem as having no basis in fact and backs up his claim with thorough research analysis. This book will be controversial and disturbing to many readers seeking help for their children, but it is a must read nevertheless.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JDanco@worldnet.att.net on May 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Dr. DeGrandpre makes a most compelling case for the cultural determinants behind attention deficit disorder, bravely taking on the entrenched orthodoxy of biological psychiatry, the pharmaceutical industry, the parents-as-victims movement, and the media which would defend them all. He defends the victims of our speed-up culture, the children, and brilliantly shows the moral and psychological weaknesses of the drug "cure" Ritalin offers. As a psychologist with considerable experience in this field, I found the book an easy read, but readers without such a background or at least a strong interest in the topic might get a little bogged down in his footnoted recap of the research. Parents should invest the effort, however, especially before succumbing to the temptation to drug their children.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Exposes Ritalin approaches to what has come to to be called ADHD as so much witchdoctoring -- that is, coming a diagnosis of a condition from the success or failure of a modality to treat it. This kind of medical approach should have gone out with the dark ages, and wouldn't be tolerated by the medical profession in dealing with cancer, heart disease, AIDS, or any other disease condition. School psychologists and psychiatrists should be ashamed of themselves!
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