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Running on Ritalin: A Physician Reflects on Children, Society, and Performance in a Pill Paperback – May 4, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (May 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379068
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,013,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Diagnoses for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have escalated dramatically over the past few years, and right along with these diagnoses have been prescriptions for Ritalin. Considered a family-saving wonder drug by many parents, Ritalin gives children who have trouble in school or difficulty socializing (due to poor impulse control) the ability to slow down, focus, and behave. Success stories abound, but not everyone is convinced.

Pediatrician and family therapist Lawrence H. Diller thinks it's time to reexamine the ADD "epidemic" and our responses to it, particularly our eagerness to use medication as a first strike. In Running on Ritalin, he poses many thoughtful questions: Are behavioral problems in over 15 percent of elementary school-age boys really the result of neurological aberrations? Is performance pressure so great that parents seek out ADD diagnoses (and Ritalin) to give their children an edge? Does it make sense to give so many kids daily doses of a drug with as much potential for abuse as speed? His answers are equally thoughtful. Refusing to polarize the issues (he prescribes Ritalin to some of his own patients), Diller explores the roles played by advocacy groups, drug companies, schools, and the government in creating the ADD mania, and makes a plea for calmer thinking about behavioral problems. He can only hope that adults take the time to sit down and pay close attention. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Is prescribing the stimulant Ritalin the best way to treat the growing number of American children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD)? According to Diller, a pediatrician and family practitioner who has contributed many articles on the subject, while Ritalin may treat problems of "brain chemistry" among some children, it also obscures social or environmental factors in many others. Writing for a popular audience, Diller argues that since Ritalin has been shown to enhance performance even among normal children, it is misleading to hold that its success in treating ADD children means that ADD can be reduced to a biological phenomenon, to chemical imbalance. Diller convincingly suggests that part of the reason that many wish to portray ADD as a purely "neurobiological" disorder and Ritalin as the "cure" is political. As victims of biology, children and adults diagnosed with ADD become legally entitled to rights not given to others. But so what? If Ritalin helps those diagnosed with ADD perform better, what difference does it make whether it treats the causes of ADD or just its symptoms? Diller's answer is that America should be concerned because the 700% increase in Ritalin use points to a social imbalance that prescribing the drug covers up: "The surge in ADD diagnosis and Ritalin treatment is a warning to society that we are not meeting the needs of our children." Whether or not one entirely accepts Diller's argument that American psychiatrists have ignored the evidence against Ritalin's effectiveness as a cure for ADD, this is an important book for anyone interested in the narcotizing of America's youth.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By nobodyishere on June 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book tells it like it is. For parents not looking for a copout, but for support. As a parent of 2 ADD children (and stepparent of 2 ADHD children) this book makes a lot of sense. He brings up some good points about expecting too much out of our children and looking for ways to make them smarter, better, etc., without putting more time and effort into it. Parenting is a fulltime job, more difficult than any other job. I remember feeling the relief when Dr's told me it was "not their fault or my fault, it is all a medical problem." Well, through the years, I've learned there are things different I can do, and some things I cannot change. We have been able to keep 2 of our kids off Ritalin (it caused bad rebound affects on two, one was zombie-like and one turned into a holy-terror after the medicine wore off everyday). One of our kids may be on it his whole life though, he just cannot function. Unfortunately, the book doesn't come up with a cure, but it also tells you the truth about Ritalin, RITALIN IS NOT A CURE! It does have its place with some children, but in my opinion, it is a bandaid on a bleeding wound
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Dr. Diller is absolutely right. In my medical practice I have had occasion to see kids who are truly ADD/ADHD. But many more kids are simply not able to handle the factory-system of American education in which one or two dozen kids are expected to sit quietly and do nearly nothing most of the time. Who among us wasn't very often bored to tears in school? Well, things haven't changed. In fact, they've gotten worse, and I discovered this through the school of hard knocks with my own daughter. Although she is very strong-willed and, at times, not as focused and attentive as some other children, she is bright, imaginative, and has been reading at pre-college level since before age 9. When we found (and paid for ourselves) the right teacher for her, it made an enormous difference. I am persuaded that, while Ritalin is for some kids who are truly dysfunctional without it, 90%+ of what's being called ADD/ADHD these days is due to the attention deficits of parents and teachers.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Terrianne E. Mauro on March 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a subject that stirs up strong opinions, but Diller occupies a cautious middle ground--not opposed to medication when it is in the child's best interests, but not convinced it is in the best interests of all the children for whom it is prescribed. A thoughtful treatment of a troubling topic.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's a book for all educated and dedicated parents, grandparents and teens to read. It poses important questions like; why has Ritalin diagnoses increased by 700% since 1994. or why does the US use 90% of the world's Ritalin? You begin to think that maybe it's not a chemical imbalance, but indeed a "living imbalance" as one of Dr. Diller's 10 years old patients says.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I started this book with some trepidation, expecting the author to be dead-set against Ritalin. This was not the case at all. He points out many positives about it, and frequently prescribes it to his own patients. He does examine (and question) the huge increase in the diagnosis of ADHD and the use of Ritalin, but in an insightful way. As the aunt of an ADHD child and a mother who is considering evaluation for her own daughter, I found the book very helpful. As we go through the process, I am already successfully using some of the behavioral techniques he discusses in the book.

I did feel that the book could have been quite a bit shorter, as the author seemed to repeat himself quite a bit.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This books raises a lot of the questions I had but that I never see addressed elsewhere. It duscusses the fact that Ritalin does not cure ADD. It talks about the dramatic rise in ADD diagnoses and Ritalin prescriptions and discusses possible reasons. It also looks at some of the history and viewpoint of CHADD, the major support group for ADD. And it discusses how family environment and parenting techniques can play into a child's behavior. I think it also makes clear that Ritalin boosts everyone's performance, not just ADD kids or adults, and that the research stating that ADD results from faulty brain chemistry is less than proven.
At the same time, the book is also reassutring about the relative safety of Ritalin. And, every case study of his patients he cites seems to include at least a trial of Ritalin, so he is not at all flatly against the drug. He is in favor of looking at the bigger picture of the patient's life, not just writing out a prescription.
I think this book is definitely worth a read for anyone with a child who "has" ADD. And if you are someone who wonders why nobody seems to think it is any big deal to put your 6 year-old child on this highly-regulated stimulant drug, then you might feel the same relief I did in reading a book that at leasts asks questions, even if it doesn't have all the answers. Highly recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
While I agree with most of Dr.Diller's opinions on ADD/ADHD, I cannot understand his shoddy research into the most effective non-drug treatment today: EEG Neurofeedback. He dismisses neurofeedback in a few sentences with simple comments to the effect that ADD/ADHD children cannot sit still long enough for the treatment. Obviously Dr.Diller is unfamiliar with the newer computer-driven games used in neurofeedback. Offering these children the prospect of self-regulating their own physiology (brain waves) is an empowering concept, making it fun helps them get there!
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