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ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic

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A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year The groundbreaking and definitive account of the widespread misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and how its unchecked growth over half a century has made ADHD one of the most controversial conditions in medicine, with serious effects on children, adults, and society. More than 1 in 7 American children ge A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year The groundbreaking and definitive account of the widespread misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and how its unchecked growth over half a century has made ADHD one of the most controversial conditions in medicine, with serious effects on children, adults, and society. More than 1 in 7 American children get diagnosed with ADHD—three times what experts have said is appropriate—meaning that millions of kids are misdiagnosed and taking medications such as Adderall or Concerta for a psychiatric condition they probably do not have. The numbers rise every year. And still, many experts and drug companies deny any cause for concern. In fact, they say that adults and the rest of the world should embrace ADHD and that its medications will transform their lives. In ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz examines the roots and the rise of this cultural and medical phenomenon: The father of ADHD, Dr. Keith Conners, spends fifty years advocating drugs like Ritalin before realizing his role in what he now calls “a national disaster of dangerous proportions”; a troubled young girl and a studious teenage boy get entangled in the growing ADHD machine and take medications that backfire horribly; and big Pharma egregiously over-promotes the disorder and earns billions from the mishandling of children (and now adults). While demonstrating that ADHD is real and can be medicated when appropriate, Schwarz sounds a long-overdue alarm and urges America to address this growing national health crisis.


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A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year The groundbreaking and definitive account of the widespread misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and how its unchecked growth over half a century has made ADHD one of the most controversial conditions in medicine, with serious effects on children, adults, and society. More than 1 in 7 American children ge A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year The groundbreaking and definitive account of the widespread misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—and how its unchecked growth over half a century has made ADHD one of the most controversial conditions in medicine, with serious effects on children, adults, and society. More than 1 in 7 American children get diagnosed with ADHD—three times what experts have said is appropriate—meaning that millions of kids are misdiagnosed and taking medications such as Adderall or Concerta for a psychiatric condition they probably do not have. The numbers rise every year. And still, many experts and drug companies deny any cause for concern. In fact, they say that adults and the rest of the world should embrace ADHD and that its medications will transform their lives. In ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz examines the roots and the rise of this cultural and medical phenomenon: The father of ADHD, Dr. Keith Conners, spends fifty years advocating drugs like Ritalin before realizing his role in what he now calls “a national disaster of dangerous proportions”; a troubled young girl and a studious teenage boy get entangled in the growing ADHD machine and take medications that backfire horribly; and big Pharma egregiously over-promotes the disorder and earns billions from the mishandling of children (and now adults). While demonstrating that ADHD is real and can be medicated when appropriate, Schwarz sounds a long-overdue alarm and urges America to address this growing national health crisis.

30 review for ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mischenko

    ADHD is something that I've dealt with since a child that runs in my family and has passed down to other family members. I've been skeptical of medications as a treatment and after reading this, I still am. The book is a real eye opener. It's Amazing how many people are taking these meds-it's not just children, but college students and adults as well. What's even more shocking are the different disorders that they are coming up with now that branch from ADHD like SCT. I would recommend this to a ADHD is something that I've dealt with since a child that runs in my family and has passed down to other family members. I've been skeptical of medications as a treatment and after reading this, I still am. The book is a real eye opener. It's Amazing how many people are taking these meds-it's not just children, but college students and adults as well. What's even more shocking are the different disorders that they are coming up with now that branch from ADHD like SCT. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest or deals with ADHD. We'll written and not too pompous. 5*****

  2. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    I didn't read ADHD Nation for any personal reasons, but I requested a copy from Netgalley because the topic sounded interesting and a recent excellent review in the New York Times nudged me to start reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/boo... Having now read it, I'm somewhat alarmed to see that mine appears to be the first review on GR. This is an excellent balanced review of the history of ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Schwarz is very careful to preface his book -- and to remind readers o I didn't read ADHD Nation for any personal reasons, but I requested a copy from Netgalley because the topic sounded interesting and a recent excellent review in the New York Times nudged me to start reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/boo... Having now read it, I'm somewhat alarmed to see that mine appears to be the first review on GR. This is an excellent balanced review of the history of ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Schwarz is very careful to preface his book -- and to remind readers on many occasions -- that ADHD is real, that it can have truly negative effects on people's lives, and that there is effective treatment for ADHD. However, his book also highlights a growing tendency to over diagnose and over prescribe, and he argues that the economic interests and social forces involved make it really difficult to reverse this trend. I found ADHD Nation to be fascinating, accessible and balanced. I suspect that Schwarz's analysis applies to many other health trends. This book deserves more attention than it seems to have received so far on Goodreads. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to an advance copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    The history behind this condition is well explained and the lid gets blown off the big money made by pharmaceutical companies. It balances the pros and cons of taking prescribed 'speed' and tells the stories of individuals who struggle with ADHD and need chemical assistance with a true dopamine deficiency, while exposing the truth behind rampant abuse in the schools of kids who take it for better grades or snort it for recreational use. I was just as surprised as when I learned about the wide us The history behind this condition is well explained and the lid gets blown off the big money made by pharmaceutical companies. It balances the pros and cons of taking prescribed 'speed' and tells the stories of individuals who struggle with ADHD and need chemical assistance with a true dopamine deficiency, while exposing the truth behind rampant abuse in the schools of kids who take it for better grades or snort it for recreational use. I was just as surprised as when I learned about the wide use of anabolic steroids commonly abused in schools.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    I'm very conflicted about this book. How do I rate it? Some parts, I agreed with quite a bit. Some parts, I didn't agree with at all. It's a complex book and one that was sort of needed. I mean, most people know these facts, we just ignore it. What I agreed with: 1. ADHD is over diagnosed. 2. People with ADHD are medicated too much. (And people who have any sort of disorder, really.) 3. There are better ways to treat ADHD. I'd say starting with medication if it's very bad, then weaning it off while I'm very conflicted about this book. How do I rate it? Some parts, I agreed with quite a bit. Some parts, I didn't agree with at all. It's a complex book and one that was sort of needed. I mean, most people know these facts, we just ignore it. What I agreed with: 1. ADHD is over diagnosed. 2. People with ADHD are medicated too much. (And people who have any sort of disorder, really.) 3. There are better ways to treat ADHD. I'd say starting with medication if it's very bad, then weaning it off while going through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to show them their thoughts and actions, then how to control them without using medication as a crutch. 4. People fake the disorder, which drives up the prevalence rates and how many are medicated for it. 5. All of the above facts leads to ADHD becoming almost a joke and something that we can't trust. When someone says they have ADHD is it because they really do have it or it's because they wanted pills to improve their functioning? What I didn't agree with: 1. The tone. Schwarz treated ADHD as if it were a joke. A fake diagnosis. And it's not. If it fits the four Ds of abnormality -- dysfunction, dangerous, distress, and deviant -- then it is clinically abnormal and needs treatment. 2. The sudden change of tone. At the end, he for whatever reason started saying that ADHD is real and people may need help.... after giving all of these shows about people who abuse the system, parents/schools/clinicians who force pills down kids throats, stated that ADHD is basically fake because it's just a way for parents to treat kids who do things they don't like, say that ADHD is a normal part of childhood and being a child, etc, etc, etc. After saying all of that and more, suddenly he decides in the last little part that maybe ADHD is real for some people. 3. Only showed horror stories of ADHD medication. I know his point of the book was to make everything seem a little bit evil, but all arguments should be balanced throughout it. Show both sides. And I don't think he did a good job of that. 4. Called ADHD a "brain disorder" in reference to those who aren't faking it to get drugs. Technically, yes, it is. However, it's also not. I read a fantastic book, The ADHD Advantage: What You Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength, last year that was all about how to use what were once considered "dysfunctional" to make your life functional. I think Schwarz would hate that book, but I don't because sometimes all you need to hear is someone telling you that you're not abnormal. While he only says they're abnormal or faking it. Now, I don't have ADHD. I don't have friends who have disclosed that they do. I don't have friends who have used drugs to pass school. I'm sure I know people who have, but not that they've told me or I've noticed. But, I am, at least, trained in understanding arguments. And this one has quite a few glaring flaws from the beginning. For that reason, this book gets 2.5 since there are some things I agree with, but I'm rounding it down to two stars because the flaws it has are ones that I can't set aside.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lil

    This is a very compelling read about the history of ADHD and the pharmaceutical industry. Parts of it are really frightening...statistics showing huge percentages of school age kids (1 in 3 boys enrolled in Medicaid in Louisiana!) being medicated in some parts of the country. I have no trouble believing that Big Pharma wants everyone on expensive meds for life. The author does a good job of making the case that ADHD is a real diagnosis but that the increasing prevalence can't be right. I wish th This is a very compelling read about the history of ADHD and the pharmaceutical industry. Parts of it are really frightening...statistics showing huge percentages of school age kids (1 in 3 boys enrolled in Medicaid in Louisiana!) being medicated in some parts of the country. I have no trouble believing that Big Pharma wants everyone on expensive meds for life. The author does a good job of making the case that ADHD is a real diagnosis but that the increasing prevalence can't be right. I wish there had been more discussion about the factors of modern education and lifestyle that make inattention and hyperactivity seem to be everywhere. There are a couple of inaccuracies that keep me from giving this 5 stars. One was an incorrect description of aspirin and stomach bleeding. This may seem petty, but that makes me question what facts could be wrong on things I don't happen to know anything about. The other is that the author attributes ADDitude magazine to CHADD, an ADHD support organization , but their magazine is called Attention. This was easy to figure out (after another reviewer pointed it out) with one quick google search. Makes me wonder what else is inaccurate.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    As an special educator and a mother of two children who ride the Autism/ADHD line, this book interested me. It is similar to the recent book about Autism, In a Different Key and explores the history of ADHD from its early days of first diagnosis to the present day. The book spotlights three people: the doctor who first discovered the disorder, a girl who was misdiagnosed with ADHD and a teen who faked ADHD in order to get medication to help him focus in high school. Along the way, other prominent As an special educator and a mother of two children who ride the Autism/ADHD line, this book interested me. It is similar to the recent book about Autism, In a Different Key and explores the history of ADHD from its early days of first diagnosis to the present day. The book spotlights three people: the doctor who first discovered the disorder, a girl who was misdiagnosed with ADHD and a teen who faked ADHD in order to get medication to help him focus in high school. Along the way, other prominent doctors and researchers are discussed who played a role in the history of ADHD. The author spends a lot of time on the influence of pharmaceutical companies who manipulated information about ADHD to turn a profit. From misleading advertisements, first to doctors and then to consumers which downplayed medication's addictiveness and omitted important side effects. They also paid researchers to produce studies on medication, giving the researches and incentive to find in pharma's favor. Also discussed was the very subjective nature of the ADHD diagnosis, which was often diagnosed in as little as 5 minutes by doctors who had very little training on the disorder or its medications. In the end, Schwarz encourages caution. He definitely believes that ADHD exists but cautions parents that a doctor who will diagnose their child in 5 minutes, is probably not well trained in it. He also says parents should examine themselves to see if they have a bias that would cause them to want to medicate their child, even if the child did not need it. He encourages doctors to seek training so that they are better equipped to properly diagnose ADHD. This book was easy to understand and is meant for the lay person, not overly technical for doctors and other health professionals. I found it to be very informative.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I really don't even know how many stars to give this book. Some points the author made were great, while other points were terrible. I would have preferred a book that was much more data driven than this. I really don't even know how many stars to give this book. Some points the author made were great, while other points were terrible. I would have preferred a book that was much more data driven than this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Erin

    Fascinating and eye-opening history of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This book explains how the disorder first came to be diagnosed in the 20th century, and how stimulant medications (amphetamines) were first prescribed to children, often with impressive results. Early in its recognition, researchers and child psychiatrists thought the percentage of children with ADHD would be around two to three. Over the years, however, and as pharmaceutical companies became HEAVILY involv Fascinating and eye-opening history of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This book explains how the disorder first came to be diagnosed in the 20th century, and how stimulant medications (amphetamines) were first prescribed to children, often with impressive results. Early in its recognition, researchers and child psychiatrists thought the percentage of children with ADHD would be around two to three. Over the years, however, and as pharmaceutical companies became HEAVILY involved in direct marketing to both physicians and the general public, this number has, in some instances, gone up to 30-plus percent of children in certain school districts. ADHD Nation examines how the pharmaceutical agenda, when coupled with well-meaning educators, concerned parents, and doctors with insufficient knowledge and time, has resulted in an explosion of ADHD diagnoses. It exposes the reliance of some academically ambitious students on ADHD medications to improve their test scores, and addresses how prescribed stimulants can lead to drug abuse and, in the worst cases, even death. Finally, the book discusses how pharmaceutical companies have encouraged doctors and the public to now embrace "ADULT ADHD," claiming that diagnosis of this newly-recognized disorder can be assumed by simply answering six questions about one's behaviors. The questions are ridiculous, and have surely encouraged many adults to begin taking stimulant medications needlessly. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts the rate of ADHD among children at 11 percent, a number that is continually climbing, and that is higher among boys. Bundled into this statistic is the recent push to now identify TODDLERS as having the disorder (per the CDC, nearly 400,000 two- to five-year-olds have already been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2016). Shockingly, doctors are now prescribing stimulant medications to children who are not even potty-trained. These drugs have not been tested on young children, and no one knows how they affect health in the long-term when started at such a critical time of life. Yes, I know that ADHD is a very real disorder, and that the prescribed medications can make a tremendous impact for some of those whom it impairs. However, lack of unbiased education and training among educators, doctors and parents has resulted in gross over-diagnosis, and over-reliance on potentially addictive chemicals to quell what, in some cases, is truly just kids being kids.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This was quite good in parts. Except for a long weird detour in the middle for a couple of anecdotes on the dangers of ADHD meds, the book generally sticks to looking at studies and the doctors who conduct them, explaining their strengths, weaknesses and biases. The general point is that actual ADHD is much rarer than the number of prescriptions would indicate, and this reveals a number of problems with parents, schools, doctors and Pharma. I think this argument about the medicalization of socia This was quite good in parts. Except for a long weird detour in the middle for a couple of anecdotes on the dangers of ADHD meds, the book generally sticks to looking at studies and the doctors who conduct them, explaining their strengths, weaknesses and biases. The general point is that actual ADHD is much rarer than the number of prescriptions would indicate, and this reveals a number of problems with parents, schools, doctors and Pharma. I think this argument about the medicalization of social problems for profit and convenience is valid. However, I feel like in a whole book on the topic, that he could have gone into some more detail about solutions. For example, with respect to how to properly diagnose and treat actual ADHD, I don't think he ever mentions individual placebo trials of stimulants; this is when parents and teachers are filling out the rating scales for a few weeks without knowing whether the child is receiving meds. Also, multi-tiered CBT-based school interventions to help kids cope should have gotten attention. Also, better ways of teaching. Etc.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Occasionally, the book veers uncomfortably close to crackpot conspiracy theory in tone and absolutism, but its central claims--that diagnoses of ADHD in children and adults in the US is more prevalent than any academic model predicts, that amphetamine is being abused throughout the country by people without a proper ADHD diagnosis and that a whole lot of junk science is being employed by ethically-conflicted doctors and funded by drug companies that profit from their conclusions--are persuasive Occasionally, the book veers uncomfortably close to crackpot conspiracy theory in tone and absolutism, but its central claims--that diagnoses of ADHD in children and adults in the US is more prevalent than any academic model predicts, that amphetamine is being abused throughout the country by people without a proper ADHD diagnosis and that a whole lot of junk science is being employed by ethically-conflicted doctors and funded by drug companies that profit from their conclusions--are persuasive and well supported. Schwarz begins with some necessary caveats. Mainly that ADHD is a real condition and that Adderall, Ritalin, etc. legitimately help those legitimately in need of help. This is not a book about a manufactured condition. It is, however, a book about how motivated reasoning and conflict of interest converge to create a climate of collective mass hysteria. The issue is, as Schwarz demonstrates, that amphetamine can work on anyone to provide more energy and greater concentration. In this way, it's like steroids that can build muscle and strength regardless of whether or not one has a condition requiring them. This means that the misdiagnosed or just those in need of a competitive edge do see results by abusing ADHD medication. In this light, it's easy to see why so many people take these medications without needing them and still find improvement in the classroom, the boardroom, etc. The problem with this is that maybe medicating the world isn't the greatest idea. Maybe classrooms could be less boring and unengaging. Maybe professional work could be less mundane and tedious. Maybe we could all stop overstimulating ourselves with media and technology and give our brains a break. These aren't Schwarz's conclusions necessarily, but he does an effective job in this book demonstrating the need for thinking about focus, pharmacology, and childrearing differently.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Hughes

    A solid read about the history of ADHD and its diagnosis. As an adoptive mother of two boys, one of whom is on Concerta for a legitimate reason, I have long been interested in ADHD medication and how eagerly it is pushed by school administrators. Many have encouraged me to put my younger son on medication as well, never taking his history into account, in order to make him more compliant. As a former high school teacher, I understand their frustration. Public schooling is nothing more than contr A solid read about the history of ADHD and its diagnosis. As an adoptive mother of two boys, one of whom is on Concerta for a legitimate reason, I have long been interested in ADHD medication and how eagerly it is pushed by school administrators. Many have encouraged me to put my younger son on medication as well, never taking his history into account, in order to make him more compliant. As a former high school teacher, I understand their frustration. Public schooling is nothing more than controlled chaos, but THAT is where the problem lies. The system itself is broken, trying to do too much with far too little. THAT is where we must start if we're ever to help kids. Schwarz' book is a great starting place if you're looking to learn more and to foster conversation on this timely (and pressing) topic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Fitzgerald

    I found Alan Schwarz's reporting on America's monetization of ADHD to be illuminating, fair, and fascinating. I was given ADHD meds as a kid. I loved them because they worked like speed for me. While I was always a hyperactive and annoying kid, Adderall simply made me work nonstop and get dangerously paranoid. As I became older, I realized that first prescription was what got me used to the idea of being altered. I wondered how it was so easy to get a prescription for uppers when I was so young. I found Alan Schwarz's reporting on America's monetization of ADHD to be illuminating, fair, and fascinating. I was given ADHD meds as a kid. I loved them because they worked like speed for me. While I was always a hyperactive and annoying kid, Adderall simply made me work nonstop and get dangerously paranoid. As I became older, I realized that first prescription was what got me used to the idea of being altered. I wondered how it was so easy to get a prescription for uppers when I was so young. I had a doctor talk to me for a very short period of time, and then I was on them. This book provided me with the answers. I also was able to understand how so many good doctors got it wrong. I felt Mr. Schwarz had a subtle bias against the drug companies throughout the text, but he does a good job of trying to keep it fair. Highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Desiree Colvin

    Important read on the growth of ADHD in the US and the forces that worked together to cause it. Superbly written, well-researched, sensitive, nuanced. Highly recommended for doctos, parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about doing what's right by our children instead of what is easy, expedient, or profitable. Important read on the growth of ADHD in the US and the forces that worked together to cause it. Superbly written, well-researched, sensitive, nuanced. Highly recommended for doctos, parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about doing what's right by our children instead of what is easy, expedient, or profitable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Excellent book, clear and cogent writing, interesting facts, personal stories, level-headed analysis, astute observations, malarkey called out as malarkey, praiseworthy behavior rightly praised, and remedies. Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    here's hoping Schwarz's book gets into the right hands. ADHD is real. so are the forces trying to cash in on fear(s) here's hoping Schwarz's book gets into the right hands. ADHD is real. so are the forces trying to cash in on fear(s)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dominika

    This book is more about the overdiagnosis of ADHD during the 90’s and 00’s. It is not saying that ADHD does not exist nor that medicine should never be prescribed, and I think that’s important to keep in mind because there very much is a movement that shuns psychiatric diagnosis and psychotropic medications. The main point of this book is that our culture and one-size-fits-all style of schooling have contributed to a pressure that put a lot of kids that don’t need medicine on Adderall and Ritali This book is more about the overdiagnosis of ADHD during the 90’s and 00’s. It is not saying that ADHD does not exist nor that medicine should never be prescribed, and I think that’s important to keep in mind because there very much is a movement that shuns psychiatric diagnosis and psychotropic medications. The main point of this book is that our culture and one-size-fits-all style of schooling have contributed to a pressure that put a lot of kids that don’t need medicine on Adderall and Ritalin. Big Pharma certainly had a role in this as well, from advertising in ladies’ magazines to sponsoring professional workshops for practitioners, and a big chunk of this book is devoted in outlining some of these heinous practices (Lol at Ritalin Man). But its important to note that a lot of children, teenagers, and adults felt the need to take the medicine to improve their performance at work and school, seeing them as the only way to succeed. It’s also good to see what has been done in response to this (which..isn’t as much as one would hope). It is also interesting to look at this during the opiod epidemic that is happening right now, seeing the parallels, and thinking about how we can prevent these types of things from happening. I mean, this book clearly has a bias and it is important to keep that first point in mind. A lot of people would look at the broad message, as well as the particular case studies of people who have been addicted to and abused this medication, and take that to mean that all drugs are bad. I honestly don’t even think that advertising these medications are inherently bad, but with the preditory martking and the context of our current healthcare system. But I am interested in population health and hope that this can one day be used to influence policy-making, and this book provides a lot to think about, and I think anyone else who has experience with mental health or epidemics would also find this to be a great read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janie Lundin-Ledgerwood

    For a parent navigating and raising a young child with ADHD, it was helpful to hear how far we've come in understanding and treating the processing disorder. I appreciated the investigation of how parents, doctors, counselors, and big pharma are involved. Particularly, the doctors that have studied and helped many families that struggle with 'what to do' to help their child. With that said, though the preface Schwarz gives that ADHD is a real disorder to be taken seriously, I was not happy with t For a parent navigating and raising a young child with ADHD, it was helpful to hear how far we've come in understanding and treating the processing disorder. I appreciated the investigation of how parents, doctors, counselors, and big pharma are involved. Particularly, the doctors that have studied and helped many families that struggle with 'what to do' to help their child. With that said, though the preface Schwarz gives that ADHD is a real disorder to be taken seriously, I was not happy with the tone and how he teeters on extremes. The insinuation that the ADHD epidemic is being caused by drug-abusing teens duping their parents and doctors succumbing to the influence of Big Pharma is outlandish. Based on my experience, its a pretty rigorous process to have your child assessed and diagnosed. It's not as easy as going to the doctor and saying, 'Sally is having trouble concentrating and needs Drug X.' I guess that's just good marketing and how you keep readers interested. "ADHD is under-diagnosed in most populations. With 40-60% of such children in any given community in the U.S. not being diagnosed or treated." -Russell A. Barley, PHD - Taking Charge of ADHD: The complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. What this book did for me was introduce me to the scientists and doctors that are studying the causes and treating the families affected by the disorder. So for that, I'm thankful to be led to their books. In all, it was worth the read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liz.dibble

    A great history of ADHD and some very interesting points that I do agree with. What bothered me about this book was the tone. It seemed very dramatic and sensational and less measured and data driven. It was interesting to read it along with other books on the subject to get a more measured, well rounded story. I do think ADHD is real, I do think children, teens, adults are overly medicated, but I also think medication has it's place and using scare tactics just hurts everyone as they are trying A great history of ADHD and some very interesting points that I do agree with. What bothered me about this book was the tone. It seemed very dramatic and sensational and less measured and data driven. It was interesting to read it along with other books on the subject to get a more measured, well rounded story. I do think ADHD is real, I do think children, teens, adults are overly medicated, but I also think medication has it's place and using scare tactics just hurts everyone as they are trying to make decisions for themselves and their children. Glad I read it, but wouldn't revisit it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jon L

    Frustrating to know how easily treatment decision making can be led astray

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colin Murray

    Must read about an ongoing epidemic!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sullivan

    so many myths propagated in this book such as the chemical imbalance myth

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    ADHD Nation is an important look at the history and widespread use of stimulant medication to treat ADHD. Schwarz delivers a detailed historical account, punching up what could be a rather dry narrative by focusing on the career of Dr. Keith Conners, an elderly childhood psychiatrist who was a key figure in popularizing the widely used Conners Scale for diagnosing ADHD and who has since turned against the disorder, and Jamison Monroe and Kristin Parber, two young adults who's diagnosis of ADHD s ADHD Nation is an important look at the history and widespread use of stimulant medication to treat ADHD. Schwarz delivers a detailed historical account, punching up what could be a rather dry narrative by focusing on the career of Dr. Keith Conners, an elderly childhood psychiatrist who was a key figure in popularizing the widely used Conners Scale for diagnosing ADHD and who has since turned against the disorder, and Jamison Monroe and Kristin Parber, two young adults who's diagnosis of ADHD served as an entry point to substance abuse problems, and who recovered to run a rehab center. The story bounces across America, and from the 1930s onwards, but always returns to two main themes. First, the medications used to treat ADHD are potent stimulants which are frequently abused by patients seeking stronger highs. Second, ADHD itself is a product of Big Pharma, an artificial market by barely-legal ploys involving hidden payments to influential doctors, consumer advertising that bypass FDA regulations by not mentioning drug names, and scientific malpractice via poorly designed studies. I literally wrote my dissertation on this topic, and on the one hand, Schwarz isn't wrong on any factual particular. He's right to target "ADHD is both under-diagnosed and over-diagnosed" as a meaningless cliche, and his expose of the very fragmentary system whereby serious stimulants can be prescribed indefinitely on the basis of five minute interview. On the other hand, he's not an academic, and that means that he lacks a strong idea of how medical research should be done, or what counts as trustworthy information about psychiatry for the public. The focus on a handful of very serious cases of drug abuse obscures whether an initial prescription of stimulants lead to ongoing problems (post hoc ergo propter hoc), or the systematic effects on millions of kids who are neither ADHD wrecks, nor stimulated into amphetamine psychosis. A similar focus on ADHD purely as a product of marketing ignores the fact that it fits into a very real hole in our society, an anxiety about merit and competition and fairness that would exist with or without the drugs. A good book, and one which I wish had come out a few years earlier, so I could have included it in my diss, but not the last word on ADHD.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    With ADHD diagnosis and medication becoming such a prevalent part of our society I think that this book is a must read for all. Schwarz expertly weaves the long history of attention deficit disorder with its undeniable ties to Big Pharma. For the most part, I believe he does a fairly decent job of finding a good middle ground between the die hard Pharma supporters and the ADHD deniers on the opposite side of the spectrum. That being said, some arguments against Big Pharma do come off as more "ra With ADHD diagnosis and medication becoming such a prevalent part of our society I think that this book is a must read for all. Schwarz expertly weaves the long history of attention deficit disorder with its undeniable ties to Big Pharma. For the most part, I believe he does a fairly decent job of finding a good middle ground between the die hard Pharma supporters and the ADHD deniers on the opposite side of the spectrum. That being said, some arguments against Big Pharma do come off as more "ranty" than factual (and that is coming from someone with no love lost for the pharmaceutical industry). Overall I think that Schwarz does an excellent job of portraying the mind boggling atrocities that have befallen the ADHD community in recent decades. One of the major aspects of the book that stood out to me (and literally made my jaw drop) was the fact that the projected number of children affected by ADHD is around 5% but that 15% are diagnosed with ADHD by the time they leave high school, which by any standard is astronomically high. Numbers like this, as well as the fact that 10,000 TODDLERS ages 2 and 3 in the United States are currently on medication for ADHD make one question not only the diagnosis and medication process but also the role of pharmaceutical companies in research, advertisement, and medical practice. Clearly these are issues that need to be further investigated and improved up. I would also be very interested to read something for the opposite take of Mr. Schwarz if anyone has any good suggestions!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    This very un-dry account of the rise and rise and rise of ADHD diagnoses and drugs made for a compelling read. While most agreed-upon estimates of the number of ADHD children in the U.S. land at 5% of the population, kids are being diagnosed and usually drugged at the rate of 10-15% (up to 30% in some areas!). Since amphetamines do help you focus and concentrate, whether you have ADHD or not, you might think no big deal, but there are some drawbacks. Namely, addictive properties and potential fo This very un-dry account of the rise and rise and rise of ADHD diagnoses and drugs made for a compelling read. While most agreed-upon estimates of the number of ADHD children in the U.S. land at 5% of the population, kids are being diagnosed and usually drugged at the rate of 10-15% (up to 30% in some areas!). Since amphetamines do help you focus and concentrate, whether you have ADHD or not, you might think no big deal, but there are some drawbacks. Namely, addictive properties and potential for abuse. (Some older kids were chopping up the pills and snorting them, often while abusing other substances.) Nor has anyone studied the long-terms effects of being on the drugs for most of your life, now that Big Pharma tells us you don't always grow out of ADHD. If there was one take-away, it was that most of the doctors and website and papers promoting ADHD research and its attendant drugs are funded by the drug companies themselves. That, and cognitive therapy has also proven helpful, but it's more time-consuming and expensive than taking a pill. Oh, and that, to keep their products in patent protection, it's in the drug companies' interests to discover new applications (read medical conditions) for the same drug.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Presents a history of the ADD/ADHD diagnosis and the role that Big Pharma has played in educating people about this disorder, especially when it comes to diagnosing minors. Schwarz points out that there are children who truly have this disorder, but there is lack of training for the practioners who have overdiagnosed the disease in millions of people in America. There is much to consider here, particularly the fact that there are American cultural expectations for children and academia that may Presents a history of the ADD/ADHD diagnosis and the role that Big Pharma has played in educating people about this disorder, especially when it comes to diagnosing minors. Schwarz points out that there are children who truly have this disorder, but there is lack of training for the practioners who have overdiagnosed the disease in millions of people in America. There is much to consider here, particularly the fact that there are American cultural expectations for children and academia that may do not support normal developmental behaviors in children. Schwarz also portrays the epidemic of abuse by teenagers and adults to deal with the pressures to compete with their peers in school and the workplace. Also, a myth that has been perpuated by Big Pharma is that the amphetemines prescribed to treat ADHD actually work for everybody, not just people with ADHD. I think that parents should educate their children who take medication for ADHD (and any other mental disorder) to be responsible with it, and not share with others and to talk about other issues that may cause the underlying symptoms to figure out if the diagnosis is correct. Adult.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This book had a lot of information. Having worked as both a nurse in 3 different pediatric clinics, one of which had a pediatric neurologist, and then as a school nurse for 13 years, I have worked with the doctors treating these kids, been in individual and group conferences with teachers and parents, and observed thousands of kids. There was excellent information but way too much for me to keep going reading through. Therefore, I am not giving it a rating. However, I personally have not been in This book had a lot of information. Having worked as both a nurse in 3 different pediatric clinics, one of which had a pediatric neurologist, and then as a school nurse for 13 years, I have worked with the doctors treating these kids, been in individual and group conferences with teachers and parents, and observed thousands of kids. There was excellent information but way too much for me to keep going reading through. Therefore, I am not giving it a rating. However, I personally have not been in school settings where there were high numbers of students on medication for ADHD nor have I witnessed doctors prescribing it without restraint. I have seen instances where medication made a dramatic improvement in the student's school performance and other instances where medication did not seem to help. One aspect that didn't seem to be covered was that attention deficit disorder is often seen in connection with other disorders in a student.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Nicholas

    If, like me, you came to this book seeking information as to whether or not ADHD is a real thing, go somewhere else. The author is a true believer. (Seriously, your only bone tossed to us skeptics is basically, "ADHD is here to stay; get over it."?) What he does endeavor to do is explain how over-medicating kids is a dangerous thing. Duh. The book basically comes away as more a treatise on how the privileged are ruining life for everyone in America. We already knew that. Not a book that was nece If, like me, you came to this book seeking information as to whether or not ADHD is a real thing, go somewhere else. The author is a true believer. (Seriously, your only bone tossed to us skeptics is basically, "ADHD is here to stay; get over it."?) What he does endeavor to do is explain how over-medicating kids is a dangerous thing. Duh. The book basically comes away as more a treatise on how the privileged are ruining life for everyone in America. We already knew that. Not a book that was necessary or informative. Just another pity party for kids who are total brats, parents who feel guilty their Oprah-esque gospel of self-esteem isn't working out to make superkids out of their sprog, and woo woo WOO Big Pharma (!!!) is fucking us all up and expecting us to pay for the privilege.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brice

    This is a must read if you are curious of ADHD or if you and/or know anyone who might be flirting with being diagnose with this ADHD. I have been personally affected by ADHD and like many kids that I know that been bullied into taking this drug, we really didn't have ADHD. Big pharma has some tricks and they might really do think that they are in the right. This was a very informed history of ADHD and it doesn't disappoint. This is a must read if you are curious of ADHD or if you and/or know anyone who might be flirting with being diagnose with this ADHD. I have been personally affected by ADHD and like many kids that I know that been bullied into taking this drug, we really didn't have ADHD. Big pharma has some tricks and they might really do think that they are in the right. This was a very informed history of ADHD and it doesn't disappoint.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shana Yates

    4.5 stars. Fascinating, infuriating, frustrating, and unforgivable. This even-handed, engagingly-written look at ADHD, treatment, childhood, doctors, and pharmaceutical interests is eye-opening and should spurn any reader to do some serious soul-searching when it comes to how we engage with medicine, how mental conditions are diagnosed, and what happens when a disproportionate part of the equation is not health but profits, not normal development but shortcuts, not seeing patients as a whole per 4.5 stars. Fascinating, infuriating, frustrating, and unforgivable. This even-handed, engagingly-written look at ADHD, treatment, childhood, doctors, and pharmaceutical interests is eye-opening and should spurn any reader to do some serious soul-searching when it comes to how we engage with medicine, how mental conditions are diagnosed, and what happens when a disproportionate part of the equation is not health but profits, not normal development but shortcuts, not seeing patients as a whole person but seeing them as a problem to be solved (preferably with a pill). A must-read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A good history on ADHD and treatment in the US, as well as good stories of misdiagnosis and abuse of ADHD drugs. Despite all of the warnings that yes, ADHD is real, I would have liked to have seen more success stories. To me, this is the problem with the stigma around ADHD - so much focus on overdiagnosis and not enough focus on the kids who have it and are truly helped by medication and therapy.

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