Worried about your child’s “hyperactivity”? What if it was normal for children to be energetic and curious about everything? What if it is unnatural to restrict young children to chairs and desks and rooms for hours every day? But then again… sitting still like that is good preparation for routine jobs… and prison.
Viewed by academics as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, Jerome Kagan ranked above Carl Jung (the founder of analytical psychology) and Ivan Pavlov (who discovered the Pavlovian reflex) in a 2002 American Psychological Association ranking of the eminent psychologists. He is well-known for his pioneering work in developmental psychology at Harvard University, where he has spent decades documenting how babies and small children grow, and is an exceptional and highly-regarded researcher.
So it may be surprising to learn that he believes the diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is an invention — and only benefits the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists.
Mislabeling Mental Illness
“That is the history of humanity: Those in authority believe they’re doing the right thing, and they harm those who have no power”, says Jerome Kagan.
In an interview with Spiegel, Kagan addressed the skyrocketing rates of ADHD in America, which he attributes to “fuzzy diagnostic practices.” He illustrated his point with the following example:
Say fifty years ago you have a 7-year-old who is bored in school and exhibits disruptive behavior. Back then, he would be labeled as lazy. But today, that same child is said to suffer from ADHD. That’s why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in the disorder.
Every child who is having problems in school is sent to see a pediatrician, who then claims it’s ADHD and prescribes Ritalin. “In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis,” he said…