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Ritalin Nation: Rapid-Fire Culture and the Transformation of Human Consciousness Paperback – 1 May 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Norton Pbk. Ed., Updated edition (1 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393320251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393320251
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,317,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The book is very readable. The author is well informed and backs his arguments with apt quotes from literature and his knowledge of social science research." -- Open Mind

About the Author

Richard DeGrandpre, Ph.D. is visiting professor of psychology at St. Michael's College in Vermont.

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IN the 1950s we envisioned a promised land of halcyon days and pacific nights. Read the first page
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By booksetc on 18 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
Why is the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder five times higher in America than in Britain and Europe? and likewise the over-prescription of the powerful psychostimulant Ritalin (so readily available on the street that it is endemic on university campuses for students in essay crisis).
DeGrandpere's thesis is that ADD has no biological cause and is a cultural problem of our speeded-up society. But this is a ponderous read and though he advises parents to slow down, work less, opt out of consumerism and spend more time with their kids, he doesn't offer much guidance on how to achieve this.
Heavy going. Interesting, though, on the dodgy history of ADD diagnosis and how millions of kids are now labelled and drugged for a syndrome that didn't even exist a generation ago.
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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Consider the Source 25 Aug. 2002
By Peter C. Dwyer - Published on Amazon.com
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. Stimulants are known to produce brain changes in laboratory animals; experience, too, is known to alter brain structure ("brain plasticity'); despite the human genome hype, no replicable causal relationship has been established between genes and mental illness.
The New Yorker reviewer must know of the 1998 National Institute of Health's Consensus Conference on ADHD. Conference participants were largely those who accept biopsychiatry and its view of ADHD. Nonetheless, the conference summary concluded that there was no known biological cause of ADHD, adding that the same was also true of most serious psychiatric disorders.
Think about that. Biopsychiatry justifies medicating millions of ADHD children on the grounds that ADHD is a physically-based conditon. Yet they have to admit they don't really know of any brain defect causing ADHD. Then they seek to minimize what should be an immensely embarrassing admission by saying, "But don't worry - we don't know the physical basis of schizophrenia and the other serious mental illnesses either."
That is why this review is entitled "Consider the Source." Biopsychiatry's claims are misleading. For decades they have represented scientific "progress" in studying the brain as having reached the stage of actual knowledge clearly supporting their biological treatments. This is demonstrably not so.
My second point: the "science" behind placebo controlled studies showing Ritalin's efficacy, simply ain't necessarily so. The NIH Consensus Conference summary acknowledges: "There are no data establishing the long term safety and efficacy" of Ritalin and other stimulants for ADHD. This is a huge admission, considering how long Ritalin has been around. The Summary also acknowledges that Ritalin produces little or no improvement in social adjustment or in educational achievement (it makes some kids more passive in class, but actually impairs higher level cognitive functions. Long term achievement tests fail to show improvement on Ritalin).
Finally, regarding the quality of placebo controlled studies in this area, check out Breggin.com, in which Peter Breggin, M.D. presents A Critical Analysis of the NIMH Multimodal Treatment Study for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (The MTA Study). Despite biopsychiatry's attempts to marginalize Dr. Breggin, he remains a prodigious and courageous intellect in this field, who has been qualified as an expert witness in numerous malpractice and product liability cases involving psychiatric drugs accross the country. In fact, he was the sole invited presenter on stimulant medications' adverse effects at the NIH Consensus Conference on ADHD.
Dr. Breggin convincingly establishes that the MTA study, one of the largest and most widely cited on Ritalin's efficacy, has numerous fatal flaws, and in fact could as well be interpreted as proving Ritalin's LACK of efficacy.
For these reasons, I apply an acid test to writings about mental health: if, like the New Yorker reviewer, an author uncriticaly cites the scientific "advances" behind current biopsychiatric treatments, or if such an author claims placebo controlled studies establish the effectiveness of psychiatric drugs, I know there's something wrong. The brain science and genetics to support their claims just aren't there; the placebo controlled studies are notoriously manipulable and are routinely used to show things that just can't be supported.
Richard DeGrandpre may not have everything right. Biopsychiatry may be right about some things. But you can't show it by the kind of argumentation presented by the New Yorker reviewer. Unfortunately, that and worse (TV ads are horribly misleading in the same way)are what the public usually gets. The N. Y. Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, etc., routinely just parrot writers like the New Yorker reviewer.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Extremely well-documented and insightful 17 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Great analysis of an overwhelming social problem 6 Jan. 2000
By Ryan Carson - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Powerful expose of Ritalin abuse -a wake up call for America 6 Jan. 1999
By Chip Wood - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
a courageous expose of "hyperculture" and its victims 19 May 1999
By JDanco@worldnet.att.net - Published on Amazon.com
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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