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  April 15, 2002

The Damage of Labels: The Truth About ADHD

In a previous article "Born Bad: The Dangerous Dogma of Meds and Genetics" (January 28, 2002), I describe a "Four Step Coercion Process" that is used to control others. The first step is

1) Those in power have to classify the victims as different, with another name. They call them Gooks, Niggers, Jews, Palestinians, Patients, Challenged, Seniors, Kids. Not people. Not "us." Them.

In other words, the first step in abusing someone is to label them - to turn them into an object. The western medical model does that in its use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) - better known as the DSM-IV.

This prerequisite for abuse is especially shocking in the recent creation of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In order to demystify this violation of human rights, I have published the complete diagnostic criteria below with my comments in italics.

* * * * * *

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - Diagnostic Criteria

Either (1) or (2).

1) Inattention

Six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

(As judged by an adult in power.)

a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities

(The tasks forced on the child may be boring or irrelevant to their own discovery needs. "Close attention" and "careless" are subjective judgments arising from adult expectation.)

b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

(The child may be interested in other things.)

c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

(The adult speaking may be boring, verbose, or simply interrupting the child from his/her preferred activity.)

d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)

(The tasks forced on the child may be boring or irrelevant to their own discovery needs.)

e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

(These are tasks forced on the child. The "difficulty" is a subjective judgment arising from adult expectation.)

f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)

(The child may prefer to learn by doing what all young mammals need - to play.)

g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)

(The child may be interested in other things, and not concerned with material items.)

h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

(The child is sensitive, curious, and perceptive. "Extraneous" is a subjective judgment arising from adult expectation.)

i) is often forgetful in daily activities

(The child may not be interested in the daily activities chosen by the adult.)

2) Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

Six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:


a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

(The child is a young, rapidly growing organism that needs to move in order to be healthy.)

b) often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected

(The child may be following an active, natural interest in other things not chosen and "expected" by the adult.)

c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)

(The child is an active organism within an environment restricted by adults.)

d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

(The child is an active organism within an environment restricted by adults. The need for "quiet" is an adult expectation.)

e) is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor"

(The child is a growing, active organism.)

f) often talks excessively

(The child is an active organism with needs to communicate in his/her own way and pace. "Excessive" is a subjective judgment arising from adult expectation.)


g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

(The child may be inspired, excited, enthused.)

h) often has difficulty awaiting turn

(May be inspired, excited, enthused, full of energy.)

i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

(The child may be inspired, excited, enthused - and still learning social skills.)


• Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.

("Impairment" is a subjective judgment arising from adult expectation.)

• Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).

(The settings mentioned are environments with expectations and judgment created by adults or authorities in power.)

• There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

("Clinically significant impairment" is a subjective judgment made by the adult or authority in power.)

• The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia , or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

(In other words, the "unacceptable" behaviours are part of another more serious label.)

* * * * * *

These are not "diagnostic criteria." These are subjective judgments aimed at coercing a person to follow rules of "proper conduct" made by others with power. The list could just as easily read:

a) fails to be white

b) often does not attend a Christian church

c) is often agitated with life in a refugee camp

d) often fails to climb stairs in wheelchair

e) is often easily distracted when doing repetitive tasks on assembly line

f) does not follow through with sexual acts expected by spouse

g) often squirms or displays discomfort in situations in which enduring pain is expected

h) tends to be smaller, younger, and unable to do adult tasks

This list may seem ridiculous, but real people are abused every day by these actual distinctions. Those in authority impose a restriction that suits them, and force those less powerful into that cage or expectation. If these "others" don't fit or obey, they are labeled as ill or bad, and forced to fit.

My comments on the ADHD criteria do not even address the fact that children displaying these behaviours may actually be very troubled and upset by a neglectful, abusive home life, environmental and food allergies, or excessive ingestion of sugar-laden soft drinks from the school's own cafeteria. Not once are these very real problems considered or their discovery suggested. If a child is being sexually molested at home, and is not able to concentrate, the child is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and given Ritalin to take away the symptom - thus hiding the signs of the crime - and protecting the criminal.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to a "symptom" as "something that indicates the existence of something else." When we see blood, we look for the wound and treat it - we don't just keep wiping up the blood dripping on the floor! When we see an active child, it is criminal negligence to issue a label and force them to take drugs. If we look at the whole picture, we will usually find that the child's essential emotional needs for love, security, discovery, and freedom are not being met.

The false diagnosis of ADHD is presently damaging six million children in the US, and is now being taken by the medical establishment and the drug companies to Europe, South America, and Asia. There are millions of dollars to be made - and millions of children in danger of abuse.

Spread the word.

* * * * * *


"In fact, there is no medical, neurological or psychiatric justification for the ADHD diagnosis. The key 'symptoms' include such behavior as 'often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat,' 'often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected' and 'often has difficulty awaiting turn.'

Many factors could lead a child to behave in this manner, including a spirited, creative nature that defies conformity, inconsistent discipline or lack of unconditional love, boring and oversized classrooms, an overstressed teacher, lack of teacher attention to individual educational needs, anxiety due to abuse or neglect at home or elsewhere, conflict and communication problems in the family and misguided educational and behavioral expectations for the child.

In my own clinical experience, many such children are energetic, creative and independent youngsters struggling within the constraints of an inattentive, conflicted or stressed adult environment. Thus we end up drugging our best and our brightest.

Attention deficit disorder does not reflect children's attention deficits but our lack of attention to their needs."

Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Director, Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology
Bethesda, Maryland
Excerpt from a letter to the New York Times May 15, 1996.


"Finally, after years of clinical research and experience with ADHD, our knowledge about the cause or causes of ADHD remains speculative."

National Institutes of Health
Consensus Development Conference Statement
Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
November 16-18, 1998


"In 1980, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is literally a list of behaviors, was voted to be a 'mental disorder' at a committee meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and included in the APA Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, DSM-III (third edition). In 1987, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was literally voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association and inserted in the DSM-IV. Within one year, 500,000 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with the disorder."

From the website Ritalin Death


"They (the American Psychiatric Association) made a list of the most common symptoms of emotional discomfiture of children; those which bother teachers and parents most, and in a stroke that could not be more devoid of science or Hippocratic motive - termed them a 'disease.' Twenty five years of research, not deserving of the term 'research,' has failed to validate ADD/ADHD as a disease. Tragically - the 'epidemic' having grown from 500 thousand in 1985 to between 5 and 7 million today - this remains the state of the 'science' of ADHD."

Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD


"The medical community has elevated Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to the status of diagnoses, and most people believe that these are real diseases. They aren't, and doctors who label children ADD or ADHD don't have a clue what's really ailing them."

Dr. Sydney Walker III


"The psychiatrist does not do any testing. The psychiatrist listens to the history and then prescribes a drug.

Let me clear this up right now. ADHD is not like diabetes and [Ritalin] is not like insulin. Diabetes is a real medical condition that can be objectively diagnosed. ADHD is an invented label with no objective, valid means of identification. Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the body and it is essential for life. [Ritalin] is a chemically derived amphetamine-like drug that is not necessary for life. Diabetes is an insulin deficiency. Attention and behavioral problems are not a [Ritalin] deficiency."

Dr. Mary Ann Block
author of No More ADHD


"We have used drugs as 'chemical restraints' on some unruly boys in order to secure a quick-fix to the larger problems of our society and our schools. I do not believe it is an accident that [ADHD and] Ritalin became the answer for disorderly school children at the same time as the schools were being barred from using corporal punishment. As one tool for social control was taken away, Ritalin was offered up as another. I am not, however, in favor of the return of corporal punishment."

Keith Hoeller, Ph.D.,
Special to The Seattle Times
Wednesday, March 8, 2000

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