Chat Transcript: Dr. Peter Breggin on Ritalin and Kids

No, there is no evidence that children routinely diagnosed with ADHD have any neurological disorder. Many of them, in fact, seem to be superior in terms of their physical or mental endowment, and that is precisely what gets them into trouble. When on rare occasion there is a neurological problem such as a head injury, the diagnosis is head injury rather than ADHD, and most certainly the neurologically impaired child should not have additional brain dysfunction imposed through stimulant drugs.

Medical doctors have for a hundred years tried to claim that behavioral problems in children are biological and genetic because as medical doctors that's the only way we can be in charge of the field. But in those hundred years, we have never proven that any of the behavioral problems that children have are biological in nature.

Moderator at 1:54pm ET

Dr. Breggin do you have any final thoughts to share?

Dr. Peter Breggin at 1:59pm ET

America is the first society to ever turn to the mass drugging of its children as a solution to the conflicts that inevitably arise between the generations. It is difficult to be a child. Childhood is filled with frustration, disappointment, abuse and trauma. It is difficult to be a parent, especially in this modern age where parents are often raising children on their own or while working. It is difficult to be a teacher in large, overcrowded classrooms that lack teaching assistants and volunteers and that lack the kind of exciting technologies that capture the attention of children.

But in facing the difficulties of parenting and teaching, we must not in our frustration falsely blame the brains of children in order to exonerate ourselves of responsibility. Instead, we must redouble our efforts to become the kind of parents and teachers that our children need, and we must use our influence to improve family life and school life in America. By contrast, when we tell a child that the child has ADHD, a biochemical imbalance, cross-wired in his/her brain, a genetic defect, or some other fabricated biological dysfunction, we saddle that child with an identity that will burden that individual for the rest of his/her life.

We disempower children by telling them that they can't control themselves or can't learn; we disempower ourselves as adults by saying we can't reach any particular child, and we actually end up in our frustration damaging the brains of our children to make them more docile and more manageable. That is all we can accomplish with the drugs —crushing the spontaneity of our children.

Instead we should take responsibility for empowering our children to live as full lives as possible with an intact brain. If you have further questions, please turn to my website The website describes our national organization, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, which is holding it's annual conference in New York City at the Roosevelt Hotel 22-24 September.

Moderator at 2:01pm ET

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