9/9/16. My letter about Dr. Susan Pinker's article, "Medication Children With ADHD Keeps Them Safer."
Dear WSJ Editors,
ADHD is a well-known disorder that is not well known.
Susan Pinker highlights recent research that medication for ADHD can reduce risky behavior during adolescence (WSJ 8/17/16). As La Rochefoucauld notes: “Youth is one long intoxication: it is reason in a fever.”
Her article is a breath of fresh air amid the many stale national media headlines that have attacked the validity of ADHD and slammed the used of medication.
These headlines have included: “Ritalin Gone Wrong”; “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill”; “Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions”; and “A Nation of Kids on Speed.” These articles are enough to scare any parents from treating ADHD.
Many people still believe that ADHD is a myth, promoted by pharmaceutical companies who lobby doctors to promiscuously drug children whose problems stem from temperamental sensitivities rather than psychiatric disorders, assisted by intolerant, label-craving teachers.
In my 40 years of clinical experience, this view is nonsense, a view helped along by the anti-medication crowd – claiming the biology of mental illness is a myth. If it is a myth, it is a myth with a genetic component. Many people yearn to get off the roller-coaster of distractibility, disorganization, trouble doing nothing, and impulsivity often leading to substance abuse.
Until we have a medical test to identify ADHD, no amount of scientific knowledge, clinical experience, or testimonies from parents and youngsters will convince some citizens of the validity of neuropsychological disorders such as ADHD.
As Susan Pinker so eloquently notes, growing up with untreated ADHD may lead to the side effects of school failure, depression, delinquency, accidental death, and suicide --- and treatment, that works, is available.
Steven J. Ceresnie, Ph.D.