It isn’t every day that an academic and a practitioner as prominent as Dr. Jerome Kagan of Harvard University goes up against one of the wealthiest industries in the world. So when something like this does happen, it stirs quite the controversy both in the medical world and among the millions of people dependent on the health industry and Big Pharma. In a recent interview for a reputable German newspaper, Dr. Kagan took an openly opposing stance against current practices and culture of big pharmaceutical companies. According to him, they purposefully (mis)diagnose and categorize millions of people as having a mental illness just so they can later develop a drug for the particular condition and profit from those people.
In all fairness, Dr. Kagan was recently listed among the most notable academic achievers, a ranking that placed him the company of names such as Carl Jung and Ivan Pavlov, historic figures in the world of psychology, so his words should not be taken lightly. His professional opinion of ADHD is that it is in no small way a made up condition, and not so much a serious psychological state of mind.
But first things first, and let us see what the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder actually is. In most simple terms, it is a disorder of the human brain which manifests itself with the inability to stay concentrated and focus on tasks from beginning to end. Harsher cases of ADHD can even make a person overly active ad restless. Additionally, people who actually suffer from it might find it difficult to keep their composure and peaceful state of mind during rough times of uncertainty and necessary decision making. Dr, Kagan has spent decades of his life researching the psychological state of children and observing thousands of them in different settings and at a different age, and is adamantly claiming that there is something terribly wrong with today’s categorizing practices of Big Pharma.
For example, the biggest problem is in how today’s children state of mind is defined and approached. “30 years ago, if a child could not focus on tasks and his attention drifted away constantly, he would have been considered lazy, but today companies are very quick to diagnose a child with ADHD and put him/her on drugs. There is no justification for such an approach. No need for drugs”, claims Dr. Kegan. In his professional opinion, this process of categorizing an individual as one with a failed state of mind should be slower and more thorough.
In addition, he also argues for alternative methods for approach children’s hyperactivity and anxiety, and notes the negative mental consequences on a child’s mind and self-image that will ensue after a doctor has diagnosed it with a mental disorder. He openly discusses his similar experiences as a child and frequently shares his conclusions from retrospective self – analysis. In his early childhood he had to deal with stuttering and hyperactivity, and he believes that it was his mother, who endowed him with a different and more positive point of view on his issue, that helped him most in dealing with it.
Instead of rushing to categorize him as somehow defective, his mother explained to him he is normal just like all the other children and there is nothing wrong with him. He is the way he is because his mind is quick that his tongue cannot follow, but that will go away with time. This, he believes helped him believe that he is a clever young boy, and not a person with mental disabilities, a perspective that could make or break a young person in their times of struggle.
With so many children nowadays diagnosed with ADHD and the speed with which pharmaceutical companies produce and push drugs on our young ones should surely sound an alarm for parents all over the world. We must start thinking differently and make a stance for an alternative way of approaching what could otherwise be nothing more than curious youth full of energy and playfulness.