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global surge in ADHD diagnosis, more marketing than
Call it an economic and cultural plague, but not necessarily a medical one, says Brandeis professor Peter Conrad.
Conrad and Bergey attribute ADHD's growth to five trends.
"... checklists turn all kinds of different behaviors into medical problems," Conrad says. "The checklists don't distinguish what is part of the human condition and what is a disease." In the U.K., diagnosis of the disorder in school-age children grew from less than one percent in the 1990s to about five percent today. In Germany, prescription ADHD drugs rose from 10 million daily doses in 1998 to 53 million.
"There is no
pharmacological magic bullet," says Conrad. No drug can
account for nonmedical factors that may contribute to
behavior. A fidgety student may be responding to the
one-size-fits-all compulsory education system, Conrad
says, not a flaw in his brain chemistry. ADHD continues a
long history of medicalizing behaviors, Conrad says. "I
think we may look back on this time in 50 years and ask,
what did we do to these kids?" Conrad says.
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