"Just Say No to drugs! By the way, here's your Ritalin."

One day early in 2000, Michael and Jill Carroll of West Byrne, New York, got a knock on their door from Child Protective Services. Their alleged crime wasn't abusing drugs, beating their child or withholding love. Rather, they were accused of refusing to give their 7-year-old son, Kyle, the popular-yet-controversial drug, Ritalin.

As a result, the Times Union of Albany reports, the Carrolls were put on a statewide list of alleged child abusers and thrust into an Orwellian court battle to clear their name and to make sure that Kyle wasn't forcibly removed from their home.

In fact, Ritalin may be the epitome of a quick-fix solution for a fast-food culture.

Diller, a San Francisco Bay-area pediatrician, has prescribed Ritalin to his patients for the last two decades. But he has become increasingly concerned by the explosive growth in Ritalin prescriptions in the past decade. He argues that it is ironic that public school administrators, on the one hand, enthusiastically push a "Just Say No!" position on drug use, while at the same time telling youngsters to "Medicate or Else!"

Other doctors agree.

"I know of children who have been given Ritalin more to subdue them than to meet their needs Ð a practice that recalls the opium syrups used to soothe noisy infants in London a century ago," says Bromfield.

"The surge in both ADHD diagnoses and Ritalin prescriptions is yet another sign of a society suffering from a colossal lack of personal responsibility," he adds. "By telling patients that their failures, misbehavior and unhappiness are caused by a disorder, we risk colluding with their all-too-human belief that their actions are beyond their control and weaken their motivation to change on their own. And in the many cases where ADHD is misdiagnosed in children, we give parents the illusion that their child's problems have nothing to do with the home environment or with their performance as parents."


Cj said...

Child psychologists are actually beginning to agree that often normal variations in children's peronalities are misdiagnosed as ADHD. (I was diagnosed ADD, have never been medicated, and never had any problems.) Great post.


Brave New World said...

What I find interesting about diagnoses of ADD is that it is an excuse. I know parents who use it to explain their child's behavior and progress in school. It's an excuse for not doing something not necessarily a reason.

I'm amazed at how many parents will tell me their kid or kids are on Ritalin. Most have not researched it and just go along with the program. It's in tune with a previous post on this site about people not reading the find print in financial dealings or Microsoft software agreements.

I suppose it takes too much time to research this subject. Since the diagnosis usually comes from the direction of the school, you would think there'd be some discussion at school board meetings about this.

A friend who deals with developmental problems in children in a public school setting said it's in the funding interest of the school district to have kids identified as having a behavioral problem. It's documented and they are on drugs and the school district qualitifes for more aid.

Parents on welfare also qualify for additional benefits, if their child is on Ritalin or other drugs that originate from the school district and are alos dispensed at school.

cato said...

George Will, 1999:


A REACTION is underway against drugging children because they are behaving like children, especially boy children. Colorado's elected school board recently voted to discourage what looks like drug abuse in the service of an ideological agenda. The board urged teachers and other school personnel to be more restrained about recommending drugs such as Ritalin for behavior modification of children, and to rely more on discipline and instruction.


Consider the supposed epidemic of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that by 1996 had U.S. youngsters consuming 90 percent of the world's Ritalin. Boys, no parent of one will be surprised to learn, are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. In 1996, 10 percent to 12 percent of all American schoolboys were taking the addictive Ritalin. (After attending classes on the dangers of drugs?)


This is an age that tries to medicalize every difficulty or defect. Gwen Broude, also of Vassar, believes that the rambunctiousness of boys is treated as a mental disorder by people eager to interpret sex differences as personal deficiencies. Danielle Crittenden of the Independent Women's Forum sees the "anti-boy lobby" behind handwringing about the supposed dangers of reading the Harry Potter novels, which feature wizardry, witchcraft and other really neat stuff.

The androgyny agenda of progressive thinkers has reduced children's literature to bland gruel because, Crittenden says, there is "zero tolerance for male adventurousness." The Potter books recall those traditional boys' books that satisfied boys' zeal for strife and adventure. Today, Crittenden says, that zeal causes therapists--they are everywhere--to reach for Ritalin.

Harry is brave, good and constantly battling evil. He should point his broomstick toward Colorado, where perhaps boys can be boys.


Oh, and of course South Park had some things to say on the matter:


(synopsis: the boys all go on ritalin and act sedated; they go to a Phil Collins concert! Anyway, Chef saves the day. He at first tries to show the parents a "revolutionary drug free anti-ADD" parenting technique or something like that, where you smack the kid and tell him to shuttup and do his homework, but the parents were taking their kid's ritalin and wouldn't listen, so he had to pass out antedotes at the Phil Collins concert. After the drugs are counteracted, the boys realize how shitty Phil Collins really is.

666 said...


Please don't tell me those boys run out and buy Chris Cross CDs.

On a serious note, what do you think drives the drugging of the boy culture? Is it the nuclearization of the family? Is it a grwoing parental selfishness that strives for taking care of the needs of me verses the the family of we? Does everybody suffer from ADD? Is there to much shit flying at us from every direction to deflect? And how could we deflect it with a stearing wheel in one, a cell phone in the other and $4 Starbucks to go balance precaiously between our legs as we exceed the speed limit on our way to work to the crap that passes for "classic rock."

Andy Rand said...

Though I somewhat agree with your characterization of a demasculized upcoming generation, I fail to see the connection to ADHD. I think the disorder is real yet overdiagnosed.
ADHD has more to do with the inability to focus one's attention than youthful rambunctiousness.
Also, if you follow CJ's link you'l discover she is female.

I find it interesting that this overdiagnosis is exacerbated by the financial interests of both school districts and drug companies.

cato said...

Andy: I was quoting someone else.

666: It has something to do with the sloughing off of responsibility by parents for their own children. They want easy. Responsibility for themselves and their own is quite hard for some people.

666 said...


Have you noticed a historical trend where the older generation thinks the the younger generation has it to easy? Of course, these are the same parents who have to themselves that their kids were going to have it better than they did. Maybe we've reached the tipping point where the "easy" turns from Jello to a puddle that can no longer stand up by itself.

My guess is that the old generation has always thought that the younger generation always has it easier and needs a swift kick in the ass. There's a Bible quote about how the younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket. Nowdays, if they're going to hell, their parents will being carrying the hand basket for them.

Speaking of hell, did you see Jerry Falwell died?

cato said...

Yes, I saw he died. Maybe the Orwellian "Liberty University" will change some of their polices:



(same link I just broke it up in case it runs over)

Yes, younger generations do have it easier than older ones. It's not a bad thing. The older generations inveted the vacuum cleaner, the younger use it. There will be something totally awesome that we don't even know about yet allowing for more ease in the next generation. It's going to happen. But none of those things have to do with "parenting". What is clearly needed is discipline but our society has become weak and intolerant of disciplinary actions.

Disciple =/= child abuse.

This is a joke site. But alot of truth is said in jest:


Again... breaking the link...


andy rand said...


I hope you are joking about that link. Honestly, that's child abuse not discipline.
I was never afraid to give my kid a smack on the ass is they wised off or wouldn't listen, but this stuff is overboard. You are joking, right?
Who in their right mind wants their kid to cower in the corner when you get from for work?

andy rand said...


Who in their right mind wants their kid to cower in the corner when you get from for work?

cato said...

You didn't correct anything Andy.

Let's review what I said:

"Disciple =/= child abuse.

This is a joke site. But alot of truth is said in jest"

jpn said...

Cato or Andy:

Do you think a well time spanking is a legitimate form of parental discipline?

andy rand said...


You got me.
I meant "Who in their right mind wants their kid to cower in the corner when you get home from for work?

So alright, it's suppose to be a joke.
I guess I wasn't laughing that much.

My understanding of discipline comes from the words root. Disciple.

This has more to do with training than punishment.

Online Etymology Dictionary - Cite This Source
c.1225, from O.Fr. descepline, from L. disciplina "instruction given to a disciple," from discipulus (see disciple). Sense of "treatment that corrects or punishes" is from notion of "order necessary for instruction."

Do you have a different concept of discipline?


I think I gave my opinion about spanking above.