A carefully constructed and persuasive argument against the popular view of attention deficit disorder (ADD) as a medical...


RITALIN NATION: Rapid-fire Culture and Its Transformation of Human Consciousness

A carefully constructed and persuasive argument against the popular view of attention deficit disorder (ADD) as a medical disease best treated by Ritalin. DeGrandpre, a visiting professor of psychology at St. Michael's College, sees ADD (now often termed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD) as a culture-based developmental problem that can only be solved with lifestyle changes. He doesn't eliminate any role for biology but finds ADD's cause in the high intensity and speed of our society. He argues that a rapid-fire culture, with its changes in the rhythm of lives and experience of time, transforms human consciousness, producing a mind that is adapted to rapid change and an increase in what he calls sensory addictions, or the relentless pursuit of constant stimulation. In such a culture, says DeGrandpre, children especially may become unable to regulate their own behavior, develop a need for sensory stimulation, and engage in disruptive behaviors. Ritalin, a powerful stimulant drug that provides a background of stimulation, thus freeing the child from the need to engage in such behaviors, has become the widely accepted treatment. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that by the year 2000 eight million schoolchildren will be on Ritalin. This figure dismays DeGrandpre, who blames the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry for promoting Ritalin. The real solution to the growing number of children with hyperactivity and attention problems requires first recognizing the problem as one of sensory addiction and then finding ways to reverse the effects of an impulsive, sensory-charged lifestyle. For parents this means creating a slower pace of life for themselves as well as their child. In his concluding chapter, DeGrandpre outlines the steps that parents can take to do just that. Like Lawrence H. Diller's Running on Ritalin (p. 944), a serious discussion of a problem of special concern to pediatricians and parents.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999


Page Count: 160

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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