RUNNING ON RITALIN

A PHYSICIAN REFLECTS ON CHILDREN, SOCIETY, AND PERFORMANCE IN A PILL

A concerned physician examines the skyrocketing use of Ritalin to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and finds its causes in a mix of disturbing social, cultural, and economic factors as well as in the psychopharmacological model of mental illness. The explosion in ADD diagnosis and Ritalin treatment in the US is a “white, middle-to-upper-middle-class, suburban phenomenon.— Diller, a California pediatrician specializing in child development and behavior, as well as a family therapist, sees ADD not as a manifestation of a chemical imbalance in a child’s brain but of a living imbalance in many stressed-out American families. Among the causative factors that Diller identifies are the changing structure of family life, parents equipped with poor parenting techniques but anxious to give their child every advantage, rising academic competitiveness and pressure to succeed, and an overtaxed educational system where large classes provide many distractions and little individual attention. Also contributing are a managed-care health system that looks for low-cost solutions—Ritalin works fast and is a relatively cheap pill—and a school of thought that views ADD as being primarily a neurological disorder. When a behavior problem is classified as a medical disorder, Diller notes, insurance coverage is available and parental guilt is eased. He is not opposed to trying Ritalin but asks that other efforts be made to address a child’s behavior and performance problems first, such as parenting/family therapy and monitoring the school situation. Diller draws on numerous cases from his two decades of practice to illustrate both the problem and his own multimodal approach. In his conclusion he proposes steps that parents and professionals can take to halt the surge in ADD diagnosis and Ritalin treatment. Balanced and thoughtful, yet sounds a powerful alarm.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1998

ISBN: 0-553-10656-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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