THE MYTH OF THE HYPERACTIVE CHILD: And Other Psychological, Chemical and Legal Means with Which the State Controls Your Children by Peter & Diane Divoky Schrag

THE MYTH OF THE HYPERACTIVE CHILD: And Other Psychological, Chemical and Legal Means with Which the State Controls Your Children

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The state? That's a pretty big claim, and Schrag and Divoky don't completely succeed in making it stick. It's about the only thing they don't completely succeed in. This uncompromising polemic is written with anger, conviction and logic; it refuses any number of opportunities for tactful diversion from its central issue. Of course Schrag and Divoky are resolutely opposed to the medication of so-called ""hyperactive"" children with amphetamines, Ritalin, and other ""smart pills."" The drugs are neither safe nor effective, they say with impressive backing from the medical literature--but would the routine use of chemotherapy be more morally acceptable if they were? ""Hyperactivity,"" they insist, is a fuzzy and meaningless name for some agglomeration of features variously defined by every teacher, psychologist, and drag salesman. What scares the authors is the unholy alliance between two tendencies: the readiness of the behavioral sciences to extrapolate from known medical fact to psuedoscientific hypothesis, and the growing inability of social institutions to accommodate more than the most insignificant variations from behavorial norms. Among the more disturbing signs of the new climate, Schrag and Divoky point to the passion of educators for universal psychological ""screening,"" the maintenance of extensive confidential test records by schools from kindergarten on up, and the creation of new categories like ""predelinquency"" to fill in those inconvenient gaps between legal fact and fiction. Paranoid blather, or the first sounding of the alarm on a pre-totalitarian phenomenon? Your reaction will not necessarily be determined by your political affiliation; Schrag and Divoky's convictions are shared by citizens as diverse as Nat Hentoff and Senator James Buckley. A genuinely challenging book.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Pantheon