HYPER by Timothy Denevi


A Personal History of ADHD
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Denevi explores “the mountains of material on ADHD from the point of view of a patient.”

The author seeks a middle ground in the debate over whether ADHD is overdiagnosed and/or overmedicated. In his own case, the first symptoms of his problem were frequent meltdowns and impulsive behavior when playing with other children or in a classroom situation. He describes his earliest memory of a tantrum, when he experienced “something deeper than anger, a sense of desperation akin to homesickness” after being chastised for a minor infraction. Today, Denevi explains, the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine symptoms of ADHD, of which six must be met for a diagnosis. His behavior at age 5 fit all of the symptoms, but this was in 1985, when the condition was still poorly defined. Only after a year during which he was subjected to a number of tests to exclude food allergies or epilepsy was Denevi finally diagnosed with the condition. He was first prescribed Ritalin, but the medication increased his agitation, and he was switched to a mild antidepressant. He was also treated by a child psychologist throughout his childhood and adolescence, and his parents worked closely with his therapist and teachers to help him control his impulsiveness and distractibility. In classrooms where his teachers were sympathetic, his behavior improved, but he was the target of bullies. As he grew into his teens, his attitude became more flamboyant and assertive; this led him to minor delinquency. With strong support from his parents, he managed to excel academically. Now married and a father, Denevi still copes with symptoms of the disorder and takes small doses of Ritalin. In his view, the treatment of ADHD should aim to alleviate “the levels of conflict and stress” so that children can “make it safely into adulthood.”

An evocative and insightful memoir of thriving with ADHD.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-0257-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014


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