One more reason why I am actually a bit cynical about organized skepticism. We are stuck in the 1970s, endlessly debunking UFOs and homeopathy, while right under our noses, mainstream “medicine” has gone insane…
Well, how should the skeptic view this issue? Unlike UFOs or homoeopathy, we are dealing with a specialized medical field here and the skeptical approach in such cases would usually be deference to expertise. Prescription drugs being involved, one would expect such expertise to be found in the field of psychiatry. The author of the New York Times article being a professor emeritus in psychology and the New York Times not being a professional medical journal, the skeptic should question the level of expertise displayed. That being the case, it is dubious whether the points raised by L. Alan Sroufe in the article merits serious discussion on a skeptical forum.
I think he has a point, but as you say, the area is so muddy it’s almost impossible to get clear answers on this.
As someone with ADD and on ritalin, I can report that after about a year that started with incredible results, the effects have been waning to the point where I’m about to ask my psych if it’s worth staying on, so a very timely article Brian. I suspect (s)he is going to recommend upping the dosage, which I would resist based on my current experience with the drug. I suspect it would be a temporary fix only.
(Yes, just my anecdote, others’ mileage may vary)
My main worry is: where on earth does that leave me?
@Boogie - both my kids were on Ritalin for around 10 - 12 years each, both felt the need to wean themselves off the medication after that period of time, with both of them, I noted that although initially they had dips in their concentration, they seemed to actively work (conciously or sub - I’m not sure) harder to achieve what they wanted. I suspect (being just a mom and no expert) that they “trained” themselves to achieve the same results. I must note that neither is hyperactive and there never were any discipline or behaviour problems with either of them. I suspect you got used to the meds or perhaps you subconciously require more from it, hence your feeling that its not as effective as before. My eldest asked me last week whether he can go back on, Varsity turned out to be a challenge for him within a week, I’m happy to oblige for now, but I suspect that once he gets used to the rate of study and amount of work, he’ll discard it again.
I noticed with both my boys that they are routine junkies, and my youngest writes just about everything down, he even carries his notebook with him to the suppertable and we chuckle at him when he makes notes during general conversation (e.g. Mathew, you need to take out the rubbish tonight - noted.)
I myself wanted to go on Adderall to see if it will help me improve my concertration.
Have often wondered if I also have ADD. But since I already consider myself a caffeine addict, I decided it is better not to go down this route.
I have also heard that good routine, organization and good nutrition is the best.
Being in an accounting environment (the most unnatural environment me) I eventually leared a lot of techniques to stay organized and keep focused. It is still extremely, extremely hard.
Forums help a lot to learn information and I think it is the future for education.
I think that Ben Goldacre is doing a lot to help.
Always thought it is me that have become bored with all this UFO, Psychic business.
Even Derren Brown (he says he is gay, I am cynical about that) a hero of mine is starting to get on my tits when he hammers on about Psychics. I think it would be better to focus on teaching each other how to distinguish between good and bad scientific studies. Much more interesting.
Yup, Ben Goldacre is indeed taking the right sort of approach. There is an astonishing amount of quackery going on in the name of mainstream medicine nowadays, and one does not necessarily need to be an expert to follow a scientific argument. I have found Goldacre’s writings quite easy to follow. Another good book, although it perhaps overstates its point a bit, is James le Fanu’s “The rise and fall of modern medicine.”
We live in an age where absolutely fricking everybody seems to be diagnosed with this or that and in need of medication. It’s the Age of Hypochondria. I’m sure this suits the pharmaceutical industry just fine.
Incidentally, at the school where I work, the principal does not permit any kids who are on Ritalin. She claims that while it does improve their concentration, it seriously messes up their long term memory, so that they can focus on their work but nothing actually goes in.
I think it probably differs from child to child, but at a previous school where I worked I did notice this: the kids on Ritalin seemed to be impervious to any learning whatever. You could repeat the same thing over and over a thousand times, have them do the same math exercise over and over and over, and a week later it was as if they had never seen/heard it before. Perhaps they were just unusually daft. But I do find it curious that ADD and ADHD, diseases that seemed not to exist at all fifty years ago, are now suddenly so prevalent that every second kid seems to be in a treatment program.
Could it be that we have medicalized what is in fact just normal childhood behaviour?
My youngest weaned himself off around age 13, and he’s doing fine without it, he took it for around 3 or 4 years.
Depends on the child, the parents and how involved they are with said child. My lad learned to walk around with a notebook and writes down everything he needs to remember (chores and whatnot), it helps in that aspect.
ADHD is not “curable” but one can adapt one’s lifestyle to manage it.