Below is a response from Dr. Scott Saunders to an email that replied to our last posting: ADD & ADHD Drugs War for Children.  Click Here to Read the Previous Blog Entry. See Below for the Email.

This is not something that should be addressed, because both parties are talking about very different things.  However, since he is willing to learn more, I will venture:

The DSM is a consensus paper; it is not factual, just the opinions of a committee that got together to name things, in this case psychological syndromes.  We can name anything, and as long as we all agree, then that is the name.

However, the Barton Publishing article is about treatment.  The diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is only a syndrome and does not take into account the cause of the ADD & ADHD symptoms.  For example, if you had a fever, I could diagnose fever, give you an aspirin and send you home. However, this would not address the CAUSE of the fever.  If you had pneumonia, and I sent you away with an aspirin, you would probably die of pneumonia – even though the fever was correctly diagnosed and the aspirin made it go away.  There are a myriad of other causes of fever which are not addressed by the aspirin.  Thus, what you really want to know is the reason for the fever, the fever itself is just a symptom.

In the same sense, treating the symptoms of ADD/ADHD is like giving aspirin for pneumonia.  You can lessen the symptoms, but you never cure the disease in this way.  The behavior of the child is simply a with multiple possible causes.  The ADD & ADHD symptoms will resolve when the correct cause is found and addressed — and amphetamines do not address any of them.

Bottom Line: the point of the article is not that a set of symptoms we call ADD/ADHD doesn’t exist, but rather that it isn’t useful.  Making such a diagnosis doesn’t help in the treatment because it is not a single entity.  A good diagnostician should be able to find thereason one had such a problem, then, upon treating the cause, there will be no need to treat any symptoms, because they would disappear – just like a fever goes away by itself when pneumonia is correctly treated; aspirin was never even necessary!

I hope this sheds some light.

~ Dr. Scott Saunders

Email from one of our readers:

“Before you send out emails saying that certain psychological disorders do not exits I would strongly recommend that you look in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4 TR (DSM-4TR). There you will see that this is a legitimate diagnosis and further the symptoms of this disorder were first identified in 1902. Medication may be overly prescribed I do not have the statistics on this, however this does not mean that this is not a legitimate diagnosis. Individuals with ADD or ADHD who do not receive help have a higher risk of social, academic, and behavioural problems in adolescence which in some cases lead to increase drug use and high school drop out. The diagnosis process for this is extensive and it is not given to children who simply fidget.

Could  you please send me the peer reviewed journal articles (or reference) that support what you are saying in this. I am always willing to learn more about psychological disorders.

Another good reference is Weyandt, L. L. (2201). An ADHD Primer. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Thank you.”