Home Psychology Renowned Harvard Psychologist Says ADHD Is Largely A Fraud

Renowned Harvard Psychologist Says ADHD Is Largely A Fraud


In a SPIEGEL interview, one of Harvard University’s dominant psychologists of the 21st century, Jerome Kagan of Harvard University, had enough courage and professional expertise to compare psychology to a rotten piece of furniture.

Kagan proposes a contemptuous evaluation of the pharmaceutical companies, saying they wrongly categorize a ridiculous number of people as mentally ill for their own interest. 

Kagan takes the 22nd place on the lists published by US Academics in 2002, which rank psychologists according to their prominence. He is classified two places above Ivan Pavlov (the discoverer of the Pavlov reflex) and one place above Carl Jung (the father of analytic psychology).

That says a lot about his credibility, and makes taking the time to consider his opinion worth the effort.

Kagan’s analysis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) concludes that it is more of an invented condition rather than a serious illness. Moreover, he thinks that the pharmaceutical industries and psychiatrists have invented the disorder because of money-making reasons.

What Precisely is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

It is a brain disorder that makes people unable to stay focused, pursue tasks until their very end, and concentrate. In addition, it makes them excessively active, often to the extent of restlessness.

People suffering from the disorder are unable to calmly go through a decision-making process but rather rush into hasty judgements and actions. As a result, from all of the above, they can be a burden to society.

Kagan spent decades at Harvard University, performing research on elements in children growth. He observed the variations in their behavior during every stage of their development and tested their reactions to different external stimuli.

Through conversation, he has been trying to make conclusions about the flow of their thoughts and their perceptions.

According to his observations, the reason for the drastic increase of the number of kids diagnosed with ADHD lies only in the different definitions of their state of mind.

He argues that fifty years ago, those children that could not keep their attention in classes, were labeled as lazy. Today, psychologists “find” a disorder in every child that is a bit more active than the rest, or who is not performing well at school.

After such an easy diagnosis of the problem, kids are given drugs to control their nature.

According to Kagan, there is absolutely no need for that, as these kids have no abnormal dopamine metabolism. Doctors simply prescribe the drug that is available to them, as the easiest solution.

Kegan believes that the process of concluding if someone is mentally ill should be more thorough and precise. After quick interviews with adults and adolescents, more than 40% are classified as depressed.

He disagrees with the newest medical practices that would immediately classify them as mentally ill, as more deep examinations prove only 8% of the same people to be suffering from a serious mental disorder.

A better solution would be to find a way to help these children with the issues they face, and decrease their anxiety. The consequence that follows by classifying young people as mentally ill makes them lose their self-confidence.

Kagan’s words oppose some of the most powerful pharmaceutical companies, which actually earn billions while selling drugs that should reduce ADHD symptoms.

It is interesting that his observations started from self-analysis– he suffered from stuttering and restlessness as a child. However, he believes that he was able to overcome those problems due to his mother’s way of perceiving it.

Instead of emphasizing his problem, she was persuading him that he is no different from the others- only his mind works faster than his tongue. Therefore, he believed that his issues indicated that he is smart, instead of mentally ill, as modern medicine would define him.

In addition to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Kagan classifies depression as another illness with exaggerated statistics in the modern era.

The reasoning is the same – the diagnosis is overused simply because of the availability of anti-depressants. There are situations (for example, with people that have increased activity in the frontal lobe) when these drugs don’t work at all.

Kagan’s suggestion is very simple- instead of putting a child or a young person on drugs; psychologists should work on defining the reasons that cause sadness and anxiety.  

More important than symptom analysis is the definition of causes: there are people that have chronic forms of depression, and people that are vulnerable only in particular situations.

This practice of diagnosing someone only on the basis on symptoms opens the door for many new illnesses, such as the bipolar disorder.

That is why today we have more than a million Americans under the age of 19 defined as bipolar. Psychologists have started classifying every child with changes in temper as mentally ill, and again, pharmaceutical companies immediately accept the novelty and new drugs are on the way.

The pattern cannot remain unnoticed. A trend appears and starts to spread very fast, without many rational explanations for that.

So, as Kegan advises, instead of putting a child on drugs, find him a tutor to help him in school and spend time with him/her to help them overcome their obstacles since their earliest appearance.



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