Your long-awaited appointment with the pediatric neurologist had finally arrived. After a 20-minute interview he states his diagnosis.
Doc #1: Your child has a disorder called #ADHD. This means that his brain has structural and chemical differences from a normative brain. The best treatment is a combination of #pharmaceuticaldrugs and behavior therapy.
Doc #2: Your child is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. There are no tests to determine a brain dysfunction, and very sparse and unreliable studies demonstrating an imbalance. Therefore, we can assume that your child is perfectly healthy. We must explore different possible causes of these symptoms and build a program to help him flourish.
Which doctor would attract more patients to his practice?
Who would you prefer meeting?
Which diagnosis seems more scientifically based?
I’ve been lecturing parent and teacher groups about ADHD for many years. In the past, my series began with an explanation of the science that proves that ADHD is a neurological disorder, and discussed the value of medication. My message was clear; although there is not much a parent can do to fix her child’s broken brain, she could discipline more compassionately and help him develop better habits.
My delivery was so convincing that about 80% of the parents in the audience registered for the entire series each time.
A few astute parents asked some fantastic questions, creating a crack in my presentation…. Why don't we have a child take an MRI to determine if there is indeed a problem? Why are doctors concluding that my child has a broken brain based on images taken from a study of someone else’s brain? There is no other discipline of medicine where a patient is prescribed a drug without proof of pathology, why here? When the parameters for diagnoses were dramatically loosened from the DSM3 to the DSM5, was it due to a new scientific understanding, or a vote at the APA (American Psychiatric Association)? Where are the studies?
Things got more troubling when I started reading what leading psychiatrists were quietly saying.