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Posted June 2, 2010
Wrong about ADHD -- what else is wrong?
Having long heard Earl Mindell's name associated with books on vitamins and minerals, I assumed he was a credible expert. I have also respected the writings of Virginia Hopkins. So, when I saw this new book at the public library, I checked it out.
I turned first to my area of expertise, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. What I read was so shockingly ignorant, luridly misleading, and exploitive, I knew this was a book to read at my own risk.
As an avid gardener, I know the importance of my plants receiving adequate "nutrition" in the form of minerals and elements such as water and sunshine. Deprive them of what they need, and they are vulnerable to disease.
I have long been aware that diet and lifestyle critically affect our health and cognition. I am disgusted many physicians' ignorance about vitamins and minerals. I'm also well aware that modern farming practices have stripped many of our basic foods of key nutrients and that supplements are often helpful. I shop locally for organic produce. In short, I am not a tool of Big Pharma or an advocate of medication as the answer to every ill. Quite the opposite.
I am, however, aware of the science supporting ADHD as a valid medical diagnosis and the body of literature that explains not only HOW the medications work but also that they DO work. And they have been studied for more than 50 years. Every day, neuroscientific innovations such as brain-imaging demonstrate the intricate mechanisms involved. Scientists are teasing apart the genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to ADHD. Moreover, we have impressive longitudinal studies showing what happens when ADHD is NOT treated: higher rates of substance abuse, suicide, traffic accidents, divorce, absentee parenting, bankruptcy, unemployment, and on the job accidents.
I've long worked as a volunteer in support of those in the ADHD community who seek help for misunderstood symptoms that have held them back in life and created much suffering. For years, they've been told to "buckle down" and "try harder," among endless other admonishments. Telling someone with ADHD to "try harder" is akin to telling someone who wears eyeglasses to throw them away and "try harder" to see. It's cruel and inhumane.
It is a great joy to witnesss people reclaim their lives once they learn about ADHD and receive evidence-based treatment. Yes, it goes against we expect -- a pill can help someone focus, organize, prioritize, drive more safely, be more cooperative in relationships, manage money more prudently, and so forth? It sounds too easy! And so, when we ignore the facts, we remain vulnerable to hucksters like Mindell who depict ADHD as a Big Pharma hoax -- and by the way, maybe you want to buy their book. Scare tactics sell.
Medical treatment for ADHD is never a "quick fix." It takes trial and error to identify the right medication and dosage for each individual. Some physicians are better skilled than others; that's why the patients need to be educated. We are in the infancy of understanding how to treat very complicated brain conditions. There are no one-size-fits-all answers.
With a combination of medication, dietary changes, exercise, and new habits, many people live vastly improved lives. Why would anyone want to deprive them?
Earl Mindell's website offers no academic credentials. But the biggest red flag is this book's blatant ignorance.
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Posted July 6, 2010
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Posted November 15, 2009
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