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Medicating Children: ADHD and Pediatric Mental Health

Medicating Children: ADHD and Pediatric Mental Health


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Why and how did ADHD become the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children and adolescents, as well as one of the most controversial? Stimulant medication had been used to treat excessively hyperactive children since the 1950s. And the behaviors that today might lead to an ADHD diagnosis had been observed since the early 1930s as “organic drivenness,” and then by various other names throughout the decades.
Rick Mayes and colleagues argue that a unique alignment of social and economic trends and incentives converged in the early 1990s with greater scientific knowledge to make ADHD the most prevalent pediatric mental disorder. New movements advocating for the rights of children and the disabled and a massive increase in Medicaid spending on psychotropic drugs all contributed to the dramatic spike in ADHD diagnoses and stimulant use.
Medicating Children is unique in that it integrates analyses of the clinical, political, historical, educational, social, economic, and legal aspects of ADHD and stimulant pharmacotherapy. Thus, it will be invaluable to educators, clinicians, parents, and policymakers, all of whom are trying to determine what is in the best interest of millions of children.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674031630
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 01/31/2009
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

B. Rick Mayes is Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond.

Catherine Bagwell is Professor of Psychology at Colgate University.

Jennifer Erkulwater is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. An Introduction to ADHD
  • 3. A Survey of the Evolution of ADHD and Pediatric Stimulant Use, 1900–1980
  • 4. The Transformation of Mental Disorders in the 1980s: The DSM-III, Managed Care, and “Cosmetic Psychopharmacology”
  • 5. ADHD and the Politics of Children’s Disability Policy
  • 6. The Backlash against ADHD and Stimulants
  • 7. Current Questions about Stimulant Treatment for ADHD
  • 8. Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Deborah Stone

Start with one of the most intriguing socio-medical puzzles of our time: Why the explosion in prescription stimulants for children at a time when we're supposedly fighting a war on substance abuse? Add a hefty dose of intellectual curiosity and mix with three well-tempered analytical minds. Pour into elegant narrative prose. Voilà! A broad-ranging, comprehensive, and wise interpretation of mental health, politics, policy, and scientific culture. And like all good works of art, this one reveals the world in a grain of sand.
Deborah Stone, author of The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor?

Steven Mintz

With clarity and compassionate insight, this remarkable book explains why ADHD becomes the most commonly diagnosed psychological disorder in children, and how millions of children came to be treated with stimulants. But Medicating Children does something more: It brilliantly describes a paradigm shift in thinking about mental disorders– from a psychodynamic to a biological view– and details the converging factors– including shifts in disability law, welfare policy, and research funding– that opened the door to the greatly expanded use of psychotropic drugs to treat not only ADHD, but childhood depression and other mental disorders in the young as well.
Steven Mintz, Columbia University, author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood

Leon Eisenberg

In this thoughtful and critical book, Mayes and colleagues provide answers where there is evidence for them and makes it clear why some questions cannot be answered with what we know today. Parents, teachers, and doctors will be the wiser for reading it.
Leon Eisenberg, MD, Harvard Medical School

Stephen P. Hinshaw

Without pulling any punches, the authors take on the many diverging opinions about attention deficits and hyperactivity in today's world, skillfully blending perspectives from science, clinical practice, and policy, helping readers sort out fact from fiction in the overly heated media coverage. Analyzing a real condition, but one steeped in the loaded crossfire between big pharma, media frenzy, biology vs. culture, and the very nature of childhood itself, Medicating Children is a beacon of reason.

Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Judith L. Rapoport

At last, a balanced and comprehensive account of the history, science, treatment and controversy of ADHD. Medicating Children is scholarly but very readable. This unique book will be my first reading recommendation to anyone interested in ADHD.
Judith L. Rapoport, MD, Chief, Child Psychiatry Branch, NIMH

C. Keith Conners

Rick Mayes and colleagues have made a brilliant, scholarly, and unique contribution to the literature on ADHD. In a critical but balanced approach, the authors fill the gaps in understanding left by narrow and one-sided debates. A must-read for anyone interested in ADHD.
C. Keith Conners, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center

Edward Hallowell

Medicating Children is superb, a tour de force. If you want the most balanced, informed, and sane view on the use of medication in children who have ADHD, read this book.

Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Delivered from Distraction and Driven to Distraction

Howard Markel

Mayes, Bagwell and Erkulwater have both written a brilliant book and performed a great public service. Medicating Children should be required reading for anyone wishing to understand the complex and complicating legal, medical, historical, economic, and political frameworks of attention deficit disorder in the United States. This measured, thoughtful, and elegantly written volume is a scholarly tour de force.
Howard Markel, MD, PhD.,Director, Center for the History of Medicine Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases The University of Michigan

Ronald T. Brown

There are likely more journal articles and books on the topic of ADHD than there are children with the disorder, but this work indeed is a rare find. Thoughtful, comprehensive, and carefully referenced, this seminal work manages to weave an important tapestry of mental health services practice in this nation, public policy, and the unique challenges in providing mental health care to children and adolescents.
Ronald T. Brown, Dean, Temple University Health Sciences Center

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