A young mother recently asked me this question, "My kindergarten age son was just diagnosed with ADHD. I'd love to know your thoughts about ADHD. Is it an actual condition or just another way of perceiving and interacting with the world?"
First, I am going to deal with the consequences of using the label ADHD (which stands for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) and save the perception and learning aspect for a later article.
In addition, I am interested in how Peter Shepherd, the editor of Cultivate Life! and author of 'Transforming the Mind' would answer this question. Given his work in brain and mind development his input could be very valuable. Stay tuned because I am interviewing Peter on my radio show, "Live at the Edge", Oct 11, 2006. Listen in at Live at the Edge because you are going to learn some interesting, exciting ways to develop your mind and help creative children.
Here is my point of view as a holistic psychologist to all mothers and children who are face to face with a diagnosis from a professional. Any diagnosis or label, such as ADHD, is unhealthy for children or for adults. No matter what your son's actual behavior, a label is sure to stick him, for life, with a negative identify. The ADHD label puts him in a straight jacket which is difficult to transform into something positive.
I know many people disagree with me and think that a label is wonderful because the name, "ADHD", finally tells you what is "wrong" with you or with your child. However, I see a label such as ADHD, as the kiss of death because there is probably nothing "wrong" with you or your child in the first place.
Second, consider a universal law that is very helpful to know and keep in mind: Energy follows Thought. This law applies to all past and future DSM categories (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders). This means what you think is what you create. if you think of yourself as ADHD you become ADHD. If you think of yourself as a loser, you become a loser. If you think of yourself as unable to concentrate, viola, you cannot concentrate.
So I say loud and clear, stay away from all labels like a plague. Never follow the latest trends that psychologists or psychiatrists make popular in any time period. During my internship in 1975, the popular mental illness diagnosis in hospitals was chronic, undifferentiated schizophrenia (CUS). This shocked me over and over again when every male coming into our New Jersey hospital ward was suddenly a CUS. Baylor University in Texas, where I got my Psy.D, was obviously behind the times. In Texas, we did not have any chronic, undifferentiated schizophrenia people on our wards--yet.
In the same time period, outside of mental hospitals, there was the new and exciting, catch-all category that was sure to please everyone. Therapists were complete failures in helping a group of people move forward. Suddenly, a new label was urgently needed. After all, therapists certainly could not be blamed for not knowing how to help this particular type of person, who was usually a woman.
This needy, helpfulness woman who did not improve with our treatments had to be held accountable for her "faults." A new diagnosis was the obvious answer to this professional crisis. Consequently, all female clients who did not respond to current treatments became the infamous, outrageously popular, borderline personality.
When you take a look at it, the entire DSM manual is based on mental judgments which have a strong - very strong - straight, white, male bias. This judgmental bias is unhealthy and needs to be eliminated. For more information about the ineffectiveness of the old, traditional psychology visit my site. Consider that it was as late as 1973 when same-sex love was freed of its mental illness identity.
When you look at the history of modern medicine and psychology, you find both of these male dominated fields have done more harm than good over the last 100 years. Read 'Love at Goon Park' by Deborah Blum. Blum reveals how medicine and psychology ruined so many children's lives because mothers choose to listen to M.D.s and Ph.D.s, instead of their own heart.
I would like to keep mothers from being lead astray any longer. Loving, strong mothers know what is best for their children. To learn how to listen to your own heart and follow your inner wisdom, study "A Natural Process for Opening the Heart - Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem." As a mother, you know best. Of course, you must be able to tell the difference between your own false beliefs and the inner truths that exist in your heart. As you listen to yourself and to your child, real answers to real problems are discovered or created.
In conclusion, a heavy label like ADHD, must be evaluated by its effectiveness. Does an ADHD label actually do anything to improve a child's behavior or personality? Does it help a child cope better or perform better? Honestly, we have to say, no. Labels do absolutely nothing to help anyone use more of their human potential. Consequently, I recommend paying attention to healthy, flowing energy. Healthy energy is easy to find in all babies and children. Babies have much more vital energy than adults or professionals.
Back to your son, if I knew his exact behaviors, thoughts or feelings I could evaluate what is going on with him more accurately. Does he behave in such a way that he gets into trouble? Is he unaware of others? Does he have anxiety in his nervous system that keeps him from doing his best?
Perhaps he needs a mind-body, holistic psychology program that teaches him to use his strengths. Then he can develop the skills he needs to adjust into a group setting with others. We all need help from outside sources. Know that you, as his mother, can get the help you need and you can find the help he needs. I always recommend focusing on strengths and I never recommend using drugs, legal or illegal.
Remember that universal law? If you identity with your healthy energy, then you become healthy. If you help your son stay in touch with his true, authentic identity he will be just fine. For example, if you think of yourself as a strong, loving mother, you become a strong, loving mother. If you help your son see himself as a creative genus, he becomes a creative genus.
How nice does that sound to your ears and your heart?
I know letters to the editor and criticisms are not usual in Cultivate Life! but I cannot help taking pen to paper and replying to the ADHD article by Dr. Doris Jeanette in the last issue. I think her emotionally-charged piece loses its objectivity and she mistakes opinions for fact. More importantly she is trying to deny a very real affliction and that does not do the children any good.
I have a far longer experience of this condition than Dr Jeanette (I was treating it in the late 1970s, early 80s) and can tell Cultivate Life! readers that in the years before this medical condition was properly recognized, it was very tough on the kids. They were simply branded naughty, stupid or lazy and the consequences of that were far more destructive for the child than being "labeled" with a diagnosis.
Over 30 years of treating children (holistically) with this and similar disorders, I can tell you with certainty that over 95% of children with ADD or ADHD are physically sick. They need treatment. They do not have "healthy flowing energy", as Dr Jeanette proclaims, but hyper-excited brain tissue, which is measurable objectively. It has causes, which need to be treated, not glossed over with cuddles and nurture.
By far the biggest problem is food allergy, close followed by chemical sensitivity and heavy metal toxicity. Many also had disturbed metabolic pathways, like marginal phenylketonuria, or malabsorption, due to undiagnosed gluten-enteropathy, milk allergy or yeast overgrowth (typically after taking repeated doses of antibiotics).
It was with great relief we welcomed the fact that the medical community finally recognized this disorder for what it was, even though they considered it merely a Ritalin deficiency. At least it was finally recognized that the child was physically unwell, not suffering from a defective personality. The abuse stopped.
Now Dr Jeanette would like to turn the clock back and forget a sound footing was ever attached to this unfortunate disease of brain toxicity. To me her preaching seems to lack a scientific perspective and has more to do with a mother's vanity and emotional denial there could be anything "wrong" with her child. Dr Jeanette even suggests that if we cease using the word schizophrenia this condition will somehow go away. Perhaps we should stop considering it a health affliction at all and go back to whipping the psychotic and depersonalized cases simply because they are behaviorally disturbed. It would drop the statistics to zero overnight and we'd have a "breakthrough" cure!
Incidentally, Dr Jeanette also plays the race and gender cards inappropriately, since ADHD and ADD affect male children far more than females and whites far more than blacks!
Peter Shepherd's view...
I should point out that Dr Scott-Mumby is a practitioner of alternative medicine, reknowned as an allergy treatment specialist, as well as being a general practitioner. A more conventional doctor may simply prescribe a drug like Ritalin for a person exhibiting ADHD symptoms without awareness of the range of possible alternative factors involved. Similarly, a doctor may misdiagnose allergy symptoms because for the conventional doctor, if there is no anaphalytic shock, then it is not an allergy, as they understand the condition, and the many problems that other forms of allergic response can cause would likely be mistreated or treated ineffectively.
Therefore a doctor diagnosing a person as suffering from ADHD would likely not result in the kind of treatments that Dr. Scott-Mumby would consider applying, and also other psychological and behavioral problems that may be connected with the person's difficulties may be overlooked. Of course by not making a comprehensive medical examination, there is equally a danger of sweeping a genuine medical problem under the carpet, where it will only get worse.
Deficiency in EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) - especially Omega 3 as in fish oils - is a common cause of mental problems such as irritability and depression. In addition, a high-glycemic diet of junk food, Coke, etc, gives rapid rises and falls in blood sugar, reducing the ability to concentrate for long, and poor diets with processed foods containing additives may cause allergic reactions, including irritability and lack of energy.
The toxic effects of vaccination, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, excessive TV watching or video game playing, sleep deprivation, lack of sensory integration and repressed emotional upsets are further factors that may lead to the inability to pay attention (more details here).
Dr. Jeanette's article makes one particularly important point in my opinion - the apparent behavioral symptoms that resemble ADHD may not necessarily be a physical or psychological 'disorder' at all, so much as a pattern of behavior that naturally occurs given certain circumstances, such as those described below, and which will respond to empathic understanding and better teaching and parenting. Although it is quite likely, given modern diets and standards of health, that this may in addition be greatly exacerbated and raised to crisis level by one or more of the factors Dr. Scott-Mumby refers to, that are genuine health problems needing immediate medical treatment. In these cases, the alarm bells should ring!
It is normal for children to have a short span of attention, and this normally improves as the child learns to focus their attention and to concentrate for longer, in order to complete a task. But if this development does not occur, and a deficit of attention disrupts the child's education, this may occur as a result of a very bright kid being taught below his or her intelligence level. He's understood what the teacher says almost immediately, and the further exercises and explanations, necessary for the other kids, are boring and a waste of time to the child. He may feel superior and cocky about this and not be afraid to let the teacher know of his disinterest - which is likely misinterpreted - whereas other children are more in fear of the teacher and his discipline and therefore obedient. He may chat with neighbors whilst also doing the exercises very easily, and gets balled out by the teacher for not paying attention or causing disruption. And feeling misunderstood and not listened to, he may get angry about all this and eventually depressed and apathetic; or he may rebel. Also a sense of isolation from other children may develop, furthering his discomfort, especially if the parents do not provide support or understanding as well.
Further, because it's all too easy, he may not have learned the skills of concentration and the skills of studying that the other kids need to learn in order to be able to do the introductory studies. He tends to have a glib approach and later on in his studies he may therefore get out of his depth, since concentration and study skills have become necessary, even for a person of his intelligence, and he has missed out on acquiring these, unlike the other school children to whom it did not all come so easily.
Also he may be frustrated that the subjects are not of interest to him or taught at too basic a level. Hyperactivity behavior (as opposed to that resulting from pathological ADHD) may be a result of the frustration he feels, since he has no outlet for the energy other kids would need to put into their studies. Parents should ask him how he feels about what goes on at school and listen non-judgmentally so that he feels understood.
A remedy is for the parents to spend the time after school to make resources available for learning about those subjects that he is genuinely and personally interested in, and encourage him to study these in considerable depth, so he perceives the need for concentration and study skills, and so begins to acquire them. To help him acquire these skills, it would be best for the parents to learn these skills too, so they can demonstrate these to the child.
First, I would like to thank Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby for sharing his point of view about my article on ADHD where I applied a universal law to the labels that medicine and psychology stick on people. Another thank you to Peter Shepherd for sharing this thoughts based on his mind development work. Open dialogues improve communication and knowledge for all of us. I welcome comments from readers -- shoot me an email at my address here.
Secondly, you need to know I have spent 30 years bringing into focus a New Psychology. My approach offers people who are interested, a new paradigm. I have never been satisfied with the current effectiveness of psychology or medicine. To see the huge difference between the New Psychology and the Old Psychology visit A Natural Process for Opening the Heart - Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem. You choose for yourself.
The New Psychology has a holistic approach, which means it addresses the Body-Mind-Spirit as one, whole, energy system. We do not focus on symptoms, such as allergies, ADHD or schizophrenia. As Jay Haley said, "Schizophrenia is no excuse for anything!" Neither are allergies or ADHD.
The New Psychology goes to the root cause, the source, the beginning. The bottom-line is where we focus, looking for effective solutions. We help each adult or child use more of their natural talents and inherent abilities. Activating a person's unique skills and innate strengths is the remedy for imbalances in the whole World of Inspiration system.
It does not matter what symptom or label a person has, the solution is to build up the authentic self, the inner core so that a person's energy flow is stronger and healthier. This improves all physical health, emotional health and mental health.
To achieve success, a person learns to tell the difference between the energy of the authentic self and the energy of the maladaptive, learned self. If you want to learn to differentiate these energies, study and work with "A Natural Process for Opening the Heart - Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem". This knowledge empowers you.
This is yet another reason, besides the reality that energy follows thought, to question the labels placed on you by medicine or psychology. When you take on a label, such as ADHD, you enter a very sticky place that is hard to shift energetically. Your true identity, your authentic self, is replaced by an outside definition, ADHD.
To say that a label must be received in order to get the help you need, is faulty thinking. This false belief goes back to when men decided to stop killing the witches. Over 300 years, 7-11 million women were killed. These medicine women had effective herbs and knowledge about how to heal the body and mind. This zealous elimination of medicine women was the moment medicine lost its way and it has yet to recover.
This historic slaughter gradually began to cease because Johan Weyer convinced the authorities that witches were crazy. Here we have the beginning of the distorted thinking that I am complaining about. If you are crazy, then we do not have to kill you. We must proclaim you crazy, so we can stop killing you. Does that sound logical? Of course not.
This type of thinking is still present today in the way a label such as ADHD is considered to be necessary in order for the Dr. to help him. Does that sound rational? Of course not.
While we are fortunate Johan found a way to break up this out of control, hysterical behavior in 1563, we need more rational arguments today. Let us look logically upon our past. The so called witches were not the ones who were crazy. No, the men who believed these women had really been sleeping with the devil were full blown psychotic.
Everyone needs help. I frequently say, "I need all the help I can get." However, I do not need any diagnostic label to get my needs meet. I am sure medical doctors need all the help they can get. Every adult and child in this world can get the help that is available by seeking, asking and receiving. ADHD labels are not a prerequisite.
The root cause of most physical, mental or emotional problems is some sort of inhibition. Stopping children's natural healthy energy from flowing in the first place is the beginning of symptoms such as ADHD, allergies and hyperactivity. The major aspects of the real self that we inhibit are body movements, emotional expression and sexuality. If you want to learn how to achieve healthy emotional expression study, "A Natural Process for Opening the Heart - Your Emotional Guide to Self Esteem."
With any stimulus - whether it is a behavior, a person, a germ, a food - you have two choices. You either avoid the judgment, which is likely to make you weaker. Or face the irritation and meet it as an equal. Avoidance behaviors weaken your body and energy field. This statement is based on the huge body of learning research that exists on classical conditioning, operant conditioning and modeling.
It is not hard to learn how to notice your body and how it responds to stimuli. Or to notice your children and how they respond to their environment. Child with ADHD or other labels need help from adults because they do not have the power to change their environment.
If you do not know how to sense your own body, you can learn and teach your children. Start by studying the CD from the set mentioned above - "3 Reasons You Must Listen to Your Body for Self Esteem, Emotional Security and Physical Health." Your body knows what makes you stronger and what makes you weaker. Applied Kinesiology research is also well documented.
See for yourself if your muscles become weaker when you think of yourself as a person with ADHD or schizophrenia. Try it and see. Thinking of myself as a person with allegories certainty does not make my muscles stronger.
Allergies are not the source of ADHD or any other problem. Allergies are a symptom of a deeper problem. The source is the place the New Psychology or holistic psychology goes to for solutions. We want to improve self esteem, build up vital energy in every cell and show people how to relate effectively and equally to physical reality. So my advice to those who want a new paradigm is to focus on the source. Solve your concerns at the heart level.
My message to you is clear. You are strong, physically strong, emotionally strong and mentally strong. You have the inner strengths you need to succeed. There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with you or your child. If someone labels you mentally retarded, ADHD or borderline personality, take yourself to task and become the best you that you can be.
If you are missing a chromosome, have strange DNA or chemistry that others are not knowledgeable about - believe in yourself. Do not believe in medicine or psychology or authorities who think they know more than you than you do. Your inner voice is the only authority to listen to, and listen deeply.
Seek help from others, because everyone need experts to help us though our bumpy lives. Use Keith, Doris, Peter and other experts to help you - as needed. It is not for us to tell you the answer or give you a label. Our job is to help you recognize, love and follow your own inner knowing. Otherwise you are lost at sea without a paddle.