Robert Berezin M.D.

The Theater of the Brain


No, ADHD Is Exposed by France

A response to "France is Great, But Their Kids Have ADHD Too"

Posted Oct 15, 2016

 Public Image on Wikimedia Commons
Source: Source: Public Image on Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Rettew defends his positions by cleverly constructing straw horses, that in no way represent my positions, and proceeds to knock them down.

1. Actually, what I said about France is correct. Of course there are emotional and behavioral problems in France. You imply that since France has the exact same score as the United States in some study, that this means that ADHD is really the same in France as it is here.

This implication is totally unfounded. Because you say they do doesn’t make it so.

Then the straw horse: It is not a cultural choice between Freudian or biological psychiatrists. ADHD is found in .5% of French school aged children, which is basically no ADHD at all. We’ll address the problems of biological psychiatry later.

2. I’m glad you agree about active children. (In a blog one can only basically write in shorthand. I would suggest reading my book to get a fuller picture as how temperaments and environments work together to construct human character.) For sure we need to deal with temperamental diversity intelligently; boundaries, caring, physical activity, behavioral treatments, responsive teaching methods, family therapy and individual therapy. But this does not mean drugging our children. What you mean by a ‘balanced’ approach means giving children amphetamines.

In no stretch of the imagination is this massive drugging ‘balanced’.

Neither you nor I know what damage this creates in developing brains. More and more is coming to light; this leads very commonly to eventual drug misuse in adolescence; amphetamine addiction has a well known history. We dealt with it well from misuse in the 70’s. Now, it is back again, and it is  now iatrogenic. It is very difficult to stop taking amphetamines.

In addition, active children, when subject to trauma, spin more and more out of control. Never in discussions of so-called ADHD is this mentioned. This is not only ignored by biological psychiatrists, but they don’t even know how to evaluate it. Psychiatry is in a sad state. You don’t get information from a questionnaire, but from a skilled evaluation. Please don’t say I am attacking psychiatry. I love and respect psychiatry. I object to it being hijacked by biological psychiatry. Instead of mocking bad psychoanalytic theories, we need to deal with these kids and their families in a constructive fashion. There are many, reasons by which children are not well raised. It doesn’t do anybody a service to pretend this is not the case.

I would never attack or blame parents. It’s about the welfare of our children. To say it’s biological and not from families might make a parent feel superficially better. It’s not about blaming, it’s about addressing the problems in families so they can heal.

Whether it is intentional or not, these kids do believe they are brain damaged and defective. This is a destructive message for a child to believe about himself. And it is very common.

3. I am certainly not confused about Descartes. The mind and the body are one. This straw horse is so off the mark. Again read the book to address the nature-nurture question. ‘We have come to appreciate that forces like genetics can cause certain environments to become more likely to occur…’ That’s a pretty confused sentence. I fail to make sense out of it. I deal with genetics, the environment and biology extensively in the book. I’m not quite sure how you think things are supposed to work. (Also don’t be too fast to be a modern day Lamarkian. Such fads usually fall by the wayside.)

4. And finally regarding science. I am not anti-science. I am anti-bad science. I am not anti-psychiatry. I am anti-bad psychiatry. I am not anti-parent. Raising our children well is the most important function of society.

Addressing the pains that ail us is my psychiatric calling. I object to falsely smoothing over real problems. I have always found that all parties concerned feel better when problems are properly faced in a real way. That is the only way real healing can take place.

Robert A. Berezin, MD is the author of “Psychotherapy of Character, the Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain.”