Issue Summary (of the text, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues)

In this first critical issues analysis, issue number 12, “Does ADHD Exist?” was the issue chosen to be summarized. The author that wrote the pro side of this topic was Russell A. Barkley, with his paper entitled “International Consensus Statement on ADHD January 2002.” The con side was written by Sami Timini, et al. while this paper was entitled “A Critique of the International consensus Statement on ADHD.” Both theses were published in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review in June 2002 and March 2004 respectively.

Critical Issue Analysis Questions

1. In Barkley’s article, he informs us that through science we cannot stress the concept that ADHD is not a real disorder. He later goes on to state that less than fifty percent of patients who have been found to have ADHD receive any type of behavior management. In their oppositional stance, Timini and his associates state that there is a high rate of two disorders being present at the same time that that are between ADHD and conduct, anxiety, depression, as well as other disorders. This specific high rate is estimated at nearly seventy-five percent of children that have been “diagnosed with ADHD as well as fulfilling criteria for another psychiatric disorder (Slife, 1980/2008), not counting adolescents or adults. They later go on to say that the notion of ADHD has facilitated the center of attention away from social issues and onto the individual child.

2. Russell Barkley considers that there has to be unquestionable scientific substantiation that a severe absence of a physical or psychological mechanism steers toward the harm of the individual. He says that a good number of neurological studies illustrate that as a group; individuals with ADHD have a reduced amount of brain electrical activity and demonstrate a reduction of reactivity to stimulation in one or more regions of the brain. Sami Timimi and his associates believed that all psychotropic drugs have potential long-term effects on children. It is a short time later that he shares his belief that childhood has suffered a strange death in Western society.

3. On the pro side of this argument, Dr. Barkley addresses numerous factors that are problematic in this paper. One, he says that various approaches have been used to establish whether a condition rises to the level of a valid medical or psychiatric disorder. What are these approaches and are they given only by medical doctors or by psychotherapists? Two, he says that individuals with ADHD are more prone to physical injury and accidental poisonings. There is nothing in his thesis that states how this is possible or what percentages of individuals are affected with this problem. So how can someone state something of this severity without writing more information about it or giving proof to back up such a statement? Another problem that was found is that the studies that have been completed in finding if ADHD is hereditary have been only between twins. This does not seem to be an accurate study as there are far fewer twins than there are children without a twin. This makes me curious as to if these studies on heredity are skewed or biased in any way. After this he goes on to say that ADHD is not a benign disorder. After looking up the definition of benign, how can Dr. Barkley say that ADHD does little or no harm when he distinctly states the various percentages of ADHD patients that either drop out of school, do not complete college, have few or no friends, engage in antisocial activities or and of the other issues presented in the same exact paragraph. One final problem I noticed with this thesis was that the end of the paper was not included. This undisclosed portion of the paper could have had more vital information to support Dr. Barkley’s case.

4. In the debate against ADHD being a valid disorder, Sami Timimi et al. first produce a statement that they believe that Dr. Barkley is attempting to prevent the debate on the widespread diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. The next problem that seems to appear is that Mr. Timimi says that the definition has changed over the last 30 years. If we look at any diagnosis of any disease or disorder, all of them have changed in one way or another and have helped bring into the modern age the true evaluation of a medical condition. The third problem with his thesis is that he says that the criteria used in diagnosing ADHD have significant differences from different countries around the world. This is very common as some symptoms may not occur in France where they easily may appear in the United States. Next he tries to dismiss ADHD through the idea of the comorbidity between it and other disorders. Is it not possible to be diagnosed with more than one disorder at a time? Can a person diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder also have hyperactivity disorder?
Another problem that Mr. Timimi brings into play is the fact that a U.S. federal government report concluded that there was no compelling evidence to support a biochemical brain disorder. If it was important enough to mention, why did he not state which U.S. federal report that produced this statement? He goes on to mention that psychotropic medications had increased threefold over a nine year period from 1987 to 1996 but then throws you for a loop by talking about six percent of boys between ages six and 14 were taking psychostimulants in 1996. After consulting the internet, a psychostimulant is a medication that creates increased levels of mental and physical energy and alertness and an elevated mood by exciting the central nervous system (Jenner, 1997) and psychotropic medication is defined as a medication used for behavioral modification or management purposes (Mental Health: (405, n. d.).

5. Both sides used propaganda to sell their opinion by including the simple fact that all of the major medical associations, government health agencies and U.S. federal reports stand to back up one side or the other, yet neither authors chose to list any of these in their theses. Both also try and pull the reader in by only addressing the fact of ADHD in children only, when adolescents and adults also suffer from this disorder.

6. Dr. Barkley immediately begins his thesis by begging the question when he says that all of the major medical associations recognize ADHD as a genuine disorder. Mr. Timimi gives his argument that if it has the appearance of one thing such as conduct disorder, then it must not be something else, such as ADHD; therefore his thesis was written as ad ignorantium. Dr. Barkley also tries to appeal to the audience through the contrary to fact hypothesis when he clearly states that follow-up studies suggest sufferers are far more likely than normal people to have certain issues wrong because of their ADHD.

7. Both authors appear to be very credible in the field of psychology. Barkley’s credentials were not listed, however, it did mention him as a doctor and that he is a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has also written numerous books and scientific articles on the topic of ADHD. Timimi’s credentials were not disclosed in this presented paper as well. Although he works for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. He also has had publications on the topic of ADHD, but no specific information was given as to how many publications were completed on the subject, now as to if they were books or scientific research.

8. I feel that although Sami Timimi proves quite a few good points in his thesis, with no proof to support his findings from any major medical association, and with the medical associations listing ADHD in their diagnosis manuals.

9. After reading both arguments, I feel that neither author had a bias opinion as to their personal opinion statements.

10. I would have to believe and stand on the side that ADHD does exist. Without any proof against ADHD, Timimi would have to have more information to convince me that ADHD does not exist. Not only because of seeing it first hand in so many individuals, but also having experienced the same disorder, I would have to completely agree with Dr. Barkley.

11. More information needs to be included as to who the organizations were that each author was presenting in their theses. There would also need to be accurate statistical numbers and not just contrary to fact fallacies. Yes statistics are important to my understanding as the reader, but I would rather have accurate statistics of evidence in regards to a disorder than to have statistical numbers that are suggested numbers.