Navigation Links
History of hyperactivity off-base, says researcher

A Canadian researcher working in the U.K. says doctors, authors and educators are doing hyperactive children a disservice by claiming that hyperactivity as we understand it today has always existed.

Matthew Smith says not only is that notion wrong, it misleads patients, their parents and their physicians. Smith, who is from Edmonton, is finishing up his PhD at the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter.

Hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is currently the most commonly diagnosed childhood psychiatric disorder, says Smith, and millions of children are prescribed drugs such as Ritalin to treat it. Yet prior to the 1950s, it was clinically and culturally insignificant.

He argues in a paper presented at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Ottawa's Carleton University this week, that hyperactivity disorder as we understand it today is a modern construct that was first described as a disorder in 1957.

Before that, Smith says hyperactive behaviour existed but it wasn't always thought of as a disorder or pathology worth treating.

However, Smith says many today assert that hyperactivity is a universal phenomenon, and say evidence of hyperactivity can be seen in historical figures such as Mozart or Einstein. Smith argues that hyperactivity as we understand it is rooted in social, cultural, political and economic changes of the last half century.

"When history is extended back beyond 1957, it overlooks all the social factors that contributed to the idea that children were hyperactive and that that was a problem," he says.

"We need to refocus the history of hyperactivity on the period starting from the late 1950s and 60s. "By doing so, we start to understand why people started to think there was a problem with children, why they thought that problem needed to be fixed, and why it became acceptable to fix that problem with drugs."

Smith says that whether you consider hyperactivity a disease worth treating often depends on context and the context changed in the late 1950s when the U.S. refocused its education system in response to the space race.

"If a child's playing soccer, there's a chance hyperactivity isn't going to be a problem. But if they are stuck in a classroom, it is a problem.

"We have to look at the social and historical factors that created the idea that children were distractible and that these were pathologies that needed to be treated.

"For patients and their parents, what this means is that the process by which their children are diagnosed is not rooted in a long history. If they understand that, they can develop the tools to question the diagnosis."


Contact: Caitlin Kealey
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Related biology news :

1. Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history
2. Census of protein architectures offers new view of history of life
3. New study sheds light on Galápagos hawk evolutionary history
4. Microfossils disclose geologic history of eastern California
5. Rebuilding the evolutionary history of HIV-1 unravels a complex loop
6. Journal Sleep: Insomniacs are more likely to report a family history of the sleep disorder
7. Man-made changes bring about new epoch in Earths history
8. Lemurs evolutionary history may shed light on our own
9. Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History reveals ants as fungus farmers
10. Jeremy Jackson honored by Harvard Museum of Natural History
11. Ancient DNA: reconstruction of the biological history of Aldaieta necropolis
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)...  Arxspan has entered into an agreement with ... use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite of biological ... will support the institute,s efforts to electronically manage ... internally and with external collaborators. The ArxLab suite ... Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and assay registration, ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... YORK , Nov. 10, 2015 ... to behavioral biometrics that helps to identify and ... fraud. Signature is considered as the secure and ... the identification of a particular individual because each ... more accurate results especially when dynamic signature of ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, ... syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- --> --> ... Market by Product & Services (Primer, Probe, Custom Oligos, ... End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Diagnostic Labs) - Global ... expected to reach USD 1,918.6 Million by 2020 from ... 10.1% during the forecast period. Browse 183 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) ... on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the ... Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an amendment to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: