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My letter to Australian Parents Magazine 1 July 2004

Bob Collier
Parental Intelligence

Anne Lawton
Australian Parents

Copies (by email) to:

Fred Baughman, Jr, MD, ADHD Fraud
John Breeding, PhD, Director, Texans For Safe Education
Barry Turner, BA, MPhil, University of Lincoln, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Dear Ms Lawton

What a difference a year makes.

On 5 June 2003, I wrote a letter to Cathy Netherwood regarding her article in Australian Parents entitled ‘ADHD: fact or fiction?’ (a copy of the letter is enclosed). In that letter, I made the following observation:

“I personally believe that, when these people ultimately become frustrated with their inability to prove to the skeptical that ‘ADHD’ is the organically based medical condition that they claim it is, they will modify their diagnostic criteria and call it something else.”

It turns out that I was only partly right. The proponents of this phony baloney have, it seems, decided to keep the name and modify their fantasy in a somewhat opposite way, for I now see from Ms Netherwood’s latest article on the subject that the customary presentation of ‘ADHD’ as a ‘neurobiological disorder’ or ‘brain disease’ has been discreetly shelved in favour of the more amorphous and user-friendly “behavioural syndrome” – a “behavioural syndrome” that, no surprise to me at least, is now being liberally associated with everything but the kitchen sink.

But, yet, there remains at the core, apparently, “classic” ‘ADHD’ – “a brain condition that can be tested on an EEG scan”. Well, I would be very interested to see Ms Netherwood’s evidence in support of that claim. There’s no such test (except, perhaps, in the imagination of those vested interests who would have us believe that there is).

Presumably, the term “classic” ‘ADHD’ is now the fashion for describing those children whose unaccepted behaviour has not so far been reliably attributed to some other factor or factors, such as poor nutrition, environmental poverty, chronic stress, learning difficulties, a genuine medical condition or – heaven forbid! – plain ol’ down home incompetent parenting. And these represent what now? “Diet” ‘ADHD’?

It is, undeniably, to the good that more parents are asking questions about the use of psychostimulant drugs on children and, once again, Ms Netherwood has written an article on ‘ADHD’ that is generally well-informed and well-balanced in that respect – kudos to her for doing what many other journalists have not – yet, once again, she has missed the real story (despite alluding to it in her article).

As Ms Netherwood so perceptively states, “there are countless theories as to causes, remedies and what or who is to blame”.

But, has she ever stopped to wonder why there are countless theories?

Or why the more theories there are the more elusive the ‘real cause’ of ‘ADHD’ becomes?

Or why it is that practically any one of the rapidly increasing number of different ‘remedies’ seems to be just as ‘effective’ as any other?

Why is ‘ADHD’ “often linked with other disorders such as mild autism, depression, dyslexia and other learning difficulties”? Why is ‘ADHD’ “sometimes linked with a range of physical problems including headaches, allergies, fatigue and ear infections”?

Why is it that, when a child’s behaviour is a problem, ‘ADHD’ appears so often and so readily on the scene like the proverbial circling vulture?

It seems that ‘ADHD’ has infiltrated virtually every area of modern childhood and attached itself to virtually every aspect of childhood behaviour like a parasite.

Why is that?

It’s because it was designed that way.

‘ADHD’ is a ‘pseudo-diagnosis’ with a purpose. When it was constructed in the minds of members of the American Psychiatric Association and voted into existence by a show of hands at an annual convention, the so-called ‘diagnostic criteria’ that ‘qualify’ a child for this invented ‘disorder’ were formulated to include as many as possible of the childhood behaviours that most adults have difficulty coping with in order to maximize the potential for the application of the ‘diagnosis’.

‘ADHD’ was supposed to get into every nook and cranny of our children’s lives. It was intended from the outset to be a Trojan horse – a cuckoo in the nest – a perceptual virus – the all-singing, all-dancing flagship of the American Psychiatric Association’s curious war against natural human development.

To this day – though most parents wouldn’t realise it from the relentless propaganda to the contrary – not a single one of the behaviours arbitrarily listed and grouped together by the APA as ‘symptoms’ of a so-called ‘attention deficit disorder’ and later ‘attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity’ in their legendary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has ever been demonstrated to be an actual symptom of illness, disease or malfunction. Not by anyone. Not anywhere in the world. Not at any time. Not even by the purveyors of this fake ‘disorder’ themselves in the 25 years of covering their backsides that has generated their equally legendary ‘mountains of research’ and enough hot air to power a hundred Canberra Balloon Festivals.

Nor, I suspect, would most parents be aware that the peculiar interpretation of childhood behaviour published in the DSM is not supported by the World Health Organisation’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), which, I’m reliably informed, is in reality the higher authority in these matters. The APA and its supporters could hardly be expected to shout it from the rooftops, of course, that the ICD does not include ‘ADHD’ in its main classification of diseases “because of insufficient empirical validation”. In other words, “because there is no evidence that this condition exists”.

What is there, in fact, in any of those behaviours that the APA has so blatantly misrepresented throughout the years as ‘symptoms’ of a ‘mental disorder’ that even suggests to any sensible parent an illness, disease or malfunction of any kind? Nothing. The proposition that such typical childhood responses are pathological is ridiculous to begin with.

My child “doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly”. So what?

My child “loses things necessary for tasks or activities”. So what?

My child is “easily distracted by extraneous stimuli”. So what?

My child is “”on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor””. Get real. This is children we’re talking about.

These normal childhood behaviours don’t become abnormal simply because a private club of medical professionals decides for their own private reasons to tack the word “often” to the front of them and artificially link them together. They don’t become abnormal just because these people keep telling us they are!

Never mind that the word “often” means what exactly? Whatever anybody wants it to, of course. Every week? Every day?  Every hour? Every minute? Who’s to say? Perhaps it depends on who wants what result.

And what if you recognise six of the behaviours on the list but somebody else recognises only five? I can just imagine the debate. “Come on, he’s always losing things. That’s got to be number six.” “Not always. I can only remember a few times.” “But that’s often, isn’t it?” “No, that’s occasionally.” “Are you sure?” “Definitely. Look it up in a dictionary.”

Now you’re ‘ADHD’, now you’re not.

Yes if you keep spelling ‘cat’ with a ‘k’, no if you spell it with a ‘c’. Yes if you can only concentrate on a task for two minutes, no if you can concentrate on it for two minutes and one second. Yes if jumping up and down is seen as “impulsive behaviour”, no if it’s seen as “enthusiasm”.  Yes if “organised” means always putting your toys away, no if it means just knowing where they are. Yes if an adult doesn’t like you, no if they do. …

Would that we could play this silly game with a genuine “brain condition” like meningitis, for example. How cool would that be, to be able to decide that a child is cursed or cured depending on which boxes I tick on my pop quiz questionnaire? Let the gods tremble at my power!

I laughed out loud when I first read the so-called ‘diagnostic criteria’ for so-called ‘ADHD’. Actually, it was more a snort of derision, now I think of it. How absurd that these people should expect me to believe that what I’m looking at is a medical condition! An illness. Pull the other leg, APA. It’s got bells on.

‘ADHD’ is not “a behavioural syndrome that causes physical, social and educational problems”. ‘ADHD’ doesn’t cause anything. And there is no ’cause’ of ‘ADHD’.

‘ADHD’ is a mass delusion.

The uncontrolled proliferation of suspected ’causes’ and latest fad ‘remedies’, including Thom Hartmann’s flight of fancy – all of it now, like Chinese whispers, far removed from any consideration of the facts – is that delusion’s inevitable expression.

I can hardly wait to find out what’s in the next round of blurred concepts and creative explanations!

Same time next year, perhaps.

Incidentally, the black joke about the so-called ‘medication’ that many adults so nonchalantly administer to children who’ve been ‘diagnosed’ with ‘ADHD’ – some of them, apparently, as young as 18 months – is that the drugs have exactly the same effect on the behaviour of children who have not been ‘diagnosed’ with ‘ADHD’. In other words – and, of course, since there isn’t anything to actually medicate – they’re recreational drugs.

Perhaps many parents (and teachers) would wake up sooner should the advice they receive from the medical profession be something more honest, like “If a child is driving you up the wall, just roll them a big fat spliff to smoke every morning and they’ll soon mellow out.” The equivalent of that is, essentially, what parents and teachers have been encouraged to do with the pharmaceutical industry’s handy little neurotoxins – whose otherwise illegality was the reason ‘ADD’ and ‘ADHD’ needed to be invented in the first place – though methylphenidate and dexamphetamine are a little more dangerous than marijuana, of course. But I guess at least they don’t fill the home, classroom or preschool Wendy house with smoke, do they?

Best wishes,

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