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Top 40 misleading, dangerous or just plain stupid claims made about ADHD

Join the search for the Top 40 misleading, dangerous or just plain stupid things ever said or written about ADHD.  If you think you know of any statements likely to qualify make a comment below or email

The catalyst for this search was my blog on 21 June 2011 ( In that blog I invited Sydney paediatrician Professor Michael Kohn to justify his claim that ‘stimulant medication, like Ritalin, helped brain growth’ in ADHD children. Unfortunately Professor Kohn never took up my invitation to provide evidence to support his astonishing claim.

Subsequently readers asked me in light of the longstanding evidence that drugs like dexamphetamine and Ritalin impair brain development, was Prof Kohn’s claim is among the most misleading and dangerous assertions about ADHD I have heard? Currently I rank Professor Kohn’s statement at number 5 although his comment at number 10 is also a doosey.

To date the most misleading, dangerous or just plain stupid things I have heard or read include;

1- “This [dexamphetamine] is not addictive stuff. In fact, I wish it was a little more addictive so that my younger patients would remember to take it rather than having to be reminded by their long-suffering parents.” – Perth psychiatrist Dr Roger Paterson[1. Dr Roger Paterson interviewed on Face the Facts, video recording taken from Channel 31 Perth, 27 January 2003]  Unlike Doctor Patterson the manufacturers of dexamphetamine acknowledge the drugs addictive properties. Refer to

2- “Fidgeting and foot movements (known in our research setting as ‘Wender’s sign’) are very common signs of hyperactivity in adult ADHD patients – so much so that such patients can usually be diagnosed in the waiting room by a knowledgeable receptionist.”– Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Paul Wender.[2. Paul H. Wender, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults, Oxford University Press, New York, 1995, p. 20.]  

3- “A lot of people discovered they had ADHD by accident. For example, truckies who needed uppers to keep them awake while they were driving across the Nullarbor suddenly found that they were driving a whole lot better…when they were taking dexies.” [3. Toner was presumably unaware that driving with non-prescription dexamphetamine is illegal and carries penalties including disqualification from driving, fines and/or imprisonment. Research has found that rather than ‘driving a whole lot better’ people who use dexamphetamine illicitly or for ADHD make more mistakes while driving, probably because the drug causes tunnel vision which stops them seeing peripheral information like red lights. Beata Silber, Katherine Papafotiou et al., ‘The effects of dexamphetamine on simulated driving performance’, Psychopharmacology, 179, 2005, pp. 541–42.] – Michelle Toner then Executive Officer of the pharmaceutical company ADHD support group the Learning and Attentional Disorders Society of WA (LADS).[4. Michelle Toner interviewed on, Face the Facts, video recording taken from Channel 31 Perth, 27 January 2003.]

And another cracker from Michelle Toner in the same TV interview

4- “In order to get a high equivalent to what people are taking [as] street speed, you would have to take close to 200 tablets [of dexamphetamine]. Children take 1 or 6 tablets a day and it is not addictive at all.’’ [5. 200 standard 5mg tablets is a dose of one gram (1,000 mg). GlaxoSmithKline’s Prescribing Information for Dexedrine (a brand of dexamphetamine) states ‘While toxic symptoms occasionally occur as an idiosyncrasy at doses as low as 2mg, they are rare with doses of less than 15mg; 30mg can produce severe reactions, yet doses of 400 to 500mg are not necessarily fatal.’ Available at]

5-“Children with ADHD have a lower rate of brain growth and development and they do not reach the same peak of brain growth that children without ADHD do.  When we give them stimulant medication, scans show a more normal pattern of brain development than would otherwise have occurred.” [6. Janet Fife-Yeomans, ‘Rising rate of ADHD drugs for kids like Ritalin’, The Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2011.  Available at]  Westmead Hospital Sydney Paediatrician Professor Michael Kohn who is unfortunately a member of the reference group tasked with developing Australian Clinical Practice Points (clinical guidelines) for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. For further details see  

6- “Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease.”Cardiff University Professor of Psychiatry Anita Thapar September 2010.[7. ‘Study finds genetic link to ADHD’ ABC Online News, 30 September 2010 <>] [8. Professor Thapar’s statement about her own research was just plain wrong. Her flawed research was given undeserved credibility because it was published in The Lancet. Consequently her inaccurate pronouncements were repeated uncritically around the globe, giving the diagnosis of ADHD undue credence. (for full details see )] (added 30 June 2011) More detail available at

7- “Long Term Use – The effectiveness of ADDERALL XR for long-term use, i.e., for more than 3 weeks in children and 4 weeks in adolescents and adults, has not been systematically evaluated in controlled trials.”Quote from Shire Pharmaceuticals  website — (added 30 June 2011)

Comment- This statement is true but obviously extremely worrying given that children are regularly prescribed ADDERALL XR, a long acting form of dexamphetamine, for years on end.

8– “Signs of the disorder may be minimal or absent when the person is receiving frequent rewards for appropriate behaviour, is under close supervision, is in a novel setting, is engaged in especially interesting activities, or is in a one-to-one situation (e.g., the clinician’s office).”  American Psychiatric Association in DSMIV [8. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV), (American Psychiatric Association: Washington, D.C., 2000): pp86-87] (added 30 June 2011)

Comment- When I was a teacher and doing my job badly every child in the class displayed ADHD behaviours, when I was teaching well none did.

9- “To publish stories that ADHD is a fictitious disorder or merely a conflict between today’s Huckleberry Finns and their caregivers is tantamount to declaring the earth flat, the laws of gravity debatable, and the periodic table in chemistry a fraud.” Professor Russell Barkley and 82 other signatories to the grandiosely titled ‘International Consensus Statement on ADHD’. 2002. [9. Russell A. Barkley, et al., ‘International Consensus Statement on ADHD’, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Vol 5, No. 2, June 2002, p. 89.] (added 30 June 2011)

Comment- “Not only is it completely counter to the spirit and practice of science to cease questioning the validity of ADHD as proposed by the consensus statement, there is an ethical and moral responsibility to do so”. Professor Sami Timimi 2004[10. Sami Timimi, et al., ‘A Critique of the International Consensus Statement on ADHD’, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2004, p. 59.]

10- “This is the latest in a series of articles BLASPHEMING the use of Ritalin in the treatment of behavioural disturbance in children.” [10. Medicating our children, Reportage Online, 22 December 2009 accessed 29 June 2011] Professor Michael Kohn in response to an article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph detailing extreme reactions to ADHD medications reported to the TGA, such as psychotic episodes and suicidal ideation. [11. We’re turning our children psychotic with ADHD medication, Kate Sikora, The Daily Telegraph October 13, 2009.] (added 3 July 2011)

11- ‘28.3 % of 10-12 years old Ukranian boys screened had ADHD behaviors.’  This total figure comprised the 3 ADHD subtypes, with ‘9.7% classified as ‘inattentive’, 12.4% as ‘hyperactive-impulsive type’, and 6.2% as ‘combined type.’[14. Kenneth D. Gaddow (et al), ‘Comparison of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptom Subtypes in Ukrainian Schoolchildren’, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39:12 (December 2000): p.1522]   – A study conducted by a number of researchers including prominent US psychiatrist and recipient of funding from numerous pharmaceutical companies Gabrielle Carlson.[15. Dr Gabrielle Carlson is a paid consultant to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Validus Pharmaceuticals.  She has received travel expenses and honorariums from Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Shire Pharmaceuticals.  Dr Carlson has also received research funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, ‘2010 Psychopharmacology Update Institute’, Disclosures, (2010).  Available at 20 July 2011)] (added 21 July 2011)

Comment- The research paper stated ‘It is possible that hyperactive-impulsive behaviors are more evident (and problematic) in crowded Ukrainian apartment buildings’. However, rather than finding that the boys needed better social conditions, bigger flats and more space to play the authors concluded that ‘this study provides additional evidence supporting DSM-IV ADHD subtypes as distinct clinical entities’.[16. Kenneth D. Gaddow (et al), ‘Comparison of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptom Subtypes in Ukrainian Schoolchildren’, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39:12 (December 2000): p.1520]

The statments above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many even more outrageous statements out there (including the American Psychiatric Association 18 diagnostic criteria for ADHD see

Please join the on-going search for the Top 40, most incorrect, inaccurate, misleading, dishonest, dangerous or just plain stupid things every said or written about ADHD. Send details of statements you nominate to Please include as much detail as necessary to verify the authenticity of the statement. Your name will not be made public.



Comments feed for this article

  1. Linda Vij on July 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Another myth is that improvement upon taking stimulants confirms ADHD. All kids, including “normals”, may get a temporary boost in cognitive ability with prescribed or street stimulants (even cocaine). The Raine Study and the Multi-Modal Treatment Study For Children With ADHD (the large longitudinal study released in January 2007) show desired effects vanish, and of course, there are bad side effects.


    1. C Herd on July 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      ‘The Multi-Modal Treatment Study For Children With ADHD (the large longitudinal study released in January 2007) show desired effects vanish, and of course, there are bad side effects.’

      Can you please provide a (free) link or some more information on where I can find these results mentioned in this study? I have been having some difficulty tracking this down. I’ve only managed to locate extracts so far (I’d rather not pay $30+ for the full report).

      Any assistance in this matter would be appreciated. Thanks


    2. Martin Whitely on July 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      The lie that ‘ADHD medications’ have different effects on ‘ADHD children’ is the basis of the whole fraud.


      1. Lisa Ferguson on November 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        This is in fact not a lie. Stimulants will speed up the normal human brain, but slow down the ADHD brain, thus making it possible for the sufferer to “catch” their thoughts. None of the comments above are actually misleading, dangerous or just plain stupid unless they are misinterpreted by complete morons. A child with ADHD that is untreated will suffer greatly throughout their entire childhood, adolescence and also through adulthood. Suffering from this very real disorder, and not recieving any treatment until the age of 26 has given me a great understanding of the benefits of being medicated vs the disadvantages of not being medicated. Children will quite often end up suffering severe depressive disorders due to being misunderstood and an inability to effectively communicate with others or understand what is expected of them in any given situation.

        Children with a tendency to be inattentive rather than hyperactive can often be overlooked as having any problems at all which only adds to their difficulties. Just because they are able to disguise their pain as happiness does not mean they are not greatly suffering.

        Medication should not be discounted as a viable treatment when combined with appropriate psychotherapy. Dexamphetamine is a safe drug, with very few and sometimes no side effects. It is also in fact not addictive, however a tolerance to dexamphetamine is built up which explains why it becomes less effective over time. Stopping the medication for a few weeks and then starting again can increase it’s effectiveness again.

        I am amazed by the bigoted comments made by seemingly educated individuals. Just because you do not understand it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.


        1. martin on December 12, 2011 at 10:44 am

          Please provide the evidence for your statement that ” Stimulants will speed up the normal human brain, but slow down the ADHD brain, thus making it possible for the sufferer to “catch” their thoughts.” Frankly it sounds like a appropriate entry for the top 40 however, here is your opportunity to prove your position.


        2. Ash on December 29, 2013 at 6:11 am

          Lisa Ferguson, I’m with you sister.

          Undiagnosed and unmedicated until 36.

          I have a high IQ but all through school I was called stupid, disruptive and told I wouldn’t amount to anything. “Shows huge potential” and “produces incredible work when he chooses” which wasn’t the case at all. This followed on through my working career with prospective employers seeing a great asset but then an employee who can’t deliver.

          I used to describe it: “the wheels of my life just can’t get traction”.

          I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of frustration and confusion you feel knowing there is huge ability but no ability to apply it. Depression was then thrown in the mix with my story and then you’re really wondering if it is all worth it.

          Dexamphetimine was the silver bullet to a life of confusion and it doesn’t only just solve the problem of wandering thoughts it provides a blanket of focuss to your whole life.

          I now worry about my young children may develope or have ADHD as the jury is still out with me if I would like my child to take Dexies but if I see them suffer as I did through school I think it will be an easy choice.

          It is a difficult condition to understand as with depression, I promise you cannot understand it until you have lived it. ADHD can shape and determine a child’s future. Feelings of shame and worthlessness are not uncommon.

          I strongly suggest keeping an open mind and also be aware there are alternatives to Dexamphetimine. Cognitive thought therapies have proved very helpful in a lot of people and it’s completely drug free however I have to say I now feel as I have an advantage over everyone and my career and life have never looked more promising.


        3. Gram on January 30, 2014 at 10:11 am

          So true. This is a very dangerous article, with no context, and no explanation per example to support the gist notion the author has hamfistedly presented, to stigmatise those taking ADHD medication, and even stigmatising the diagnosis itself. State your evidence to challenge each example you have ridiculed here…. Cite three peer reviewed sources, or case studies per example ‘debunked’, and then I will return the mutual respect for a dialogue by considering your evidence. As it is, this article is quack journalism.


        4. Kerry on May 25, 2015 at 11:31 am

          Thankyou Lisa, the first common sense response and information I have read on this site. I too believe like any medication it should be accompanied by regular review by professionals such as a paed or the local GP for any unwanted side effects. As well as the funding to access other therapies and services such as parenting classes for parents to understand ADHD better and work with their children to achieve better outcomes with them. Also therapy from psychologists and the like to help the child work through the struggles and overcome or learn coping strategies.


        5. Kerrie Stewart on May 29, 2016 at 2:41 am

          Stimulants do not “speed” up the ADHD brain. Brainwaves in the front lobal area of a person with ADHD are actually slower causing poor working memory and inattentiveness. Stimulants speed up these brain waves to make them the same speed as a someone without ADHD.


        6. C.K. on November 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

          Can you prove that this is a lie? Or is your statement based solely on your belief that ADHD does not exist?

          I haven’t researched this topic to the point where I believe I have enough facts to write a book. I have no agenda and no desire to sway anybody’s point of view so unfortunately I cannot quote any study, nor provide a link to a site which supports my point of view.

          However I do have experience and a unique perspective that wouldn’t be shared by any certified doctor or prospective political candidate (or at least they wouldn’t admit it)

          Over a period of time greater than 10 years I have seen, spoken to and interacted with thousands of people who had taken amphetamines (prescription and/or illegal) for recreational purposes and I can assure you that they all shared very similar reactions to the drug(s)
          At the same time I also came across a handful of people who refused to take amphetamines recreationally because as far as they were concerned it could not be done. Sure they may have tried it in the past but each time they did the result was the same. While their friends were high on speed, meth, dexies (or whatever), they simply found themselves much more calm than usual. Taking the drugs deterred them from having a wild night out and instead they found themselves wanting to go home, finish the book they had been reading earlier, work on an assignment or clean their house.

          I have seen the effect ADHD medications (as well as illegal amphetamines) have on people who do not have ADHD, as well as the drastically different reaction shown by those that do have ADHD. And although my experience deals with people in their late teens and early 20’s rather than children, to say that it is irrelevant because of this would simply be ignorant.


          1. Martin Whitely on November 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

            C.K. poses an interesting question. I believe the answer is dose related. In other words low oral doses of amphetamines will temporarily sharpen focus in most people but heavier doses have intoxicative effects. I can say from personal experience that stimulants in a low oral dose certainly narrowed my focus and made me less interested in the world around me. Does that mean my brain is disordered? I don’t think so.


          2. bj2circeleb on July 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

            It is the basis that all of these psychotropic medications have different affects on diagnosed people that is the fraud of all of them. Antipsychotics are prescribed to over 90% of people in nursing homes and the intellectually disabled, they are the first line of treatment and support offered to parents of children with Autism. They sedate them to the point that they lie still and do not do anything at all. They become obedient robots, and a person who is so sedated does not talk about voices in their heads so they call them a treatment.

            The simple fact is that we could not develop antibiotics without first knowing what bacteria was. We had to be able to put bacteria into a test tube to be able to find a treatment that could defeat it. We do not know what ANY of these conditions are. All they are is symptoms and while they are in many cases, such as psychosis very real symptoms, they are just that, and you cannot develop a drug to treat a condition when you do not know what it is that you are wanting to treat. All the research for ANY of these medications are all based on short term studies and long term NEVER supports the use of these medications.

            A very high quality study that Robert Whitaker quoted and described and which I later read, did show that for the first few weeks and months, those children on stimulants did better, but by three years they were deteriorating very rapidly and those that had never had ANY intervention were doing better than them, while those who had recieved behavioural treatments were improving the most and were continuing to improve each and every year, while those on stimulants did not. This is the exact same thing shown in studies on scizophrenia and the like. There will always be individuals who do well on any medication, but a case study is not proof of anything. We can come up with people who have smoked 80 cigarettes a day for the last 60 years and does not have lung cancer, it does not mean that smoking does not cause lung caner. And this is all they can show for psychotropic medications that SOME people and they are not most, do well. But when MOST do not, then it shows that we need to rethink our approach to everything that we do.



          3. Ashley Stuart on November 30, 2011 at 11:03 am

            It seems a public misconception that you either have ADHD or you don’t have ADHD! Wrong.
            It’s not black and white; there are levels of grey, some symptoms are more pronounced and some symptoms don’t exist: some treatments work for some and some don’t.
            I know that Strattera is the key to treating MY symptoms and I have had no negative side effects. Other drugs have little noticeable effect.
            It would seem logical then to assume that all drugs affect every patient, to a greater or lesser degree, differently?


            1. martin on December 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

              I agree that unlike real disease like Type 1 Diabetes that it is wrong to think ‘you either have ADHD or you don’t have ADHD’. ADHD behaviours fidgetting, being distracted are all part of the rich continuum of ‘normal’ human behaviour. Most people display them to some degree. If Strattera helps you, good for you, your an adult, but lets not pretend it is dealing a real ‘disease’.


            2. Noel Eier on December 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

              Thank you very much. ADD and ADHD are harmful junk science scams similar to other maldiagnosed “maladies” like Asperber’s, Colicky Baby, and the yuppie flu. It isn’t valid medical science to simply clump miscellaneous symptoms together, make up a catchy name for some newly-identified disease, cherry-pick questionable “studies” and create a media-hyped fad “treatment.” And no, there isn’t “a magical “gene” to explain away every human condition. Angry victim “advocates,” bogus blogs, and greedy pharmaceutical companies spread misinformation to the detriment of patients. You may as well recommend prayer — its efficacy is dubious but it has the virtue of being free!


            3. JoPer on May 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

              I have been reading your posts after becoming curious about your book.
              Interestingly most of the posts and comments are disregarding or commenting on other professionals work in a negative way. What is the main point you are trying to make?

              Teaching young people that have ADD/ADHD is a fabulous opportunity, this I know. Students
              grow and learn depending on their learning environment but it they dont have the right treatment including medication then its an unhappy learning experience they remember for the rest of their lives. Professionals in this field know what they are doing, sure some are better than others but isnt that the same as when you see a doctor about a head cold or a specialist about your heart. Treatments are so varied and the contingencies are considered on a case by case scenario.

              I know this, teaching for many years, having ADD myself and my son.

              Your efforts to create awareness around ADD/ADHD are commendable although the conflict it has created just causes more restrictions for professionals to consult with their patients.

              Great work but do you have something else to post like….. educational change….universities could support mental health and learning disabilities by teaching their students to broaden their skills to include inclusive learning environments and instructional intelligence.


              1. JoPer on May 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

                contd…. so when students become teachers they are equipped with sustainable diverse skills that provide the right environment for ALL students at all levels. This with the right medication/treatment will also help.


              2. Hadi on February 23, 2013 at 2:39 am

                i totally agree with you as person have ADHD
                as a person who Diognized at age of 27 ,after struggling for years and years without not knowing what is going on me ,and after two years of studying and searching i find it yes i have ADHd which i had it all my life
                ADHd have bad and good things like everything else in life , creativity,happiness and energy is aDHd positive things so i disagree with labeling ADHD kids and just thinking medicine is only way but medicine helps also ,so about calling it disorder i disagree ,i can call other people non ADHD people as they have “Boring disorder ” 🙂
                i am just talking as my personal experience
                i really believe ADHD is real ,i dont call it ADHD ,rather i call it speedy brain
                but what we call it is not matter
                i see medication (correctly i am using concerta )this change my life in so better way ,even i couldn’t imagine .
                medication dont make magic , doesn’t give me super power ,it just make me to do the thing i know i have to do but without medicine i still know what to do but when i do ,i do several things and sometime i even forget what i decided to do
                in Adhd person life maybe this happen every day ,every hours so this make chronic failure failure and depression ,low self confidence and ect
                i dont have opinion about using medication for children cause i just use medication for one year from age of 26
                and the more i use it and compare the day without medication i realized yes medication is making my life more manageable and build my confidence again and make me not depress

                medicine doesnt make us as ADHD people smarter no,it just make us to do what we want to do and focus ,so one person can have ADHD and use medicine and study art and one have Adhd and use medicine and be criminal,cause everybody have different personality
                but when someone with ADHd background be criminal society point tha tit is because of medicine or adhd ,which i think that is totally wrong


              3. Hadi on February 23, 2013 at 2:37 am

                as a person who Diognized at age of 27 ,after struggling for years and years without not knowing what is going on me ,and after two years of studying and searching i find it yes i have ADHd which i had it all my life
                ADHd have bad and good things like everything else in life , creativity,happiness and energy is aDHd positive things so i disagree with labeling ADHD kids and just thinking medicine is only way but medicine helps also ,so about calling it disorder i disagree ,i can call other people non ADHD people as they have “Boring disorder ” 🙂
                i am just talking as my personal experience
                i really believe ADHD is real ,i dont call it ADHD ,rather i call it speedy brain
                but what we call it is not matter
                i see medication (correctly i am using concerta )this change my life in so better way ,even i couldn’t imagine .
                medication dont make magic , doesn’t give me super power ,it just make me to do the thing i know i have to do but without medicine i still know what to do but when i do ,i do several things and sometime i even forget what i decided to do
                in Adhd person life maybe this happen every day ,every hours so this make chronic failure failure and depression ,low self confidence and ect
                i dont have opinion about using medication for children cause i just use medication for one year from age of 26
                and the more i use it and compare the day without medication i realized yes medication is making my life more manageable and build my confidence again and make me not depress

                medicine doesnt make us as ADHD people smarter no,it just make us to do what we want to do and focus ,so one person can have ADHD and use medicine and study art and one have Adhd and use medicine and be criminal,cause everybody have different personality
                but when someone with ADHd background be criminal society point tha tit is because of medicine or adhd ,which i think that is totally wrong


              4. Mothy on July 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm

                If you’re interested in learning about ADHD, the current state of reliable, empirically derived knowledge about this disability, and many of its most damaging myths can be found in ‘Pay Attention – ADHD Through the Lifespan’ a web-based training course provided in 2013 by Dr Anthony Rostain of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve been obliged to educate myself about ADHD, and watching these 25 minute presentations could save a lot of your valuable time, save you from cynical websites.


              5. Mothy on July 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm

                41: ‘What we need to do is to set up a website called, to prey on the gullible, so that millions of people, their loved ones and employers, can continue to suffer needlessly’.

                As a great man once said, you are free to choose love, not fear. So let me plant a few seeds.

                I do not appear to be suffering from a ‘junk science scam’, but I do know that too many have already had their lives ruined, not by ADHD as such, but by society’s ignorance. Drugs dens, bottle shops, jails, divorce lawyers’ offices and dole queues are full of adults with undiagnosed ADHD, which is the third most heritable psychological disorder, and is almost as heritable as height (Martin – do you also have a thing about short people?). The impaired areas of the brain are clearly visible in brain scans.

                The term ADHD may be relatively new, but the condition has been documented for a long time. As scientific and medical knowledge of the disorder has grown the name has been changed a number of time to reflect this.

                It is usually effectively treated with stimulants, something which was discovered in the 1930’s (or ‘40s’- I’m working from memory). I can personally vouch that these medications calm the ADHD mind, and I’m safer while I drive. Others will tell you the same, but you (Martin) seem to prefer to pretend that I take stimulants for some ‘high’. There is no high, so please allow me to take offence. Many interventions may assist in managing the signs and symptoms of ADHD, but medication with stimulants has been proven to be highly effective. Treatment is not permanent. Many psychological disorders are treatable- i.e. there will be relief for as long as you stay on the meds, but very few are curable, which is a problem in its own right, and does not reflect well on the current priorities of big pharma.

                While some children may have been wrongly diagnosed with ADHD, many more are suffering, untreated. Certainly most of the 5% (or so) of adults with this disability don’t even know they have it, usually to their detriment. And as for ADHD existing on a ‘rich continuum’ of human behaviour, you don’t have ADHD if you’re merely a fidget. ADHD can be more or less severe, but it is not a behaviour; it’s an impaired capacity to regulate your attention.

                It appears that more than half the kids with ADHD learn to ‘adapt’ to the extent that they appear able to compensate for any impairments, while others may not even be diagnosed until their inherent impairments are exposed by some life crisis in adulthood with which they fail to cope. Either way, the sooner you know you have it, the better. Long-term depression and anxiety are common complications of undiagnosed adult ADHD. ADHD has cost me a job, where my blue-chip employer felt entitled to treat my disability as bad attitude on my part, tacitly demanding that I do the same, and I discovered that there is a) huge ignorance and stigma about ADHD; b) virtually no legal protection, yet curiously; c) a large amount of solid scientific knowledge.

                It’s time to drop the smug, mocking, ‘let’s kick the spaz’ attitude, and the anti-science, Salem-style fear mongering, and acknowledge the scale of the problem. There are a lot of kids, and adults, who need our help.

                For further details supporting my statements, please see:
                ‘Pay Attention – ADHD Through the Lifespan’ a web-based training course provided in 2013 by Dr Anthony Rostain of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania:

                Respect for the disabled; shame for cynical creeps.


                1. Megan on November 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm


                  Thank you, thank you, thank you 🙂 Until you experience it you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The rest is ignorance.


                2. Amelia on February 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm

                  Very interesting post! Some of the quotes you call total lies sound logical to me. I guess I need to do some more research on this. Thank you for sharing your insights.


                3. Disgusted on May 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

                  ” …lets not pretend it is dealing a real ‘disease (sic)’” ???

                  What Rot Martin – What complete and utter rot!!

                  I’m 43, I live in Fremantle, I’ve suffered from ADHD my entire life, and I would have given my back teeth to have been diagnosed and treated with Ritalin from an earlier age!!!

                  I’ve been taking Ritalin for three years now and I have no problems with addictive traits or behaviours. On the contrary – this year I was finally able to complete a tertiary qualification after **six previously failed attempts over twenty years** – all thanks to my increased ability to concentrate, a direct result of my new medication.

                  ADHD is a internationally-recognised mental health disorder under DSM IV and DSM V guidelines – it’s one of the most co-morbid health conditions on the planet no less. Over one thousand medical professionals from over 100 different countries contribute real-life case data to DSM guidelines and to imply they are the puppets of either fashion or drug companies is foolish.

                  I agree with you that ADHD is often misdiagnosed, as it is a diagnosis of exclusion with an obtuse and convoluted genetic/neuro-chemical causation, directly linked to one’s ability to manufacture and process the neurotransmitter dopamine – and we mis-medicate and occasionally over-medicate as a result. There is no unequivocal test for ADHD, that’s it’s greatest problem.

                  But you saying it doesn’t exist and has not genetic cause is insane – this lumps you in with those who deny the moon landing. All lists like this one do is parrot other people’s selective / blinkered ignorance, spread disinformation, inhibit further research and justify continued denial and prejudice.

                  This website and your flimsy one-sided arguments are noting more than a cynical exercise to generate controversy to help you sell your book – and let’s not pretend that it isn’t.

                  And don’t sit there and tell me that you being a former teacher makes any difference Martin – it is immoral in the extreme to harm the interests of children who need neuro-chemical help to learn, by denying the existence of their condition and their genuine need for help in the first place, you bloody hypocrite.

                  According to your statement, If I was your student – I would not need neuro-chemical help to learn, as my condition didn’t really exist. Some teacher!

                  Sometimes the blind lead the blind in a genuine attempt to help – but this website isn’t an example of that, it’s worse: it’s an example of an ignorant cynical opportunist leading the blind for personal gain – in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king… and you’re about as one-eyed as it gets Martin in my opinion.

                  My disgust at the rot listed above is palpable! Take your selfish agenda and your ignorance and piss off. I shall not be returning to your website, nor buying your book, nor will I tell anyone who will listen to me to take you seriously whatsoever.


                4. martin on May 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm

                  Wow! If it makes you happy consider yourself diseased.


                5. wtf on June 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

                  If ignorance is bliss you must be in heaven.
                  I’ve taken prescribed stimulants for most of the past 30 years, since I was diagnosed at 12 years old. I’ve had several years off treatment and have had regular heart scans and physical assessments to observe for detrimental effects – nothing so far.
                  I make more than $100K and I have 2 degrees.
                  I’m not addicted to drugs and never have been.
                  I have a family – a 20 yr relationship and 2 kids.
                  ADHD was evident in my grandfather, myself, one of my kids and a niece (the later are treated and doing well, 5 other kids from the same generation are fine).
                  You need to address your bigotry and prejudice and just accept that a trait the evolved for a different time and culture is, in today’s world, a problem and that there is for now at least a way to roughly overcome it. I doubt you will, but maybe one day you’ll also find a treatment.


                6. martin on June 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

                  I substantially agree with you that “a trait the evolved for a different time and culture is, in today’s world, is [perceived as] a problem”. I have consistently argued that ADHD drugging is often about making square pegs fit round holes. In other words those exhibiting ADHD behaviours are ‘different’ not ‘diseased’. In my view drugging to eliminate difference (particularly in children) is a human rights abuse.

                  In regards to your personal story it is great that you have a happy history of 30 years of taking amphetamines or amphetamine like substances however, the limited independent evidence that exists indicates that long term administration or amphetamines and similar substances carries substantial risks.

                  While you had a fairly comprehensive swipe at me I notice you did not address any of the specific issues raised in my original blog. You are obviously intelligent and articulate and I would welcome a debate about the validity of the quotes I am critical of.


                7. wtf on June 13, 2014 at 9:14 pm

                  Martin, there is no evidence that long term (low dose) stimulant use causes adverse outcomes. my cohort is the first and there are very few of us. There is also a vast difference between your average black toothed meth head and a kid treated for adhd (which is what is generally used when making this extrapolation).

                  What exactly do you mean by ‘”independent” evidence? Evidence of the non scientific, non medical, preconceived type?

                  Honestly, I was somewhat surprised by your measured reply. However, I am troubled by the lack of reasoned debate on your site. Were you truly open minded about the evidence I would expect to see at least some links to the pro treatment side of the discussion. should I forward you the research would you even post it?

                  Finally, read some of the tales of woe above (or else where) written by people with adhd or their families. Where are the corollaries for your position that stimulant use causes so much unspecified, long term harm? Surely the human rights abuse is keeping people from achieving all they are capable of and in a permanent state of self doubt based on nothing but pseudo science and populist sentiment.


                  1. confucius on January 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm

                    Yes I wonder what people’s agender against people with mental illnesses are I mean they can’t much if any empirical scientific evidence I wonder why?, you know it would be quite scan a bunch of neurotypicals brains and compare with a bunch of autistic and ADHD people from all ages then give them the medications and scan them again to see how it uniquly affects each group, That’s how my psychologst said they accuractly can tell what medications and how they affect the brain ergo which work positively for that patient, alas it costs quite abit and most patients and even the doctors can’t get access to it usually because of $$$ so they have to basically guess so w/e system they’ve devised based of evidence and knowledge the science has and try again till they get it right abiet educated guesses, still I’ve recentley been diagnosed with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) with a bunch of compounding impairments along with ADHD previously as a teenage and throughout adult hood severe deppression and anxiety Martin; My dad was like you it came from his family he finally admitted he didnt belive in mental illnessess thought it was a load of crap so told me just to harden up but that didnt work; to a degree it helped masking my problems barely making me just cling on to a functional state but I’ve been hanging in there baby ever since; everyone around me used to say since I was a child corey’s acting very strange have you tested him, used to display all the sign’s of high functioning autisim as a child but snapped out of the most extreme examples early on back then the dsm was different and allot less was understood like the saying goes to quote another autistic person”you’ve met one autistic person well you’ve met one autistic person’ still I was always abit different I’m told by every one I learnt acting normal like a science mimicing others I didn’t understand allot of social interactions but knew it was needed to ‘fit in’ I was alway’s a loner being around people and just being normal drained me fatigue me mentally and physically I flucuated from top to bottom classes all through my primary and secondary schooling it got worse as I hit puberty that’s when Sever deppression hit I was extremely socially awkward but had a small network of friends whom accepted me but as I got older and I was finally diagnosed I found allot of my so called friends suddenly shunned me like I was a leper I’d get that glossed over look in their eyes, they wanted to be ignorant when I told them and tried to explain what it is and how I feel, that hurt and made my mental state wors being isolated; I love being by myself and need it to recharge ALLOT but autistic people do crave social interaction and need human contact and feel emotions just as much as normal people do actually more extreme, it’s just harder to express and articulate and I’ve learnt to be better at that myself becoming normal to a degree what ever that means so I can fit in finally I had a mental break down at 18 and my dad finally recognised something was wrong knowing it all the time but choosing to ignore my being different, it’s been 4 years of me struggling I couldn’t handle it any longer couldn’t complete my studies not because they were too hard because I couldn’t focus it’s like the new superman movie where he’s a kid and gets his super hearing for the first time and freaks out at all the stimuli it’s kind of like that too a more realistic lesser degree in a way to make you understand, constantly swung from fatigued to overexcited as well 5 doctors 2psychologists and 1 psychatrist all unanimously diagnosed me with the same thing’s I was a special case lets say it wasn’t one problem causing everything but multiple disorders since then Ive had therapy and finally put on anti anxiety and anti deppressants that work ones that work for me tried most, ssri, snri’s etc most only worked temp then I would crash again even the ones I was on only took the edge off I still had problems concentrating low/high energy swings tripping over my thoughts short temper, then finally got put on this ADHD medication called Dexamphetamine only 1 week ago psych said it would work pretty fast so he could tell If it worked BAM over night almost and A wave of calm focus and energy swept over me I didnt fell hyped up or High I felt normal I wasn’t fatigued easily nor tripping over my thoughts as much I have been more productive in the last week then I have in years applying for electrical apprenticeships and just being offered one, in Victoria (australia) and feel happy not euthoric just happy like content how I imagine a normal person feels 90% of the time, I can sit still and study now I feel motivated probably dopamine receptors firing properly now I know what has to be done and want to get it done, kind of like limitless I was blind but now I see but a far lesser extent before I felt scattered fragmented horrible like being really hung over but all the time, poor memory But I always had high fluid intellegence answered all questions in class first when it was time to do the work on paper couldn’t bare it was like torture couldn’t understand the questions even when the teacher would say you just answered the questions out loud you know this, but in a different format the work was just perplexing as an old tutor said it’s funny you get the hard questions right and the easy questions wrong my brain over thought like a million miles an hour all the possibilities analysing everthing like hyper focus but for minute amounts of time to make it useless now with this medication I can utilise this focus and unique impariment is now an attribute on a normal person it wouldn’t work since its designed to work with my impairment the drug is looking for my chemical imbalances ina normal person it just causes imbalances in mine it corrects them, and I feel enchanced or maybe this is what a normal me is like? anyway I feel allot better so STFU martin you negative ignorant bigot. p.s sorry for the rant I sometimes go into tangents always have part of the condition, but less now.


                  2. Rebecca on July 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

                    Like a lot of you that have commented, I can’t begin to tell express how much my life has changed since being medicated with dexamphetamine at age 27.

                    Ash’s story particularly rings true to me – I have quite a high IQ but throughout childhood, was described as disorganised, disruptive, only “chooses” to concentrate when the task is appealing – but has great potential if she applied herself, produces well when she feels like it, is not academic but is very kind & considerate and would make a great nun or mother.

                    Back then, I knew what I wanted to say but could not string the words together. I just could not find the words I needed. It’s still hard to explain what I mean by that and what that was like and unless you have ADHD, coupled with auditory processing difficulties, it’s unlikely you will ever understand anyway.

                    My younger brother was diagnosed very early and went through extensive cognitive and auditory processing therapies. He has never been medicated and as far as I can tell, does not suffer as he used to. Whether this is due to early treatment and a constant effort on his behalf – Or, he out-grew the condition into adulthood, I am not sure.

                    I also can’t begin to express how frustrating it is when I read articles such as these, that contradicts the lifelong research of doctors and psychologists and the thoughts of people with ADHD themselves – when the author of the article has not carried out extended periods of un-biased research and is neither a doctor, nor do they live with ADHD.

                    I did have cognitive therapy in my early 20’s (before being medicated) which helped quite a lot. However, when I landed a more demanding job and was on the brink of losing it, I decided I needed more help.

                    You can’t possibly begin to understand the difficulty or difference ADHD presents until you have lived with it. You can’t truly experience the feeling of knowing, without doubt, that you have much more to offer yourself, a much greater ability than you present and a far superior perception than some of those around you. You can’t claim to know the feeling of knowing you have the potential to carry off something amazing, if only you weren’t so overwhelmed and knew exactly where to start!

                    My only deep regret is that I wasn’t diagnosed and medicated during my schooling years – how I wish I could turn back time, recognise that I had a condition and insist on being treated back then. I have no doubt I would be in a totally different position to what I am now.

                    Most of the 40 “just plain stupid” statements referenced here, I can honestly say I agree or can level with.

                    In response to No.1, I agree that dexamphetamine is NOT addictive. Being prescribed 8 tablets a day, I can honestly say that I could, if I chose to, stop medicating tomorrow – without tapering off my intake over time – I could simply stop taking it tomorrow.

                    What’s more, I would suffer no physical withdrawal symptoms as an addict would. I would NOT be in bed shaking or sweating, with a fever, stomach cramps, pain or vomiting. I would not even display symptoms of a short temper or unusual or depressive thoughts.

                    The only symptom I would display is a lack of concentration, my mind running through a thousand ideas and thoughts a minute without any focus and a general feeling that I should have taken my medication so that I could have had a more productive day.

                    I know this because there have been days and weeks where I have either not medicated by choice or could not for whatever reason.

                    I’m also still on the fence as to whether or not I would medicate my children. I can say though, that if I had kids that displayed the same characteristics as I did and do, I wouldn’t push on ignoring their condition and letting them suffer through what I did, allowing it to fill them full of self-doubt and giving them a self opinion that they are lacking in ability.

                    Cognitive and auditory processing therapies are great – but if that wasn’t enough and my child expressed an interest in trying medication, I would not hesitate in allowing them the possibility of changing their life for the better, as it has mine.


                  3. andrew on January 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm

                    Well, I was diagnosed ADHD at age 46- 6 years ago. I have never found the medication physically addictive, and nowadays use low doses targetted to occasions when my mental state is not as clear and settled as it needs to be for me to function in the world.
                    I have never had a withdrawal effect.
                    I do not agree that cognitive therapy has much place in ADHD treatment at all.
                    In fact, even with ADHD the issue was always the unpredictability of my access to my considerable cognitive and intellectual faculties.
                    I will comment though that I am always careful to medicate before a long drive- as if fatigued I frequently have subtle issues with mispercaption.

                    Now the big problem with this list of “stupid claims” Mr Whitely is that you have, as already been pointed out, provided no sound evidence at all as to why any of these claims is stupid.
                    I really cannot be bothered going through the whole list, but I will settle on number 11 the one about Ukrainian boys and overcrowding.

                    If the cause of the hyperactive behaviours were overcrowding that would still not, of itself, exclude ADHD. If one actually bothers to read DSM properly (as a schoolteacher should be capable of doing) one notes that the DSM specifically rules out speculating as to causation of any diagnostic entity.

                    If one bothers to read any current material on neurology or the latest material on brain development one will soon realise that brain development is dependent on environment and that attention and movement are intimately intertwined. A brief perusal of Dr John Ratey’s book “Spark” which discusses the association between exercise and mental health, will give you a starting point to work on. Then I would recommend you read the book “ADHD as a Model of Brain- Behaviour Relationships” and also the book “Subcortical Structures and Cognition”. Then you might be in a position to start understanding the absurdity of listing No 11 as a “Stupid Statement about ADHD.

                    Finally, your comments about an improper financial relationship between Dr Paterson and Michele Toner are defamatory.

                    Despite qualifying for the label ADHD, I am a doctor too. We work by finding practitioners who can work well with us, and we often become socially friendly with our close colleagues. There is no impropriety there and any suggestion that there is is clearly actionable. I will contact the parties involved and recommend they seek a legal remedy.


                  4. andrew on January 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

                    OK – statement no 10 is stupid.


                  5. madethatway on January 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm

                    It’s incredible, isn’t it?

                    And quacks wonder why we refer to them as ‘quacks’ and bemoan the fact that they command absolutely no respect anymore.

                    Wasn’t all that long ago they were promoting smoking for weight loss. Now it’s speed for active kids with the claim that it enhances brain growth….?

                    I call bs on that.

                    Mustn’t let kids be kids, must we?

                    Musn’t look at the nutritional side of the equation, must we?

                    No, we must go the route that makes the most money for the idiots calling themselves ‘doctor’ and their puppet master, big pharma.

                    Oh and please don’t call them out on their ignorance and stupidity because they’ll cry foul, accuse you of defamation and run for their lawyer to see how much money they can get in a lawsuit.

                    Really, let’s call a spade a spade instead of ‘an implement utilized in the upturning of terra firma’: If any of them had half a brain, it’d be lonely.


                  6. Cara Nella on February 7, 2015 at 10:42 am

                    To point 3 – My father was a truckie way back when and although it was before my time I heard about how these drugs adversely affected him during and after his time as a driver. My father was of course more alert and thus met his deadlines but he suffered for it. Totally ignorant point made by Michelle Toner!


                  7. rachel on February 23, 2015 at 10:39 am

                    I am quite perplexed. If it is such a “real disease” then why does the Australian Government refuse to acknowledge this. My 10 year old son is suffering greatly because I cannot afford to access the help he so desperately needs. If my son was diagnosed with Autism or Aspbergers then he would have access to more services, not to mention a teachers aid in class. I cannot even get CAMHS (children and adolencent mental health services) to help because I do not meet their criteria. Why? Because I need immediate help they said and their wait list is 2 months long. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!!! I was given a relationships course to attend with my ex, honestly this was like a slap in my face, it didn’t even make sense, any of it! Ask for help for my PROFESSIONALLY DIAGNOSED son and I get an anglicare pamphlet thrown at me. So much for public services.
                    It sickens me, the government won’t even allow me carers allowance to look after my boy, who as a result of his severe ADHD and ODD has been suspended countless times from school, resulting in me losing my job because I have to constantly collect him. I tried the Ritalin LA as a final solution after years of trialing everything else, psychotherapy, diet, councilling. The Ritalin made my son psychotic after 14 months of being on it. Then the pede wanted to put him on anti psychotic medication. It made me lose any respect for this paedtrician, it felt like ” oh sorry i don’t really know what I am doing or how to help your son but if he is acting psycho lets just try this drug” The side effects of these drugs are real, they do affect your body. But like anything it affects individuals differently. To say these types of drugs are non addictive is crazy, of course they are addictive. You are placing chemicals into your body every day, if you suddenly take these chemicals away I strongly believe your body will react to this loss. It took 6 weeks to get my son’s behaviour under some sort of control AFTER I weaned him off of the Ritalin. I am glad I read this blog, I was looking for specialists I could perhaps go and see. My son’s behaviour has worsened and due to complete exhaustion and emotional duress I felt I may try medication again. i will be cautious now, and ensure i cover all my concerns before i just take the word of these doctors. Hope I can find the right specialist to assist. Not just one who is under the pharmaceutical payroll. Thankyou for all your comments, it has made for some very interesting reading.


                  8. rachel on February 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

                    I have decided after a little more research that there are indeed other methods I have not tried, I don’t like giving my son drugs so I am going to try a few untried methods first. for me personally as a mum I feel drugs should be the last port of call, that is not to say it is wrong for those who suffer to have medication, it’s just my personal choice. Years ago there was barely any mention of ADD, ADHD, ODD, SPD and all these other disorders that seem to be as common now days as sliced bread. Have we just become a society of convenience? If you have a disorder just pop a pill, if you are hungry just grab some maccas? Just drive to the corner deli because it’s easier than walking? I think food has a major play in these disorders. We have genetically modified and over processed, majorly flavoured and preservative soaked food. Surely that makes a hell of a difference to how your brain and body works?

                    you may also find this interesting reading, there is a documentary on youtube somewhere about this dr. which I found, unbelievable it certainly changed my mind about drugs. Behavioural therapy is what I will choose for my son for now.



                  9. bill on April 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

                    funny how most of these so-called ADHD sufferers are from the lower socio-economic regions, with their fast food/ cigarette, toxic houshold chemical i’m not saying there is a link, but when a fifty year old feels better than when he was 16, something is very wrong 🙁


                    1. Kerry on May 25, 2015 at 11:41 am

                      Wow bill you sound quite ignorant just then, ADHD affects all realms of society, I am not from a low socio-economic area have NEVER smoked a cigarette in my life, my children have not been exposed to cigarette smoke and I am very careful about cleaning chemicals we use because of my kids have asthma. ADHD has been around for over a 100 years. I have a son that has just been diagnosed.


                    2. matt on April 4, 2016 at 8:51 am

                      This whole article is immediately discredited when the author presupposes that an academic must be biased and corrupt, just because they are paid by pharmaceutical companies (point 11). Some people have integrity no matter who they work for. Please present evidence before tarring researchers with your blatant bias.


                    3. Emily on June 18, 2016 at 6:07 pm

                      The sickest thing is that you think you’re actually helping children while actively harming them. You think therapeutic levels of stimulant abuse leads to drug addiction? Do you want to know what really fucking leads to drug addiction? Untreated ADHD. Do you know what it’s like to not have control over your own brain? How much hate and self loathing you develop because you know you’re deficient but don’t know why? What it’s like to repeatedly give absolutely all your possible mental exertion to a simple basic task and failing again and again and again? Would you like to hear all the self medicating I was forced to do just to fucking survive? Would you like to hear the story of my brother? He could easily have been one of your students, my parents took him off his ADHD treatment against the urgings of his psychiatrist and do you know what happened to him? Unable to cope with his untreated ADHD and ODD he turned to drugs and alcohol to self medicate and cope, when he was fucking 14. His mental health continued to decay, he became physically and emotionally abusive to me and the rest of our family and has attempted murder suicide multiple times, he has been institutionalyzed 3 times, jumped from diagnoses of bipolar, schizophrenia and psychopathy when all it was all along was just coping strategies for ADHD and ODD, unbelievable isn’t it? Except it’s not in the slightest, in fact it’s textbook untreated ADHD. You have no idea how absolutely devastating this condition can be untreated, and you’ve deluded yourself into thinking you’re actually helping children and it makes me sick to my absolute core, I wonder how many suicides, drug addictions, criminals and broken families your work has created? You are know better than an anti vaxxers who are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds and soon to be thousands of children, and I hope one day that knowledge will haunt you for the rest of your life.


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