Moving beyond ADD/ADHD is a book that discussed what Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is. It is a condition for which the medication Ritalin is most commonly prescribed. Its diagnosis is based on problems with attention, focus, impulsivity, or over-activity at school or home. The book distinguishes the difference between ADD and ADHD according to the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic and statistical manual, the DSM IV, which is used by insurance companies, school personnel, and mental health clinicians. The text also clarifies (according to the scientific method) the root causes of ADD/ADHD. The root causes determined that ADD/ADHD is not a neurological disfunction. Instead, it is a condition of imbalance within the mind-body level.
These imbalances have physical counterparts within the brain wave and biochemical functioning. This causes a “lack of centering and grounding.” This means that an ADD/ADHD person falls short of being in tune with oneself, and being fully embodied in one’s physical experience (sensing one’s true and authentic thoughts, feelings, and needs.) The principle ideas discussed in Moving Beyond ADD/ADHD are designed to shift the consciousness of a person struggling with ADD/ADHD from the ADD/ADHD state of being to self-containment that is freedom from ADD/ADHD. Furthermore, the text explores alternatives to ADD/ADHD such as medication, nutrition, and therapeutic intervention.
I chose this particular book because I am interested in the Behavioral Perspective of Psychology. Jean Piaget, an influential observer of children, developed the Behavioral Perspective. According to behaviorists, learning can be defined as the relatively permanent change in behavior brought about as a result of experience or practice. In fact, the term “learning theory” is often associated with the behavioral view. Researchers who affiliated with this position generally do not look with favor on the term “behavior potential” (i.e., may be capable of performing but did not for some reason such as illness, situation, etc.) that was included in a definition accepted by those with a cognitive or humanistic viewpoint. The focus of the behavioral approach is on how the environment impacts overt behavior.
Furthermore, there are four types of behavioral learning theories. The first is the Contiguity Theory. This theory says that any stimulus and response connected in time and/or space will tend to be associated. The stimulus is the environmental event and the response is the action/behavior/overt behavior. The second theory is Classical (Respondent) Conditioning, an association of stimuli. This theory says that when an environmental event occurs before a response, it will involuntarily cause an inborn emotional or physiological response; another stimulus will elicit an orienting response. The third theory is Operant (Instrumental) Conditioning. This theory says that a connection of voluntary responses can be consciously stopped when a stimulus occurs after the response. Reinforcement and punishment will change the probability of the response reoccurring. The fourth theory is Observational (Social) Learning. This says that one learns through observing and modeling.
Moving Beyond ADD/ADHD has significance to me because I am a mother of a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD. I am against employing Ritalin as the first and only treatment for a host of behavioral and performance problems in children. Ritalin has improved many such problems in the short term. However, it is classified as a stimulant that is closely related to amphetamines. Although Ritalin is a form of speed some medical doctors and psychiatrists believe that the drug has a paradoxical “calming” effect on children. Sorting out myths from facts about Ritalin is not easy. However, the fact remains that there has been a sharp rise in ADD/ADHD diagnosis and an increase in the amount of Ritalin produced in the U.S. There is no question that Ritalin can in most cases bring about short-term improvements in behavior.
The prospect of Ritalin being given to so many children raises many questions for me, such as; How safe is the drug for children and for adults? What are the possible side effects of Ritalin? Does Ritalin help an ADD/ADHD person overcome their symptoms over the long term? Is there a chance that Ritalin, by addressing symptoms, may mask some of the true causes of behavior problems? And what does the greatly expanded use of such a drug say about the institutions traditionally charged with the “nurture” of children? In conclusion, when Ritalin alone tends to make a host of behavioral and performance problems in children tolerable, other contributing factors are less likely to be addressed.
I’m concerned that overly medicating the sharp edge of our obsession with performance may tend to postpone a reckoning with the “living imbalance” our children are experiencing today. The surge in ADD/ADHD diagnosis and Ritalin treatment should serve as a warning to society that we are not meeting the needs of our children. I further argue that risk is imposed on the ADD/ADHD child who uses Ritalin through adulthood. The track record of self-administered stimulant use is marred by chronic abuse. Whether Ritalin can be managed responsibly or is being managed responsibly remains to be seen. History suggests that a society using drugs to cope does so at its own peril.