Jerome Kagan is not only a professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, he is also considered one of the best psychologists in the world. In fact, his university colleagues ranked Kagan as the 22nd most prominent psychologist of the 20th century. This ranking ranked this excellent teacher in front of Carl Jung (Yes – CE Carl Jung), who was ranked 23rd.
So, if someone has earned the right to criticize one of the most diagnosed mental disorders today, it’s Jerome Kagan. And he does it.
According to Kagan, ADHD is not a true pathology. That’s right, he thinks that attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder is a complete hoax. Needless to say, Kagan’s statement ruffled a lot of feathers. Psychologists and other health professionals went on the offensive, trying to discredit Kagan’s statements.
“… (attention deficit disorder) is an invention. Every child who does not succeed at school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says, “It’s ADHD, here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90% of these 5.4 million children do not have an abnormal metabolism of dopamine. The problem is that if the drug is available to doctors, they will make the corresponding diagnosis. “- Jerome Kagan, psychologist and professor at Harvard University.
So, what lies behind this story?
The problem of money
First, doctors can benefit financially from the promotion and prescription of certain drugs. Of course, this can encourage medical professionals to diagnose more diseases to earn extra income. Some doctors earn hundreds of thousands of dollars just by working with the pharmaceutical industry. According to Kagan – and most – it is both an immoral and corrupt practice.
Secondly, pharmaceutical companies have a considerable influence on the political process. “Big Pharma” spends billions of dollars every year on politicians to get what they want. According to Kagan, this contributes to corrupting influences within Washington DC and elsewhere.
The problem of misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis
According to Kagan, “If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be classified as anxious or depressed. But if you take a closer look and wonder how many of them are seriously weakened by this, the number is reduced to 8 percent. “
Kagan uses depression as an example here, but he says that misdiagnosis – and thus over-diagnosis – occurs across a range of mental health issues. Simply put, all those who display a symptom or behavior do not have a mental health problem. Especially children, who are a “little” subject to unpredictability.
Misdiagnosis leads to over-diagnosis, according to Kegan. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “about 11% of children aged 4-17 (6.4 million) were diagnosed with attention deficit disorder from 2011.”
Kagan also makes the point that most children with ADHD fall into one category: “Who is diagnosed with attention deficit disorder? Children who are not good at school. This never happens with children who do well in school. What if we did tutoring instead of teaching? “
According to Kagan’s estimation, a number of major problems exist throughout the demon of psychology. While he is very critical about the over-diagnosis of ADHD, and for good reason, the problems Kagan is talking about cover the whole field of mental health. And there are no simple answers to that.
But Kagan is adamant, mental health professionals must change their approach to diagnose ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other disorders. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to start making diagnoses similar to most other doctors:. By examining the causes, not just the symptoms. Again, especially with children, who often do not have a great ability (or desire) to fully explain themselves.
Of course he does not say it will be easy. In fact, when faced with recent criticism that he suggests that mental illnesses are an invention of Big Pharma and others, Kagan goes on the offensive:
“There are mentally ill people who need help. A person who buys two cars in one day and is unable to get out of bed the next day has bipolar disorder … There are people who, either for prenatal or hereditary reasons, have serious weaknesses in their central nervous system that predispose to schizophrenia, bipolar illness, social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. We must distinguish these people … “
In other words, those responsible for administering drugs that alter the brain of children need to look a little deeper. This does not seem to be an unreasonable proposition.
CDC (2016)DATA & STATISTICS. AVAILABLE AT: HTTP://WWW.CDC.GOV/NCBDDD/ADHD/DATA.HTML (ACCESSED: 4 NOVEMBER 2016).
(2012)SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH JEROME KAGAN: ‘WHAT ABOUT TUTORING INSTEAD OF PILLS?’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE. AVAILABLE AT: HTTP://WWW.SPIEGEL.DE/INTERNATIONAL/WORLD/CHILD-PSYCHOLOGIST-JEROME-KAGAN-ON-OVERPRESCIBING-DRUGS-TO-CHILDREN-A-847500-2.HTML (ACCESSED: 4 NOVEMBER 2016).