Radical Attacks against ADHD

The most aggressive attacks against recognition of ADHD as a legitimate disorder have come from groups such as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which advocates against using psychiatric or psy-chotropic medicines in any situation. This well-funded group and certain individuals associated with it have circulated allegations that ADHD is a fictitious disorder. One of their publications, "Psychiatry Betraying Families: The Hoax of ADD/ADHD and Other Learning Disabilities," argues, "These are made up disorders along with others including severe emotional disorder . . . and dyslexia. ADHD is a total, 100% fraud."

Often media releases and educational materials of the CCHR or comparable groups do not specify their affiliation with the Church of Scien tology, an organization strongly opposed to any psychiatric diagnosis or psychiatric treatment for any disorder. A statement published in 2001 by the Church of Scientology includes the following:

Scientology is unalterably opposed, as a matter of religious belief, to the practice of psychiatry, and espouses as a religious belief that the study of the mind and the healing of mentally caused ills should not be alienated from religion or condoned in nonreligous fields . . . mental problems are spiritual in nature.

Some individuals espousing such views have even persuaded legislators in a few states to pass laws impeding access to such medications or forbidding school staff from talking with parents about ADHD. Radical advocates for this viewpoint have also organized letter-writing or media campaigns to challenge school boards or to attack the credibility of physicians, psychologists, or educators who advocate for scientific views of ADHD. In a few extreme cases in Europe and the United States, prominent professionals advocating for ADHD have been harassed and threatened in their offices and homes.

In 2000, plaintiffs promoting such radical views filed lawsuits in Texas, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Puerto Rico against the American Psychiatric Association, the Novartis pharmaceutical company (manufacturer of Ritalin), and Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), an advocacy group with over twenty thousand members that has led national efforts to provide scientific information about ADHD to parents and professionals. These suits alleged a conspiracy among Novartis, CHADD, and the American Psychiatric Association to foist the ADHD diagnosis on the public in order to increase sales of medications for ADHD. All five suits were eventually withdrawn or dismissed by the courts, in some cases with prejudice because the suits were deemed frivolous.

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