YOUR KIDS AREN'T SICK
Towards the Death of Psychiatry
R.L. Cima, Ph.D.
I went back to college at 25 to get a bachelor's degree so I could become a teacher and coach. I was a good coach. I commanded respect from the kids, I treated them with respect, I was in their face just like my best coaches were with me when I needed it, and I tried to help them improve their talents and skills, no matter how old or what sport. I liked coaching almost more than playing. Coaching was my style at the boy's home too, and it was effective.
Not all children mind you. It was the most difficult to manage children that were given chemicals, the ones the adults complained about the most. The explanation used by the experts at the time was that these children were hard to manage "because . . . ," and then these same experts would say something vague about chemicals and parts in their brains that didn't make sense. That's when this whole idea of magical chemicals began to get fuzzy for me.
"because . . ."
"What is this Ritalin stuff?" I asked Dr. Duncan.
After all, I was giving these pills to kids, and I wanted to know what they were.
By the mid-seventies, Ritalin[i] was quickly becoming the treatment of choice for hyperactivity, or what was then called "hyperkinesis."[ii] A few years later Attention Deficit Disorder was coined, and by 1987, ADHD was voted in as a new disease in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).[iii]
I used to keep the pill packets in my shirt pocket. I gave them to the kids as prescribed, usually after dinner or before bed. All I noticed is that the kids had a tough time going to sleep, and often were groggy in the morning. That was explained to me as a "side effect." I quickly came to hate that term. There was nothing "side" about it. These were full-blown effects.
"It's a stimulant," Dr. Duncan answered.
I thought that was odd. A few of the boys I was giving it to were arrested and placed on probation because they were taking stimulants, usually Benzedrine ("bennies").[iv]