ADHD Doesn’t Actually Exist, Says Harvard Psychologist

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder concept, vector with isolated silhouette of angry boy

Jerome Kagan argues that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is fake news.

Even though many other professionals continue to disagree with him, Kagan continues to stick to his guns: “Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: ‘It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.’ In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.”

Conversely, problems with doctors overprescribing medication have been echoed by many professionals and non-professionals alike. However, Kagan has an original way of perceiving and articulating these issues that may even convince skeptics to alter their viewpoints: “If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be categorized as anxious or depressed. But if you take a close look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent.”

Indeed, if you distinguish a line between the patients who might need help and the patients who definitely need help, the clarity of the situation—and the problem—is enhanced significantly. It is certainly true that the number of people being diagnosed with ADHD exceeds the number of people who are substantially hindered by it: “approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. . . . Who’s being diagnosed with ADHD? Children who aren’t doing well in school. It never happens to children who are doing well in school. So what about tutoring instead of teaching?”

It is quite shocking to think that Ritalin is being used as a substitute for a tutor in any case, much less in countless cases. In fact, it is downright scary. And the issue seems even larger when one considers how many patients must wait to be diagnosed due to the millions of appointments being made by others, in referral for potential ADHD: “There are mentally ill people who need help. A person who buys two cars in a single day and the next day is unable to get out of bed has a bipolar disorder. . . . There are people who, either for prenatal or inherited reasons, have serious vulnerabilities in their central nervous system that predispose them to schizophrenia, bipolar disease, social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. We should distinguish these people.”

Jerome Kagan is a professional psychologist and a tenured professor at Harvard University—give his words, opinions, and evidence some thought!



CDC (2016) Data & Stats. Available at: Accessed 4 Nov. 2016.

Spiegel Interview with Jerome Kagan (2012): “What About Tutoring Instead Of Pills?” – Spiegel Online. Available at: Accessed 4 Nov. 2016


*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here:


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