May 07, 2008

The Deficit of Attention That Ritalin Can't Cure

"We cannot measure a 'daddy level' in the bloodstream of a child the way we can measure drug levels," writes Dr. Bruce D. Woodall in the current issue of Touchstone magazine, "but I wish we could."
I closed the doors to my office, rested my elbows on my cluttered desk, buried my face in my hands, and wished for a different job.

Sixteen years out of residency and I am still waiting for the following scenario: A boy is brought into my office by two parents who are married and living together with their children—a family in which the father is an adult, is employed full time, and is the young patient's legal parent by either natural birth or adoption—and the parents together wish me to prescribe Ritalin for their son's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ...

It seems that requests for boys to be on Ritalin are escalating at the same rate as requests for adolescent girls to be placed on antidepressants. When will we, as a culture, face the fact that the empirical evidence is pointing at a particular root issue?