Andinia´s staff

Chemical Straight Jacketing (II).

By Johann Cristoph Arnold.

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I'm referring, of course, to the widespread use of Ritalin and other related stimulants, and to the public's fascination with medicine as the answer to any and every problem.

Ritalin is surely a legitimate drug for certain specific conditions. But given the threefold increase in its use in the last decade, one has to wonder if it isn't being misused as an easy cure-all for problems such as ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) and to rein in lively children who may not even have the disorder.

After all, much of what is designated as ADHD is nothing more than a defence against over-structuring-a natural reflex that used to be called letting off steam-or alternately, a symptom of various unmet emotional needs.

Jeff, an old friend, gives a poignant example:

"Jerome, an eight-year-old from Seattle, came and stayed with us last summer for a break from the city. When he arrived he was a mess, though he was on Ritalin.

After two or three days, however, we weaned him off his dose, because with all the room to play he was no longer bouncing off the walls, but beginning to take himself in hand. (At home in his apartment building there was nothing for him to do but watch TV.) I could definitely see the change.

When this little guy first arrived he could barely keep his attention on anything for more than a minute, he was so keyed up and distracted.

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