By Fred A. Baughman Jr., Neurologist, Pediatric Neurologist

Fellow, American Academy of Neurology

1303 Hidden Mountain Drive

El Cajon, CA 92019


Pediatrician/author/ T. Barry Brazelton [Washington Times, 3/?/03], breaths life into the lie/illusion of ADHD as a “disease”/ “chemical imbalance”--one needing a “chemical balancer”--Ritalin, Adderall—amphetamines-all!

All physicians (psychiatrists included) study the normal (no disease) and abnormal (disease) and are responsible for telling one from the other.   When no abnormality/disease is present, there is nothing to make normal; no need for medical treatment.  A third to a half of patients seek help for psychological/psychiatric symptoms, and have no abnormality/disease.

Psychiatry and neurology were formally separated in 1948, psychiatry to deal with the emotional and behavioral problems of physically/medically normal individuals, and neurology to deal with physical/medical abnormalities of the nervous system.


With the production of psychiatric drugs in the 50’s and 60’s, the psycho-pharm cartel began calling all things mental “diseases”—“chemical imbalances.”  The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA)  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) grew from 112 “diseases” in 1952,  to 374 in the 1994—all invented. ADHD was it’s prototypical “biologically-based” “disease.”  

In a 1970, Congressional hearing psychiatrists insisted that “hyperkinesis” (a.k.a. ADHD)—was a disease.


John Peters of the University of Arkansas insisted: “… it has to do with some dysfunction of the brain.”    Ronald Lipman of the FDA insisted “… hyperkinesis is a medical syndrome.”  Chairman, Cornelius Gallagher sought to stem the tide, stating: “Who makes a decision…as to whether a child has hyperkinesis, or is just a bored, bright, creative, pain in the neck kid?”   


ADD was invented in 1980, but never validated as a disease.

ADHD was invented in 1987, but never validated as a disease.  The epidemic, nonetheless, had reached a  half million.


In 1990, Alan Zametkin of the NIMH,  using PET scans, reported that ADD brains used 8%  less glucose than normals. But there was still had no test; diagnosis was based on parents/teacher interviews.  What’s more, no one could duplicate Zametkin’s findings.  But this didn’t stop Ciba/Novartis, CHADD, or psychiatry, generally, from chanting the “disease” claim. 

In their best seller, Driven to Distraction [1994] Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, proclaimed: “… there is enough evidence that neurochemical systems are altered in people with ADD…” 

Speaking of the PET evidence and knowing that no such thing had been confirmed, the NIMH [1994] proclaimed: “the brain areas that control attention used less glucose…”

Turning to CT scans, Nasrallah, et al [1986] found brain atrophy (shrinkage) in 58% of young adults  with ADHD, but cautioned “.. since all of the  patients had been treated with psychostimulants, cortical atrophy may be a long-term adverse effect of this treatment.”    

From 1986-1998, nine MRI brain scan studies were performed on “treated” groups with ADHD.  All showed brain atrophy and all concluded that the brain atrophy was due to ADHD.  The possibility that their “treatment” was the cause of the brain atrophy was dismissed. 

Had psychiatry and the NIMH truly sought to find abnormalities in ADHD they would have scanned untreated individuals.  However, in 12 years (1986-1998) of brain scan research, they failed, or refused, to do even one such study.  They did, however, persist in their claims that the brain atrophy invariably found, but always in “treated” subjects, was proof that ADHD was a brain disease.   Was this on purpose?  Was it marketplace strategy?

At the 1998, National Institutes of Health, ADHD, Consensus Conference, James Swanson and F. Xavier Castellanos, of the NIMH, concluded: “…investigations provide converging evidence that …ADHD… is characterized by reduced size in specific neuroanatomical regions of the frontal lobes and basal ganglia.”  But they uttered not a single word about all of the ADHD subjects having been “treated”.   

Baughman, an invited participant, asked: “Dr. Swanson, why didn’t you mention that virtually all of the ADHD subjects… have been on chronic stimulant therapy and that this is the likely cause of their brain atrophy?” 


Swanson: “I understand that this is a critical issue and in fact I am planning a study to investigate that.  I haven’t yet done it.”  (referring to the failure/reluctance to study an ADHD-untreated group since the beginning of brain scan research in the early eighties.)



William B.Carey testified: “What is now most often described as ADHD…appears to be a set of normal behavioral variations   This discrepancy leaves the validity of the construct (ADHD) in doubt.”


On November 18, 1998, with the ADHD epidemic having sky-rocketed to 4-5 million, the  Consensus Conference Panel [30]   concluded: “ ...we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.” 


Four additional MRI studies have been published between 1998 and the present—all, you guessed it, utilizing “treated” ADHD subjects, all affirming, time and again, that Ritalin/amphetamine “treatment” causes brain atrophy, not that ADHD is a disease.


Only the October, 9, 2002, Journal of the American Medical Association paper of Castellanos, et al, claiming to prove that ADHD, not Ritalin/amphetamine “treatment” is the cause of the brain atrophy, warrants comment.  They write: this is the first neuroimaging study to our knowledge to include a substantial number (n = 49) of previously unmedicated children and adolescents with ADHD.”  True enough, their study included 49 ADHD-unmedicated subjects, but it also included 103 ADHD-medicated subjects with whom the unmedicated subjects were admixed.  Nor were the 49 ADHD-unmedicated subjects (mean age = 8.3 ) compared to a truly matched control group  Instead the control group (mean age = 10.9) was 2.6 years older than the ADHD-unmedicated group—2.6 years older and bigger, having brains that are 2.6 years older and bigger than the brains of the ADHD-unmedicated subjects!  Hardly a “matched” control group!  Another refusal to study an ADHD-unmedicated group!


Dr. Brazelton should have read this “research” literature.  With the ADHD epidemic at 6-7 million today, most of them “treated,” there is still no proof that ADHD is a disease, and, of course, absolutely no objective means of diagnosing it.   


On April 15, 1998, I wrote to Attorney General, Janet Reno: “The single, biggest heath care fraud in US history (is) the representation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to be an actual disease, and the drugging of millions of entirely normal American children.”


Psychiatric research has yet to prove me wrong.



Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD, Neurology, Pediatric Neurology (board certified)

Fellow, American Academy of Neurology

1303 Hidden Mountain Drive

El Cajon, CA 92019

619 440 8236