ADHD Not a Real Disease, Says Leading Neuroscientist

Flickr-adderall-Patrick Mallahan IIIAlex Pietrowski, Staff Writer
Waking Times

One of the world’s leading pediatric neuroscientists, Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D, recently stated publicly that Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD) is not ‘a real disease,’ and warned of the dangers of giving psycho-stimulant medications to children.

Speaking to the Observer, Dr. Perry noted that the disorder known as ADHD should be considered a description of a wide range of symptoms that many children and adults exhibit, most of which are factors that everyone of us displays at some point during our lives.

“It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria,” he said.

Dr. Perry is a senior fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, Texas, a highly respected member of the pediatric community, and author of several books on child psychology including, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing, andBorn for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential–and Endangered.

His comments are quite refreshing at a time when diagnoses for ADHD in the UK and the US are sky-rocketing and prescriptions of stimulant medications to children are also rising rapidly, with many parents and concerned activists growing suspicious of the pharmaceutical industry’s motivations in promoting drugs to children. Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse and other mind-altering stimulant medications are increasingly prescribed to children between the ages of 4 and 17.

Dr. Perry noted that the use of medications like these may be dangerous to the overall physical and mental development of the child, remarking on studies where these medications were given to animals and were proven detrimental to health.

“If you give psychostimulants to animals when they are young, their rewards systems change. They require much more stimulation to get the same level of pleasure.

“So on a very concrete level they need to eat more food to get the same sensation of satiation. They need to do more high-risk things to get that little buzz from doing something. It is not a benign phenomenon.

“Taking a medication influences systems in ways we don’t always understand. I tend to be pretty cautious about this stuff, particularly when the research shows you that other interventions are equally effective and over time more effective and have none of the adverse effects. For me it’s a no-brainer.”

Given that the problem of ADHD is complex and the term is more of a blanket term used to describe a wide range of behavioral symptoms, it is important to consider what the root causes of many of the symptoms may be before pharmaceutical intervention should be considered. Citing potential remedies, Dr. Perry suggested an approach that focuses attention on the parents and the child’s environment, while also recommending natural remedies like Yoga, and improved diet.

“There are number of non-pharmacological therapies which have been pretty effective. A lot of them involve helping the adults that are around children,” he said.

“Part of what happens is if you have an anxious, overwhelmed parent, that is contagious. When a child is struggling, the adults around them are easily disregulated too. This negative feedback process between the frustrated teacher or parent and dis-regulated child can escalate out of control.

“You can teach the adults how to regulate themselves, how to have realistic expectations of the children, how to give them opportunities that are achievable and have success and coach them through the process of helping children who are struggling.

“There are a lot of therapeutic approaches. Some would use somato-sensory therapies like yoga, some use motor activity like drumming.

“All have some efficacy. If you can put together a package of those things: keep the adults more mannered, give the children achievable goals, give them opportunities to regulate themselves, then you are going to minimise a huge percentage of the problems I have seen with children who have the problem labelled as ADHD.”

Many people may disagree with the assertion that ADD/ADHD should not be considered a disease, however, the fact remains that the myriad symptoms that are associated with these increasingly common ‘disorders’ can often be addressed and relieved without creating an addiction and dependency on pharmaceutical medications, which disrupt the mind and body in ways that are not fully understood or even researched.

About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for and an avid student of Yoga and life.



This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • No More FalseFlags

    I have adhd, and was diagnosed many years ago. It is not something to brag about and I would not wish this “set of symptoms” on anyone.
    I do not consider myself with a disease, and anyone who says they had it as a child and no longer has it as an adult, never had it to begin with. It is a life long set of “symptoms” that never go away.
    I never take meds for this. I don’t use it as a crutch.
    I DO take a set of natural supplements that have helped me the most and am able to work on “goals” I set for myself. But it is always a struggle. I was a shy kid and an A and B student. Graduated in top 10th percentile at a large high school. Went on to earn a bachelor degree in Bus. Even have one year at the Grad level, where I got all A’s.
    Nevertheless, the SYMPTOM that I have the hardest time with, and seems to affect everything else, is the Memory Recall problems (short term). I have repeatedly told counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors, etc, that many times I can listen to someone and not understand a word they say. This has gone on as long as I can recall (no pun intended).

    They will ALWAYS try to tell me I have to stay on meds the rest of my life, and the last Neuro-Psychologist I went to (who I went to specifically becuz I thought his category of psychology would be able to understand me better) tried repeatedly to get me on Adderall. He sent my files to my Doctor and recommended Aderall. Luckily my doctor had sense to dismiss him. BTW, he is regarded as a very good Neuro Psychologist in the community and even teaches at a local University.

    Anyways, so I am taking a lot of natural supplements for 1 month now, and eating a paleo diet. I am able to concentrate much better. It’s still there, but about 50-60% better at this point.

  • Nicole Lascurain

    Hi Alex,

    First off, I came across your site and wanted to say thanks for providing a great ADD/ADHD resource to the community.

    I thought you might find this infographic interesting, as it shows detailed information about the effects of Adderall in an interactive format:

    Naturally, I’d be delighted if you share this embeddable graphic on [ , and/or share it with your followers. Either way, keep up the great work !

    All the best,

    Nicole Lascurain • Assistant Marketing Manager
    p: 415-281-3130 | e:

    Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
    660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp is a trusted health information resource for over 30 million people. All content undergoes a rigorous editorial process. Learn more about Healthline at:

  • no sir. adhd is all in your imagination. kids and adults, millions of them across the nation, have learned how to con doctors into prescribing deadly useless drugs. it really is a vast conspiracy.

  • What is ADHD? Why can’t I pay attention when I need to? Your thoughts, please Dr.

  • MonteBelle72

    Though I have always felt the adhd/add label has been pushes on our children a little too much here in the US but I also know that my ex husband and my Son are very much the “poster children ” for the symptoms.
    It has been inherited from 4 generations we are aware of with the males in my ex husbands family.
    As far as learning this from there parents ? My ex husband never knew his Father so that theory is blown as far as my experience.
    My Son 20yrs old has never been on any heavy duty pills because I don’t believe in them but is on a non narcotic med that works well for him though he is still hyper.
    My ex 43 yrs old is as hyper, nervous, distracted as ever . He couldn’t focus in school and really has never been able to settle down and was worse as and toddler. His Mom says he would rock from 1 side of the room too the other constantly and she had u children , he was the baby and she joked to me that if he were his first , he would have been her last because he drained her .
    My son fortunately is a smart kid , who is now able you read and focus. He has been given a full scholarship to a great school and I am very proud but he is very hyper active still.
    So though I don’t believe every child that has the add or adhad is a correct diagnosis because I think a lot if kids grow out of this and drugging them isn’t the answer but I do believe this here are a few cases but I do truly wonder if it can be identified at such an early age.

    • No More FalseFlags

      Look into the natural supplements. I’m taking some and it helps my “symptoms” very much, but not completely. I also am staying away from Carbs and sugars, which is helping.
      I was also taking St Johns Wart, but had to stop that one. Apparently, it works on the Serotonin side. My issue seems to be dopamine side, so I stick with those supplements that improve the dopamine side, which works on concentration and memory issues more.
      St Johns Wart is good if you are just treating Depression and it worked for me several times. But it seems to cause anxiety when I take the supplements that work on dopamine.
      Anyways, be sure to talk to your Naturalpathic Doctor before you try. Some people can have reactions.

  • Valid points that were so well made .
    I was horrified to hear on this topic that over 10,000 toddlers had been labelled with “ADHD” and prescribed unsafe drugs (equal to putting babies on “speed”).
    Oliver Sacks book on people labelled for “hearing voices” ( a book in which he admits he hears his mind’s chatter -as do most people) means neuroscience is waking up to the misuse of labels and continuing to “invent fictitious diseases” for the business of Big Pharma.
    The biggest harm and mistake of diagnosing dysfunctional behaviour at a time in a life is that the label then becomes part of the child’s sense of self.

  • Ken

    “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease” — Deathbed confession of Leon Eisenberg, “scientific father of ADHD”.

    Quote taken from:

    • We had looked into this quote while researching another article and couldn’t verify it beyond one or two questionable websites. Would be very interesting if someone could validate this a bit more.


      • If it isn’t a disease, what is it? It isn’t typical behavior for anyone at any age.

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