|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
by Lawrence H. Diller
Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1998
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 3rd 2000
Lawrence Diller is one of the most eloquent and thoughtful doctors writing for a general readership on the issue of the use of medication for children. His book Running on Ritalin was originally published two years ago. Since then he has written a number of articles for Salon magazine, following up on the latest news concerning Ritalin and the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Although there are news items almost every week concerning Ritalin and ADHD, Diller's book remains highly relevant to the debate, and I recommend it highly.
In the thirteen chapters, Diller sets out the clinical, emotional, scientific, economic, legal and social issues relevant to understanding the rise in the use of Ritalin. Diller's discussion of these issues is both clear and thorough. At the end of the book are 33 pages of notes and references for those who want to research more into the issues raised.
Although there are many complexities in understanding the issues of medicating children, Diller's position is straightforward and plausible. He argues that while he himself often prescribes Ritalin and agrees that it is often appropriate, all too often Ritalin in prescribed without first exploring other options. Often parents, doctors, and teachers talk as if ADHD were simply a brain dysfunction and they prefer to ignore the emotional issues that family members are facing.
There has to be some explanation for the massive rise in the diagnosis of attention deficit and in the use or Ritalin in the last decade. Maybe now more than ever, families face many pressures; children often experience those pressures as much as their parents. But Diller's hypothesis is that more important was the rise in the concept of learning disabilities and the accommodation provided to students labeled as having such disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been ruled applicable to ADHD, and also important is Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. But probably more important is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act, passed in 1990, mandates that "eligible children receive access to special education and/or related services, and that this education be designed to meet each child's each unique educational needs through and individualized education program, or IEP." (148). Also important was Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Of course, giving people an incentive to be labeled with a disability often means that the rates of diagnosis increase, and it seems this is one reason the rates of ADHD diagnosis have sky-rocketed in the USA.
Of course, every expert will find some details with which to quibble in Diller's book. As an ethicist, I found his discussion of the medical ethics literature on the topic the least satisfying part of the book, but that's because I am already familiar with those issues. With the vast area of other aspects of the Ritalin debate where I am on less familiar ground, Diller is a sure-footed guide. His ability to combine different aspects of the issues, such as the social, medical, and personal, is impressive, and is what gives Running On Ritalin its coherence.
Currently the USA is the main country facing these problem, but other nations are likely to follow. Furthermore, as pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs which can enhance our intellectual and emotional lives, and which can even mold our personalities, we are going to have to look long and hard at what we want to label as disabilities and how much we should use such drugs. Lawrence Diller is one of the best thinkers we have available to encourage and guide the debate.
Lawrence Diller Web Site
Just say yes to Ritalin! September 25, 2000
Extreme Ritalin March 31, 2000
Kids on Drugs March 9, 2000
Kids on Drugs II March 10, 2000