Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Did Mozart Really Have ADHD? History Of Hyperactivity Off-base, Says Researcher

Date:
May 28, 2009
Source:
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Summary:
A Canadian researcher working in the UK says doctors, authors and educators are doing hyperactive children a disservice by claiming that hyperactivity as we understand it today has always existed.

A Canadian researcher working in the U.K. says doctors, authors and educators are doing hyperactive children a disservice by claiming that hyperactivity as we understand it today has always existed.

Matthew Smith says not only is that notion wrong, it misleads patients, their parents and their physicians. Smith, who is from Edmonton, is finishing up his PhD at the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter.

Hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is currently the most commonly diagnosed childhood psychiatric disorder, says Smith, and millions of children are prescribed drugs such as Ritalin to treat it. Yet prior to the 1950s, it was clinically and culturally insignificant.

He argues in a paper presented at the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Ottawa's Carleton University this week, that hyperactivity disorder as we understand it today is a modern construct that was first described as a disorder in 1957.

Before that, Smith says hyperactive behaviour existed – but it wasn't always thought of as a disorder or pathology worth treating.

However, Smith says many today assert that hyperactivity is a universal phenomenon, and say evidence of hyperactivity can be seen in historical figures such as Mozart or Einstein. Smith argues that hyperactivity as we understand it is rooted in social, cultural, political and economic changes of the last half century.

"When history is extended back beyond 1957, it overlooks all the social factors that contributed to the idea that children were hyperactive – and that that was a problem," he says.

"We need to refocus the history of hyperactivity on the period starting from the late 1950s and 60s. "By doing so, we start to understand why people started to think there was a problem with children, why they thought that problem needed to be fixed, and why it became acceptable to fix that problem with drugs."

Smith says that whether you consider hyperactivity a disease worth treating often depends on context – and the context changed in the late 1950s when the U.S. refocused its education system in response to the space race.

"If a child's playing soccer, there's a chance hyperactivity isn't going to be a problem. But if they are stuck in a classroom, it is a problem.

"We have to look at the social and historical factors that created the idea that children were distractible and that these were pathologies that needed to be treated.

"For patients and their parents, what this means is that the process by which their children are diagnosed is not rooted in a long history. If they understand that, they can develop the tools to question the diagnosis."

Organized by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress 2009 brings together over 8,000 researchers from Canada and around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "Did Mozart Really Have ADHD? History Of Hyperactivity Off-base, Says Researcher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527130834.htm>.
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. (2009, May 28). Did Mozart Really Have ADHD? History Of Hyperactivity Off-base, Says Researcher. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527130834.htm
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. "Did Mozart Really Have ADHD? History Of Hyperactivity Off-base, Says Researcher." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527130834.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins