French parents believe that hearing the word “no”
rescues children from the
“tyranny of their own desires.”
The following information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or healthcare professional.
(This information is from, “French children don’t need medications to control their behavior”. Published on March 8, 2012 by Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D. in Suffer the Children. click here to read full article)
In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD / ADD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. But in France, the percentage of kids medicated for ADHD is less than one half of one percent (.5%). Why has the epidemic of ADHD / ADD in the United States almost completely passed over children in France?
In the United States, psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with the preferred treatment also biological–psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.
French child psychiatrists don’t use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system. The focus of this system (CFTMEA) is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children’s symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.
To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child’s social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to “pathologize” much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.
The French holistic, psychosocial approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD symptoms – specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. Clinicians who work with troubled children in this country—not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child’s problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children’s behavior.
And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, “Bringing up Bébé”. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States.
From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.” Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies “cry it out” if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.
French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.”
As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families parents are firmly in charge of their kids – instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.
Marilyn Wedge is the author of “Pills Are Not for Preschoolers: A Drug-Free Approach for Troubled Kids”. I highly recommend this publication.
Forty years after the drug was first marketed, carcinogenicity (cancer) tests were conducted by the National Toxicology Program, the results of which were published in 1995. Adult mice were fed Ritalin over a two-year period at dosages close to those prescribed to children. The mice developed a statistically significant incidence of liver abnormalities and tumors, including highly aggressive rare cancers known as hepatoblastomas.
The Physicians’ Desk Reference admits evidence on the carcinogenicity of Ritalin.
Apart from cancer risks, there is also suggestive evidence that Ritalin induces genetic damage in blood cells of Ritalin-treated children.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Concerta, Methylin, Methylin ER, Metadate CD, Metadate ER) prescribed for the treatment of ADHD and Narcolepsy), is classified by our government as a psychoactive drug with cocaine and morphine because it is highly addictive.
The long term effects of methylphenidate on the developing brain are
unknown. Methylphenidate is derived from amphetamines, a powerful class of stimulant drugs, and is known on the street as rids, pineapple, uppers, jif, vitamin R and R-ball. Whatever its name, methylphenidate (Ritalin,etc.) is the pharmaceutical equivalent to cocaine.
Even under a physician’s care, methylphenidate addiction can occur because this medication is a highly addictive stimulant drug that works by increasing the dopamine levels in your brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), dependency can occur whether the medication is taken under a physician’s supervision or when it is taken recreationally, because your body becomes tolerant to the drug and higher dosages are required to achieve the same high.
In the United States, methylphenidate is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for abuse. This classification is because of methylphenidate’s high addictive potential. When crushed and snorted, methylphenidate can have the same effects as cocaine in terms of the high it produces. This euphoria is highly addictive.
Methylphenidate addiction treatment is necessary when patients who have taken this medication to treat ADHD, suddenly develop seizures or hypertension. Methylphenidate addiction treatment must begin with detoxification. Methylphenidate detox is the process in which the patient stops using the drug abruptly, and as a result withdrawal symptoms occur. Because methylphenidate is often taken for long periods of time, the likelihood of physical or psychological dependence is high.
Stimulants like methylphenidate can also increase blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate to dangerous levels, and long term repeated use can further lead to acts of hostility and feelings of paranoia. At higher doses, methylphenidate can cause cardiovascular problems such as strokes.
Texas researchers have found that after just three months, every one of a dozen children treated for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with the drug methylphenidate experienced a threefold increase in levels of chromosome abnormalities—occurrences associated with increased risks of cancer and other adverse health effects. Here is but one of the others:
Chromosome Abnormalities Raise Risk for Autism. Autism is growing at epidemic proportions, and so is the money being dedicated to genetic studies like this. According to one study, published Jan. 9 in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, a section of chromosome 16 is deleted or duplicated in about 1 percent of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). About 15 percent of autism cases have known genetic causes. This latest paper follows closely on the heels of another study, which was published in the Dec. 21 online issue of Human Molecular Genetics, that found the exact same deletion was significantly associated with autism.
Researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) reported their detection of the chromosome abnormalities in the journal Cancer Letters.
The researchers say that, to their knowledge, this is the first study addressing the potential chromosome-breaking effects associated with treatment of children with methylphenidate, the generic name for a group of drugs that includes Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate CD and others.
Most of the abnormalities found in the studied blood cells consisted of chromosome breaks “and a higher frequency of aberrations is reported to be associated with an increased risk of cancer down the line,” said lead author Randa A. El-Zein, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at M.D. Anderson, who performed the blood studies
Concerns on Ritalin’s cancer risk are more acute in view of the millions of children treated annually with the drug and the escalating incidence of childhood cancer, by some 35% over the last few decades, quite apart from delayed risks of cancer in adult life. These risks are compounded by the availability of alternative safe and effective procedures, notably behavior modification and biofeedback.
There is no justification for prescribing Ritalin, even by highly qualified pediatricians and psychiatrists, unless parents have been explicitly informed of the drug’s cancer risks. Otherwise, prescribing Ritalin constitutes unarguable medical malpractice. This statement is from Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., emeritus Professor Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, and Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition.
My gratitude to Mr. Wes Oliver, Vice President of Robert W. Baird & Co.
Private Wealth Management, for bringing this
valuable information to our attention. Dr. and Mrs. Anderson are proud to recommend Wes Oliver to you for assistance with financial management and counseling. You may contact Wes at
“There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now. “
– EUGENE O’NEILL, A Moon for the Misbegotten
Due to popular demand and pleading looks from Mary Alice, coupled with a general feeling of excitement, we will meet at 10:00 a.m. at ROLLERLAND WEST, located at 7325 Calmont Avenue –Telephone: 817-244-8290. At approximately 11:15 a.m. will we will travel to McKinley’s Fine Bakery & Café, 1616 South University Drive, (817) 332-3242 to enjoy lunch. Following lunch we will travel to the Barnes and Noble Book Store one block south of the Hulen Shopping Center, 4801 Overton Ridge Blvd. Suite 100, Fort Worth – Telephone Number: (817) 346-2368.
Pickup will be at 2:30 p.m. at the Bookstore.
Emergency Telephone Number: 682-777-1908
If you arrive late, we shall have departed with your child(ren) and will drop them off at Good Will or Bad Will, depending upon their behavior, or return to school. Please call and let us know if you will be late and if you want them back.
Students are NOT to leave Rollerland, the restaurant or bookstore without the approval of Dr. or Mrs. Anderson.
FINANCIAL: Rollerskating $10.00 (Please pay Dr. A.) and lunch. Refreshments available: Yes! You may wish to purchase a book.
Uniform pants with a belt & red monogrammed school shirts are required.
PARENTS / FRIENDS / RELATIVES are invited to participate on our trips.
Jan. 24 Fort Worth Stock Show
Jan. 20 (Mon.) Dr. M. L. King Holiday
Feb. 1 Tuition Deposit Due for 2014-15
Feb. 17 (Mon.) President’s Day Holiday
Mar. 10-14 Spring Break Holidays
A. n . d . e . r . s . o . n
Where precocious children are nurtured, appreciated & from time to time, rollerskate!