A 2012 article in Psychology Today discussed the fact that French children are treated very differently for ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) compared to American children, and are diagnosed far less often.
The suggestion was that American doctors could be wrong in treating ADHD as biological, and prescribing drugs, and rather should take the French approach of considering it
environmental and adjusting environmental factors accordingly.
But recently, a major investigation into collated twin studies over 50 years looked at the balance of “nature v. nurture” – biological factors vs. environmental – in a huge number of human traits, including ADHD. The findings largely contradicted the Psychology Today article.
The Psychology Today writer was Marilyn Wedge Ph.D., author of A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic.
Wedge said that in the United States, at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. Whereas in France, the percentage of children diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than 0.5 percent.
She wrote: “Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the U.S. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is 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.
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