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John Rosemond | Syndicated columnist

In 2009, pediatrician and former medical school professor Bose Ravenel and I published “The Diseasing of America’s Children” (Thomas Nelson), in which we argued from facts that ADHD and other childhood behavior disorders were inventions of the psychological-psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry.

Cancer, high cholesterol, influenza, measles, and a broken bone are realities. Using various tests, physicians can prove their existence. No one has proven the reality of ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, or bipolar disorder of childhood. They are constructs.

Drugs used to treat verifiable physical disease and disorder are based on fact. Drugs used to “treat” childhood behavior disorders are based on theories that no researcher has ever established as true. That is why said pharmaceuticals do not reliably outperform placebos in clinical trials.

Just to be clear: I am not saying ADHD is over-diagnosed; I am saying it does not exist. It is a fiction. I’ve been saying this since the early 1980s and have been the target, since then, of much professional and parent criticism, even scorn. Russell Barkley, for example, widely regarded as the world’s leading expert on ADHD, equates me with Scientologists and claims that I believe television causes ADHD. He cannot honestly debate me, so he mocks me and distorts what I have actually said.

Now Barkley has another psychologist he can mock. This time, however, the psychologist in question is Harvard professor Jerome Kagan, the author of numerous books and research papers on children and child development. I studied Kagan in graduate school. I’m certain Barkley did as well. A peer-ranking of the top 100 psychologists of all time puts Kagan at number 22.

In the January, 2017 edition of (“Renowned Harvard Psychologist Says ADHD Largely a Fraud”), Kagan is quoted as saying that ADHD is “an invention.” Referring to the drugs used to supposedly treat ADHD, Kagan says that if a drug is available, physicians will use it. He goes on to challenge the diagnosis of childhood bipolar disorder, the very concept of mental illness, and asserts that rates of teen depression and anxiety are grossly inflated. Sadness and anxiety are normal events during adolescence, says Kagan.

Who benefits from these falsehoods? Psychiatrists, psychologists, and the pharmaceutical industry. He describes his own (and my) profession as “self-interested.” That is scathing but no different than what I’ve been saying about psychology for the past 20 years: specifically, clinical psychology does not qualify as a science; rather, it is an ideology. If it was truly a science, people like Barkley would be willing to engage me and Dr. Ravenel in serious debate instead of just hurling insults and attempting to shut me up (see

Before a recent talk at a school, I was asked by the administration not to share my views on ADHD because they might upset parents whose kids have received the diagnosis. I honored the request. Nonetheless, the parents in question are the very parents who most need to know the truth. It will not be hidden much longer.

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at; readers may send him email at; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered


(1) comment


Dr (I don't think the board has taken that from you yet, so I'll ) Rosemom, interesting perspective. I guess it's easier to get your material published when you take an extreme viewpoint. First off, we can agree... children should not be diagnosed bipolar before they even have grown hair under their arms. That fad did a lot of harm after the Biderman & Wilens convinced other physicians that it was okay to diagnose a 5 yr old with BDP and then throw them on medications, like anitpsychotics that have no business in a young child's brain. Not to mention the lifelong diagnoses they'll carry with them. So we agree there. ADHD on the other hand.... misdiagnosed? Overgiagnosed? Yes to both. Non-existent? I'm going to have to disagree. I'm well aware doctors can make a name for themselves by using personal opinions to strike back at the medical extablishment, but if you are still licensed, it's irresponsible to make claims supported by a few real doctors and pushed by a fringe element on alternative medicine professionals and activists. New technology has begun to locate abnormalities in the ADHD brain, and in a perfect world, not far down the road we can detect those well enough to make diagnoses based on medical evidence. I see you're a Pschologist.... while I respect the degree, you're not an expert in neurology/neurobiology or bio-psychiatry. So having read your view that "psychology is like secular religion", I think it's safe to say you don't buy into the new research. You're correct that psychology is not a science, but a good treatment plan has a qualified MD or neuropsychologist integrated into the treatment. That allows a psychotherapist to use medically obtain data to offer EBT to their patients based on a team assessment. Until you have a degree that allows you to claim expertise to the workings of the human brain (or at least what we know so far), your opinion on this topic is really just that, an opinion. In the field, when we see a person having terrible difficulties in life with obvious symptoms matching the DSM, AHDH diagnoses, and then are able to turn things around after being medicated, that sounds like a biological issue that the medication straightened out. Do so,e people med seek? Sure. Do some teachers overreact because their class is to large and the don't like any disruptions? Sure. Are doctors in general too quick to right a script for it? Without a doubt. But after a person, who has displayed textbook ADHD symptoms goes through an extensive (4-8 hours) psychological assesment that reveals certain defects in frontal lobe function, attention, and memory, I'm inclined to believe somebody who is highly qualified to make that judgement than somebody who's academic degree focused mostly on theory, no biology. No offense, but this article Is just that, a theory. I suggest, before continuing to collect paydays espousing your opinion (which isn't really kosher if you are bound to any code of ethics), spend a few years studying the brain scans of this group of people. Do they resemble any normal brain? Or are the scan from people with ADHD different. If you have that date already, I apologize. Please post it to assure readers your not just another PhD who believes he has outsmarted the rest of the medical community. For now, these theories should not be taken seriously or published for an uneducated public to read and take as fact. That's certainly not ethical. Do the research - science- not more articles written by PhD's. That's an academic degree as you know, and part of grad school did not allow you to become a medical expert. For that reason, please stop spreading unproven theory as fact to the public. Keep it contained to the academic world until there's real data to back up these seemingly attention seeking claims. We have enough misinformation floating around these days. Don't be another source.

Thank you,
Dr. Kelley, M.D., Ph.D

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