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Simpson, D. (2001). The AD/HD Handbook By Alison Munden and John Arcelus. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley. Pp. 160.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 15(1):85-88.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 15(1):85-88

The AD/HD Handbook By Alison Munden and John Arcelus. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley. Pp. 160.

Review by:
David Simpson

The term Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is used to describe people who have great difficulty sustaining attention, controlling their impulses and keeping still. It is estimated that between one and three per cent of children and adolescents have this condition, although the prevalence varies considerably, this being partly explained by differences in diagnostic criteria. In the USA it has been estimated that one child in every hundred receives a doctor's diagnosis and treatment, usually with drugs similar to amphetamine. Boys outnumber girls three-to-one.

AD/HD is a very emotive subject. In the USA, the accusation is of over-diagnosis; and in the UK of under-diagnosis. Many, like the authors of this book, believe that one in ten children who could benefit from treatment actually receive it.

As a psychoanalyst and practising child psychiatrist who has treated children like this with drugs, I approached this book with interest and trepidation. AD/HD evokes powerful and extreme polarisations of attitudes in parents and professionals. At one extreme there are ‘the believers’ who not only recognise AD/HD as an entity requiring medication but have a missionary zeal, eradicating doubt, and only listening to other true believers. At the other extreme there are ‘those firmly against’, who not only do not recognise the disorder, but view medication as maltreatment. Those who attempt to look into this problem in the spirit of enquiry are spurned by both sides.


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