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Harvard Psychologist Believes ADHD Doesn’t Really Exist

Harvard Psychologist Believes ADHD Doesn’t Really Exist

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Jerome Kagan is not only a professor at Harvard, one of the most prestigious universities; he also is considered one of the world’s best psychologists. He was named the 22nd most eminent psychologist of the 20th century.

Yet, Kagan does not believe one of the most diagnosed mental health conditions in existence is a real condition. Kagan does not think ADHD exists. What?

That’s right; Kagan put out a statement saying that his position on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is that it is a complete hoax. Kagan’s proclamation has stirred controversy in the mental health community. Psychologist and other medical professionals have gone on the offensive, attempting to argue and discredit Kagan’s statements.

Still, Kagan is stern in his thoughts:

“…(ADHD) is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million (ADHD-diagnosed) kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.” – Jerome Kagan, Psychologist, and Professor at Harvard University

Kagan’s criticism is that the pharmaceutical industry is acquiring excessive amounts of profit from the sale of prescription drugs and this is creating a whole host of problems.

First, he says physicians financially benefit from promoting and prescribing certain medications. This incentive encourages them to prescribe more of these medications rather than recommend natural alternatives. Conditions begin to become over diagnosed because physicians want to earn supplementary income. Some doctors receive hundreds of thousands of dollars just for working with the pharmaceutical industry. In Kagan’s view, he believes this is both an immoral and corruptive practice.

Second, pharmaceutical companies have a significant influence on the political process. “Big Pharma” spends upwards of billions of dollars lobbying politicians to get what they want. Kagan believes this is contributing to the corruption within Washington D.C and elsewhere.

Finally, Kagan says more money flows to the psychologist, psychiatrists, and others who conduct research on conditions such as ADHD which results in more diagnosis and prescriptions. Kagan does not exempt these professions from criticism.

The Problem of Misdiagnosis and Over-diagnosis

According to Kagan, “If you do interviews with children and adolescents aged 12 to 19, then 40 percent can be categorized as anxious or depressed. But if you take a close look and ask how many of them are seriously impaired by this, the number shrinks to 8 percent.”

Kagan continues to elaborate using depression as an example. He believes that not everyone who exhibits symptoms of a condition has a mental health problem. Some children are a “bit” prone to unpredictability.

According to the Center for Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.” Kagan makes the argument that children diagnosed with the condition are children not doing well in school.

“Who’s being diagnosed with ADHD? Children who aren’t doing well in school. It never happens to children who are doing well in school. So what about tutoring instead of teaching?”

Kagan’s Answer

Kagan believes mental health professions must shift their approach for diagnosing ADHD, depression, anxiety and other disorders. His solution is that mental health professionals should make diagnose the same way doctors do: by looking at the causes, and not just the symptoms. When it comes to children, Kagan thinks, even more, attention should be taken since they lack the ability to explain themselves fully.

Kagan makes no illusion that it will be an easy task. When confronted with criticism that mental illnesses are an invention of Big Pharma and others. Kagan goes on the offensive.

“There are mentally ill people who need help. A person who buys two cars in a single day and the next day is unable to get out of bed has a bipolar disorder…There are people who, either for prenatal or inherited reasons, have serious vulnerabilities in their central nervous system that predispose them to schizophrenia, bipolar disease, social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. We should distinguish these people…”

In other words, Kagan believes that those who administer brain-altering drugs need to search a bit deeper.

Should the mental health industry reflect on Kagan’s thoughts? What are your thoughts? Mental illnesses continue to be stigmatized. However, it is important we look at all sides involved to determine the best approach to treating these conditions.   If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness, substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

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10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

10 Distorted Forms of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Recently, my therapist revealed I have a catastrophizing form of thinking. Essentially, I overanalyze everything and believe something will go wrong one way or another. This negative type of thinking results in anxiety when even the smallest things go wrong, which ultimately results in more things going wrong. Needless to say, it is a horrible cycle.

Still, the realization had me pondering other forms of irrational thinking people have. How do other negative ways of thinking affect people’s life? Cognitive psychologists pay very close attention to what is known as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are our mind’s way of convincing us of something that is not true. These distorted thoughts reinforce our negative thoughts and emotions. We tell ourselves things we believe sound rational and accurate, but in reality, they only make us feel bad about ourselves.

For example, a person might tell themselves, “I always fail when I try to do something new; therefore  I fail at everything I try.”

Honestly, these thoughts might be grounded in truth. Maybe this person has tried many things and HAS failed at many of them, but that does not mean they will fail at everything. That is an all or nothing mentality. People who think this way hesitate to do anything and feel worthless as a result. This form of thinking is known as overgeneralization—because you failed at x, y and z, you automatically will fail at a, b and c. It is self-deprecating and destructive in the long term.

Therapists try to understand their client’s way of thinking so that they can help them change their thinking in the future. Chances are, we have reinforced our thinking patterns over and over again for years, and some of us need help replacing our negative thought patterns with more rational, balanced ones.

10 Cognitive Distortions Holding You Back

  1. Filtering

    Filtering is when you take the negative details and magnify them while filtering the positive aspects of the situation. For example, you get a flat tire on the way to an event, and you decide to focus on that one negative aspect of the day that went wrong, rather than all the positive events that occurred afterward. Dwelling on these negative occurrences causes our vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

  2. “Black and White” Thinking

    This form of thinking is also known as all-or-nothing thinking. Either you go to the gym seven days a week, or you sit on the couch all week.  Either you work on something every day until it is perfect, or you do not do it at all. The “must be perfect” mentality does not work because no one is perfect. People who have black-or-white thinking lack the ability to see shades of gray. Every situation or performance must go perfect, or you are a failure. The concept of balance is difficult for a person with this style of distorted thinking to understand.

  1. Overgeneralizations

    Overgeneralization thinking focuses on the past rather than the future. For example, if the first time you tried pizza, it was bad, that means all pizza is bad. If the first time you tried flirting, you were rejected, that means you will always be rejected. If the first time you take any risk, you fail, then you will always fail. This form of thinking relies on a single incident or piece of evidence that we cling on to validate never doing that particular thing again. However, this only reinforces a never-ending pattern of defeat.

  2. Jumping to Conclusions

    You meet someone, and they are in a bad mood, and you automatically think they are mad at you.  You must have done something, right?  Perhaps your friend has not called you in weeks, so you assume they are ignoring you. Jumping to conclusions means you automatically assume the worse scenario when something out of the ordinary, or negative happens. You do not bother finding out the truth; you just make a conclusion on your own. This form of thinking is destructive because it relies on assumptions and not facts.

  3. Catastrophizing

    When we catastrophize, we expect the worse no matter what. We always question the what-ifs in life rather than remain in the present. This is also known as “magnifying or minimizing.” An example is when planning a trip; you think of every possible thing that could go wrong before the journey begins. Ex: “What if my flight delays?,” “What if I forget my passport?”, “What if tragedy strikes?” Everyone catastrophizes once in a while, but in excess, it can prevent you from doing anything you want in life.

  4. The Fallacy of Fairness

    In this form of thinking, you feel resentful because you do good things, yet do not get what you think is “fair” in return. For example, you volunteer to help your friend with an errand, however when you have an errand to run, she is not available. People who have this form of thinking keep track of everything and use measurements for every situation. Example: I did this for you, so I expect the same in return. The problem with this form of thinking is that life is not always fair, and you should not waste energy keeping track of every good deed you do. Learn to make sacrifices without expecting favors in return.

  5. Blaming

    You hold other people responsible for your pain. Example: “You are making me feel bad about myself!” or “I feel insecure when I am around you.” The problem with this form of thinking is nobody can make you feel a certain way. Your response to a situation comes from your experience and emotions. Blaming the outside world for your emotions is not an effective way of controlling them.

  6. Emotional Reasoning

    This style of thinking means everything you feel about yourself must be true. It is the ultimate “I think. Therefore I am” mentality. If you feel stupid and depressed, then you must be stupid and depressed. You assume your unhealthy emotions define who you are as a person. This form of thinking is harmful because our emotions do not define us. Our emotions are a state that we can alter and change.

  7. Global Labeling

    This form of thinking involves labeling ourselves or other people because of an error or mistake. For example, you fail a math test, so automatically you are a loser. If you went over budget on a project, you are obviously irresponsible. This negative form of thinking is self-destructive. Furthermore, people who have this form of irrational thinking tend to judge others harshly. When they see another person make an error on a particular task, they label the person as a loser. This form of thinking is unhealthy because making mistakes does not automatically make you or anyone a loser or failure.

  8. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

    A person with this type of thinking always feels unappreciated. When you do well, you feel like people should comment on how well you are doing. If they do not notice, then you feel less inclined to work as hard. You expect the sacrifices you make to be recognized and rewarded. If you do not get the reaction you want, you get bitter. The problem with this form of thinking is that you rely on other people to stay motivated. Instead, you should understand that not all our sacrifices will pay off. No one is keeping score. You should work on motivating yourself rather than waiting on others to motivate you.

Cognitive distortions are not healthy because they rely on a distorted, irrational way of thinking. Learning to understand your style of thinking will help you shift your negative thoughts. Awareness is critical.  If you are struggling with any of these types of thinking, we can guide you.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

All About the High Functioning Addict

 

 All About the High Functioning Addict

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

You wake up at 8 a.m. sharp, jump in the shower, eat breakfast, watch the morning news and go to work. You come home from work, spend time with family, kiss your spouse and go to bed at 9 p.m. On the outside; you look like a person who has it all together. However, on the inside, you are battling an addiction and are too afraid to admit you have a problem. Besides, everything seems to be going fine, right?

Sound familiar?

If the above sounds like you, you are a functioning addict. The functioning addict looks like the average person. They are not homeless, nor are they unemployed. Most people are unaware they even have a problem. They might be excelling at work, and paying their bills on time. However, on the inside, they are constantly thinking about where their next high will come from. This is the addict that lives next door.

Unfortunately, the stigma of drug addiction leaves most with imagery of a homeless, dirty beggar.  Many assume a drug addict has to be homeless, incarcerated or in poor physical health. However, as most of us know by now, this is far from the case. The prescription painkiller epidemic has shifted the image of the average drug addict from a person on the streets to the everyday member of society. An addict comes in many faces. It could be your next door neighbor, the stay-at-home mom, or even the doctor or well-regarded priest. Addiction crosses all areas of society.

About the High-Functioning Addict

If you are a functioning addict, you are less likely to get help for your addiction because you believe you have your addiction under control. On top of that, most will not believe your addiction is real. However, the reality is your addiction is very real and very dangerous. While you might be able to keep your addiction secret, in the beginning, things will eventually get worse. Eventually, your addiction will become unmanageable.

The truth is, it can happen to anyone. In 2011, Whoopi Goldberg of the television show, The View, confessed:

“I was a functioning drug addict; I showed up for work because I knew a lot of people would be out of work and I wouldn’t get a check that I needed to buy my drugs.”

A statement like this is all too common for the functioning addict. They know they need to keep working to keep their addiction alive. If the paychecks dwindle, the “functioning” part of their addiction will soon fall apart.

Addiction: The Real Definition

Addiction has little to do with your ability to keep your life together. Addiction is addiction whether your families or friends believe you have a problem. Addiction does not depend on your work status or your relationship with your family. While the fall of these things typically results on an addict finally getting treatment, addiction does not depend on these factors falling apart.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease caused by substance use and abuse. This substance use results in changes in the brain that make it very difficult for a person to control their desire to use, and therefore control their substance use.

Just like any addict, a high functioning addict has a compulsive need to use and abuse their d.o.c (drug of choice). Even though you might be able to maintain your relationship, friendship, and occupation, you still have a serious problem. If left unaddressed, you can suffer serious health consequences and your addiction will eventually become too consuming to hide any longer.

Could It Be Me?

If you think you might be a functioning drug addiction, look at the following questions and answer them honestly. If you find you are having more “yes” answers than no’s, the time is now to talk to a professional about your addiction.

  • When you start drinking or using, do you find it hard to stop?
  • Do you often think about using drugs or drinking?
  • Do you schedule your time around drinking or using drugs?
  • Have you tried to stop before, but found that you were unable to?
  • Do you drink or use drugs at work?
  • Do you drink or use drugs first thing in the morning?
  • Do you hide your abuse from others?
  • Have you done something risky, like driven drunk?
  • Are you worried about your abuse?

If you are a high-functioning addict, chances are you worry about seeking treatment because you fear it might cost you your job, family, or both. However, there are various options that can be discussed with your treatment center and job to negotiate a plan that works best for you.

Remember, there is no cookie-cutter type for an addict. Addicts come from all walks of life and income brackets. They vary in race, religion and sexuality. Every addict deserves to live a life free from addiction. Hiding from addiction will never help you beat addiction. Stand up and face your addiction today. The time is now. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

 

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

Are Creative Individuals More at Risk for Addiction?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

The list of talented people who have struggled with addiction is incredibly long. It would take way too much time to list them all. Do creativity and addiction correlate with one another? Are creative individuals more likely to be addicts? That controversial question has been debated for decades.

For the most part, researchers have concluded that people whose abuse substances are not more creative or more successful as a result. Neuroscientist, David Linden of Johns Hopkins University, declared in an interview that there was not a connection between creativity and addiction. He stated that suggesting otherwise confuses coincidence with cause.

Addiction is a disease, not a shortcut to success. When looking at famous writers who were alcoholics, like Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, it is easy to assume that alcohol helped fuel their creative process. However, this is just a perception. Creativity does not stem from substance abuse, nor should substances be the source of your creativity.

Substance Abuse = Source of Creativity?

Dependence on drugs and alcohol should not be the source of your creativity. We should not glorify substance abuse as a means to creativity. In the book, “The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ,”  author, David Shenk states extraordinary talent and achievement come from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn.” Essentially, your creativity and intelligence come from your inner will to succeed along with the role models and guidance you have in your life. Behind every successful talent is a teacher, coach or motivator pushing them along.

The problem is highly creative people find their minds are overwhelmed with data streaming in and out of their consciousness. The average person has a cognitive filter that filters this information as a means to survival.  The creative person, however, does not have this filter.  Highly creative people let more of this data in their mind. Therefore, they need to process and organize the increased information flow in untypical ways.

Unfortunately, because creative people think outside of the box and look at the world differently, they look at rules differently.  The term for this trait is cognitive disinhibition which an article describes as “the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival.”

The “rules are meant to be broken” mentality both produces creativity and creates destructiveness.  Creativity can result in risky behavior. It is risky because creative people justify their creative behavior when they create while using substances.

“Mind Expanding” Substances

Famous artists were thought to be more brilliant because of their liberal use of “mind expanding substances.”  However, time and time again, it has been proven that creative people are able to maintain their creativity without substances. Those in recovery find that their mind is clearer, making them more able to follow through on their natural creative impulses.

On the contrary, long-term substance abuse can permanently damage creativity. Extended drug use can affect the brain damaging it in ways that may not even be recoverable even after years of sobriety. Scary, isn’t it?
The first time a creative person abuses drugs or alcohol, they may find they can express themselves better. This may cause them to believe they “need” these substances to be creative. However, reactions like this are temporary. Also, creative people may be using substances to self-medicate mental health issues they have not addressed professionally.

Why Are Creativity and Addiction So Prevalent?

Now that we know there is not a direct link between substance abuse and creativity, why do so many creative geniuses deal with addiction? Most of this has to do with the genetics and traits that make someone predisposed to addiction. Those same traits are a prerequisite for creativity.

Studies reveal that 40 percent of addiction is genetically predetermined. While family history is no guarantee that someone will have a problem, there is a strong connection between the two. There are several genes involved in addiction risk. Experts have not identified them all, however, the ones we are currently aware of affect the release of the happy chemical dopamine.

Dopamine Depletion?

Addicts tend to feel pleasure weaker than the average person. Because of this, addicts abuse substances in an attempt to achieve the same level of happiness that others feel natural. There may not be a direct link between drug addiction or mental illness and creativity, but science hints at a connection between substance abuse and traits that are a prerequisite for creativity. A low-functioning dopamine system can make a person more likely to misuse substance and engage in risk-taking, novelty-seeking compulsions.

This same low-functioning dopamine system relates to creativity. Individuals who have struggled with releasing happy chemicals  their whole life may latch on to creative outlets like music, art, and writing to help re-generate that dopamine and process information better.

Overall, your risk for addiction is up to you. You have a choice to use healthier outlets to compensate for genetic factors that may put you at risk for substance abuse. Creativity should not have to be fueled by addiction. You have the ability to be a creative person without the use of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. 

6 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World

6 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

With the countless tragedies and worldwide violence that have been in the news lately, it is easy for many to feel overwhelmed by the negativity in the world. You may find it difficult to be positive in the midst of it all. The good news is you do not have to let it affect you. You can refocus your thinking to be more positive and generate energy to be a part of the solution. Despite all the tragedies going on in the world, there are still so much to enjoy about being alive. In your recovery, it is important to remember to stay active and seek support if you find yourself struggling.

Personally, I know directing too much of my attention to the news can be very unhealthy for my well-being. Instead, being proactive has been a much more positive way of handling things. Find out how you can help, donate and support a cause you are passionate about. Being proactive can be a much better solution than dwelling on the sadness of the world. Although grieving is natural, focusing too much on the news can leave you with a tremendous amount of weight on your shoulders.

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” – Goi Nasu

While there is a lot of negativity in the world, you don’t have to let it affect you. Instead, you can turn your attention to a more uplifting reality and try to make an impact. Send out the energy you wish to receive, and negativity will not be able to attach itself to your spirit.

6 WAYS TO STAY POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD:

  1. SPEND TIME WITH LOVING PEOPLE WHO BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU.
    With all that is in the media, it can be easy to forget the good people you have in your life. Remember the people in your life who support you and bring your best self to light. If you do not have a supportive network of individuals in your life, it may be time to reevaluate your friendships. Find people that will remind you of the good left in the world.
  2. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND CELEBRATE THE GOOD.
    News and social media make it easy to forget about the good that is going on in your life. You may feel there is not much to smile about. Still, despite the circumstances outside of our control, there is plenty to be grateful for. Smile because you have the ability to contribute to society and celebrate the good in your life. Wake up every morning and make a list of what you are grateful for.
  3. LIMIT NEGATIVE MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT.
    “The news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then tell you why it isn’t.” – Robert Orben
    Often, the news and social media bombard us with bad news.  The media can portray the world in a very shallow, depressing way. Latching on to this perception can be easy. Remember, the news is only showing you the major events occurring in the world, and often this is not good. Try going on websites that focus on sharing positive news stories, or watch motivational videos on YouTube. Limit your exposure to news and social media and increase your exposure to more positive uplifting messages.
  4. PRACTICE “FLIPPING YOUR FOCUS”.
    Instead of focusing on the dark parts of the world, focus on the things that make your feel light instead. Focus on your favorite activities and positive aspects of life. Take time to look at the bigger picture and your long-term goals. Often, the world is only as dark as we make it out to be and it takes a moment of clarity to shift your focus.
  5. LAUGH MORE OFTEN!
    A shocking study revealed children laugh as much as 200 times a day while the average adult laughs four times a day. When is the last time you had a good laugh? If you have not laughed in a while, watch a funny clip on YouTube or do something silly with friends. Despite the darkness of the world, the world presents plenty of opportunities to laugh. Laughter really can be the best medicine.
  6. DISCONNECT FROM THE WORLD AND ENJOY SOME QUIET TIME ALONE.
    It can be very healthy to spend time alone in a peaceful place. Turn off your phone for a while, meditate and embrace some personal solitude. Try not to over think on the negative and instead, take life day by day. Take time alone to center yourself. Avoid over-thinking and get away from life’s responsibilities, even if it is just for a while.

In recovery, it is important to remember to focus on your personal journey. Do not let outside negativity take you away from living life to the fullest. If you are struggling to overcome the negativity in your head, we are here to help.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

 

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