Review of ADHD Nation by Alan Schwarz

My opinion? Read this book, but also the below caveat.

Picture of ADHD Nation book cover placed next to the cutest doggo, Brittany, and a coffee mug.
Morning reading with Frankie and coffee for support.

This persuasive essay is written compellingly at times. The tendency to focus on a few critical and extreme cases that confirm the primary aim of the book, which is to show how ADHD is both overdiagnosed and supported by invalid research. While the author does draw attention to what most would agree are unprofessional and unethical conflicts of interest between the primary researchers targeted in this book, it is perhaps equally interesting that, for a book so interested in proclaiming to be objective and balanced, it ignores many meta-analyses (studies of studies) that paint a slightly different picture than that of the primary aim of the book. Still, this book is worth a read, because it IS important to be critical of commercial/corporate interests driving research agendas. However, one might also ask broader questions about what lleads researchers to accept funding from private sources, which pulls on threads that are tied to how research is (or, rather, isn’t) funded. Two last and equally crucial points to bear in mind whilst reading: the 1980s was an interesting time for ADHD research because several longitudinal studies were coming out that pointed to the persistence of ADHD symptoms into adulthood, something underrepresented in Schwarz’s case study. Secondly, Schwarz dwells on what are generally understood to be unusual cases and rare side-effects (by/in the literature). While focusing on outliers is important and in fact quite telling, we also know that it skews the data and interpretations. Does this discount everything written in the book? No, definitely not. The book offers a critical history of ADHD. But it does mean, at least to this observer, that we might practice some critical thinking of our own when it comes to the claims this book makes–something that Schwarz would undoubtedly encourage us to do.