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Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

Posted by on May. 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM
Pam
  • 77 Replies

Suffer the Children

The case against labeling and medicating children, and effective alternatives for treating them

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

French children don't need medications to control their behavior.

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. 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. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.

French child psychiatrists don't use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM.According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system as a resistance to the influence of the DSM-3. This alternative was the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L'Enfant et de L'Adolescent), first released in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000. The focus of CFTMEA is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.

To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child's social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to "pathologize" much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.

The French holistic, psycho-social approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. Clinicians who work with troubled children in this country—not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child's problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children's behavior.

And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, Bringing up Bébé. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States.

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies "cry it out" if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.

French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.

Copyright © Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D.

by on May. 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM
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Replies (1-10):
SLTmom
by Silver Member on May. 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM
5 moms liked this

Hot damn, I'm a French mom, and didn't even know it.  Now, if I could only LOOK like one.....



"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief"  Gerry Spence

chelsea2007
by Member on May. 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM
4 moms liked this

 As soon as the cloud of smoke masking the American Psychological Association and their Big Pharma initiative with government investors and kickbacks, clears and everything comes full circle, our system of troubled teens, over-medicated children, and child work/sex camps in the name of psychology, will be in our history books the same as slavery, internment camps, and the like.

People who haven't taken these medications, who haven't been to these prisons, who haven't had contact with these manipulative and patronizing therapists, don't realize they are being spoon-fed poison for the sake of corporate profits. It's a business not healthcare.

Nolanzo
by Member on May. 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM
5 moms liked this
My guess would have been because they drink wine at breakfast time? Lol
UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 18, 2013 at 7:39 PM
3 moms liked this

So my ADHD is because i had a shitty mom and a shitty diet?

Well, i am a grown up now with no mom and an excellent diet. Why is my brain still messed up?

lokilover
by Bronze Member on May. 18, 2013 at 8:23 PM



Quoting chelsea2007:

 As soon as the cloud of smoke masking the American Psychological Association and their Big Pharma initiative with government investors and kickbacks, clears and everything comes full circle, our system of troubled teens, over-medicated children, and child work/sex camps in the name of psychology, will be in our history books the same as slavery, internment camps, and the like.

People who haven't taken these medications, who haven't been to these prisons, who haven't had contact with these manipulative and patronizing therapists, don't realize they are being spoon-fed poison for the sake of corporate profits. It's a business not healthcare.

1. I have taken medications before, and am fine with them.

2. Child work/sex camps? What the hell are you talking about?

candlegal
by Judy on May. 18, 2013 at 8:25 PM

My sister took her kids to the doctor to get them put in Ridelin(sp).  Her kids misbehaved but  rather than discipline them she preferred to medicate them.

Her kids are still misbehaving and they are in their 20s and 30s and she still can't deal with them.

TCgirlatheart
by TC on May. 18, 2013 at 9:01 PM
Exactly, me too! ;-)

Quoting SLTmom:

Hot damn, I'm a French mom, and didn't even know it.  Now, if I could only LOOK like one.....

stormcris
by Christy on May. 18, 2013 at 9:15 PM
2 moms liked this

The French lead an entirely different lifestyle than we do. It isn't full of stress and the motto seems to be if it makes you miserable don't do it. Since stress is a serious factor on many kids and the American environment is stressful it stands to reason that it is not merely a discipline issue. Not to mention that 4% do have ADHD so the title is misleading as is the fact that they do not diagnose ADHD under the same criteria.

However, for those that think we are merely medicating children into submission. Ritalin would make a normal child like tornado. The would be hyped up and thinking at super speed. Ritalin is not a substitute for parenting as it does nothing to correct behavior and attitude. It merely slows down a person who has this disorder so that their brain is not running 90 to nothing. This rules out the idea you can just put a child on Ritalin and have a complacent child. People who are normal abuse that drug to enhance their energy and their mental performance.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on May. 18, 2013 at 9:31 PM


Quoting UpSheRises:

So my ADHD is because i had a shitty mom and a shitty diet?

Well, i am a grown up now with no mom and an excellent diet. Why is my brain still messed up?

Where did the article say that?

chelsea2007
by Member on May. 19, 2013 at 2:41 AM

 http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/deadly-discipline-students-hurt-dying-restrained-17843767

They place ADHD children into these facilities all across the country, as well as Autistic, Bipolar, ODD... etc

 

http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/adhd/diagnosis-adhd%E2%80%94or-is-it-trauma-1

 

Deaths at psychiatric and behavioral modification centers also used for ADHD children although most of the Deaths are of children with Autism.

http://www.caica.org/NEWS%20Deaths%20List%20of%20Names%20-names%20omitted.htm

http://www.kidspeace.org/services.aspx?id=252&ekmensel=b4bf93ab_50_60_252_2

This is the website for one of the centers that killed 3 kids

 

If that's not enough, there are thousands more articles from private organizations, survivors of institutions,boot camps, psychiatric facilities, and behavioral modification centers.

 

As for the medications, effectiveness and side effects

http://www.drakeinstitute.com/content/adhd-drug-effectiveness-now-doubt

http://www.drakeinstitute.com/content/adhd-drugs-hallucinations-not-uncommon

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/02/06/ritalin-gone-right-children-medications-and-adhd/

http://www.naturalnews.com/011353_bad_medicine_psychiatric_drug.html

http://www.powells.com/biblio/031256550X

There are hundreds of books and studies done that prove these medications do more harm than good. Yes, they will make you act and feel different, but they will alter your brain's functioning in the process.

 

I am a survivor of these "residential treatment facilities" as well as several of my friends, they abuse children, rape children, torture children. I've lived it.

Quoting lokilover:

 

 

Quoting chelsea2007:

 As soon as the cloud of smoke masking the American Psychological Association and their Big Pharma initiative with government investors and kickbacks, clears and everything comes full circle, our system of troubled teens, over-medicated children, and child work/sex camps in the name of psychology, will be in our history books the same as slavery, internment camps, and the like.

People who haven't taken these medications, who haven't been to these prisons, who haven't had contact with these manipulative and patronizing therapists, don't realize they are being spoon-fed poison for the sake of corporate profits. It's a business not healthcare.

1. I have taken medications before, and am fine with them.

2. Child work/sex camps? What the hell are you talking about?

 

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