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Generation Ritalin

Sobering op-ed in the New York Times on the side effects of “accelerated” development becoming the new normal. Bronwen Hruska concludes “We’re juicing our kids for school.”

Like the teachers, we didn’t want Will to “fall through the cracks.” But what I’ve found is that once you start looking for a problem, someone’s going to find one, and attention deficit has become the go-to diagnosis, increasing by an average of 5.5 percent a year between 2003 and 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 8.4 percent, or 5.2 million children, between the ages of 3 and 17 had been given diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

What I didn’t know at the time is that there’s no clinical test for it: doctors make diagnoses based on subjective impressions from a series of interviews and questionnaires. Now, in retrospect, I understand why the statistics are so high.

And

One afternoon, Will told me that during reading period he forgot to talk to his friends. “Everything got really quiet,” he explained. “It was like I was inside the book.” It was what his teachers had wanted. What we’d wanted. For the medication to focus him.

I should have been elated that the problem was so simple to fix. But I wasn’t. I couldn’t help wondering why forgetting to talk to his friends was a good thing and why we were drugging him to become a good student.