News Release

Tony Winner McDonald and Meds for Hyperactivity

The Washington Post reports Audra McDonald “made Tony history with her sixth acting win — the most of any actress ever — and the moment was epic, with huge applause and McDonald breaking down on stage crying.” She thanked her parents — “up in heaven, for disobeying the doctor’s orders and not medicating their hyperactive girl, and finding out what she was into instead, and pushing her into the theater.”

LAWRENCE DILLER, lawrence.diller at ucsf.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Diller practices behavioral/developmental pediatrics in Walnut Creek California and is on the clinical faculty of the University of California, San Francisco. His latest book is Remembering Ritalin: A Physician and Generation Rx Reflect on Life and Psychiatric Drugs. His pieces include “My Uneasy Marriage to Ritalin.”

He said today: “A pill is not the equivalent of engaging a child and too often, pills are seen as the first intervention. Now, I prescribe pills everyday, they might be useful for getting someone through a rough part of life, but other modifications need to be tried first.

“On Monday, NPR had a piece about how so many more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Like many reports on ADHD, NPR talked about it as if it were an intact entity without context. Of course amphetamines will improve your performance and the way you feel, but it is a way out of doing things like examining your life. Should I be using amphetamines to get through what is boring or difficult for me, or should I change the way I live? That’s why, after 80 years of use, the evidence such drugs have improved the quality of life for people is zero.”

“Boys have more ADHD than girls (3 to 1) while women outnumber men 60 percent to 40 percent. How can that be? A neurological disorder reverses sex ratios at 18? Clearly context is important. Children don’t have the choices that adults have. They must go to school. Adults have choices though they feel they do not. If you are a round peg trying to fit into a square educational or occupational hole it’s going to hurt. I understand how the ADHD diagnosis and treatment with amphetamine becomes an attractive drug company supported view of the problem but it’s very limited and reductionistic. Taking a look at oneself and making harder choices about important life decisions will be in the long run better for yourself.”