Diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have surged globally, rising as much as tenfold in some countries. The disorder has become a cultural and economic phenomenon — but it may not be a medical one, according to one scientist who studies the sociology of health and illness.
“Exporting American-based diagnoses like ADHD is really exporting American behavioral norms under the guise of medicine,” Peter Conrad, professor of sociology at Brandeis University, told The Huffington Post. “With millions more kids (and adults) likely to be diagnosed with and treated for ADHD in the next decades we see the export of American behavioral norms worldwide. This may be more insidious than the globalization of American fast food or pop music, in that it comes in the name of proper mental health and behavior.”
In a paper published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, Conrad and colleague Meredith Bergey investigated the growth of ADHD diagnoses in five countries where ADHD diagnosis and treatment rates increased dramatically — the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.
In Germany, for instance, prescription ADHD drugs increased from 10 million daily doses in 1998 to 53 million in 2008. In the UK, stimulant-treatment for ADHD increased
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