Hello to all my ADHD peeps and ADHD loved ones,
So when did stimulants become a treatment for a hyperactive disorder? A man named Charles Bradley working in East Providence, Rhode Island was working as a medical director in 1937. He was working in a hospital that was founded to treat children that had neurological impairments. Some of the kids in this hospital had emotional problems and extreme difficulty learning and controlling their behavior. These children today would have a good chance of being diagnosed with ADHD. As with all good scientific discoveries Mr. Bradley accidentally stumbled across a treatment for these individuals. Bradley was performing pneumoencephalograms in order to look at structural brain abnormalities. These would in turn cause extremely bad headaches. Bradley attempted to treat these headaches with Benzedrine which at the time was the most potent stimulant. This drug didn’t help the headaches but they ended up causing improvements in school performance and behavioral issues in some of the children. This led to Bradley starting a trial of 30 children in the hospital. Bradley, like people today, was surprised with these results Bradley states, “It appears paradoxical that a drug known to be a stimulant should produce subdued behavior in half of the children.” During the study Bradley determined that the children who benefited from the Benzedrine treatment were the children that had ADHD like symptoms.
So it looks like everything is fixed, this is going to revolutionize ADHD treatment right……… wrong. No influence on modern treatment for 25 years. You may ask why that is. We figured out how to fix something yet it doesn’t make an impact for two and a half decades. Well, during this time the Freudian Revolution is occurring. Modern day psychoanalysis is developing. We always hear about the good that psychoanalysis has created, but we don’t hear about the bad aspects from it, and this is one of those examples. If you don’t know Freud, he is the father of Western Psychology and the guy had some serious issues with his parents. If you don’t believe me look into his Oedipus complex theory… All jokes aside Freud did a lot of good and ended up helping a lot of people, but the current mental health revolution was talking and not connecting a biological basis for mental health issues.
In 1944 Leandro Panizzon creates methylphenidate better known as “Ritalin.” It starts getting mass produced in 1954 by the Geigy Pharmaceutical Company. This drug was initially used for multiple ailments including depression, narcolepsy, depressive states, and of course our all time favorite, ADHD. The most impressive results came from people that had symptoms of ADHD. This drug is still used today and is still one of the front-line drugs for chemical treatment.
By 1966 doctors had to separate symptoms that were caused by brain injury and symptoms that were caused by minimal brain dysfunction due to neurological factors. This is where we get our main three symtpoms of ADHD and they are separated and unique from other disorders. The main three are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. This created a new grouping which separated these children from children with brain damage, and their peers that were not experiencing issues with intelligence due to the three main symptoms I just discussed.