The ADHD Explosion — Explained In New Book

The ADHD Explosion

Everyone has an opinion about the  “ADHD Explosion”—one term for recent years’ steady increase in diagnosis rates and medication usage.

Yet, most opinions spring from the knee-jerk reaction—or an “alternative” product to peddle.

Finally, two experts have produced a lucid, logical, and highly readable guide to understanding the myriad factors behind the headlines. Everyone who cares about ADHD awareness should read The ADHD Explosion—and keep your highlighted copy nearby for handy reference.

What’s In The ADHD Explosion?

The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance begins with a solid overview of the costs of unrecognized ADHD, to individuals and society.

Next, it explores ADHD’s position “where biology meets culture.” Subsequent chapters emphasize the importance of accurate diagnosis and effective treatment (“Do it Right or Pay the Price”), examine the potential impact of educational policy in determining the variable state-to-state ADHD diagnosis rates, and hit other key highlights.

The co-authors, Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D. and Richard Scheffler, Ph.D., both professors at the University of California, Berkeley, are well-qualified both to substantiate the costs of ADHD and to dissect the confusion swirling around it.

Hinshaw, a psychologist, is a renowned ADHD researcher and the author of several books on mental illness and stigma. Scheffler is a distinguished professor of health economics and public policy.

The text is solidly readable—and contains no fluff. Of the 288 pages, 120 pages are back-of-book references.

A Favorite Chapter: ADHD and the Media

One of my favorite chapters (“ADHD and the Media: What’s Being Said and What’s Being Sold”) rightly slams stigma-promoting outlets such as The New York Times:

“During 2012, readers of the Times must have wondered about their calendars, as the content and tone of a number of influential opinion pieces and feature stories on ADHD medications.”

Hinshaw and I were guests on a 2007 segment of KQED’s nationally popular talk-radio show “Forum,” on the topic of Adult ADHD. You can listen here.


Photos From the Commonwealth Club Talk

In June 2014, I had the pleasure of attending the authors’ presentation to the Commonwealth Club of California, held in San Francisco (see photos). The room was packed, and the questions wide-ranging.

Having attended many of Dr. Hinshaw’s presentations, I remain in awe of his powerfully eloquent delivery. The field of ADHD is certainly fortunate that he chose it as a specialty.


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Stephen Hinshaw
Richard Scheffler, Ph.D, and Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D, with Gina Pera


The ADHD Explosion


The ADHD Explosion


Professional Reviews of The ADHD Explosion:

“If you think that ADHD is simply an invention of mental health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry, then The ADHD Explosion will change your mind. This book elucidates the true personal and social costs of the syndrome for children, their families, schools, and communities.”

Jeffrey E. Harris, MD PhD
Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“At a time when proposals about disability and health insurance policy have given intense focus to ADHD, it is important to have a clear sense of what the illness is, the consequences of carrying the disorder, the complex issues around the role that ADHD has taken in education and social interactions, and the opportunities for treatment of the condition. Anyone serious about tackling policy issues concerning ADHD should read this book.”

—Richard G. Frank, PhD
Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

“In their well-written and thoughtful book, Hinshaw and Scheffler provide a nuanced view of the ADHD Explosion. Provocative without being extreme, this book is thorough and sensitive, policy-relevant, and a major contribution to the literature.”

—Howard H. Goldman, MD, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore

“The authors provide a wide-ranging and extremely thoughtful assessment of the causes and consequences of ADHD. This book not only dispels many myths but also offers a tangible path forward for children, their parents, and governments.”

Thomas Rice, PhD
Distinguished Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health


More links related to The ADHD Explosion:



26 thoughts on “The ADHD Explosion — Explained In New Book”

  1. I was diagnosed way too late… If I only knew then what I know now. Very sad to go through so much pain and not know why until the best day ever when I could say, I knew it! What bothers me the most is how some people think it is just an excuse… I wish! Thank god I stumbled upon this web site it’s where my coping strategies all started. Thank you

  2. Betty Fleeman

    The comment that I hear most often and that also drives me nuts is that ADHD is not real, that it is just a bias toward normal boy behavior and medication is not really needed. I want to yell at them. So many people spout off about something they know absolutely nothing about, giving very decided medical opinions when they do not have any training and have never lived with ADHD.

    1. So true, Betty. But yet I have observed that sometimes the most virulent and vocal ADHD critics themselves have it, and are deeply, resentfully in “denial.”

  3. What I get is “We all do that from time to time,t(meaning forgetfulness procrastination, daydreaming ect…) what makes you think your different? A.D.D, is a cop out for laziness, your’e not hyper how could you possibly have ADHD”
    Note: No matter how much I try to explain that I have inattentive type ADHD my loved ones just don’t get it.

  4. 120 pages of references? That’s really impressive, especially when it’s hard to find a book that can properly cite a dozen sources!

    The worst misconception I think I’ve ever heard about ADHD is that it is a gift and that I should be glad that I have it. And the worst part is, I understand why I was told this: people think my creativity and my intelligence comes from the fact that I have ADHD. I’m fairly certain that this is not the case. While my low distraction threshold may contribute to the fact that my class notes were always more drawing than note, I really don’t appreciate being told that I couldn’t draw if I wasn’t distractable. I can draw just fine when I’m on my medication, thank you, and in fact I draw more detailed and refined pictures. And the idea that my intelligence is inextricable from my inability to hold onto a thought sounds straight out of 1984. (I read that entire book holding out for a happy ending. I got disappointment.) Creativity and intelligence are not the same thing as having a hundred thoughts per minute– they require that you can hang on to a thought long enough to do something with it.

    ADHD is not a gift, or at least not the gift that I’ve been told it is. It is not without its upsides; people think my absent-mindedness and rapid-fire way of speaking is funny and cute, like some manic-pixie-dream-girl out of a movie. I like being told that I’m funny and cute. But manic-pixie-dream-girls only function in movies, where there’s some well-grounded, usually wealthy leading man with endless patience to take care of them. These pixie girls don’t have to worry about paying off their debts or keeping a job or passing a test, and the same quirky behaviors that are adorable on the screen can really strain a relationship in real life. That, and it’s really exhausting to constantly try and spin your failings as funny and/or cute when they cause so much stress and sorrow.

  5. I think the one gets me the most, especially after opening up to someone about it, is, “Oh, everyone has ADHD…”


  6. The misconception that ADD looks the same in everyone is still quite prevalent. A loved one can recommend a book such as Gina’s, for example, and after reading a few pages the individual with ADD can point out how they do not behave like those described. This misconception leads to confusion in diagnosing ADD in girls, and in boys with ADD rather than ADHD. It is the cause of denial in those who cannot and will not acknowledge how their symptoms can undermine the health of the whole family.

    But one of the worst is the characterization of “lazy” by the immediate family, parents and siblings. Fifty years ago there was no talk of ADD, so those who had ADD suffered in silence not realizing why they failed at things that mattered to them. Building the foundation for denial, emotional cutoff, and fear of intimacy. And this pain is passed to the next generation, because of the denial. So tragic.


    Would love to read this book. What I hear the most is that ADHD doesn’t exist. People just need to be more self-disciplined. Yeah, right. I wish it were that easy.

  8. I think the misconception that people with ADD/ADHD are bouncing off the walls all the time….that’s my favorite! It’s been hard through my PhD, but I probably space out more than jump around 😉

  9. Worst misconception I’ve heard is “oh but ADHD isn’t real, it’s just bad behaviour, you need to discipline your child harder!”

    I wish more people would take the time to educate themselves on things before they make wild, unsubstantiated claims. I wasn’t diagnosed until 37 and am finally learning to understand myself and why I do the things I do…finally everything makes sense! I’m also better equipped to help my child negotiate the path of ADHD, I can advocate for her, I can fight for her, because I understand her.

  10. I recently went to counseling because of all of the problems I was causing in our marriage. As much as I wanted ‘fix’ things, there always seemed to be this ‘disconnect’. Fortunately, unknown to me, my counselor is an ADHD expert who found out 25 years ago – he had ADHD. I’m 58 and have had a life time of adapting to my ADHD which includes behaviors not good for our marriage. My wife, while open, still wonders if “it is just an excuse” to cover for behavior. This is the big misconception – that ADHD is an excuse. For me, finding out the truth was liberating as it now gave me a basis to work from to improve behavior. I now can operate out of truth – I have a disability – and not out of frustration. With truth, I can finally be ‘really responsible’. So, I’m 2 weeks into knowing this and all of the material I have read confirm that I’m reading my life story. I can now look back into my childhood and see glimpse of ADHD – however, the glimpse doesn’t still convince my wife who thinks I may be Narcissistic, Compulsive, Impulsive, passive and all of the other ‘ive’ one could think of – individual behaviors instead of one big disability.

  11. Leslie Hanson

    The most amazing thing I have ever heard anyone say was that they “don’t believe in ADHD”. Gosh, I had no idea if I just stop believing I had ADHD it would go away!

  12. My best comment was sitting at the table with some family members, a large percentage of ADD’ers.
    The conversation was about ADD and it’s effect on spouses.
    When one of my family members with major ADD who is also a marriage counselor for over 20 years, said his ADD does not effect his wife, the look his wife gave was so great, and proved the point better than any study that is written.

    ADD is the most interesting beast!
    You can have it, you can treat it, and you can still not have a clue about it!!!!

  13. “ADHD is a deficit of attention.”
    I am going to buy the book.

    I would also love to have a free copy to give away to any person who stereotypes ADHD individuals, to the point that the label overshadows the interest of “helping” them. I have seen more than one “helper” that fits this profile.
    I can best describe this in terms “caretaker over help seeker” rather than a “help provider” and/or friend.

    Thanks for all you do.

  14. As a soon to be divorced wife of a husband with ADHD, I am so thankful for each person working to better understand the mental illness. They couldn’t be more right when they say that if undiagnosed there is a price to pay. The more we talk, understand, and help people with ADD perhaps their will be fewer broken families and more healthy people and communities. Thanks to the authors and to Gina who keep the good fight so amazingly eloquent.

  15. One thing I hear is people are using it on problem children so they don’t have to be parents.

    But isn’t it like giving the child coffee and sugar if the child does not have ADHD?


    PS – Winning that book would be awesome!

  16. What … no comments/entries yet? I’ll get it started.

    There are so many “dumb things (that too many) people believe about ADHD” … but they’re all so intertwined, it’s hard to pin down one without ending up telling a too-long/complex story. Where to begin?

    1) That ADHD is a singular condition with a singular solution. In our experience, it’s as individual as the person … and requires deft diagnosis and medication dose-determination and monitoring — along with environmental, non-medical protocols — to “treat” so the person can learn to focus, mature and be effective, productive and, most important, happy and self-confident.

  17. Heather Thompson

    Probably one of the things that surprises me the most is that some people think that people with ADD/ADHD can NEVER sit and focus on any one task for a large quantity of time. This is totally untrue. If it is a task that they have a interest in they can actually hyper focus for long periods of time. My daughter will sit and draw for hours but if she has to do a math problem she can’t stay still and focused for more then a couple minutes.

  18. G,
    With an interesting endorsement like that I confess I can’t wait to read it! The most wrong headed statement: ADHD does not exist because none of my clients are hyperactive. Seriously – Duh! If I don’t win, not a prob, give it to another deserving soul… I will get it and write a review as well. Thanks for sending this excellent post out!
    Author: New ADHD Medication Rules – Brain Science & Common Sense

  19. Janet DaPrato

    The most wrong-headed but oft-repeated opinion about ADHD is that a kid diagnosed with it has an intelligence deficit and never go to college. Both my ADHD sons completed college and one has his doctorate!

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