Adieu To France’s Abusive Treatment of Autism

France autism

You thought ADHD awareness in France was bad? Well, it is. But in France, autism awareness and treatment might be worse—or at least better documented.

Two documentaries and a former French-trained psychoanalyst call out hidebound thinking that, for example, blames autism on the mother. The predominating French psychoanalytic theory—as opposed to evidence-based science—cuts across all psychiatric conditions. That means millions of French citizens do not get the help they deserve.

We know that ADHD largely goes unrecognized in France. (See my recent post: French Kids Don’t Have ADHD? Wrong). We know little about what ADHD might be misdiagnosed  as—and therefore poorly treated or even made worse. It’s safe to assume that remaining problems here, mistaking ADHD for anxiety, depression, bipolar and the like, are an order of magnitude more problematic in France.

By contrast, we know much more about how  autism is “treated” in France. In fact, we should say “maltreated.”

Treatment of Autism Condemnable

The French establishment’s substandard treatment of autism is condemnable, according to the Council of Europe (Autisme France et Europe) in 2004.

More recently, in 2018, an article in France Culture had similar complaints (Autism in France: four plans in thirteen years and ever more expectations). 

Excerpt (Google translation):

 In terms of autism policy, the situation is unworthy of our Republic, despite three successive plans “, recently admitted to the National Assembly the Secretary of State for disabled people Sophie Cluzel. The families concerned are too often exposed to an ” obstacle course ” and ” France is far behind many OECD countries in terms of research “, she underlined, highlighting the consultation launched by the head of the state in person. Since last July, this consultation has taken place ” in the territories, mobilizing, for the first time, autistic people ” and ” families “.

Later in this post, you’ll learn about the lingering influence of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. When you do, remember this quotation from the France Culture article, a sign that the psychoanalysts are not conceding to 21st Century science easily:

The Lacanian psychoanalyst Charles Melman speaks of ” a catastrophic plan,” which “responds to the idea that autism is linked to a congenital malformation and that it can only be answered by assistance. has no convincing scientific or medically sound argument in support of this thesis. ” He even appealed to the Council of State on behalf of the International Lacanian Association.

In This Post:

In this post, you’ll learn about this shocking situation from several angles—and draw your own conclusions about what might be happening with ADHD:

  1. Film snippets from and commentary about two films documenting the deplorable situation for people with autism living in France
  2. A transcript in English of one of the documentaries: Le Mur  (be sure to check out the comments from the lady holding the toy crocodile)
  3. An insightful guest essay from a French Psychoanalytic School “defector,” Stuart Schneiderman, author of several books, including The Last Psychoanalyst
  4. An archival video of the massively influential figure behind much of the “philosophy” permeating French culture, including psychiatry: Jacques Lacan.  Critics have called him “The Shrink from Hell” and “an amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan.”

My goal with this post is to impress upon anyone you might share it with:

  • Baseless are the claims made by a therapist in Los Angeles that “French Kids Don’t Have ADHD.” (My post: French Kids Don’t Have ADHD?  Wrong)
  • We should support the ADHD community in France—and counter at every opportunity ignorant, sensationalizing take-all-comers Psychology Today articles about it.
  • I hope France can keep its centuries-old prized traditions around food production and cultivation, its castles and villages. Even psychoanalysis surely has its place. But the 21st Century must come to French psychiatry. Human decency demands it.

France autism
Autism in France:

Background & Two Documentaries

Decades ago in the U.S., the mothers of children with autism were commonly blamed for their child’s condition. They were called “refrigerator mothers,” whose lack of nurture and love toward the child resulted in autism. Fortunately, U.S. medical science has stepped into the 21st Century and recognized autism as a complex and variable neurobiological condition.

Today in France, however, children and adults with autism are viewed through a shockingly archaic psychoanalytic lens. As a result, they are essentially neglected. It is as if  the entire country had not received the memo: “The brain is an organ, not a philosophical abstract construct to be debated over Gauloises in smoky coffee houses.”

Le Mur: Psychoanalysis Put To the Test of Autism

A moving film exposes France’s shockingly backward psychiatric system:   Le Mur—in English, The Wall, Psychoanalysis Put to the Test of Autism.

[advertising; not endorsement] [advertising; not endorsement]

The documentary, via interviews with French experts explaining their approach to children with autism,  shows very clearly the disgraceful state in which these children languished.  How could it be any other way, when these analysts view autism as a psychosis resulting from a bad maternal relationship (among other fantastical factors). It all harkens back to the dark days of psychiatrists blaming “refrigerator mothers” for a child’s autism.  (Vagina dentata? Seriously?)

Some of the film’s interview subjects sued Sophie Robert, the documentary’s creator. They claimed she took their words out of context.  But you can read a fairly accurate transcript of the film’s subtitles at Psychoanalytic treatment for autism: Interviews with French analysts.

Though Robert lost the first lawsuit, she won on appeal, and the film has been newly made available in its full form after being partially censored while the lawsuits were pending.

“Parents, It’s Your Fault”

Here is a trailer for another documentary about autism in France: Shameful.
Consider this excerpt from an interview with the film’s makers at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:

How is psychoanalysis being used in treatment?

“Treatment” is not the right term, because it makes it sound like it is something legitimate. These people don’t seem to see a difference between autism and psychosis; they believe that Autism is a psychosis.

You don’t have to have any license or degree, you just need to get into a group [of thought, e.g. Freud, Lacan] with other psychoanalysts and you can have an operating practice and say you are a psychoanalyst. It is completely unregulated.

They are telling mothers and fathers that it is their fault, and parents are clearly not happy.

These psychoanalysts have many competing theories which include absurd things, like the positions, about the way the parents had sex (during conception). And almost anything they say will contradict the next thing they say. [the version of psychoanalysis that is most prevalent in France is the post-Freudian school associated with Jacques Lacan. The underlying notions are that autism and other mental health problems are caused by a disturbance in the child’s relationship with their mothers, or by “maternal madness.” These theories have been rejected the world over in the last twenty years.

Opinion: Autism and French Psychoanalysis

Reprinted with permission. First posted Saturday, January 21, 2012, at the author’s blog, Had Enough Therapy?

By Stuart Schneiderman

Stuart Schneiderman on French PsychiatryIn America, Freudian psychoanalysis is on life support. At best, it is a charming relic of a bygone age.

In France, psychoanalysis is alive and well. Thanks to Jacques Lacan, nearly all French psychiatrists have suffered the influence of Freudian psychoanalysis.

While France has never stinted on psychiatric medication, the dominant modes of psychological treatment for mental illness all involve some version of Freudian psychoanalysis.

French psychoanalysis is a hermeneutically sealed world where presumably intelligent people spin out narratives that pretend to tell you all you ever wanted to know about human behavior.

Most of the time the analysts do not pretend that their theoretical fabulations produce good clinical results. The more sophisticated among them do not even believe in clinical results.

The Dark Side of French Psychoanalysis

Some of you may know that I have more than a passing familiarity with the French psychoanalytic scene. I was a part of it for many years. Two decades ago I departed from it. I have been warning people away from it ever since and make no claim to objectivity here.

I mention this to preface an amazing story, one that shows the dark side of French psychoanalysis. It has caused considerable chagrin in the French psychoanalytic community.

Two days ago The New York Times (“A French Film Takes Issue With the Psychoanalytic Approach to Autism”, 1/19/12) reported on the controversy that has erupted around a documentary film produced by one Sophie Robert.

Robert decided to study  how the French psychiatric establishment treats children with autism. She compared the clinical results achieved by one child whose parents chose an American behavioral technique called PECS and another child who had been treated with psychoanalytically-inspired methods as a day patient in a psychiatric clinic.

For the record: PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. It works to help autistic children learn to use language.

The Discredited Bettelheim Still “Lives” in France

The film notes at the beginning that autism is generally considered a neurological condition. In the distant American past, Bruno Bettleheim attempted to treat autistic children with a variant of psychoanalysis, to little avail. His work has long since been discredited on this side of the Atlantic.

He still has a following in France, and his work, coupled with Freudian theory, has caused French psychoanalysts to believe that, even if autism is a neurological condition, its root cause is psychogenic.

In everyday language, this means that mothers are to blame. If you watch Robert’s film and listen to the various French psychoanalysts proudly offer up their theoretical narratives about autism we discover that they believe it is either caused in utero by a mother’s depression, or by bad mothering.

The psychoanalysts indict mothers for being too close or too distant, too warm or too cold. In any case a mother’s bad parenting skills or psychological defects are the root cause of her child’s autism.

For the record, some of the psychoanalysts belong to the Lacanian School where I trained. Others belong to French psychoanalytic groups that are part of the International Psychoanalytic Association, the IPA. Most of the important psychoanalytic societies in America belong to the IPA.

Psychoanalysts: Little To Offer Autism—But That Doesn’t  Stop Them

When it comes to treating autism, the psychoanalysts do not seem to have very much to offer. It is difficult to conduct a talking cure with a child who cannot talk.

But they do not seem to be especially bothered by the inconvenience. A couple of them seem to think that a silent patient constitutes a special challenge to their fortitude as psychoanalysts. They see themselves being challenged to listen attentively to a patient who is incapable of talking.

When the interviewer asks these psychoanalysts what they would consider to be a good treatment result, they themselves are rendered speechless. They act as though the question has never crossed their minds.

French psychoanalysts have been cured of any obligation to provide treatment for their patients.

The film has caused more than a scandal in France. It has provoked a lawsuit.

France autism

The French psychoanalysts come across in the film as blithering fools and they are none too happy about. Most of them speak at length about their theories of autism. They offer what I consider to be a fair rendering of their bizarre belief system.

And yet, three of them, the more Lacanian analysts, are suing the filmmaker for making them look like fools. They want their interviews removed from the film. They also want monetary damages. [Note: As mentioned above, the plaintiffs won the first round but the director won on appeal.]

I am not surprised. Free and open debate and discussion has never been permitted in the world of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Take my word for it.

Featured: “Pillars of the French Psychoanalytic Community”

I will tell you that Robert did not select a bunch of psychoanalytic cranks. Many of those she interviewed are pillars of the French psychoanalytic community, both from the Lacanian School and the IPA.

One might surmise that they were unaware of how foolish they looked until they saw themselves on film. Once they saw what they looked like they ran screaming into the night and decided to blame the filmmaker.

In reality, they had agreed to be interviewed; they all signed releases. Most of them seemed to thrill to the opportunity to present their grand ideas to a larger public.

It’s one thing to sound like a fool. It’s quite another to be actively militating against effective treatment for autistic children. That is the charge that Sophie Robert levels against the psychoanalytic establishment.

In her film, Robert shows that the French approach to psychotherapy is actively preventing autistic French children from receiving the most advanced and most effective current forms of treatment.

That, dare I say, is the rub. And it is not a theoretical rub.

The Risk to French Children? Poor Treatment

The New York Times presents the case this way:

Le Mur, or The Wall, a small documentary film about autism released online last year, might normally not have attracted much attention.

But an effort by French psychoanalysts to keep it from public eyes has helped to make it into a minor cause and shone a spotlight on the way children in France are treated for mental health  problems.

The documentary, the first film by Sophie Robert, follows two autistic boys: Guillaume, who has been treated with the behavioral, or “American,” approach; and Julien, who has been kept in an asylum for six years and treated with psychoanalysis. Guillaume, though challenged, is functioning at a high level in school. Julien is essentially silent, locked out of society.

Since Sept. 8, when the film first became available on the Web, it and Ms. Robert, 44, have been the targets of criticism from both the analysts who appear in the film and from within the country’s psychoanalytic establishment. Three of the psychoanalysts whom Ms. Robert interviewed for the film have sued her, claiming she misrepresented them in the 52-minute documentary, which has not yet been screened in cinemas or on television.

Worth noting:  Julien was not kept in an asylum. As I understood it, he was “treated” in a clinic; he spent his days in the clinic and his evenings at home.

If you watch the film, you will see that Guillaume is functioning reasonably well. He goes to school, gets fairly good grades, and requires only a minimum of extra consideration. Thanks to the American “behavioral” approach his mother discovered on the Internet, he will have a good chance to lead a productive life.

The Anti-American Overlay of Stigma to Useful Treatment

If you watch the film, pay close attention to Guillaume’s mother. If you keep in mind the psychoanalytic mania about blaming mothers you will be surprised to see how good a mother Guillaume has.

But, if it is so well established that the American approach provides better treatment, why don’t all French children undergo it? That is the real story here. And that seems to be why Robert’s film has been so viciously attacked. The film claims that the behavioral approach is simply not available to most autistic French children.

It is not available because it bears what French intellectuals consider to be a stigma: it comes from America. Therefore, it offends the cultural sensibilities of French psychoanalysts. Since upwards of 80% of French psychiatrists learn psychoanalytic therapy, their influence is considerable.

Given the stigma attached to behavioral approaches to therapy,  few therapists are willing to risk their careers by learning it.

For French psychoanalysts, it is not about effective treatment. It is about cultural purity. Lacanian psychoanalysis is a purely French production. Thus it must be preferred over the American behavioral approach that does not blame mothers and that actually works.

One French analyst even mentions with considerable pride that he and his cohorts have saved France from an “invasion” of alien American cultural influences. It is a truly amazing statement, one made all the more amazing by the fact that the man who speaks it is oblivious to what he seems to be saying.

No Complaints About Yanks and D Day

A psychoanalyst trained in a school that places special value on speech and language ought to weigh the implications of his words. He ought to know that when you say that you are actively fighting off an American invasion, you are evoking a historical antecedent.

As everyone knows in 1944 allied armies did invade France. On D Day they invaded occupied France in order to liberate the nation from its Nazi occupiers.

Why Frenchmen would fear an American “invasion” is almost beyond comprehension. One day I will explain it, but not today.

Now, faced with the threat of an alien American invasion, French psychoanalysts are fighting to prevent autistic children from receiving the best treatment available.

That they are doing it in the name of French honor and integrity renders us speechless.

Worse yet, Sophie Robert’s film has exposed them as fabulators, as perpetrating an intellectual con. In good French one might say that they come across in the moving looking like cons. (The word has an altogether different meaning and implication in French.)

—Stuart Schneiderman

About Stuart Schneiderman

indexStuart Schneiderman is the author of several books, including The Last Psychoanalyst, which garnered this review from the documentary Le Mur‘s creator, Sophie Robert (translated from the French):

...I recommend that you read Stuart Schneiderman’s “The Last Psychoanalyst.”

It is a caustic, droll, brilliant essay on the psychoanalytic church. In his book, the author recounts how psychoanalysis, having failed to become a therapy, transformed itself into a fundamentalist pseudo-religion. I myself agree wholeheartedly.

This is even more interesting coming from someone who has been on the inside. Stuart Schneiderman was a Lacanian psychoanalyst in the 70s in the heart of the School of the Freudian Cause — which he deliciously re-baptizes the Holy (Wholly) Freudian Church. He hung out with some of the people who were suing me and who were trying to censure the truth about autism in France.

During the affair around [my film] Le Mur, or The Wall, Stuart Schneiderman openly sided with the parents of autistic children, in several blog posts, especially his post on “an army of mothers.” The last chapter of his book is dedicated to the trial around my film, The Wall and the situation surrounding the treatment of autism in France. A sane reading that will soothe the troubled hearts of parents and will comfort the good professionals. We look forward to the French translation.

Additional Material  On Lacan

Video below: Jacques Lacan Parle (speaks), with English subtitles.

Gina notes: I watched the entire video of this “father of modern psychoanalysis.” My impressions are described in this article in Vice: “Jacques Lacan Was Sort of a D***”:

The fact that some love to hate the father of modern psychoanalysis is nothing new. Way back in 1995, Noam Chomsky, who had met Lacan several times, described him as an “amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan”.

Three years later, the physicist and strident critic of postmodernism Alan Sokal referred to Lacan’s work as “gibberish”, a viewpoint Richard Dawkins backed up, deriding the Frenchman as a “fake” for “equating the erectile organ to the square root of minus one”. But for others – perhaps those impressed by someone with the temerity to find the penis’s mathematical twin – Lacan is an endless source of inspiration.

Jacques Lacan Parle (Speaks) from dd on Vimeo.

This post updated January 26, 2022

Your comments welcome!  — Gina Pera


15 thoughts on “Adieu To France’s Abusive Treatment of Autism”

  1. I actually have ADHD, and Lacan is more right than you could ever be, unless you think it is natural for me to be drugged up 24/7 in order to be “productive.” Lacan talked about symbols and alienation, not whatever pseudo-freudian strawman you made up.

    1. Hi Luh,

      Perhaps you would like to read other posts on my blog.

      If you did, you would not suggest that I (or any other Adult ADHD expert) think it is “natural to be drugged up 24/7 in order to be productive.”

      The trouble is, for some people with ADHD, until medication is on board, they remain inside their limited tunnel vision.

      If you like Lacan, no one is stopping you.

      But I owe it to my readers, especially in France, to speak truth to grandiose nonsense.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. It seems you don’t really know what Freud and Lacan is talking about.

    Mothering is not a main issue in French tradition. That belongs to British tradition, especially the theory of Winnicott. For Freud, Klein & Lacan, the job of psychoanalyst is not blaming the parents, but to handle the phantasy of the subject. The phantasy could be totally imaginary, for instance, a child thinks his mother is bad, that is only his feeling, not necessarily related to the mother in reality.

    “If an hysterical patient believes she was sexually assaulted as a child, I believe she believes it. Her belief is her psychical reality. I, as the analyst, neither believe nor disbelieve in that external assault. Analysis will reveal the truth. If it reveals a phantasy we find why and how this belief was necessary. Never once shall I refer to this assault as a reality, only as her belief.” (Ella Freeman Sharpe)

    If you know nothing, or you don’t have enough knowledge, you should not talk about it.

    1. Hello,

      Thanks for visiting and reading the post.

      The point of the post is not to identify the “main issue in French tradition.”

      The post is well-attributed.

      As for your quotation from Ella Freeman Sharpe, it is that kind of ideological and self-indulgent nonsense that failed countless patients. For decades. I meet the fallout every day.


  3. Sorry to say, but your writing is full of stuff presented as facts, but which they ain’t. I’ve studied psychoanalytic theory (especially freudian and lacanian) for five years – alongside getting degree in social work. ADHD has also been a special interest for me, for personal reasons.

    I can say that the absolute best you can do for your AD(H)D child is first to get him proper medication with as low dosage as possible (Concerta ain’t optimal for this, Elvanse and former Dexedrine can be adjusted properly) and secondly, send him to psychoanalytically oriented therapist, who is able to track down repressed issues.

    If one fails to do this, there’s practically no hope for the individual child to get rid of his/her condition called attention deficit disorder – and all the problems that comes along with it. Well, no hope until he or she is old enough to head to the therapist’s office on his/her own.

    1. Hi Janne,

      A chaque a son gout. 😉

      Except when it comes to evidence-based care for ADHD, especially for children. And there is absolutely no “fact” that supports psychoanalysis for ADHD.

      Interesting that you support medication first, though.

      Please know that it is never a good idea to dose “as low as possible.” You want the minimal dose with the maximum effectiveness. As with eyeglasses, it does little good to opt for the weakest lenses if your goal is to see more clearly.

      Sending a child with ADHD to a psychoanalysis is tantamount to child abuse.


    2. I’m always sadly amused when I encounter the fear of the parents towards psychoanalytical treatment – be it about a child or an teenager or an adult. What is it that is feared? It’s a question very easy to answer, atleast when you are not that parent yourself.

      “And there is absolutely no “fact” that supports psychoanalysis for ADHD.”

      The fact is that a human being forms his personality and ‘inner’ mental organization – that is, the mind – in relation to another human beings. Infants brain develops in accordance to stimulus that it received from the outside: one may say that the infant is fed with psycho-emotional building blocks alongside the care that he/she receives. This means, his brain and the synapses of it cannot grow if the required stimulus is not given to him. You have to hear some music to be able to learn to play it. Same goes with psychic manouvering. And, to find out what are the notes and tunes (pardon me, I know nothing about music) that the child is fond of and which ones she or he has never even heard of, you need an individual who is highly trained in the art, to hear him out.

      A psychoanalytically trained child therapist/analyst will be able to study which of the childs actions are acting-outs and defensive movements, in order to avoid affects such as anxiety or insecurity, or actions directed towards being noticed or gathering interest (positive or negative, it’s all attention) from another person. What is the role of aggression in the childs behaviour? Where does this come from, towards what is it directed? The questions that analytically oriented therapist will set out to answer are much more in-depth than those that behaviorally oriented adhd-consults are preoccupied with.

      “Interesting that you support medication first, though.”

      This is because it will help for the individual to start and proceed with treatment. A person – be that a child or an adult – who is not accustomed of introspection, talking about his/or her doubts, fears, anger etc. will likely use any defence available to prevent this from happening. Add to this the inability to concentrate and/or the inability to regulate one’s own behaviour. I find it essential to provide the child with the resources he or she will need in order to get to therapy. Otherwise it would tantamount of trying to get her therapy to fail.

      Adhd-medication increases one’s sense of security and boosts up the functions of the ego, which in regular terms means that one becomes more self-sufficient mentally, losing some edge from the restless doubts and insecurities, that are the basis of this condition. So, if the child is unable to govern his aggressions or psycho-motorical restlesness, it’s wise to give him the tools to do it, so that he could learn what it is behind his restlesness and work trough it with the help of the therapist.

      “Please know that it is never a good idea to dose “as low as possible.” You want the minimal dose with the maximum effectiveness. As with eyeglasses, it does little good to opt for the weakest lenses if your goal is to see more clearly.”

      I’m not sure whether you are not literate individual or if you just wished not to understand what I wrote.

      A dose of “as low as possible” would mean that one could lick a Dextroamphetamine pill once.

      My guess is, you understood what I wrote and wanted to have it as your “own” opinion. Because, how you wrote that, seems like you are the one wrote it, not me.

      Now, let’s make a hypothetic scenario: a child is raised by a narcistically fragile person, whose ability to keep psychical distance between other individuals is considerably impaired. This means that the person can’t really separate himself from the child, it’s almost as he thinks the child is somesort of add-on to himself – instead of properly separate person with his own mind and desires. So, as there is no psychoemotional room for the child to grow to be a separate individual from his parent, how could the child learn how to govern himself and his desires all by himself, when he has not been given the space required to train that, to learn that?

      He can’t do that. And that’s how we have ADHD child in our hands.

      “Sending a child with ADHD to a psychoanalysis is tantamount to child abuse.”

      Is this based on the imaginary link between autism and adhd, and those tabloid-selling headings that this article is full of? I fail to see any correlation between these topics, nor have I come upon anything that suggests that a child – adhd or not – could not benefit substantially from a psychoanalytically oriented child-analyst/therapist.

      I actually can’t even imagine whatkind of things a person imagines to happen inside the therapist office to think it is equal to child abuse. Would you care to elaborate your mental pictures?

    3. HI Jane,

      Sorry, I don’t have much time now.

      I appreciate your thoughts. I just have grave concerns about subjecting a child, in a closed room monitored by no one else, of a psychoanalyst who is operating purely on biases, projections, and fantastical vagaries.

      Sure, if an adult wants to pursue that line of reflection. But not a child. Children are too vulnerable, and too many psychoanalysts are entirely too confident of their unproven theories.

      As for the “lowest dose possible,” I can only assume what you meant. If I misinterpreted, you have my apologies. That is what people typically mean when they talk about taking the “lowest dose possible” — meaning, so low that it does not address the full range of symptoms, but only touches on the surface.


  4. Pingback: Myth #5: ADHD Exists To Make Big Pharma Rich - ADHD Roller Coaster with Gina Pera

  5. I thank your friend for the “arrogance…not willing to learn” comment.

    I have been to many “professionals over decades, through depression medications, talk therapy, “you just need to have a little success”, your the “gardener of your family”, “what did it feel like when that happened”, I felt like screaming, “I’m not depressed”, the antidepressants aren’t changing anything, they temper the mood, occasionally, but I hated the side effects” and little ever changed.

    I was still running miles upon miles, working harder and longer, as that was when things seemed to work,for me, closer to the way they did for others.
    That should’ve been a clue to someone.

    Once I figured out the issue, with the knowledge of a family member with ADHD, I made the mistake of going to a university Psychologist, who didn’t seem well acquainted with older ADHD adults, or older people in general, despite being old. Talking to him I felt I could’ve talked myself into any diagnoses or drug I thought I might want. I should’ve listened to my guy. We decided to try Wellbutrin, he hung to the depression notion. It seemed to zonk me out, the dosage was then upped. After my one and only panic attack I quit that and tried Adderal. I felt like doing cartwheels and running around buildings throughout much of the day.

    t was suggested that maybe I wasn’t used to feeling happy, (normal?). Finally. I tried Ritalin (generic). After just a couple of days, I noticed that things were getting done. That’s the best way for me to describe it. It wasn’t perfect but it was the first time I felt a real change for the better, and there didn’t seem to be much negative in the way of side effects. A noticeable change that, for the most part, has lasted. With a few monthly changes or variability with each filled prescription. Still working on that.

    Now here’s where really wanted to go, I look back and see that the two things I wanted and needed, more than anything, was a Friend/professional who was at least as knowledgeable as I, preferably more so. One who truly wanted to learn about me, AND, learn to help me to see how I could learn more to help myself. I also wanted to be with people who could understand, accept and value me.

    You’ve often discussed the short term memory issues. I’m actually seeing more and more how that has worked for me. In the back of my mind, I get the feeling that I have developed and in effect am part of a unique “culture”. When I am with others who have ADHD, I feel like I can “read” them, in ways I am not able to read others.

    When talking to most people, it seems like I am “in the dark” explaining what I am thinking and saying, in the same way people try to communicate when they don’t speak well in the same language, or culture. I know people don’t ever see things in the exact same way, and people with ADHD can often be on the extreme ends of whatever, which can prevent much interaction, or even understanding.

    I don’t want to say or imply that I’m a culture of one, or many. I just notice that the lens and understanding of my world is not well communicated by me or understood by others. The brain mechanics may be better understood, but what about the missing “I ” in me? Does that make sense to anyone? Or does everyone else get it already.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Yes, you make sense, to me, anyway.

      My friends who are gay joke about having “gay-dar” — that is, having a sixth-sense for recognizing other gay folks in their midst.

      Maybe there is an ADHD-dar. 🙂 Even though, as you say and as I’ve observed for years now: every person with ADHD is different. Still, there must be such a foundation of underlying experience, of feeling “what does everyone else know that I don’t” (particularly prior to diagnosis), it seems natural that there would be a type of recognition or resonance.

      It’s amazing, isn’t it, that none of those professionals you saw had the “ADHD piece.” People who are not familiar with this phenomenon, up close and personal, have no idea how “scattershot” is our mental healthcare “system.”

      take care,

  6. Dear Gina:
    As usual your posts come to bring light on issues that still remain in darkness. In Argentina Psychoanalisys is still the academic curricula for psychologist and many psychiatrists. So as in France we still deal with many professionals who ignore there is a brain.
    I support the psychoeducation for the “users” of mental health services, and public heath policies should include an upgrade in what is a good practice. personally I do a micro daily reframe in each patient or parents that come for consultations.
    My concern is nobody thinks that lack of an adequate approach in mental illness is much more harmfull than any meds people are afraid of.
    I don’t blame ignorance, I cannot accept it in professionals
    I don’t blame misconceptions, I blame the stubborn arrogance of not willing to learn
    Thanks Gina as always your work is amazing!
    Norma Echavarria
    MD Psychiatrist

    Home and chronically ill psychoanalitic community.
    God bless us

    1. Dear Norma,

      I’m delighted to hear from you — and always to see you in person.

      The fact that you have come out of such a predominating culture of psychoanalysis and become the kind of psychiatrist I’d love to have here in the Bay Area, well, that’s a remarkable testament to your intelligence and compassion.

      And you have hit upon a key irony: the fear of medication is all; the fear of psychiatry conditions going untreated, not even a consideration.

      I have to think that underlying this “stubborn arrogance” is a marked lack of empathy and compassion for people who suffer.

      Argentina is lucky to you have!


  7. Gina I’m pleased to see you calling out the ridiculous notion that “French kids don’t have ADHD” and the author who wrote this now famous but misguided article.
    Once again, we’re seeing how important the work is, of increasing awareness about Autism and ADHD.

    1. Hi Brett,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s astounding, isn’t it? A virtual unknown writes a deluded essay on a website that shows no editorial website, and the public eats it up.

      I guess it goes back to a major principle of mass communications: People believe what they want to believe, and they seek out information that conforms with their beliefs.

      Websites like yours and mine — and those of many other adults with ADHD, therapists, etc,. — are making a difference, though!


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