Hyperactivity, the So-Called Attention Deficit Disorder and the Group of MBD Syndromes

Attention-Deficit Disorder: Fact or Fantasy?


  • Etiology of the group of Minimal Brain Dysfunction Syndromes
  • Application of bell-shaped curve to Neurologically Based Learning Disabilities
  • Effects of psychostimulant medication
  • Logical reasoning deficits

Dr. Gardner uses the term Group of Minimal Brain Dysfunction Syndromes as a rubric under which is subsumed a variety of neurologically based brain disorders, e.g., learning disability, neurological impairment, perceptual impairment, hyperactivity, and attention-deficit disorder. Unfortunately, these terms are loosely and variously defined with the result that significant confusion exists regarding a wide variety of issues relevant to them.

In this volume he first presents the definitions of the aforementioned terms that appear most reasonable to him. He then describes in detail a theory of the causes of these disorders that he considers applicable to more than 95% of children who exhibit these symptoms.

In the second part of the book he describes a study that was originally designed to find a pencil-and-paper test for assessing objectively the effects of psychostimulant medication. The purpose was to find an instrument that could replace subjective diagnostic criteria and monitor psychostimulant medication. Although he was unsuccessful in finding such an instrument, the results of the study proved to be useful in providing confirmation of some of the aspects of his theory on the causes of these disorders.

Dr. Gardner considers the theory presented here to provide a meaningful explanation for what appears to be a wide variety of disparate phenomena. He believes also that it has important implications for our understanding of hyperactivity and ADD, both of which are overdiagnosed and one of which (ADD) probably doesn’t exist. His hope is that readers will review his arguments carefully and after doing so agree that the term ADD should be dispensed with entirely because it describes a nonphenomenon.

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