Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ritalin Nation Book Report

I decided to read Ritalin Nation: Rapid- Fire Culture and the Transformation of Human Consciousness by Richard DeGrandpre because of the interesting topic of the book. The central theme that Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD is not caused by biological factors which is widely believed in the medical world, but is the result of our fast-past, stressful lifestyle was a main reason for choosing this book. Richard DeGrandpre argues that our “rapid- fire culture” has led to an outbreak of “sensory addiction” in which the powerful stimulant of Ritalin is used to treat these symptoms. In Ritalin Nation, DeGrandpre believes that the evolution of technology which was supposed to create more leisure time for Americans instead has created an anxious mindset culture in the United States with people in a constant everyday struggle to find faster ways to do everything. Children are suffering the most from this “rapid- fire” culture because instead of parents and teachers and all adults just slowing down and relaxing more and helping these fidgety kids, the overuse of Ritalin is used as a quick fix to deal with it. DeGrandpre disapproves of the abundant use of this stimulant for children because it will ultimately fail as it is directed at symptoms, not causes. The solution the author provides is that we “redefine the bottom line. Spend less time at work; parent more and parent better. Learn more effective life skills, and pass them on to your children. Do these things by being less worn out, stressed out and distracted by the perceived necessity of material wealth”.

My favorite part of the book was when he demonstrated how our fast-paced, impatient, quick-fix to the problem lifestyle has really resulted in us being distracted from the crucial things in life. I really agree with this because I have and almost everyone I know has fallen subject to this lifestyle. For example, instead of just relaxing and enjoying what we are doing, we are always in a rush to get something done as soon as possible and to go somewhere and do something else. I also enjoyed the part were DeGrandpre illustrates how the high demands and expectations of American culture and society has resulted in a dramatic overall increase in work and stress, and a conflicted sense of life priorities. I see this everyday with people working nonstop and never truly relaxing and enjoying their lives and time with their families. I agree with DeGrandpre that people should take more time to spend with their families and enjoy life more and put things in perspective because life is too short.

The book relates with the class in that they both share the same ideology that it is crucial for the doctors and parents to think critically and evaluate all of the possible alternatives before putting a child on a strong stimulant like Ritalin. Because there is no objective test for ADHD and it is usually diagnosed by a short visit with a pediatrician, the parents of the child should remain skeptical and request a comprehensive evaluation. Furthermore, even if the full evaluation indicates that the child has ADD or ADHD, a rush to use Ritalin isn’t necessarily needed.

After enjoying reading this informative book, I have really been enlightened about our fast- paced culture and the importance of just slowing down and enjoying life. I never really considered how hectic and overworking our American culture is. After reading Ritalin Nation, I realize I might also suffer from “sensory addiction” and as a result, I am going to take what I learned and try to slow down and spend more time with my family and overall I am going to attempt to enjoy things more in my life.

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