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Review of "Healing ADD"

By Daniel G. Amen
Putnam, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 14th 2002
Healing ADD

Healing ADD is aimed at parents who suspect or know that they have a child with attention deficit.  It sets out cases of children with this problem, and argues that the problem has biological, psychological, and social causes (including TV, the Internet, and computer and video games).  Author and neuroscientist Daniel Amen goes into some detail in his discussion of brain studies and his categorization of six different kinds of ADD: classic, inattentive, overfocused, temporal lobe, limbic, and ring of fire.  He gives many cases of patients, both children and adults, with these different forms of attention deficit, and he explains how he differentiates the different kinds.  He also discusses ADD caused by trauma and inherited genes, and also the link between ADD and substance abuse.  Amen goes into some detail discussing the ways that ADD affects peoples lives at school and work and in their personal relationships.

Amen argues that the best treatment for ADD involves a combination of biological, psychological and social solutions.  His suggestions include eliminating drugs, alcohol and caffeine, protecting ones head from injury, eating a higher-protein, lower carbohydrate diet, getting intense aerobic exercise, avoiding computer and video games, taking medication, using natural supplements, using neurofeedback, getting proper sleep, psychotherapy, getting an ADD coach, focused breathing, self-hypnosis, and involvement with support groups.  For teach suggestion, he describes the approach in detail and discusses which sub-types of ADD it works best with.  He gives families and school teachers lists of hints about how to go about changing their behavior towards their ADD children in order to best help them.  The book ends with a chapter about what to do when ADD treatment does not work, and includes the possibility that the person has the wrong diagnosis, is receiving the wrong treatment, or there are interfering factors.  The book also contains ideas about how to find the most suitable professional help.

Healing ADD contains so many suggestions that some are bound to be helpful, but the number might be confusing to parents who are looking for a simple solution.  The suggestion that there are six main types of ADD is interesting, but is very much the opinion of the author, and is not a suggestion found in the discussion of attention deficit disorder in major psychiatric textbooks.  The writing style is clear and approachable, even if many people may find the pictures of brain activity somewhat confusing.  For parents looking for as much information about ADD as they can get, they may find this book a useful resource, although I think it would be wise to consult other books on the topic as well, to get a sense of the variety of professional opinions on the issue.


© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.

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