December 9th, 2014
“I was the kind of kid who would get up and walk around, look at the goldfish, read the encyclopedias in the back of the room, talk to neighbors,” Peter Conrad, a professor of sociology, said in regard to his childhood. “Had ADHD been an option as a diagnosis in the ’50s, which it wasn’t, I would have been probably labeled and gotten a trial and medications.”
Professor Conrad has researched ADHD, short for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, since he wrote his dissertation on identifying hyperactive children 40 years ago. While only three to five percent of school children were diagnosed with ADHD when he started his research, today, that number has increased to 11 percent. “That’s a lot of kids,” Conrad commented.
ADHD is a psychiatric diagnosis based on behavior and attention, Conrad explained in an interview. It has three main aspects: impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity. Over the past 50 years, it has become the most common psychiatric diagnosis of children. While the disorder initially focused on hyperactivity, it has more recently been linked to problems with attention. Because of this, starting in the ’90s, ADHD has transitioned from solely being a childhood disorder to an adolescent and adult disorder. Or rather, as Conrad described, “a lifelong disorder.”
To correct the widespread diagnosis of ADHD, stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall became popular solutions. Although the medication improves behavior, it only works so long as patients continue to use it. Once the medicine stops being taken, there is not necessarily any improved performance on tasks. “Sixty-five to 75 percent of people who are diagnosed take those medications,” Conrad stated. The medicine is now prescribed to approximately 4.5 million people in the United States, a fact that deeply concerns Conrad, whose studies have focused mainly on the medicalization of society.
“My concern is about the medicalization of society. It’s turning all differences, and in this case, behavioral and cognitive differences, into some kind of pathology that needs to be treated,” Conrad said. He continued, “Anytime somebody is underperforming in school or not doing as well on standardized tests, or not doing as well in their behavior in paying attention in classrooms, well, they may have ADHD.”
While the increase in the diagnoses of ADHD over the past 20 years can be connected to a wide range of things, the drug companies have played an important role in the process. Because they have such a large investment in the drugs, they continually push to increase the market in which their drugs can be used. Yet, the drug companies are not the only ones to blame.
In the 1990s, ADHD began to be seen as a learning disability. This created a situation in which “the diagnosis can buy you something,” said Conrad. “If you have the diagnosis it can get you untimed tests, it can get you special situations where you take tests, or it can get you certain kinds of individual learning plans.” The usage of new medication to treat ADHD also encouraged people to get the diagnosis, Conrad explained.
In Conrad’s most recent article, “The impending globalization of ADHD: Notes on the expansion and growth of a medicalized disorder,” published on Oct. 8 of this year, he discuses how the diagnosis has spread and become prevalent in other countries. “Until the 1990s,” Conrad wrote, “the U.S. consumed about 90 percent of all the Ritalin (methylphenidate) produced, the signature psychoactive treatment for ADHD. As other countries adopted the treatment, this dropped to 75 percent in 2010.”
Despite this spread in the prescription of ADHD medications, countries such as France have been slow to medicalize the disorder. In France, Conrad stated, they are more likely to do some sort of psychotherapy or family interventions first. Medication is a last resort.
“There are a lot of people who believe this is a real disorder. But, when you talk about 11 percent of some school age population—that’s a whole lot of people—you begin to wonder if it’s a disorder or just a variant.” As Conrad continues to research ADHD and the medicalization of disease, he wonders if in 30 or 40 years from now, we are going to look back on giving stimulant medications to kids with this so-called disorder, ADHD, and ask, “Why were we drugging those kids?”
December 4th, 2014
Professor David Cunningham, Chair of the SOC department, was recently featured on BrandeisNOW for his research on the influence of KKK on Southern voters in the 1960s. For more information, read the full article.
November 25th, 2014
November 17th, 2014
Want to learn more about the research track in Sociology? Check out this handy information flyer for more information!
November 7th, 2014
Check out this link to read about Professor Sara Shostak’s new book: Exposed Science: Genes, the Environment, and the Politics of Population Health on the Robert W. Johnson Foundation website.
November 6th, 2014
Shota Adamia carves his niche in the fashion world
Named finalist for the highly competitive, $30,000 Geoffrey Beene Scholarship
Shota Adamia ’15 gets the most out of each day.
The Tbilisi, Georgia native has no qualms about staying busy or balancing schoolwork with his many passions. Ask him what he does during his spare time and Adamia will respond, “what free time?”
Indeed, the economics and sociology double major has little down time but many accomplishments to show for it. He’s fluent in five languages — Georgian, English, Russian, French and German. He has served as chairperson and vice president of the European Youth Parliament. He has made the Dean’s List every semester at Brandeis. Adamia also has earned the Wien Scholarship, which is awarded to international students who display outstanding academic and personal achievement, and the Karpf and Ari Hahn Peace Prize as a sophomore for his research on the political and ethnic conflicts in the Northern Ireland region.
Now Adamia has his focus on the fashion industry, and he has found quick success.
“I’ve been interested in fashion my entire life,” says Adamia. “Fashion is an expression of art and social formation in our communities because we project our meanings onto the garments and accessories we wear. This is how we convey ourselves.”
In 2013, Adamia entered the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund competition. Working through the Hiatt Career Center and in consultation with professors Alice Kelikian, Chandler Rosenberger and Grace Zimmerman, he submitted a winning case study on how to improve JCPenney’s sales, which earned him a $5,000 scholarship and a summer internship with Thom Browne in New York City, where he worked in the sales department and facilitated orders for 40 retailers worldwide.
Adamia recently learned that the YMA has named him one of eight national finalists for one of four Geoffrey Beene Scholarships, which comes with a $30,000 award to help with education and career goals. Adamia earned $10,000 for being selected a finalist.
This January he will travel to New York to present his case study on the potential impact of 3D printing on the fashion industry before the YMA executive board, which includes CEOs, COOs and board chairs of major corporations in the fashion and related industries.
In between prepping for his January presentation, interviewing prospective students at admissions and working on his honors thesis, Adamia is also gearing up to work in the showroom for Thom Browne’s Milan fashion sales campaign in three weeks.
Like always, Adamia is busy, but he’s embracing it.
“I have all of these amazing resources and I don’t want to miss out on any experiences because I think they’re invaluable,” Adamia says. “To do this while I’m in college and right after college is amazing. I try to integrate all my interests and my responsibilities as a student, a son, and a citizen. We face many responsibilities. It’s hard, but very rewarding to address all of them.”
In addition to providing scholarship support, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund facilitates internships with prestigious fashion companies and provides career mentoring by prominent senior executives who serve on the organization’s Board. Participating companies have included Calvin Klein, Li & Fung, VF Sportswear, Fishman & Tobin, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Bloomingdale’s, Levi Strauss & Co., Target, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger and Randa Accessories to name just a few.
Paul Rosengard ’80, CEO of DDK/Boston Traders and co-president of the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, arranged for the university’s participation in the program beginning in the 2010-11 academic year. So far, 11 Brandeis students have received scholarships, internships and career mentoring from prominent senior fashion executives. A total of 46 colleges and universities participate in the program.
October 22nd, 2014
The deadline for the Karpf and Hahn Award application is October 29th. Though primarily intended for undergraduates, graduate students may apply and have been awarded in the past. It is a great opportunity to implement a peace project, attend a peace-related conference or develop art work on something you care about. Prizes range from $300 to $3500.
For more information, please look at the application:
If you’re interested in applying, you should set up a time to talk to Professor Fellman about your idea ASAP.
For additional questions, please contact Lauren Jordahl at email@example.com
September 30th, 2014
Adam Hochschild, an award-winning journalist and the author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africs, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-18, and other books, will be coming to Brandeis this October 13th from 3:30 to 5:00 in the afternoon in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall.
Hochschild spent most of his career writing about human rights and social justice, and is currently a lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. This October, he will be delivering a public lecture about the public debate in Great Britain over the outbreak of World War I.
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 will be available for purchase and signing.