Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Medicating Children

Medicating Children

ADHD and Pediatric Mental Health

Rick Mayes, Catherine Bagwell, Jennifer Erkulwater

ISBN 9780674031630

Publication date: 01/31/2009

Why and how did ADHD become the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children and adolescents, as well as one of the most controversial? Stimulant medication had been used to treat excessively hyperactive children since the 1950s. And the behaviors that today might lead to an ADHD diagnosis had been observed since the early 1930s as “organic drivenness,” and then by various other names throughout the decades.
Rick Mayes and colleagues argue that a unique alignment of social and economic trends and incentives converged in the early 1990s with greater scientific knowledge to make ADHD the most prevalent pediatric mental disorder. New movements advocating for the rights of children and the disabled and a massive increase in Medicaid spending on psychotropic drugs all contributed to the dramatic spike in ADHD diagnoses and stimulant use.
Medicating Children is unique in that it integrates analyses of the clinical, political, historical, educational, social, economic, and legal aspects of ADHD and stimulant pharmacotherapy. Thus, it will be invaluable to educators, clinicians, parents, and policymakers, all of whom are trying to determine what is in the best interest of millions of children.


  • In this thoughtful and critical book, Mayes and colleagues provide answers where there is evidence for them and makes it clear why some questions cannot be answered with what we know today. Parents, teachers, and doctors will be the wiser for reading it.

    —Leon Eisenberg, M.D., Harvard Medical School


  • B. Rick Mayes is Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond.
  • Catherine Bagwell is Professor of Psychology at Colgate University.
  • Jennifer Erkulwater is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond.

Book Details

  • 360 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press