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August 2001

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults: Beyond Controversy

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001;58(8):784-785. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.58.8.784

THERE ARE very few psychiatric disorders that were initially identified in childhood and then later found to continue into adulthood. In the 1970s, when many clinicians were advising parents that their children would outgrow attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at puberty, pioneers such as Wender1 had observed that children with ADHD often had parents with similar difficulties. During the following 3 decades, the findings of numerous follow-up studies of children and adolescents indicated that certain core features of the disorder (attention deficits, poor impulse control) continue into adulthood and contribute to adjustment problems. Moreover, many individuals also develop other disorders at rates higher than expected by chance alone. The notion of ADHD in adults captured the public imagination and seemed to some to become a metaphor for what William James called the "bloomin', buzzin', confusion" of modern times; but skeptics questioned whether the meager offerings of empirical research would justify the public's enthusiasm.

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