Hyperactive: the Controversial History of ADHD

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common developmental disorders, with an average of 9 per cent of us children between the ages of five and seventeen diagnosed each year. It is also one of the most controversial. Since the 1950s, when hyperactivity in children was first diagnosed, psychiatrists, educators, parents and politicians have debated the causes, treatment and implications of the disorder. Why and how were children first diagnosed with this disorder? Hyperactive provides the first history of ADHD, explaining why biological explanations became predominant; how powerful drugs became the preferred treatment; why diagnosis rates and treatments vary so widely around the world; and why alternative explanations have failed to achieve any legitimacy. Contending that hyperactive children are also a product of their social, cultural and educational environment, Matthew Smith demonstrates how knowledge about the rise of ADHD can lead to better choices about its diagnosis and treatment. A revealing and accessible study of this hugely controversial subject, Hyperactive is an essential book for psychologists, teachers, policymakers and parents.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages248
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


  • medical history
  • hyperactivity
  • pandemic
  • attention deficit disorder


Dive into the research topics of 'Hyperactive: the Controversial History of ADHD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this