by Udo Pollmer / February 22, 2021 – updated Sept. 2023
Hyperactivity or ADHD was once a diagnosis reserved for children. Now it affects all age groups. Udo Pollmer explains why fidgets became calmer during puberty and why they suffer from it today into old age. Of course, they now need - what a miracle! – pills for just as long.
Do you know the German children's story of " Fidgety Philip" [Zappelphilipp], by Heinrich Hoffmann, a 19th century German psychiatrist and...
...writer of children's books? Fidgety Philip is about a boy who keeps tilting his chair at the table, even though his parents forbid him to do so. At some point he falls backwards, grabs the tablecloth in panic and pulls everything back with him.
Restless children who cannot sit still are therefore popularly and unscientifically referred to as "fidgety". The experts, who's surprised?, could not be satisfied with such a clear, not to say banal diagnosis. "Hyperactivity" sounds more educated. Soon, even this term was no longer appropriate in the eyes of psychologists, so they began to define their clientele more broadly and came up with the term ADHD, which, in addition to hyperactivity, also includes "attention deficit disorder" and "impulsivity". From a businessman's point of view, this was a smart move.
It didn't take long for them to realize that there are also impulsive, lively children who are not hyperactive at all. They now suffer from ADS, the Attention Deficit Syndrome. We know this from our school days: the disorder affected the class when the teacher lacked knowledge and pedagogical talent. That's when unrest arose. Today there are psychiatric pills and therapies - for the pupils.
But why only treat children? The pill-pushers are already riding their hyperactive cash cow from kindergartens to old people's homes. Grandmas and grandpas now also have "attention deficit disorder". Inattentive old people get the same medication as the fidgets. Strange: hyperactivity used to disappear in children as soon as they reached puberty.
So how do you manage to sell therapies to symptom-free adults? It's simple: hyperactivity looks very different in adults: The main symptom is "inefficiency at work". In other words, a real widespread disease. Another diagnostic clue: "restless during long conferences". The common snoozer tends to nod in agreement and then nod off. The diagnosis of ADHD is almost certain if the employee is conspicuous by "inappropriate comments". Those who are rebellious are soon waiting for a shot. Or, even worse, "healthy food".
In the grip of the health trolls
Since the fidgets among the children were difficult to treat therapeutically, but put a massive strain on those involved, nutritionists saw their chance. At first, they suspected "phosphates" in the food and, not knowing the actual content, identified cola and sausages as hazardous substances. Then the artificial colourings came into focus, many were even banned EU-wide to protect children from hyperactivity. But the number of people affected continued to rise.
Because food is known to be blamed for everything, and diets have never helped, mothers were finally asked to do the cooking themselves, to have a better control of their children's food. And that helped! Probably not so much because there were no nasty additives in it, but because the mothers made an effort for their kids. When the child sees mum standing at the cooker for an hour every day - just for her beloved - it often works wonders. Cooking is a more effective form of attention than playing with children in a so-called pedagogically valuable way.
The theory that sugar is "poison" for hyperactive children is widespread: "Constant sugar can stimulate children, makes them restless, over-excited, aggressive and disturbs their natural ability to concentrate and balance." Depending: One time sugar turns children into fat, sluggish sad dumplings, another time into aggressive zombies. During the sugar-heavy Advent season, things should really get going. But apparently no one has noticed the evil consequences yet. Phrases against sweets are gladly heard by a nutrition-conscious public, for whom the zeitgeist whistles unchecked through the erect ears.
Eating enough - makes pupils balanced
The blood glucose curves are different for every single person. And they fluctuate from day to day. A lot depends on factors like stress, or the enzyme equipment. There are big differences from person to person. And, of course, a lot depends on the "pre-absorptive insulin reflex". As soon as the mouth perceives something sweet, it releases a small amount of insulin. However, the insulin released does not serve to "process" the inflowing sugar, but stops the constant release of glucose by the liver - so that the body is not flooded with sugar from two sides.
By the way: Those who do not have a pre-absorptive insulin reflex usually do not have much of an appetite for sweets. Skinny children often have a strong appetite for sweets. Due to their low subcutaneous fat, their heat balance is tense because they cool down more easily. That is why they go after sweets. They need energy quickly and, thanks to an adapted metabolism, they can usually cope with it.
Any dietary advice that spreads calorie phobia is poison for children and causes school frustration. Skinny kids who are hungry become fidgety. Moreover, since many children lack appetite in the morning, they need something to eat by the 1st break at the latest. Instead of a disgusting breakfast of grain bread with strips of raw vegetables, most would rather have a cocoa drink, preferably made of full cream milk with sugar. This, in their experience, turned many a "hyperactive" child who terrorised the classroom into a calm, eager student. Hunger makes them fidgety. Thanks to the therapists, however, they believe they are sick. Thanks to the psycho pills, they slide deeper and deeper into unhappiness.
In this context, a similar form of uncontrolled movements, reminiscent of hyperactivity, should also be mentioned. Fidgeting occurs spontaneously from one day to the next. Usually these children complain of a sore throat and cough beforehand. The cause is a pathogen called Streptococcus pyogenes. Here, antibiotics work wonders against twitching and fidgeting.
Collateral damage of prevention
classic hyperactivity disappeared during puberty. Why actually? Quite simply: the teenagers started smoking. The pharmaceutical industry has apparently also taken its cue from this: Nicotine is used in animal experiments as a yardstick for the effectiveness of new drugs for ADHD because it increases attention. Nicotine itself cannot be patented, and is far too cheap to do healthy business with. The smoking ban pays off.
As mentioned before, the classic hyperactivity disappeared during puberty. Why actually? Quite simple: the teenagers started smoking. And then they could stop taking methylphenidate (best known trade name: Ritalin). Apparently, the pharmaceutical industry has also taken its cue from this finding: Nicotine is used in animal experiments as a yardstick for the effectiveness of new drugs for ADHD. This is because it increases attention. Nicotine itself cannot be patented, and it is far too cheap to do healthy business with.
Many hyperactive people have self-treated with nicotine as needed into old age. But knowledge of the clinical benefits of tobacco was lost among patients and therapists alike. The smoking ban is paying off. Strange, because according to today's reading, tobacco herb is traditional herbal medicine, which is otherwise so highly regarded - as a healthy alternative to the "chemical pills"?
Recently, our horizons were broadened in the matter of hyperactivity: The paediatrician Dr Paul Thomas from Pittsburg (USA) counted how many vaccinated and unvaccinated children had visited his practice over the years due to health complaints. In total, the data of more than 3000 young patients were analyzed, a good 560 were unvaccinated. The differences in the morbidity rates were astonishing. The clearest result was for hyperactivity: of the vaccinated children, a good 5% later suffered from hyperactivity, of the unvaccinated none.
This initial analysis does not allow a conclusive assessment. For example, family catastrophes such as divorce have a massive impact on children and their behaviour. Perhaps vaccine-sceptical parents keep a closer eye on their children's smartphone use. It would also be interesting to know whether it was certain vaccines that correlated with hyperactivity.
We will probably have to wait in vain for a clarification: because the publication of the study was followed by a professional ban, which was only lifted when the paediatrician promised never to do research again. The journal retracted the study with the lousy remark that an anonymous reader had complained. Obviously, no one should dare to go to the specialised press or even the public with such results any time soon.
But others did so in the meantime, albeit without much response: in 2022, the old study was put to the acid test. No matter how the authors twisted and turned it, there was no chance to change the result. The troublesome paediatrician had obviously hit the bull's-eye, the center of the center.
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Copyright: EU.L.E. e.V.
Originally published in February 2021: => Pollmers Mahlzeit: Zappelphilipp - zum Davonlaufen
English editor: Josef Hueber, Eichstätt