About the Project

To better understand the controversies surrounding the diagnosis of mental disorders in children and recent increases in the use of medications to treat these disorders, The Hastings Center, with a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, conducted a series of five workshops over the course of three years that brought together clinicians, researchers, scholars, and advocates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds with widely diverse views. The first and last workshops considered the controversies generally, while each of the middle three workshops considered the debates in the context of one diagnosis—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder, respectively.

This report draws on what we, the authors, learned from these five workshops and from our reading of the scientific and scholarly literature. While it is the work of its authors, it grows out of the project’s final workshop, to whose participants we are deeply grateful for their insights and willingness to engage us and each other: Mary G. Burke (Sutter Pacific Medical Center and University of California, San Francisco), William B. Carey (University of Pennsylvania), Gabrielle A. Carlson (Stony Brook University School of Medicine), Peter Conrad (Brandeis University), Lawrence Diller (University of California, San Francisco), Jörg Fegert (University of Ulm), Michael B. First (New York Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University), Sara Harkness (University of Connecticut), Kelly J. Kelleher (Ohio State University), Roy P. Martin (University of Georgia), Jon McClellan (University of Washington), Karen Maschke (The Hastings Center), William E. Pelham, Jr. (State University of New York at Buffalo), Susan Resko (Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation), John Z. Sadler (University of Texas at Dallas), Ilina Singh (London School of Economics and Political Science), Bonnie Steinbock (State University of New York at Albany), Charles M. Super (University of Connecticut), Benedetto Vitiello (National Institute of Mental Health), and Julie Magno Zito (University of Maryland).

—Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston