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An analysis of the history, effects, and implications of the most common psychostimulants

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current graduate student
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David P.
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  1. Brief History of the Psychostimulants.
  2. Empirical Findings/Pharmacology of the Psychostimulants.
  3. Possible Implications of the Empirical Findings, and other related items to consider.
  4. Conclusion.

Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) generally denotes a kind of deficit to selectively attend and (thereby) selectively inhibit certain stimuli. Evidently, the psychological community has much else to say about the disorder, frequently positing other cognitive and behavioral characteristics of the disorder , including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and a general lack of respect when it comes to persons of authority (e.g. parents or teachers). ADHD has recently been subdivided into various categories to attempt to make some distinction as to these general descriptions, but it is no mystery that even these subdivisions and subsequent delineations are difficult to qualify in practice. Moreover, the use of psychostimulants for children and most recently for adults has skyrocketed in the past few decades, sparking an unending debate as to the ethical considerations we should take when prescribing these potentially dangerous chemicals to persons whose behavioral or cognitive concerns may not nicely correspond to a condition that itself is vague, subject to cultural and linguistic factors, and not well-founded in psychological/cognitive theory.

[...] (Barkley, 575) (Barkley, 575) For such claims regarding the ?myth' of hyperactivity, see Conrad (1975) and Schrag & Divoky (1975) Some of these claims were insubstantial in that they rested on faulty or even incorrect findings of several newspapers, including the exaggerations of the Washington Post in the 1970 article which, it was later found, grossly overestimated the percentage of kids in the Omaha school using psychostimulants. (Wender, 72) (Barkley, 577) This review is somewhat outdated, but nevertheless it suggests that, at the very least, the psychostimulants as a group do have notable effects on cognition. [...]


[...] This prompted a congressional investigation into the matter, and indirectly instigated the scientific community to publish numerous reports on the cognitive, academic, and behavioral implications of the use of psychostimulants on children.[7] Simultaneous to the congressional and scientific investigations of psychostimulant use, a claim was being forwarded by some that hyperactivity was a myth created by teachers who were intolerant to special needs.[8] These claims, coupled with the somewhat exaggerative remarks by the Washington Post and other newspapers in the 1970s, increased public skepticism of psychostimulant use, despite the fact that the frequency of use of these medicines was skyrocketing. [...]


[...] This is something which is becoming more and more prevalent as the use of psychostimulants continues to increase in the young population. We must ask: if a potentially-dangerous substance is being used by people with or without the condition, and if this substance exhibits similar (although not equal) effects on their abilities to concentrate, then would we be justly reasoned in claiming that this serves as some proof against the notion that we can experimentally ground our understanding of psychological conditions denoting attention-related difficulties? [...]

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