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Oliver North’s Ritalin Myth FitnessFreakClub

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The incoming NRA President, Oliver North, just lately presented his idea for the spate of faculty shootings on this nation, blaming “a tradition of violence“ and the drug methylphenidate (Ritalin). “If you happen to take a look at what has took place to the younger other people, many of those younger boys were on Ritalin since they have been in kindergarten,” North mentioned. 1

As a psychiatrist, I partially trust North: there are cultural components within the U.S. that can building up the danger for aggression or violence — together with however no longer restricted to bullying, gangs, and components of abuse. However Col. North is much off base in blaming Ritalin for varsity shootings. This perception is a part of a bigger mythology that attributes mass shootings to psychiatric medicines of more than a few varieties, together with antidepressants. However what’s the proof for such claims?

First off, there’s little or no proof that Ritalin and similar medicines for ADHD (consideration deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction) reason violent habits, when correctly prescribed and monitored. To the contrary, research going again to the 1990s normally in finding that Ritalin-type medicines if truth be told scale back aggressiveness in kids with ADHD. (You will need to word that aggression isn’t one of the most “core” options of ADHD, consistent with present diagnostic standards; and when aggression happens, it’s normally because of some co-occurring dysfunction).

Certainly, a 1990 find out about via Dr. Kenneth Gadow and associates mentioned, “Some of the least documented ‘recognized’ results of methylphenidate in hyperactive kids is the suppression of peer aggression.” 2 More moderen research within the U.S. and Europe have in large part borne this out. three In fact, if a stimulant like methylphenidate is prescribed inappropriately — say, for a affected person with volatile bipolar dysfunction — irritability or competitive behaviors would possibly now and again emerge.

The bigger fable that connects psychiatric medicines with college shootings was once meticulously debunked via psychologist Dr. Peter Langman in a 2016 find out about. four Langman identified the often-forgotten drawback of “opposite causality”; this is, attributing violent habits to a particular medicine, when, in truth, the medicine was once first of all prescribed for the reason that particular person was once already showing competitive or violent behaviors. Langman reviewed many contemporary circumstances of mass shootings by which the shooter was once supposedly taking Ritalin or an antidepressant.

He discovered that generally, a causal hyperlink between the drug and the taking pictures may just no longer be established. For instance, within the 1998 Thurston Top Faculty taking pictures, Langman notes that the shooter “… had taken Prozac and Ritalin prior to now however no longer anyplace close to the time of his assault.”

In a similar way, regardless of hypothesis within the media on the contrary, there was once no proof that the 23-year-old guy chargeable for the Virginia Tech taking pictures (2007) had just lately used, or was once chickening out from, psychiatric medicine. Langman discovered that out of 24 secondary college shooters, most effective two have been taking psychiatric medicine on the time in their assaults; or, as he places it, “over 87% of the secondary college shooters weren’t on psychiatric medicines on the time in their assaults.”

There are not any easy explanations for why any individual turns into a college shooter or carries out a mass taking pictures, although mental “profiles” have published some not unusual options amongst those folks; as an example, a historical past of getting been bullied via friends; sturdy emotions of anger and resentment five; or a historical past of morbid preoccupation with weapons and violence. However it’s flawed to heap blame, as Oliver North did, on medicines prescribed for psychiatric sicknesses.



  1. Mele, C., & Caron, C. (2018, Would possibly 21). Oliver North Blames ‘Tradition of Violence’ for Mass Shootings. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/us/nra-oliver-north.html
  2. Gadow KD, Nolan EE, Sverd J et al. Methylphenidate in Competitive-Hyperactive Boys: I. Results on Peer Aggression in Public Faculty Settings. Magazine of the American Academy of Kid & Adolescent Psychiatry , 1990; 29, Factor five , 710 – 718
  3. Sinzig J, Dopfner M, Lehmkuhl G et al. Lengthy-acting methylphenidate has an impact on competitive habits in kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity dysfunction. J Kid Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2007 Aug;17(four):421-32.
  4. Langman P. Psychiatric medicines and faculty shootings. Researchgate.internet. Feb. 2016 https://www.researchgate.internet/e-newsletter/308220517_Psychiatric_Medications_and_School_Shootings
  5. Knoll JL 4th. The “pseudocommando” mass assassin: phase I, the psychology of revenge and obliteration. J Am Acad Psychiatry Regulation. 2010;38(1):87-94. http://jaapl.org/content material/jaapl/38/1/87.complete.pdf

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