The first book of its kind, this compelling and moving memoir about what it's like to be a child with ADHD also explains the history of the diagnosis and how we have come to medicate more than four million children today.
Among the first generation of boys prescribed medication for hyperactivity in the 1980s, Timothy Denevi took Ritalin at the age of six, and during the first week, it triggered a psychotic reaction. Doctors recommended behavior therapy, then antidepressants. Nothing worked. As Timothy's parents and doctors sought to treat his behavior, he was subjected to a liquid diet, a sleep-deprived EEG, and bizarre behavioral assessments before finding help in therapy combined with medication. In HYPER: A Personal History of ADHD, Timothy describes how he makes his way through school, knowing he is a problem for those who love him, longing to be able to be good and fit in, hanging out with boys who have similar symptoms but meet different ends, and finally realizing he has to come to grips with his disorder before his life spins out of control.
Skillfully and seamlessly using his own experience as a springboard, Denevi also reveals the origins of ADHD, from the late nineteenth century when hyperactivity was attributed to defective moral conscience, demons, or head trauma, through the twentieth century when food additives, bad parenting, and even government conspiracies were blamed, to the most recent genetic research. He traces drug treatment from Benzedrine in 1937 through the common usage of the stupefying chlorpromazine and brand new Ritalin in the 1950s to the use of antidepressants in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Riveting, thought-provoking, and deeply intelligent, this is a remarkable book both for its sensitive portrait of a child's experience as well as for its ability to illuminate a remarkably complex and controversial mental condition.
Denevi"A vivid, moving, and gripping first-person account of what it's like to grow up hyper. He weaves into the narrative an erudite account of the history of ADHD. Excellent book!"
— Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction
"Hyper is full of blazing insights, wisdom, information and inspiration. It is a significant and singular contribution to our field."— Rick Lavoie, author of It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend and The Motivation Breakthrough
Timothy Denevi received his MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. He's been awarded fellowships by The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. His writing has appeared in various magazines and journals, including Arts & Letters, Hobart, Instant City, and Hawaii Review. He lives near Washington, DC and is the Nonfiction Visiting Writer in the MFA program at George Mason University. www.timothydenevi.com