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The recognition that the disorder was not caused by brain damage seemed to follow a similar argument made somewhat earlier by the prominent child psychiatrist Stella Chess (1960). It set off a major departure between professionals in North America and those in Europe that continues, to a lessening extent, to the present.
Little research existed at the time on the latter subtype that would have supported such a distinction being made in an official and increasingly prestigious diagnostic taxonomy. Readers interested in more detail can pursue other sources (Accardo, Blondis, Whitman, & Stein, 2001; Barkley, 2006, 2011a; Barkley, Murphy, & Fischer, 2008). William James (1890), in his Principles of Psychology, described a normal variant of character that he called the “explosive will” that resembles the difficulties experienced by those who today are called ADHD. The author’s theoretical model of executive functioning (Barkley, 2012) and its application to ADHD also will be presented, providing a more parsimonious accounting of the many cognitive and social deficits in the disorder which points to numerous promising directions for future research while rendering a deeper appreciation for the developmental significance and seriousness of ADHD. But, the first paper in the medical literature on disorders of attention such as ADHD is a short chapter on this topic in a medical textbook (initially published anonymously) by Melchior Adam Weikard in 1775 (Barkley & Peters, 2012). Europe continued to view hyperkinesis for most of the latter half of the 20th century as a relatively rare condition of extreme overactivity often associated with mental retardation or evidence of organic brain damage. This discrepancy in perspectives has been converging over the last decades as is evident in the similarity of the DSM-IV criteria (see below) with those of ICD-10 (World Health Organization, 1994). Psychosocial and medical histories of stimulant-treated children. Also important here was the placement of the condition of ADD without hyperactivity, renamed undifferentiated attention-deficit disorder, in a separate section of the manual from ADHD with the specification that insufficient research existed to guide in the construction of diagnostic criteria for it at that time.
During the 1980s, reports focused instead on problems with motivation generally, and an insensitivity to response consequences specifically (Barkley, 1989a; Glow & Glow, 1979; Haenlein & Caul, 1987). Academic task performance of normally achieving ADHD and control boys: performance, self-evaluations, and attributions. Stimulant effects on cooperation and social interaction between hyperactive children and their mothers. The early caregiver-child relationship and attention-deficit disorder with hyperactivity in kindergarten: A prospective study.
Nevertheless, the manner in which clinicians and educators view the disorder remains quite disparate; in North America, Canada, and Australia, such children have ADHD, a developmental disorder, whereas in Europe they are viewed as having conduct problem or disorder, a behavioral disturbance believed to arise largely out of family dysfunction and social disadvantage. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 798-801.
By the 1970s, research emphasized the problems with sustained attention and impulse control in addition to hyperactivity (Douglas, 1972).
These cases and others known to have arisen from birth trauma, head injury, toxin exposure, and infections (see Barkley, 2006) gave rise to the concept of a brain-injured child syndrome (Strauss & Lehtinen, 1947), often associated with mental retardation, that would eventually become applied to children manifesting these same behavior features but without evidence of brain damage or retardation (Dolphin & Cruickshank, 1951; Strauss & Kephardt, 1955). Prevalence of mental disorder in military children and adolescents: Findings from a two-stage community survey.
This concept evolved into that of minimal brain damage, and eventually minimal brain dysfunction (MBD), as challenges were raised to the original label in view of the dearth of evidence of obvious brain injury in most cases (see Kessler, 1980, for a more detailed history of MBD). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 1514-1524.
Interest in these children arose in North America around the time of the great encephalitis epidemics of 1917-1918. Association of maladaptive parental behavior with psychiatric disorder among parents and their offspring.