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Hyper

Hyper

A Personal History of ADHD

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, 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. Rick Lavoie, author of It’s SoMuch Work to Be Your Friend, says Hyper is “a significant and singular contribution to our field.”
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476702575 | 
  • September 2014
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Video

Timothy Denevi: What Are You Reading?

Timothy Denevi, author of Hyper, talks about reading Annals of the Former World by John McPhee.

Read an Excerpt

About the Author

Timothy Denevi
Photograph by Amy Deputy

Timothy Denevi

Timothy Denevi received his MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. His writing has appeared in various magazines including The Atlantic, Time, Gulf Coast, and Arts & Letters, and he’s been awarded fellowships by The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. He lives near Washington, DC and teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University. Hyper is his first book.

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