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Fidgety Philip - A Brief History Of ADHD

   By: Angie Dixon

Many people think ADHD is a recent "fad," a new diagnosis. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In 1845, Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, a physician who wrote books on medicine and psychiatry, wrote an illustrated book of children's poetry about children and their characteristics. "The Story of Fidgety Philip" was a portraite of an ADHD boy.

ADHD was not "discovered" by Hoffman, however, or for many years later. In 1902 Sir George F. Still described a group of impulsive children with significant behavioral problems which he ascribed to a genetic disorder and not poor parenting. He was describing ADHD over 100 years ago. He called it "Morbid Defect of Moral Control."

In 1922 the name of what we now call ADHD was changed to "Post-Encephalitic Behavior Disorders" in 1922 and "Minimal Brain Dysfunction" in 1960. The term "Attention Deficit Disorder +/- Hyperactivity" (now ADHD) came into being, after "Hyperkinetic Reaction" in 1968.

All of these names for ADHD give an idea of where the research was going at particular times. In the 1960's and '70's much of the focus on what is now ADHD was on hyperactivity, with an awareness of the "daydreaming" and distractibility coming only in the 1980's.

In 1980 the National Institutes of Mental Health recognized Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity as a disorder. ADHD was on its way to becoming recognized as a "real" illness.

In 1998 the American Medical Association (AMA) stated that ADHD is "one of the best-researched disorders in medicine."

Unfortunately, even with all of this research, no one knows what causes ADHD or how to cure it. But perhaps knowing a little of the history of ADHD will help you talk to your ADHD child and understand him a little better.

Angie Dixon is a writer and ADHD mom of an ADHD son, Jack. For a free report on helping your ADHD son, see Angie's site "That's My Son!" at

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