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Book details
  • SubGenre:Psychotherapy / Child & Adolescent
  • Language:English
  • Pages:125
  • eBook ISBN:9780986067358

Hope for the Violently Aggressive Child

New Diagnoses and Treatments that Work

by Dr. Ralph Ankenman

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Americans need more effective treatment options for children who have uncontrollable episodes of aggressive behavior. In this book, Dr. Ralph Ankenman describes the natural connection between aggressive behavior and the body’s adrenaline systems. He lists physical and behavioral symptoms that help a parent identify when a child’s aggression might be related to immature adrenaline system activity. He describes behavioral techniques and medication therapies that can help children successfully and safely mature out of aggressive behavior without the diagnosis of a mental disorder. Visit HopefortheViolentlyAggressiveChild.com to share notes and progress with others.
The main purpose of this book is to offer effective treatment options for an urgent problem in America—children with episodes of violent aggression. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has soared. That trend has been controversial and has presented many unanswered questions, particularly when a child’s problems primarily involve “violent meltdowns” rather than mania or depression. American children diagnosed with bipolar disorder in recent years should be re-evaluated for an altogether different condition that I call “adrenaline system over-reactivity.” This condition is related to immaturity rather than a mental disorder, and it can be treated with medications that have fewer side effects and less intrusion on a child’s mental function than the medicines prescribed for bipolar disorder. It is fundamental to understand the relationship between aggressive behavior and immature adrenaline reactivity in order to treat the behavior effectively. Thus far, treatment strategies—including medical, behavioral, and dietary approaches—do not directly address the adrenaline-based reactivity that causes the behavior to escalate out of control. A broader purpose of this book is to increase understanding about how adrenaline system activity impacts behavior in general. I would like to focus attention and encourage research on a question that modern medicine has not been asking: “What is the role of adrenaline stress in behavioral medicine?” This is an important direction for the future of behavioral science, particularly in children, whose physical and mental maturation is vulnerable and incomplete. Human aggression is directly related to activation of the body’s adrenaline systems. Adrenaline activity is a natural physical response that can produce threatening, attacking, agitated, or violently aggressive behavior in times of crisis or extreme danger. Certain children have immature over-arousal of the adrenaline systems. They experience surges of adrenaline even when they are not in life-threatening situations. When this happens, their bodies have intense physical changes like a pounding heart, and intense mental changes like a loss of rational control. These changes play a major role in the intensity and momentum of their episodes. Adrenaline over-arousal can cause behavior so extreme that it can be mistaken for symptoms of a mental disorder, yet the role of the adrenaline systems is not considered when parents seek professional help. I authored this book primarily as a description of my own 30+ years of clinical experience treating patients with aggressive and violent behavior. When I use the term “we,” I am referencing my collaboration with pediatrician Dr. Edward Cutler. In recent years, we have shared information, especially about the use of adrenaline-acting medicines for treatment of aggression. We have seen many patients mature to the point that they no longer needed medication. To date, there are no studies published that would make this treatment approach more widely available. It is my hope that this book will bring relief to those with behavior problems caused by adrenaline over-arousal and provide new options for parents and physicians attempting to care for children with intractable episodes of violent aggression. If some clinicians learn the effectiveness of adrenaline-acting medicines, researchers may conduct the studies necessary for their use to become more accepted. Treatment of childhood aggression in America can be revolutionized if adrenaline system over-arousal becomes a standard consideration. Many children could have more effective, less expensive, and possibly curative treatment without psychiatric diagnoses and without psychiatric medications.
About the author
Dr. Ralph Ankenman has treated hundreds of patients with violent and aggressive behavior problems. Over time, he discovered that adrenaline-acting medicines provided many patients with safer and more effective treatment than the commonly prescribed psychiatric medicines. Dr. Ankenman spent over twenty years as Director of the Special Psychiatric Unit at Madison County Hospital in London, Ohio, and he has consulted extensively for mental health clinics, state developmental centers, and community group homes. After closing his practice in 2008, he has dedicated his time to writing and speaking about the therapeutic potential of adrenaline-acting medications.

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