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Lawrence Diller, M.D.
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Lawrence Diller practices behavioral/developmental pediatrics in Walnut Creek California and is on the clinical faculty of the University of California, San Francisco. His latest book is "Remembering Ritalin: A Physician and Generation Rx Reflect on Life and Psychiatric Drugs" (Perigee, 2011). He and his wife, Denise, are living and working in Melbourne, Australia from July 2015 to June 2016.

Entries by Lawrence Diller, M.D.

Australian Day 2016: Knighthood, the Republic and the Open

(1) Comments | Posted February 10, 2016 | 5:59 AM


Australia Day (January 26th) has come and gone. The day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney...

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The United States of Adderall (Part IV)

(1) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 8:32 PM


(Read The United States of Adderall Part I, Part II, Part III)

Adderall misusers and abusers represent a broad societal trend that is endemic to the American psyche. We are a nation obsessed with the pursuit of...

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The United States of Adderall (Part III)

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 11:46 AM

(Read The United States of Adderall Part I and Part II)

Amber was a good kid and a rule-follower who did most of her homework most of the time, up until the beginning of high school, when she started to spend more hours thinking about boys...

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United States of Adderall (Part II)

(1) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 12:39 PM


(Second of four in a series. Read the first installment)

It's worth questioning how many people truly need prescription stimulants and that's where unknowns start to overwhelm what we can say for sure is true. For one thing, there is no...

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Ozian Weather and Fauna

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2016 | 3:19 AM


About ten days ago at 6 PM the temperature in South Yarra (our section of Melbourne) was 111 degrees (F). Today the high for the day was 64 degrees. Basic math says that's a 47 degree difference. For my Aussie friends...

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The United States of Adderall

(1) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 2:16 PM


Amber was out of control. She knew she should stop. But her intense lows -- after that feeling of invincibility wore off -- made her feel like she was being slowly crushed by a truck. And the promise of her highs was so...

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The Tale of Two School Boys

(1) Comments | Posted January 5, 2016 | 8:48 AM


Happy New Year everybody. Denise and I have reached the halfway point in our yearlong adventure Down Under. We chose to live and work, not simply travel, in another country in order to really get to know another society. The Letter from Melbourne...

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Dreaming of a Hot Christmas

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

It's a week before Christmas and it's 32°C here in Melbourne. That sentence explains nearly everything to contrast the "holidays" in Oz compared to the Bay Area. Thirty-two degrees Celsius, by the way, is 97°F according to my handy temperature conversion app on my phone. Temperature is one of the...

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Compulsory Voting in Australia -- How UnAmerican!

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2015 | 10:18 PM


The majority of Americans are fed up with the "thoughts and prayers" response to yet another mass shooting in the U.S. A previous Letter from Melbourne addressed the Australian position on gun ownership and controls after the Port Arthur massacre in...

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Why Paris Won't Happen in Melbourne

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2015 | 1:15 AM

I have been thinking like many of us about Paris and wondering how I might begin a Letter on ethnicity, racism and opportunity in Australia, the U.S. and France. So let me start with a scene outside the South Yarra Primary School which faces Fawkner Park less than a 10...

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Homelessness and Jock Straps: Australia's Got Neither

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2015 | 11:57 PM

The other day I was leaving Woolies (sic?). That's the usual Australian diminutive for Woolworth's Supermarket* in Prahran about 4 blocks from our townhouse in South Yarra, Melbourne. At this moment if I were using footnotes in my Letters I would have the asterisk direct you to the bottom of...

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Halloween and Gun Control: The View from Down Under

(10) Comments | Posted October 28, 2015 | 3:10 PM

My wife and I have been living in Melbourne for the last four months and have had an opportunity to compare the differences between two very similar countries (America and Australia). Observations on Halloween and gun control policy are particularly pertinent based upon the calendar and recent events in the...

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Witness to Corruption: The Merchants of Speed or the Modern-Day ADHD Medicine Show

(3) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 1:58 PM

The Fourth of a Four-Part Series

(Read parts one, two and three)

The annual American Psychiatric Association (APA) conference is huge, attracting thousands of doctors and other professionals from around the world. When it convened in San Francisco several years ago, I decided to...

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Witness to Corruption: The Merchants of Speed or the Modern-Day ADHD Medicine Show

(3) Comments | Posted August 18, 2014 | 11:49 AM

Part Three

(Read parts one and two.)

In the late 1990s, under the guise of corporate "freedom of speech" initiatives, drug companies pressed for the right to advertise their products directly to consumers. For the previous 70 years, the FDA, whose mandate is to protect the...

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Witness to Corruption: The Merchants of Speed or the Modern-Day ADHD Medicine Show

(2) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 2:12 PM

(Second of four parts: read Part one)

I never got a confirming report from my dinner-meeting colleague on Strattera. Indeed, in the ensuing years, despite a massive marketing campaign directed at both physicians and patients, Lilly failed to get Strattera approved as a first-line ADHD drug by any...

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A Witness to Corruption: The Merchants of Speed Or The Modern-Day ADHD Medicine Show

(4) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 9:46 AM

During my entire 30-plus-year career as a behavioral/developmental pediatrician in private practice, I have attended only one drug company-sponsored dinner where I was paid for just showing up.

In 2003, I received a letter from Eli Lilly and Company, inviting me to hear a former Columbia...

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Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You: Adderall Abuse

(2) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 2:51 PM

The rise of both the ADHD/ADD diagnosis and the use of stimulant drugs like Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin is once again front page news. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) telephone survey found that nearly one in five high school boys' parents have been told their child...

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My Uneasy Marriage to Ritalin

(2) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 12:44 PM

I've been uncomfortably married to Ritalin for 35 years. That's how long as a behavioral pediatrician I've been prescribing stimulant drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta to children and adults in my suburban private practice outside of San Francisco.

Prescription stimulants, which are all a version of amphetamine, have been...

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Why Not Adderall for Finals Week?

(6) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 10:57 AM

Having prescribed drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to children for 35 years, I've participated with concerned fascination in the ADHD/ADD epidemic that has swept our country. Still, I was surprised that I felt so troubled when 16-year-old Joe's* mother, Susan*, called me the other day and...

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Rx for S.S.D. (Sick Society Disorder)

(3) Comments | Posted April 16, 2013 | 1:23 PM

Shock and incredulity greeted a front-page New York Times article last week that nearly 1 in 5 American high school boys had attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Times analysis of the most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey of 76,000 households had the overall rate of ADHD...

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