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Minimal Brain Dysfunction Myth

Am J Dis Child. 1976;130(4):445. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1976.02120050103028.
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Sir.—The article by Schmitt on the minimal brain dysfunction myth (129:1313, 1975) and the editorial comment by Gellis (129:1324, 1975) deserve further discussion. Both authors argue that the term is potentially damaging to the child, parents, physician, and teachers because it implies "some form of brain damage." The US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare specifically uses the term "dysfunction" rather than "damage," a concept supported by Haller and Axelrod in their accompanying article (129:1319, 1975) and one that I think serves a very useful function.

Schmitt first discusses the clinical approach to the diagnosis of the minimal brain dysfunction syndrome. He justifiably concludes that the soft neurological history (birth trauma, etc) and evaluation of soft neurological signs are not particularly helpful. However, he totally neglects the importance of establishing a history of developmental hyperactivity as opposed to hyperactivity secondary to anxiety.1 Further, he does not comment on


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