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American Journal of Bioethics.

Will the ?Real Boy? Please Behave: Dosing Dilemmas for Parents of Boys with ADHD

The use of Ritalin and other stimulant drug treatments for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) raises distinctive moral dilemmas for parents; these moral dilemmas have not been adequately addressed in the bioethics literature. This paper draws upon data from a qualitative empirical study to investigate parents’ use of the moral ideal of authenticity as part of their narrative justifications for dosing decisions and actions. I show that therapeutic decisions and actions are embedded in valued cultural ideals about masculinity, self-actualization and success, as well as in moral conceptions of authenticity and personal freedom. I argue that this investigation of parents’ moral justifications and dosing dilemmas raises questions about the validity of authenticity as a transcendent moral principle. Moreover, this study demonstrates that in order to be relevant, bioethical analysis of neurocognitive enhancement must engage with ground-up studies of moral principles and decision-making in context.

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Volume 5, Issue 3
May 2005