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Tell me what you think about Oliver James.....

(35 Posts)
WhatFreshHellIsThis Sun 19-Jul-09 11:13:53

.....have been reading his column in Guardian Family every week with feelings of indignation and horror, mostly.

Now this week he says "There is now overwhelming evidence that Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and behaviour problems are directly caused by maternal stress during pregnancy."

Seems like a very definitive and bold statement - is there this evidence? I know nothing about ADD and ADHD, so please can someone with more knowledge tell me, is this man right or just grinding his particular axe? (He's not keen on early years childcare, either, is he, IIRC?)


Meglet Sun 19-Jul-09 11:17:01

I like his book, but didn't know he had a new column (haven't read the paper much lately). I will have to check it out.

monkeytrousers Sun 19-Jul-09 11:20:18

Oliver James for instance is a twat

(he is not very well respected in the field either, as far as I can gather)

WhatFreshHellIsThis Sun 19-Jul-09 11:21:29

tbh, I'm finding his column rather patronising and very selective in its evidence. It seems to purport to be a presentation of evidence on certain topics, but he doesn't present much of a range of evidence, only stuff that supports his own views, AFAI can work out.

He seems to have stuck his neck out quite far with this ADD assertion though, I wondered how much he is in agreement with the body of evidence.

littlelamb Sun 19-Jul-09 11:21:55

What a load of bollocks. WHat he hasn't taken into account is that those mothers who are stressed or depressed in pregnancy may very well be depressed after the baby is born as well and that may well have affect on a child's behaiour. fwiw, I had two terrible pregnancies that were marred by depression and my dc are fine. Had someone told me I was giving them ADHD as well, that would have made me feel just great hmm
Incidentally, I took part in a study when I was pg with my first that concluded that depression in pregnancy does not indicate that you are more likely to suffer depression postnatally, and for me that was certainly the case. I think the issue, if ADHD is caused by maternal behaviour at all, is that many mothers who feel overwhelmed or depressed or are just disinterested don't get the help they need. In cases where a child is ignored all day, of course there will be issues.

Mamazon Sun 19-Jul-09 11:26:40

i don't need to read the artcile to know that he is a big hairy wart on the bottom of a big hairy mans arse.

What a ridiculous statement.

Adhd is caused by a chemical imbalance in teh brain. teh body doesn't produce enough of one chemical so it over produces another to compensate thus making the sufferer hyperactive.

not exactly the medical definition but thats my understanding of it.

Ds is asd and has ADD. unfortunatly my own experience would possibly prove his theory becaus ei suffered DV whilst pregnant. however i was still with the same man and suffering even worse violance at home during my pregnancy with DD and she is perfectly NT.

MollieOolala Sun 19-Jul-09 11:28:34

I had an unbelievably stressful pregnancy and for several months after ds was born and he doesn't have ADD or ADHD. What a load of tosh.

Upwind Sun 19-Jul-09 12:13:04

Agree wholeheartedly with MT "Oliver James, for instance, is a twat"

I recently had an extremely stressful, and complicated, pregnancy. I feel guilty and sad enough about it without this wanker suggesting that my own stress levels damaged my baby, without any persuasive evidence. Unfortunately, I can guarantee that my mother has read this and in the future will be pestering me about possible PND.

I suppose expectant mothers, and parents of children with SN are a nice soft target for James, in his efforts to sell newspapers. This idea, that any problems must somehow be the mothers' fault, is nice and easy for the hard of thinking.

James at least provides a single reference to support his assertions:
O'Connor, TG, 2005, Biological Psychiatry, 58, 211-17

If anyone has access to journals, it has been widely cited and so has probably been put in context by more recent work.

Upwind Sun 19-Jul-09 12:14:08

"nd in the future will be pestering me about possible ADD and ADHD.

phdlife Sun 19-Jul-09 12:24:06

I always, always, always wanted to slap his silly face - especially after reading his columns wink. Ah, happy Guardian days.

splodge2001 Sun 19-Jul-09 12:36:56

he's a monstrous egocentric twat - simples!

splodge2001 Sun 19-Jul-09 12:37:46

and he looks like a bald zoe wannamaker

MIAonline Sun 19-Jul-09 12:44:23

I haven't read his book and have only read his column sporadically over the last few years.

I do think he tends to make sweeping, bold statements with a great deal of, what seems to be his own personal opinion, thrown in.

However, I have often thought, hmm bet there is something in what he has said and usually only partially agree.

In this instance, I do think more research needs to be done as I think there has been more emphasis placed on maternal health and the implications of things such as smoking, drinking etc and not enough placed on maternal mental health.

frogs Sun 19-Jul-09 13:22:23

He thinks kids' personalities are acquired after birth rather than being largely innate. Clearly the pronouncement of someone who has had insufficient children of his own to realise that this is in fact complete tosh.

And he has a mouth like a cat's bum. <gavel>

dittany Sun 19-Jul-09 13:24:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

edam Sun 19-Jul-09 13:39:43

Agree with MIA, he makes pronouncements based on a small piece of research that fits his views while ignoring any contrary evidence. A bit too much tablets of stone handed down by God for my taste.

You could read the 'stress is bad in pregnancy' as a message to other people to be very kind to pregnant women, though.

wahwah Sun 19-Jul-09 14:39:52

I used to quite like him, but found Affluenza a bit too ranty and try hard. Not sure about ADHD ADD and stress in pregnancy. It doesn't seem off the wall that marinating your babies in stress hormones has an impact. I had a stressful first pregnancy and although my son seems fine, I doubt it did him any good.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 19-Jul-09 14:49:09

Hmm...I don't read it like that. I think it is not blaming anyone, it is descriptive.

For example, his rants against society in 'your parents fuck you up' is more ranting at the way we have constructed society rather than blaming parents for putting children in nurseries under the age of three.

If ADD and ADHD is caused by stress in pregnancy it is more about how we have such a stressful society, how you mostly need two wages to live on, how women work til almost the end of their pregnancy.

We do ourselves no favours taking this on (as women)and beating ourselves up with it.

If it was caused by stress hormones in pregnancy instead of blaming ourselves we should put our energy into better care/lower working hours/less stress through pregnancy.

If it is because of that, it is a campaigning issue.

I for one, would welcome an explanation for these conditions in order that we can make changes in how we bring up the next generation. I'm guessing prevention is cheaper than all the initiatives and health service care we need for these conditions.

ScummyMummy Sun 19-Jul-09 14:52:37

Message withdrawn

WhatFreshHellIsThis Sun 19-Jul-09 19:29:41

Ahem. Was that really necessary? I mean, I don't agree with the man, but that was surely a bit personal.

If not libellous.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Sun 19-Jul-09 19:36:07

I think he is an arse with a bit too much of an issue with his own mother that he cannot help but project.

Whenever I think of his book based on the Larkin poem This Be the Verse (They fuck you up, etc), I am reminded of Adrian Mitchell's rejoinder:

They tuck you up, your mum and dad,
They read you Peter Rabbit too,
They give you all the treats they had
And add some extra just for you.

They were tucked up when they were small,
(Pink perfume, blue tobacco smoke),
By those whose kiss healed any fall,
Whose laughter doubled any joke.

Man hands on happiness to man,
It deepends like a coastal shelf.
So love your parents all you can
And have some cheerful kids yourself.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Sun 19-Jul-09 19:37:01

I thought Affluenza was a good thought-provoking read though, populist but interesting.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Sun 19-Jul-09 19:39:06

deepens obv blush

A deep end is a completely different (Freudian slip) thing.

GentlyDoesIt Sun 19-Jul-09 19:55:27

I got a lot out of reading "They F* You Up" and do look out for his column in the Family supplement, but he does seem to be on a campaign to identify "nurture" as being the sole root of all the ills of humankind. I have sometimes wondered if he has made it his life's work to make parents everywhere feel like crap.

Salme101 Sun 19-Jul-09 19:58:49

I agree with LaurieFairyCake - he's calling attention to some important issues that need to be addressed for the wellbeing of future generations. In the course of doing that, he tends to say things that make people a bit uncomfortable. He also has a rather unfortunate manner and, er, face, which makes people take against him even more. I liked Affluenza, particularly the policy prescriptions at the end: radical and spot-on.

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