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Do you embrace or reject RAD as a formal diagnosis?


A little more than 11 years ago, I entered the wide-world of Internet information with one goal:  find the truth about my own birth-story and adoption.  Like many adult adoptees, I found myself joining Adoption.con.

It's within those pages I first learned the phrase, Reactive Attachment Disorder.

I took a look... the list of symptoms described me to a T... and I was hooked.  [Ironically, in nursing school, we were taught NOT to look at a list of symptoms and say, "Yes!  That's the problem!" because that's how fatal mistakes can be made.]

Because I was so desperate to learn more about myself and solve my own problems, I began posting like a mad-woman within a very small online support group for "adults with RAD".  It did not take very long to be asked to help moderate the growing group.  My qualifications were:  I had experience with adoption, abandonment, and various types of neglect and abuse (physical, mental, emotional, sexual).   Truth is, at the time, that's ALL I knew... but my posts were drawing a lot of attention, and my email was filling with all sorts of stories and responses.  At the time, all that mattered was, I was a popular hit.  After a while that got me pissed because many more were joining the group, and few had answers that helped adults who were suffering in really empty, miserable, (abusive) barren relationships.

Back then, I was buying into the site's belief that Reactive Attachment Disorder is a very real condition, with very real symptoms and a very grim prognosis/future.  I felt as though I found my support-group, (my cyber-home), and had no reason to question the intentions of the webhost/owner.  [She is an AP, who started the site because she was having trouble parenting her own adoptee.... it never occurred to me her website was created for a reason... to create an alliance with those who practice Attachment Therapy.]

I have since read more about the business-side of RAD... the types of therapies being used on children, and the people supporting the belief that attachment disorders need to be addressed in a very specific way.  [See:  Federici ]

I have also been reading how no definitive diagnosis can be made because too many variables exist in the adopted/fostered child.  Variables like autism, FAS, and types of trauma all make it seem very difficult for me to truly believe each RAD case is the same, so how can one single label be properly used if evidence-based therapy does not exist and many believe doctors have special interests of their own?

As I see more and more AP's posting RAD-related blogs, I feel like I must ask others -- what do you think?  Is RAD a very real diagnosis, or is it just another adoption label being used to cover major depression, PTSD, and other issues therapists really do not know how to address?

by Kerry on Monday, 17 August 2009