Russell Barkley: Biography of this psychologist and researcher

Russell Barkley is a controversial author, most notably for being an expert on one of the most questionable disorders in the history of psychopathology: ADHD.

Regardless of what position one may take regarding the disorder and its intervention, both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological, the truth is that Russell Barkley has made a significant contribution to ADHD research.

In this article you will find a biography of Russell Barkley; we will talk about the life of this clinical psychologist, author of several books and hundreds of scientific articles, in addition to being a collaborator with several universities and pharmacists.

    Russell Barkley biography

    Russell Barkley is a clinical psychologist who has had a prolific professional life, Working as a researcher and professor in several universities, in addition to being the author of 23 books and nearly 280 scientific articles.

    It has been cited by nearly 100,000 other authors in the field of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and pediatric clinical psychopathology researchers.

    Early years and training

    Russell A. Barkley was born December 27, 1949 in Orange County, New York. He was the son of a family of five and had a twin brother, Ronald Foster Barkley, who died in 2006 in a car accident.

    Russell Barkley attributes his brother’s death to reckless behavior, such as consuming large amounts of alcohol and not wearing a seat belt, which he has always considered. symptoms of a possible ADHD case.

    He graduated from the Maryland school and spent a year in Vietnam during the war, working in the US Air Force. He married his wife Patricia on March 15, 1969, from whom he would divorce in November 2019.

    Russell Barkley has won several degrees throughout his life. He received an arts degree from Wayne Community College, Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1972. He would also earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. so i would have it a doctorate in clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Between 1976 and 1977, he was an intern at the University of Oregon, in its health sciences center in Portland.

      professional career

      In 1977, he began his professional career at the Medical College of Wisconsin and then at the Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee, where in 1978 he founded a department of neuropsychology, until 1985.

      He then moved to Massachusetts to work at the city’s medical school, where he worked as director of psychology from 1985 to 2000. He would work there as a professor of psychiatry and neurology. In 2005, he will join New York State University, Where he would conduct research on psychiatry.

      He also taught at the South Carolina University of Medicine between 2003 and 2016. Since then he has taught regularly at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, and in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry.

      Behavioral inhibition deficits model

      Barkley’s scientific work has focused, in particular, on the study of ADHD. As we mentioned earlier, this interest could be linked to his twin brother showing symptoms of someone with this disorder, and Russell Barkley himself considered it a case of ADHD. undiagnosed.

      In 1997, he published his book ADHD and the Nature of Self-Control (ADHD and the Nature of Self-Control). It is in this book that tries to rearrange their thinking around the disorder, particularly focusing on how the alterations occur in executive functions and how these affect the daily life of the person diagnosed with ADHD.

      In this book, he poses the model of behavioral inhibition deficits, a theoretical model in which the aim is to explain the symptoms characteristic of people with ADHD. This model is considered to be included in cognitive models, and it is proposed that the main problem with ADHD is the difficulty in inhibiting or delaying the response, i.e. not having the ability to avoid emitting a rushed response en masse.

      In the model, Barkley argues that executive deficits in behavioral inhibition involve impaired other executive functions, which depend on this inhibition to be able to function in the most appropriate way. These executive functions would be:

      • Non-verbal working memory.
      • Verbal working memory (internalization of speech).
      • Self-regulation of emotions, motivation and activation.
      • Reconstruction (analysis and synthesis of behavior)

      It is for this reason and the model that Barkley proposes that the author considers that it is not entirely correct to qualify this disorder as “attention disorder”. He thinks it would be more appropriate to call it “behavior inhibition disorder”, since the inability to avoid too hasty a response is believed to be the main culprit in cognitive and behavioral problems.

      Rebel Children Program

      The Defiant Children program is another of Barkley’s major contributions to the field of child psychology. a program that aims to train parents to reduce their children’s disobedience. There is also a version targeted for parents of teenagers, called Your Defiant Teen.

      This program is behavioral and consists of 8 stages that attempt to improve the child’s behavior, his relationships with other children and adults, as well as to facilitate his adaptation at home and at school. The program was developed on the premise that a child’s misconduct is due more to factors related to the parent’s educational style than to their child’s personality issues. Poor parenting practices are the root cause of child misconduct.

      Within the program, what is done first is to define a list of desired behaviors and that they should be achieved in the short, medium and long term. Then, once the target behaviors have been clarified, a system of rewards and punishments is worked out, where it is especially important to ignore behaviors that are inappropriate (as long as they are not too disruptive) or that have been performed outside. time. The reward system is done by applying a token system.


      On November 16, 1998, Barkley made a statement that sparked some controversy. He argued that Ritalin (methylphenidate), a drug for ADHD and colloquially called the “math pill,” should be classified as one of the main treatments to help people diagnosed with the disorder or those who needed to see. their increased cognitive abilities.

      One fact that has always been taken into account is that the diagnosis of ADHD is the highest in the United States, which has raised doubts as to whether this disorder is as solid and real as one might think. Barkley was asked about it, and he replied that it should not be taken into account how other countries had been diagnosed with the disorder, that the United States should not matter as to other countries, or allow foreign health standards to have an impact. on American society.

      Most recently, in 2018, Barkley was hired as a consultant at Takeda Pharmaceutical to contribute to a digital training program for people with ADHD. This is nothing new, as Russell Barkley has been engaged as a consultant and reader in numerous pharmaceuticals: Eli Lilly, McNeil, Janssen-Orth, Janssen-Cilag, Novartis, Shire and Theravance. These financial ties to “Big Pharma” have been widely criticized and a possible conflict of interest has been suggested in his research.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Barkley, R. (2015). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a manual for diagnosis and treatment. 4th ed. New York: Guilford Press.
      • Barkley, R. (1997). ADHD and the nature of self-control. New York: Guilford Press.
      • Barkley, R. (2013). Caring for ADHD: The Complete and Authorized Guide for Parents. New York: Guilford Press.
      • Barkley, R. (2010). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: the latest assessment and treatment strategies. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
      • Barkley, R. (2010). Caring for ADHD for Adults. New York: Guilford Press.
      • Barkley, R. (2012) Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work and Why They Have Evolved. New York: Guilford Press.

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