Monday, April 30, 2007

Einstein’s Relativity

“I am a foster parent. My (foster) child appears angry with periods of rage and depression along with acting out, aggression… he can’t sleep at night, can’t sit still… and has basically no friends because he plays too rough. His family background is a mess… father is incarcerated, mother has a long drug history with multiple paramours, alcohol abuse, domestic violence. We have been told that he as ADHD, ODD and bi-polar disorder. He has "failed" trials on three different psychostimulants and now is taking some kind of cocktail that includes three medications at one time. Are his problems biological or environmental?” Hmmmm…

… this may take a minute to formulate a theoretical background… but please be patient with me… Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” boiled down to its child-like essence goes something like this. As a boy, young Einstein would sit along the railroad tracks and watch the trains go by. In his book, Relativity, he recalls wondering what would happen if someone threw a ball up in the air while riding on a moving train. What would it look like? Well, if you were on the moving train the ball would travel in an arc … and one could actually construct a mathematical equation that would define the arc. But, if you were sitting beside the train tracks, the ball would travel straight up and down in a line and you could construct a mathematic equation that would define the line. Both are mathematical truths! So, which is true? Does the ball travel in an arc or line? The answer… it depends on the relative position of the observer.

Hmmmm… what does that have to do with neuropsychology in general or your child, in particular? Is a symptom/problem related to a physiological disorder (mass) or a psychological disorder (energy)? The answer? Yes… it is both… any symptom/problem will have both physiological (brain/body) and psychological (energy/spiritual) components. The implication is that a holistic approach that seeks to understand both physiological and psychological contributions to symptoms is critical… and that interventions must necessarily consider both physiological and psychological factors. The physician who treats only the body is a fool as equally as the psychologist who only treats the psyche… the mind and body are simply two aspects or perspectives of the same person… and treatments must consider both avenues.

What does this have to do with your child? It means that your activities, relationship, home environment, emotional tone, etc. are as critical to your child’s healing as the medication. Oftentimes we look to wizards (ie., physicians, psychologist, etc.) to treat the body and feel powerless or impotent to affect outcomes. Your efforts are central to healing!!!


Dr. Richard Dowell is a Neuropsychologist located in Pennsylvania. Dr. Dowell evaluates upwards of 400 children and adolescents each year. In addition, Dr. Dowell is recognized as one of the top Forensic Neuropsychological witnesses in the North East.

Dr. Dowell can be contacted at

For more information on Neuropsychology visit

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