Dr. Conners spent his life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and expanding our understanding of psychology, with a particular focus on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) advancements. Often called the "Father of ADHD," Dr. Conners' exceptional additions to this field of study will ensure his legacy lives on as future research builds on his incredible lifetime of work.
Our condolences are with his family during this difficult time.
To learn more about his remarkable life in his own words please view the memorial video below
Remembering Dr. Conners
Words from MHS's CEO, Steven J. Stein, Ph.D.
Keith and I had one of our most memorable meetings at an APA conference. I clearly remember walking down the aisle of the exhibitor hall with him. We talked about his checklists and why I thought it would be a good idea to publish them. It started with him protesting that psychologists would get mad at him for not sending them a free copy of the rating scales fast enough. He was a professor, had a full patient load, gave consultations, and travelled the world talking about his research. Yet even with such a busy schedule he never refused to help a colleague, even if they were psychologists from around the country that he'd never met. He'd come home from a lecture tour and find messaging waiting for him from psychologists asking for a free copy of his scale and, of course, he'd send them a copy right away.
I told him about the advantages of publishing the scales – such as giving his answering machine a break, but also standardizing the scales. It bothered him that people were tweaking the items, adding their own items, and dropping items. It also needed a manual, as APA had released test standards at that time. I also mentioned that it would make him some money. He really didn’t see that.
“Why would anyone pay for something that they could photocopy?” he asked.
“Well,” I told him, “that’s something we publishers have figured out. Trust us.”
I'm grateful that he did and allowed us to work together to create the Conners suite of products. It was a privilege to work along side Keith for so many years and create so many lasting memories. Words cannot express my regret at his passing but I am honored to have been able to count him as a friend. He will be deeply missed.
Words from MHS's President and COO, Hazel Wheldon, M.A.
Long before I worked at MHS, I was a customer and one of the chief reasons was because of the Conners Rating Scales. The first time I met Keith was at the NASP conference in Toronto in 2003. I had just joined MHS, but was not yet on the job, in fact I was supposed to be representing my former company at the conference! I remember Keith as being this dashing and imposing figure at the booth. He was wearing a black leather jacket and was surrounded by many people who wanted to meet and talk with him. I felt like a bit of a groupie as I waited to be introduced to him.
Over the many years since, Keith and I have worked closely together to build and grow the Conners suite of products. We have held brainstorming and discussion sessions at his lake house in North Carolina, at MHS, and in hotel lobbies. Some of these were more productive than others. I will never forget the naming brainstorming session we had where we came up with the:
Conners A – ADHD version
Conners B – Broadband Behavior version
Conners C - College edition
And then because someone had read an article on dogs with ADHD we decided we could add the Conners D – for doggie edition. Clearly some ideas were better than others!
But what I will always remember best about Keith was that he was a man with a ready smile and an enormous drive to help those around him. With his passing MHS has lost a dear friend and colleague and our thoughts are with his family during this time of grief.
The Journey of Dr. Conners
Dr. Conners passed peacefully on July 5th, 2017 surrounded by his loved ones at the age of 84. He is survived by his wife, children, his twin sister, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
In 1933 Dr. Conners was born into a family of miners in Utah. From these humble beginnings his incredible mind started to develop. When he was 9 years old he was struck with rheumatic fever which left him bedridden for an entire year. With working parents and sisters in school, Dr. Conners found himself alone with no one to entertain him but his own mind. He found solace in books, consuming everything he could find with a voracious appetite. When he was well enough to return to school, his teachers discovered he'd become a student not quite like the others. As he progressed through his classes it became apparent that the junior high school curriculum wasn't challenging enough for his clever mind. Under the advice of his teachers, Dr. Conners applied and was accepted to the University of Chicago at the age of 16. His academic career was not destined to end there, however, when he was nominated as a Rhodes Scholar and was accepted to the Queen's College at Oxford. It was in those hallowed halls that Dr. Conners received his first introduction to psychology. Pursuing his love of Clinical Psychology, he entered the doctorate program at Stanford before later transferring to Harvard where he completed his PhD.
Once finished with university, he went to work as a clinical psychologist and research assistant at John Hopkins Hospital, under the supervision of the acclaimed Dr. Leon Eisenberg. There, he analyzed the data for a study of the effect of Dexedrine on symptomatology in delinquents. His realization that many of the children in the study underwent remarkable improvements on Dexedrine and Ritalin was the beginning of a lifelong study of into the disorder which would come to be called ADHD.
Dr. Conners was greatly intrigued by children exhibiting a diverse pattern of symptoms. He collected data from children in both the general population and clinical samples with an existing symptom list, and eventually published the first version of his parent rating scale. He also discovered that teachers were able to recognize dramatic changes in drug-treated children, which resulted in his use of teacher ratings as a method of documenting drug changes. He soon realized there seemed to be a growing need for these brief, simple questionnaires. The increasing use and popularity of the parent and teacher rating scales eventually made his original articles among the most cited in the literature. Dr. Conners ran a clinical program in ADHD at Duke University and was involved in the national multi-site co-operative study with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Even in retirement, Dr. Conners continued to lecture, conducted workshops on diagnosis and assessment, and served as a consultant to numerous government and private organizations.
Dr. Conners leaves behind a lasting legacy of work. He had an extraordinary and diverse career as an academic, clinician, researcher, lecturer, author, editor-in-chief, and administrator. His dedication to the study of ADHD and other childhood problems propelled him to the forefront of his field where his intense interest in this topic led him to write several books on attention disorders and neuropsychology. He also wrote hundreds of journal articles and book chapters based on his research on the effects of food additives, nutrition, stimulant drugs, diagnosis, and dimensional syndromes on behavior. His loss will be heavily felt by all those who worked with or learned from him and by the field of psychology he strove so tirelessly to advance.
MHS would like to express our gratitude for having been able to work with such an inspiring man. Dr. Conners will be deeply missed.