80HD : ADHD an explorative research

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Sociologiska institutionen

Author: Lisa Van Doremalen; [2015]

Keywords: adult ADHD; qualitative; self; identity; stigma;


ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder was first described as such in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, the DSM in 1987. Since then the disorder has had great interest from research but also from society. The amount of ADHD diagnoses has increased every year since the disorder has been established by the American Psychiatric Association and is in recent years the most established mental illness among children and adults.

The goal of this paper is to explore how people diagnosed with ADHD subjectively define and experience the abstract object of ADHD.

Previous research focuses on mapping the problems and impairments resulting from this “illness”, to gain more insight into the differences between people diagnosed with ADHD, and people who do not possess the described symptoms, often focused on the problems people experience. Social constructionists look upon ADHD as socially constructed; a socially valued dysfunction, a deviant pattern of behaviour was once observed and categorised into what we now call symptoms. The word symptom demonstrates indication or evidence, and the abstract object takes on disease like properties. The object becomes reified, which means as much as become real. The result is that ADHD is seen as the cause of problems, instead of a group of problems that was once labelled ADHD.

The informants used for this research seem to have problems with controlling their impulses, which besides negatively influencing executive functioning, causes problems with social interaction. The informants often express feeling misunderstood by their environment, they feel different. They feel discriminated against by the structures of school, work and society as a whole which, they feel, impairs their abilities and missuses their talents. They express to feel at ease when they are fully occupied with something interesting and seem to call for understanding for their inabilities and space to develop their talents. 

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