Experiences and Explanations of ADHD: An Ethnography of Adults Living with a Diagnosis, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Experiences and Explanations of ADHD

An Ethnography of Adults Living with a Diagnosis, 1st Edition

By Mikka Nielsen


145 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781138307063
pub: 2019-09-10
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!


Experiences and Explanations of ADHD: An Ethnography of Adults Living with a Diagnosis presents research on the lived experiences of those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Drawing on in-depth interviews with adults diagnosed with ADHD, the book provides an examination of how the diagnosis is understood, used, and acted upon by the people receiving the diagnosis.

The book delves into the phenomenology of ADHD and uncovers the experiences of a highly debated diagnosis from a first-person perspective. It further considers these experiences within the context of our time and culture and contributes to a discussion of how to understand human diversity and deviance in contemporary society. Studying both societal conditions behind the emergence of ADHD, questions concerning everyday life with ADHD, and interpretations of the diagnosis, the book offers an analysis of the intertwinement of experiences of suffering and diagnostic categories.

This book will appeal to academics, researchers, and postgraduate students in the fields of cultural psychology and medical anthropology, as well as those with an interest in the sociology of diagnoses.

Table of Contents

Table of contents

Series Editor Introduction


Ethnographic fieldwork: Examining experiences of ADHD


Chapter 1: Introduction

Aim of the book

A diagnosis of our time

An anthropological approach to ADHD

Clarifying concepts: ADHD as experience and diagnostic category

Structure of the book

Chapter 2: An old disorder or a recent product of medicalization?

A story of ADHD as an ever-present disorder

The incapacity of necessary attention

Children suffering from immorality

Minimal brain damage and anti-school behavior

A question of neurology: The rise of medical treatment

The DSM-era

A one-sided story of ADHD?

A critical explanation of ADHD

Medicalization of society

Social, political, and cultural factors behind the emergence of ADHD

Ritalin on the market

Diagnosing adults with ADHD

The need for multiple perspectives on ADHD

Concluding remarks

Chapter 3: What is a diagnosis?

Diagnostic criteria and clinical guidelines  

What is diagnosis for?  

Creating mental illness

Putting a name to it

Living in a diagnostic culture

A neurochemical era

A shift in thinking about the human

The self in medical terms

Concluding remarks

Chapter 4: Experiences and implications of getting an ADHD diagnosis

The explanatory force of a diagnosis and questions of responsibility

Restructuring narratives and self-perceptions

Evaluating yourself and considering new questions

Restructuring practices and crafting skills

Ambivalences towards the diagnosis

Taking medicine and experimenting with experiences

A moral concern: Becoming the person you want to be

Concluding remarks

Chapter 5: Explaining and making use of an ADHD diagnosis

Dynamics between explanations and experiences

Identifying with ADHD

Distancing from ADHD

Explanations of ADHD and expectations to treatment

Having or being ADHD?

Concluding remarks

Chapter 6: ADHD as a temporal phenomenon

Studying rhythms and experiences of time

The rhythms of the body

When the world is in a different pace

Social synchronization: Trying to keep up but lagging behind

Developing time work strategies

Is society catching up on ADHD?

Concluding remarks

Chapter 7: Conclusion

Becoming someone with ADHD

Explanatory models of ADHD

ADHD as a relational phenomenon

Avenues for future research

Implications and recommendations for practice

About the Author

Mikka Nielsen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Health Research in the Humanities, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

About the Series

Cultural Dynamics of Social Representation

The series Cultural Dynamics of Social Representation is dedicated to bringing the scholarly reader new ways of representing human lives in the contemporary social sciences. It is a part of a new direction – cultural psychology – that has emerged at the intersection of developmental, dynamic and social psychologies, anthropology, education, and sociology. It aims to provide cutting-edge examinations of global social processes, which for every country are becoming increasingly multi-cultural. Therefore, social sciences need new ways of considering how to study human lives in their globalizing contexts. The focus of this series is the social representation of people, communities, and – last but not least – the social sciences themselves.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Research & Methodology
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology