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The Social Construction and Reframing of ADHD

The Social Construction and Reframing of ADHD

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Published by Justin M.
With the Compliments of Springer Publishing Company, LLC

Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry
An International Journal of Critical Inquiry

Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 14, Number 1, 2012

The Social Construction and Reframing of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder
Barbara A. Mather, MBA, MA, CMC
Mather Consulting Group, Inc.
With the Compliments of Springer Publishing Company, LLC

Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry
An International Journal of Critical Inquiry

Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 14, Number 1, 2012

The Social Construction and Reframing of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder
Barbara A. Mather, MBA, MA, CMC
Mather Consulting Group, Inc.

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Published by: Justin M. on Oct 24, 2012
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Ethical HumanPsychology andPsychiatry
An International Journal of Critical Inquiry
With the Compliments of Springer Publishing Company, LLC 
 
Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 14, Number 1, 2012© 2012 Springer Publishing Company 15
http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1559-4343.14.1.15
The Social Construction andReraming o Attention-Defcit/ Hyperactivity Disorder
Barbara A. Mather, MBA, MA, CMC
Mather Consulting Group, Inc.
In this article, I integrate research in social construct theory, the medicalization o attention-decit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and strengths-based theory to propose a change inthe way American society negatively labels and interacts with people diagnosed with ADHD.This article presents examples o global perspectives on ADHD, the nature o stigma thatoccurs to those who receive a medical diagnosis o ADHD, and the need to rerame ADHDrom a disease to that o a positive dierence. The reader is asked to consider the implicationsor millions who suer rom the stigma o ADHD. Starting with children diagnosed withADHD, I suggest that members o society begin to rerame ADHD as a social construct rec-ognizing the strengths and positive traits because there are many. This is a call to all memberso society, especially those proessionals o the medical, psychological, social, and educationalsystems, to adopt a strengths-based model o support or those diagnosed with ADHD.
Keywords:
ADHD; social construct; strengths-based theory; reraming; stigma; nega-tive label; medicalization; positive psychology
T
he concept o social construction, as dened by Berger and Luckman (1966), startswith people in the social system who interact together. These interactions createconcepts o each other’s actions over time, and people become accustomed to theseroles by requent exposure or repetition. As these roles or experiences are introduced toother members o society and are understood and practiced by society at large, these inter-actions become institutionalized and adopted by society as knowledge. The method o transmission o this knowledge is through language. Berger and Luckman (1966) explainhow only a portion o human experience is retained in the conscious mind. They explainthat as these experiences are retained, they become sedimented, as in settled or depos-ited in a more stable state. As these experiences are shared with others, intersubjectivesedimentation occurs as more and more individuals share this common biography. Theseshared experiences are made available to an entire community, and,
. . . language provides the means or objectiying new experiences, allowing their incorporationinto the already existing stock o knowledge, and it is the most important means by which theobjectivated and objectied sedimentations are transmitted in the tradition o the collectivity inquestion. (pp. 63–64)
Social construction theory includes interpretive examination o contemporary socialphenomena in which people describe or explain the world in which they live. Social
Copyright © Springer Publishing Company, LLC 
 
16 Mather
construction theory involves discourse around the social interactions that occur andorm a socially constructed relationship. Based on contemporary events and interpreta-tions o these events, the theory holds that “people’s belies about the world are socialinventions. Reality is socially constructed based on people’s denitions” (Cheung,1997, p. 332).Similarly, an organism’s condition that has been determined to be not normal or notoperating at a level that society expects is believed to be abnormal and labeled as such.The language pertaining to this abnormality or disorder may warrant this condition or dis-ease to be proven abnormal through empirical evidence, and the results declared scienti-cally valid. It is through the social construction o mental illnesses that I present exampleso what has been dened as abnormal or outside society’s acceptance o normal humanexperience by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
ADHD: Social Construction of a Mental Disorder?
The
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual o Mental Disorders
(
DSM
), a publication o APA,refects
 American
cultural and societal trends relative to societal belies and behaviors.Many developed countries in the world ollow the DSM, but it is important to under-stand that mental disorders are dened rom American science and ontology. The inter-national discourse on psychiatric or mental disorders, as is the case with the diagnosis o attention decit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, is considerable (Amaral,2007; Berbatis, Sunderland, & Bulsara, 2002; Lloyd & Norris, 1999; Mott & Melchior,2007; Norris & Lloyd, 2000; Polanczyk, de Lima, Horta, Biederman, & Rohde, 2007).Brie examples ollow to demonstrate, rst o all, how the power o the DSM infuencesAmerican societal norms, belies, and behaviors.It was in the
DSM–I
(1952) that homosexuality was listed under the category o socio-pathic personality disturbance. The
DSM
historically undergoes rigorous review andupdate as a byproduct o scientic research and knowledge and standardization o psy-chiatric diagnoses (Mayes & Horwitz, 2005). In 1973, the
DSM–II
listed homosexualityunder personality disorders and certain other nonpsychotic mental disorders. In deningdiagnostic criteria or homosexuality in the
DSM–II
, and this exemplies social construc-tion, patients who perormed homosexual acts while imprisoned or at least 1 year with-out access to the opposite sex were excluded rom this diagnosis (Feighner et al., 1972).Finally, in 1980, the APA removed homosexuality entirely rom the
DSM–III
as a mentaldisorder. Furthermore, the controversy o introductions and deletions on that whichwarrants psychiatric diagnosis does not withstand consistent empirical rigor (Zucker &Spitzer, 2005).Passive–aggressive personality almost became the term or a psychiatric disorder to beidentied and included in the
DSM–II
. It was determined that urther studies would beneeded to establish the validity or this perceived psychiatric disorder (Feighner et al.,1972). During the timerame o the 1960s to early 1970s, one may assume that thepassive–aggressive personality style within society became objectied and was thought tobe abnormal and possibly a orm o mental illness. In this example, the rigor o scienticresearch did not support passive–aggressive behaviors as disorders.Historically, the social construction o disease has generated mobility o importantresources to help support genuine social and health problems. Fox (1989) writes o thesocial movement that was constructed around the phenomenon o Alzheimer’s disease in
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