A few weeks ago, Philippa Perry, a published author and psychotherapist, made some rather concerning comments about ADHD in the mainstream media. She said that it is now considered fashionable to have ADHD, well not to burst her bubble but having ADHD has never got me anywhere in terms of being top of the pecking order, let alone the fashion catalogue. Of course, she did expand on her point to say that things like ADHD are on the rise and that now suddenly everyone has it. However that might be down to a little thing I like to call awareness!
Now while I never see anyone claiming to have ADHD as some sort of rite of passage, I do see many people these days, especially on social media, claiming to have ADHD without having a genuine diagnosis. While I sympathize with anyone who is struggling to get through the long winded and complex diagnosis process and continue to campaign for better accessible in that area, I continue to think self-diagnosis is heading for dangerous territory.
Unfortunately, we do live in a society that has created a victim mentality mindset, and that statement may cause a little bit of controversy so let me explain myself further before anybody gets their feathers well and truly ruffled. This victim mentality mindset has been encouraged by a cultural shift, which has predominately been caused by the mainstream media and politics.
The mainstream media through entertainment such as reality TV shows has made having a unique factor, an essential attribute for gaining attention or succeeding in a competition. While politics around benefits and targeted inclusion have shifted a cultural outlook from ‘what can I do for my society to what can society do for me’ A combination of these things means people have not only come to embrace what’s different, but have wanted to become that difference themselves, which doesn’t always work for everything.
That’s why we have so many labels in society now, because not only want to identify with others, but they also want to be given an identity. That’s great for certain things, for example, if you embrace hip hop and then become a hip-hop artist. However, as much as you can embrace ADHD and how it can be both a blessing and a curse, you can’t suddenly become an ADHDer. Here in lies the problem; people love being included with things because it gives them have a sense of community, but they don’t like being excluded, even when practically it doesn’t fit.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying this to discourage people from thinking they might have ADHD or pursuing a diagnosis. What I’m saying is ADHD as a condition has always struggled to be taken seriously. There are so many people out there who still think it doesn’t exist, that it’s just caused by a lack of discipline. While self-diagnosis isn’t caused by these things, it does give more weight to them. Afterall if anybody can suddenly say they have ADHD then what’s the point in a doctor diagnosing it? And if a doctor doesn’t diagnose it, is it even a condition at all?
Of course, you can say I suspect I am ADHD but don’t want to go for a diagnosis, you can say I strongly identify with ADHD traits, you can even say I am awaiting a diagnosis, but claiming to have ADHD when you’ve not been diagnosed is like someone claiming they are autistic when they’ve not been diagnosed with autism. Everyone is on the spectrum to some degree, and most people have some of the traits, but not everyone meets the threshold for having Autism. These conditions are extremely complex which is why they need a doctor to diagnose them.
I will embrace anybody into the ADHD community, people who want to know more about it, people who love people with it and people who have it or think they have it, but if we want to be taken seriously for our condition and difficulties then we’ve got to be clear on what it is and the only way to do that is for it have set criteria which is diagnosed by a doctor.
Agree? Disagree? Then you might be very interested to listen to January’s podcast episode where is all about whether the ADHD label is needed or not, when I’ll have guest who has chosen not to be diagnosed. No matter what you’re opinion ADHDers and allies, you’re welcome here 😊