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Diagnosens dilemman: Identitet, anpassning och motstånd hos kvinnor med ADHD
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2014 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Dilemmas of Diagnosis : Identity, Adaptation and Resistance among Women with ADHD (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the increasing medicalization of society, the process whereby social phenomenon are transformed into medical problems. Alike the general tendency of neuropsychiatric diagnoses, the number of people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has increased and expanded from a boys’ diagnosis to include both adult men and women. Studies on the latter category is however scarce. The objective of the thesis is to contribute with a micro sociological and critical perspective on the effects of the biomedicalization process, by focusing women's experience of getting and living with ADHD. The empirical material consists of narrative interviews with sixteen women, diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. The participants, age 20 to 50, were enrolled via Swedish NGOs in 2010 and 2013.

The thesis resides on four analytical themes: biomedicalization, pharmaceuticalizaton, functionality and gender. It shows how diagnostics evokes processes that involve learning and using a biomedical terminology to describe and understand oneself. ADHD is, in general, depicted as diffuse, expansionary, masculine and deviant sociability and cognitivity. Unlike depression and anxiety, described as temporary and unwanted illnesses, the ADHD-diagnosis embraces the whole personality. Hence, the women find it difficult to identifying and separating ADHD from the self. Furthermore, categorizations of oneself as a ‘woman with ADHD’ imply constructions of individual and collective identity that has ideological implications, i.e. the individual narratives are related to grand narratives. These contradictory grand narratives bring about ideological dilemmas that are handled rhetorically in the women's everyday life. The masculine connotation of ADHD, for example, render the women experiencing themselves as transgressing not only femininity but also ADHD-personhood. Additionally, as social actions are attributed to the ‘ADHD brain’, the brain is portrayed as a pathological deviant and dysfunctional object for pharmaceutical intervention. Nevertheless, this discourse is also contested by the women by pointing to 1) positive aspects of the ‘ADHD-brain’ in everyday life, or 2) gender inequalities and demands of the late-modern society. Concluding, the women in this study are not only victims of their bodies or societal norms, but also agents negotiating – adapting and opposing to – expectations of how to be an ideal citizen or woman.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sociologiska institutionen: Uppsala universitet, 2014. , 261 p.
Keyword [en]
Medical sociology; Critical sociology; Women; Neuropsychiatric diagnosis; ADHD; Biomedicalization; Pharmaceuticalizaton; Identity; Identity process; Gender; Femininity; Functionality; Narrative analysis
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-233171ISBN: 978-91-506-2421-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-233171DiVA: diva2:750762
Public defence
2014-11-14, Auditorium Minus, Museum Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3,753 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-10-23 Created: 2014-09-30 Last updated: 2014-10-27Bibliographically approved

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Lassinantti, Kitty
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