© 2018

The Discourse of ADHD

Perspectives on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Draws on original research spaning contexts including media representations, personal experience narratives, and research with parents

  • Provides a critical and discursive perspective on ADHD as a category that challenges assumptions and contributes to the debate around its meaning and legitimacy

  • Explores how negative stereotypes can be resisted and positive representations can be adopted


Part of the The Language of Mental Health book series (TLMH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Mary Horton-Salway, Alison Davies
    Pages 1-26
  3. Mary Horton-Salway, Alison Davies
    Pages 27-68
  4. Mary Horton-Salway, Alison Davies
    Pages 69-99
  5. Mary Horton-Salway, Alison Davies
    Pages 181-220
  6. Mary Horton-Salway, Alison Davies
    Pages 221-252
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 253-303

About this book


This book explores the discourse of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of the most debated mental health categories attributed to children and adults across the globe. The authors trace the origins, development and representation of ADHD to demonstrate how the category is produced through competing explanatory theories and processes of scientific, professional and lay discourse. Starting with the idea that medical categories are as much a product of cultural meaning, social processes and models of medicine as they are of scientific fact, this book utilises a range of perspectives from within critical discursive psychology to approach this topic. The authors discuss historical construction, media representation, parents’ accounts of family life, and the personal experience of children and adults to demonstrate how the construction of social identity and cultural stereotypes are embedded in the meaning of ADHD. They explore the origins of ADHD and how biological and psychosocial explanations of the mental health category have been produced, circulated, debated and resisted within a culture of ‘Othering’, and the discourse of blame. 


Child and community Psychology Mental health practice Psychiatry family therapy counselling and psychotherapy developmental psychology lifespan psychology discourse analysis discursive psychology critical psychology disability studies

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Independent Academic ConsultantDerbyshireUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Independent Academic ConsultantHertfordshireUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Mary Horton-Salway is a member of the British Psychological Society, UK, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, specialising in social psychology and the discourse of health, illness and disability, ME and ADHD.

Alison Davies is a member of the British Psychological Society, UK, and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. She is Associate Lecturer at The Open University, and also works as an academic consultant in higher education and as a counselling psychotherapist.

Bibliographic information

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