Psychodynamic and neurological perspectives on ADHD: Exploring strategies for defining a phenomenon

This article is a discourse analysis of two historical inquiries into what clinici-ans today call attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . Of primary con-cern in this regard are psychodynamic perspectives towards ADHD symptoms, championed by psychoanalysts and psychologists, and neurological perspectives towards ADHD, which continue to favor a purely physiological approach to understanding the disorder. Those within the psychodynamic camp are inclined to view ADHD as an interactional difficulty between self and social environment - a condition best remedied by psychotherapy. Those within the neurological camp see ADHD as a specific brain process, whose effective treatment depends upon adequate psychopharmacology. This essay argues that both psychodynamic and neurological perspectives towards ADHD have strategized to legitimate one perspective through the expulsion of the other. Within the current era of ADHD nomenclature and treatment it is clear that neurological perspectives dominate the debate. However, neurological perspectives continue to be haunted by a considerable amount of skepticism, both nationally and internationally. Because of this it would be difficult to assert that neurological perspectives, though winning the “legitimation race” in contemporary understandings of ADHD, are entirely monolithic sources of ADHD knowledge
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DOI 10.1111/1468-5914.00167
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