The construction of ‘ADHD’ in online information for parents and young people: a discourse analysis
mesheuropmc: mental disorders
This study used a discursive psychology approach to analyse the construction of ADHD in a small sample of online materials produced by official sources (the National Health Service, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Young Minds) aimed at parents and young people. Of specific interest was the constructed and constructive nature of discourse at a ‘micro’ level, with a particular focus on the factual accounting of ADHD, and analysis of rhetorical devices used. ADHD was constructed as an uncontested, uncontroversial and complex biomedical disorder, with environmental factors minimised or absent. A distinction was made between pathological and normal childhood behaviour, and the diagnostic process of distinguishing between ‘normal’ children and ‘those with ADHD’ a complex one requiring specialist assessment. The assistance of multiple professionals and specialist services was constructed as an integral part of help for parents and young people. The use of medication was constructed as an uncontroversial and essential part of treatment; and was the only treatment mentioned in two ‘first-person accounts’ of ADHD. Changes made to the first person account in one of the website’s texts are discussed as an indication of the conscious and deliberate use of language in the official accounting of ADHD. Implications for clinical practice are discussed in light of the analysis.