In this article we report the findings of a critical discourse analysis of the diagnostic criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and hyperkinetic disorder (HD) in two clinical manuals–Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition and International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition. We examine the actions (behaviors) that are said to indicate the presence of ADHD/HD and analyze what the inclusion of these actions reveals about the relationship between ADHD/HD, cultural knowledge, and values. Our analysis reveals that both manuals use subjective, value-laden language to construct a mentally ill individual in opposition to an unseen, supposedly ‘normal’ person. We argue that the current criteria draw into question whether ADHD/HD meets the manuals’ own definitions of a disorder, and further that the discourse of the manuals is intertwined with the everyday practices of schools and serve to legitimize status quo educational practices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Health Professions(all)
- Social Sciences(all)