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The rise and rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Sami Timimi (Lincoln District Healthcare NHS Trust)
Nick Radcliffe (Wellington Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 1 June 2005



The rise in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the use of stimulant medication such as Ritalin to treat it raises important questions about how childhood is conceptualised in contemporary western society today. By focusing on within‐child explanations for behaviour, the diagnosis of ADHD divorces a child from their context; real life experiences, including traumatic ones, are marginalised or excluded from clinical consideration. This paper1 explores how ADHD manages to occupy and hold on to such a dominant position despite the lack of evidence supporting its supposed medical origins, and explores what the ADHD diagnosis reveals about cultural expectations of childhood and power hierarchies in the UK and North America.


Timimi, S. and Radcliffe, N. (2005), "The rise and rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 9-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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