Accepted Paper:

The ADHD subjectivity template: patient "activism" in the Internet era  


Amelie Hoshor (University of Gothenburg)

Paper short abstract:

Exploring the ADHD “template for subjectivity” that patients present online, and drawing on fieldwork in Sweden, this paper discerns a rearrangement of the epistemic regimes within the domain of psychiatry as young patients actively appropriate and resist the expert category of ADHD.

Paper long abstract:

The era of the Internet, social media and selfie sticks offers patients increased epistemic authority, as it allows them to take on the role of directors—and not just actors—in the broader production of psychiatric iconographies. This paper considers ADHD as a "template" for subjectivity, as it is conveyed online (e.g. Youtube, memes) by patients who describe what it is like to live with the condition. I suggest that patient accounts of ADHD are central to the viral propagation of this diagnosis. They eschew the need to resort to a technical clinical language, often adopt a humoristic tone, have an endearing appeal, and tend to ignite a strong sense of familiarity or self-recognition. Drawing on fieldwork in Sweden, including participant observation at a neuropsychiatric unit, I proceed with an analysis of the interaction between the ADHD diagnosis and the young people who receive it. In so doing, I wish to put some flesh on the bones of Ian Hacking's philosophy on the "making up" of people, by querying what the possibilities there are for young individuals to play along with—or against—this diagnosis (cf. Johannisson 2015, 87). My analysis suggests that young individuals often (pro)actively seek out, internalize, enact, and instrumentally employ the ADHD subjectivity template. Others resist it, often through "everyday forms" of resilience such as diagnostic foot-dragging (Scott 1985). The appropriation of and resistance against this expert category point to a rearrangement of the epistemic regimes within the domain of (neuro)psychiatry.

Panel T073
Epistemic Regimes - Reconfiguring epistemic quality and the reconstitution of epistemic authority