Remembering turbulent times: accounting for Adult ADHD through the reconstruction of childhood.

Jousselin, Claude. 2016. Remembering turbulent times: accounting for Adult ADHD through the reconstruction of childhood.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis explores the diagnosis of ADHD among adults in the UK. The condition has only recently been defined as a lifelong disorder and extended from childhood to adulthood. Through ethnographic research in a specialist psychiatric clinic and with a patient organisation, this thesis traces the diagnostic process as it takes place in both sites and also between them. It highlights the role of memory practices in the many versions of ADHD that circulate.

I outline clinical and lay practices of identifying ADHD. Individuals in the support groups identified with the diagnosis through recognising themselves in other people, as if in a mirror, which I describe as ‘moments of recognition’. In the clinic, the elicitation of medical histories brought contrasting memory practices to the fore, as patients sought evidence from their childhood necessary to a formal diagnosis. Although these memory practices appear distinct, they are combined in practice.

This fieldwork led me to concentrate less on the potentially negative medicalisation of human experiences, the main topic of social science research in the field, than the ways in which memory practices were mobilised. These practices were key to the production of evidence-based diagnosis in the clinic and to collective archives in the support groups. Moreover, both types of memory practices informed wider relations. Thus, I explore unexpected ways of making kin such as the manner in which children, more commonly diagnosed with ADHD than adults, ‘made’ their parents in the light of a shared condition. Furthermore, concepts of neurobiology led some research participants to recognise strangers as ‘family’, linked by a common factor and celebrated as neurodiversity.

This thesis attends not only to the emerging and mostly unexamined lived experiences of adults with ADHD, but it also contributes to an anthropological exploration of social and caring practices more broadly.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Diagnosis, support groups, kinship, remembering, ADHD

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 April 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 May 2016 13:44

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:38


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