Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.
Help write an email to a Sociology tutor who says ADHD is medicalising the problem of naughty children.(65 Posts)
My friend has just started uni. She has a son with ADHD. She went through many years of hardship with him before diagnosis. He is on ritalin and has greatly improved.
She sat in a sociology lecture where the lecturer was talking about over medicalising problems. The lecturer said that obesity is over medicalised, fair enough in some cases, getting operations and tablets for something that can be controlled by diet and excercise.
They then went on to talk about ADHD. ADHD is medicalisation of naughty children, just sticking a medical label on them so the parents don't have to blame themselves.
One of her cohort then said 'Maybe their behaviour is due to tablets and things taken during pregnancy' (not meaning recreational, but prescribed). The tutor then shrugged as if to say 'Well maybe'.
My friend sat there trying to control her anger and tears and would like to correct the tutor in the best and calmest way possible, via email. She has asked for my help and I in turn am asking for yours.
Did anyone ask what he based his opinion on?
Maybe we can all chip in a few facts!
Our pead said that about 70% of kids he dx with adhd were born premature giving a very high probability that their birth/early labour has something to do with the adhd. Perhaps due to lack of oxygen etc etc.
I think also this tutor doesn't realise the hoops u have to jump through and the parenting courses you have to go on before a pead will give a dx! What a frigging nobosauraus!
Should we include the word nobosaurus in the email?
Coff33ee they are all very new at this. First year students, not quite at the stage of questioning or challenging.
Chundle you did make my upset friend laugh.
Can you please educate yourself further before you spout off regarding ADHD and medication by reading the following links (insert NAS link and any other adhd info I will have a search round.
PS another tip may I be so bold to suggest.....stop reading the Daily Fail
Yes plz do include nobosauraus I find it does the trick without being as offensive as cuntosaurous!
Maybe we can send all our adhd kids to nobosauraus for the day so he can pyschoanalyse them (forgetting to give them any medication that day of course ;))
Seriously though you always get someone who thinks they know everything about adhd! My cousins American wife thinks she's the Adhd boffin and that its caused by eating too many processed food and handling too many plastics!!!!!!!!
Hmmm I may not word this well what with my blood boiling and all....
can she quote to him the neorology. The link is to a 'dumbed down' version of neuroscience so should be at the level of a Sociology lecturer who has no medical training.
That and the fact that the class of drugs used in ADHD (e.g. Ritalin) tend to be neurostimulants...
It is hypothesised that the Reticular Activating System (which controls/monitors attention) is not doing it's work properly so the higher cortical levels of the brain seek more information in order to their work properly. It's a bit like the post sorting dept in a large corporate building working on a go slow. Management will come down to look for the essential information arriving in the post but they wont be able to sort as efficiently as people in the post Dept. So there will be a lot more activity and noise for less output (God does that make any sense? little sleep had here last night)...= ADHD where children and adults need to move and stimulate themselves more so that their brains get the necessary information just to get through the day. It's inefficient but effective.
This is anecdotal so no eveidence to back this point...that many kids with ADHD have sensory processing difficulties and benefit from SI therapy....why...because the 'Post' dept slows down the processing of incoming sensory information.
thats probably the least coherent thing I have ever posted....sorry
what a twatbadger
your poor friend - perhaps she could ask him if what he thinks of casual oppression by way of such sweeping and factually incorrect statements?
Porridge I knew it would cause upset, posting here, but I also knew help would be at hand. That is a great explanation, not at all incoherant, thank you.
Ooo, twatbadger too, that's a good one. Mayne not going to gain most sympathy for the cause though. Perhaps a logical and balanced argument is more called for?
I do like the idea of all our unmedicated SN children being piled on them. My own is undiagnosed (first app with paeds on Tues) and so much fun!
I do like the casual oppressionstatement though!
well if 10% of American children are on stimulant medication, how is that not medicalising normality?
And if many many (?most) Camhs teams prescribe stimulate meds without having had access to screening SLT, hearing, OT and paeds, how is not entirely likely that some are diagnosed in error.
And all children should be offered behaviour management, parent training, school resources, work on attention span, but they are not as this costs the NHS too much and stimulant meds are cheap.
And finally, do you know that the link between cigarette smoking during pregnancy and ADHD has been shown to be strong than any other factor.
So I would advise - calm down, its a viewpoint, its not unusual, its not entirely wrong, it may have been insensitively argued, or argued from too black/white a position, but your friend is presumed to be clever enough to form her own opinions.
Interesting, but I wonder if your friend may have inadvertently missed the point? Having sat through many a sociology lecture including those on the medicalisation of perfectly ordinary life circumstances (pregnancy etc), I've also sat through a fair few on the sociology of disability - ie the fact that it is the environment that 'disables' an individual, the society they live in, rather than being able to walk or not, sit still for five hours listening to a boring teacher or not... Etc etc...
I wonder if she was leading on to the next topic - the sociology of disability one, in a deliberately provoking way, to get students to start thinking, as opposed to blindly writing down what she says to regurgitate in an essay in November?
First years are a notoriously unthinking bunch. Sometimes you have to deliberately provoke them to actually raise an independent thought.
My own favorite lectures include the ever popular 'feminism is no longer needed because society is equal', and 'the armed forces are murderers and thugs'. I take my own soap box.
I have a good friend who is a brain box. (Literally, paed neuro consultant) she has some fascinating stuff about all sorts of brain development, including the latest cortisol and stress related stuff ( not that crap nursery bollocks, actual in utero/ foetal cortisol levels stuff). if the lecturer is genuinely ignorant (which is find hard to believe, most sociology lecturers I know are practically bent over backwards to accommodate difference of any sort, and legitimize it in a societal context) then she needs a good shooing.
I suspect this might be a case of deliberate provocation, though? And the lecturer didn't realize your friend would be particularly fragile? I know I've spent many hours chatting with lecturers about how my personal circs affect my pov.
Get your friend to look up how our own life experiences affect our research outcomes and how to eradicate bias and write an essay about that, referencing teaching and education, with (pointed) examples.
Sociology is a bitch as a mature student. But she'll have loads of great experiences to draw on.
ooooh noo sorry guys left my desk and that was middle dd not directed at anyone in particular I guess she was just sticking up for her brother
i like middle dd
she's got the right idea
Quietly had she smoked through pregnancy I am sure she would take that on board, but she didn't.
MadWoman that the tutor was being deliberatel provocative is a possibilty, though not a pleasant one. Thank you for that.
I agree with madwomanintheattic. When I did a social studies degree, a lot of lectures were deliberately oblique, to encourage debate, challenge, etc.
It is well known that ADHD falls into two 'camps' - the diagnosed condition, and the label.
It's the label that is the issue, not the condition.
Hahaha Coff I'm loving your middle dd she's funny
Thing is though (dds message aside) meds are not so easily dished out. Furthermore if you just have a "label" as in "must be adhd" then you are unlikely to obtain meds for it.
Also a lot of parents do a battle of emotional thought before even considering or trialing meds as it rarely is first choice.
Smoking. Nope didnt smoke when carried DS nor drink as I dont and no other medication. He was still prem.
If this sociologist does come back with further argument or debate I would be interested to see what his findings are based on.
I think deliberate provocation is fine in an academic context, tbh. They are trying to foster independent thought, and discussion around these widespread societal beliefs.
I can't think of anything worse than a lecturer (particularly a sociology one!) sticking to 'safe' viewpoints and never encouraging their students to challenge or disagree.
This wasn't a friend in a coffee shop spouting bollocks about ADHD. It was a lecturer doing the same thing in a context supposed to stimulate debate.
If it helps your friend, I got right on my high horse because of my own life experiences in my first ever written assignment. The question was 'do you think an author has to have experienced war in order to write about it?' I went on for pages, and got a C. I'd never had a c before, I was gutted. But then I remembered context and thought a bit about it more critically in the context of an academic debate. I got a first in the end, having submitted a thesis on the literature of war, with the lecturer who gave me a C as my personal tutor. it was the best thing anyone ever did. Pulled me right up and made me look wider than my own experiences.
I only recount this in order to get your friend to examine closely her own past, and get her to think about the wider implications - use your own experience, but don't let it become all consuming.
Ds1 has ADHD. dd2 has cerebral palsy. I eat essays about this stuff.
Use it. Don't waste your time misconstruing a lecture, like I wasted my time getting on my high horse about the literature of war. My own military experience counted for diddly squat if I couldn't put in an academic and much wider context.
This is a turning point in her academic career. It really is. I bet in a few years she looks back on this and goes 'omg I was sooooo naive.' I still flush with embarrassment at how completely wrong end of the stick I was. And I came out loving that tutor, and having spent hours gassing with her about the exact thing she marked me down on.
Tutor wasn't dissing ADHD. Tutor wants you to think about ADHD in a sociological context.
Haven't read on yet, but if you like, I'll offer DS1 to hand deliver it to his office. Unmedicated.
DS1 had a teacher who thought she could fix him with a few rules and a bit of the discipline his was so obviously lacking. Yeah, that worked. A little boy with a big enthusiasm for leaning (notsomuch the traditional "work" involved) wound up hating school.
quietly - DS1's ADHD diagnosis came 3 years after his ASD diagnosis, with all the SALT, OT and other input that had happened in the process. The ADHD diagnosis involved screening and observation appointments spanning 6 months. If you're inferring that CAMHS hand out pills like smarties, you're very wrong.
I am afraid that this attitude is prevalent within sociology as an exemplar of a particular viewpoint - that of 'social constructionism' - and is implicity accepted in the viewpoints of realist sociologists that remain ignorant of neurology.
tbh I think it is being generous to think that the lecturer was being deliberately provocative in order that students think for themselves - sociology is about learning required texts and bodies of thought just like any degree.
...and having the courage to argue with them.
ouryve, I may be wrong in your case, but I'm not wrong in general.
Basically what your friend should do is to write an essay highlighting the problems with a social constructionist view of ADHD and other neurological disorders bringing in research from other discplines but also experiential evidence of parents. Counter-argument needs to be research based.
Quietlysuggests. Well that makes you wrong in two so far.........DS also has salt, ot input and sensory work, behaviour management team and autism team. prior to meds.
I like keepingOns idea for counter argument purposes
I must confess that I have never felt more shame for my displicine than the stance on some SEN as the medicalisation of 'normal' naughty behaviour. But I am aware that this is only one view (and that another needs to be articuated) and am well used to dismissing the views of those I don't, and will never, agree with. Its a bit different being a 1st year undergrad.
The main thing is to spark a passion but to remain objective ifykwim.
Yy, it was objectivity that let me down.
The lecturer was frankly wrong and has no right to 'express an opinion'! They are in a position of educating in a higher education setting, and the very least they should do is be basing their teaching on valid research, not opinions!!!
ADHD when diagnosed by the appropriate HCP is a diagnosis of a set of behaviours which can be managed - sometimes with medication, if other methods do not work.
If lazy HCPs are medicating naughty children then they are not doing their jobs properly.
It is not a mental illness but it probably does have a genetic link and probably a physiological cause. In my DS case his father shows ADD signs and was similar as a child, and my father died unexpectedly when I was 7 months pg with DS (cortisol stimulation). As for parenting, DD was always little miss perfect despite having the same parents!!
Have had a little drinkies right now, so will return with sensible responses tomorrow. Thank you all though.
The lecturer is not wrong and is not expressing an opinion but in most cases is merely teaching to requirement - quite frankly they might not have an opinion! Most 1st year tutorials will be led by PhD students who have no personal experience of parenting.
I am seeing my friend this afternoon, so will print this off for ease of reading. Thank you all for you input, especially coff33pots DD.
I think she will give it a lot of thought, given what madwomanintheattic has said. Thanks again all.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Keepon. If the teacher is not wrong and not expressing an opinion then does that mean they were right Does that mean a teacher is teaching that ADHD is down to poor parenting and doesn't exist but the children are just naughty? Sorry it flies in the face of research and REAL experts. A sociologist is not an expert in paediatric psychology!
The tutor is not 'wrong' or expressing an opinion but is referring to a well established body of sociological research and writings. There is other research from within sociology that counters these views. Sociologists do not need to become medical doctors or psychologists to challenge this viewpoint. In fact doctors and psychologists lack the philosophical and sociological knowledge of all that lies behind social constructionism and so are not in a position to challenge it theoretically. There is no such thing as being 'right' in academia - there is always vehement disagreement within and between disciplines and so it is not as simple as correcting the tutor. See for example the work on embodiment and a realist perspective (Like Simon Williams - Is there any body there?).
It can be difficult to read abstract research on areas of our own lives with which we have intimate experiential knowledge. This is one of the reasons that some researchers prefer to have personal experience of the issues they research whilst others go to methodological lengths to give a voice to 'lay-knowledge' ie the voice of parents.
Leonie that is a shocking tale. Here children rarely get diagnosed under 7 years old.
Link please Keep. To the body of research that says ADHD doesn't exist but is a combination of bad parenting and naughty children? Preferably something up to date.
I disagree with your statements as to what the lecturer was expressing. If there is no right or wrong in academia (which I agree with) then the person in question should not state his views as fact but should offer both sides of the argument, which he did NOT do.
If the lecturer is then expressing a 'fact' he should qualify it with research. It appeared to be tacked on opinion.
Am I saying all children treated as ADHD are correctly diagnosed? No, I am sure some are not, but equally some are. Unlike the lecturer I am open to the fact that there are two schools of thought and am prepared to concede this. Something I feel the OPs friend should point out in her email. It's about balance!
leonie that is really shocking.
leonie sorry - didn't mean to ignore you. What you draw attention to is quite correct - the consequences of the non-medicalisation (and hence non treatment) of so-called behavioural problems leading to self-treatment and individual, familial and social costs.
Sneeze - this is not my area and so I do not have up-to-date references and I wish it was so simple that there was a single link to this - it would certainly make research a lot easier! As a start, I would do a google scholar search on the 'medicalisation of ADHD', choose and read one recent article for and one article against and use the references to find further papers. If you cannot access the full journal article but only the abstract (without paying an extortinate amount) PM your email address. Current research is influenced by 'old' research on the sociology of deviance (for example, the illegality/legality of homosexuality) and the history of psychiatry and the progression of the social identification of those who are 'ill' (and in need of treatment) rather than morally lacking (and in need of incarceration and/or punishment). Rightly or wrongly, focus remains at the level of the social and there is no sociological interest in attempting to attach blame to parents or children.
I think you are right - it should have been made clear that the views expressed were not necessarily those of the tutor. Depends on the institution - it is possible that the tutors also conduct original research but it is very unlikely that the tutor was referring to their own research. Universities are places of debate and disagreement and as such 'facts' have no place there - which is why it sometimes comes as a shock to mature students but also why tutors do not imagine that students believe they are teaching facts to a passive audience.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I teach medical sociology, and there is a lot of misunderstanding about the concepts of social construction and medicalisation.
The argument that illnesses are social constructions in most sociological theory is that illness can only understood socially. This does not mean that they have no biological basis, but that it is the social context through which we understand them.
For example, my DC are ASD. If society didn't expect everyone to act in a certain way in relation to behaviours around communication and interaction then ASD would be unlikely to exist as diagnostic category as they would not be seen as different. This is not denying that the condition is a bodily fact. The brain difference would be the same in societies that accepted them as 'normal' or see them as different. But as society does not tolerate the difference, their behaviour stands out and needs a 'label' to explain it.
Another way of explaining it is to think about other forms of body difference.
We don't divide people on the basis of the shape of their ear lobes, but we do use skin colour. Both are actual bodily differences, but the fact that one is significant and one isn't shows us that these type of divides are social constructions.
Medicalisation refers to the way that certain conditions come under the remit of medicine. It is a concept about professional power. This means the medical profession gets to decide both what behaviour is within a diagnostic category and who fits them (and don't we all know it ). Categories of difference move in and out of the control of medicine (for example being gay was a crime, then an illness now it is not either).
So the argument that ADHD is a medicalised social construction does not necessarily mean that there is no underlining biological basis. What it means is first, society deems their behaviour as outside of the range of normal and second that medicine claimed power to name and control the behaviour.
Oh and if anyone want to read a really good sociological explanation of ADHD try reading this (be warned, it is a long document)
Thank you creamteas, very helpful.
My friend has been lurking and thanks you all for your contributions. She has formed a plan of action that no longer means an email.
creamteas thanks You have just explained a lot to me not that I want to go to Uni
But I actually get the whole sociology system now
Very enlightening creamT.
I was skimming the fist 40 pages of the thesis when I lost the will to live! But the gist at that early point was that if we lived on a primitive island where the inhabitants valued energetic, innovative and lateral thinkers instead of sitting learning from books in a limited rigid society, DS would have been valued and happy....I like that scenario very much. . I've never regarded DS as mentally ill or disabled thankfully so maybe I'm glad after all that they didn't offer Ritalin....I think? No wonder its so divisive.
In the thesis a 7 year old boys parents were prosecuted for not giving their child Ritalin saying it was child neglect (in the US).....now that is really shocking.
creamteas I found that very helpful, thank you.
I havent read back the whole thread and my initial reaction was to get on my high horse. But actually, in this context I am probably wrong.
Still think the OPs friend should approach the lecturer and ask him to clarify his comments. After all the comment of one of the other students
[One of her cohort then said 'Maybe their behaviour is due to tablets and things taken during pregnancy' (not meaning recreational, but prescribed). The tutor then shrugged as if to say 'Well maybe'. ]
Would indicate his words were not taken in a sociological context (as the assumptions are saying) but possibly by other students in a literal and possibly condemnatory way. If a teacher is offering food for thought he should at least indicate this to his students.
Look I used to tutor in sociology. In a Russell Group uni. I could easily have come out with that stuff. I knew jack shit about parenting or ADHD.
It's just social prejudice masquerading as social science in my view.
ghost Your friend might find the work of Peter Conrad is significant in this respect. eg The Social Construction of Illness : Key Insights and Policy Implications published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2010. This article is a general overview and places current writings in historical and sociological context. He has also written specifically on ADHD as has others. Should be able to get free full text access. PM if you can't.
She will probably be able to get it throught the library, I would have thought. Thanks again all. Still more helpful comments keep coming.
The idea of disability/illness as a social construct often pops up on Mumsnet. I always end up asking how exactly we could construct a society where people don't mind being in pain.
As for medication being doled out like sweets, I think it is a very bad idea to make assumptions based on a totally different culture like the US. Having spent years trying to get a non-functioning dd on medication, I'd like to think that the final decision of her medical team was guided by actual medical considerations, not by the need to prove that they are not like something they were never like in the first place.
cory the idea of illness as a social construct within sociology (eg can only be understood within society) does not mean that it denies pain nor supports or rejects medication.
What it can do is explain why and how some pains are taken more seriously than others and who gets access or is denied medication and on what basis.
Unfortunately most people see the words and take a literal meaning rather than the conceptual one that it is meant to describe.
Yes I understand that, creamteas; my objection is not to a scholarly discussion of social constructs and their implications (though better perhaps in seminar than in the lecture theatre), but to those who claim (not infrequently on MN) that if only society was constructed differently there would be no such thing as disability.
There is an interesting chapter in Gillian Bendelow's Health, Emotion and the Body published in 2009 - chapter 3 - Medically Unexplained Symptoms and 'Contested Conditions'.
There is controversy around ADHD and other conditions and I believe it is misleading to argue that social constructionism is merely arguing that such things can only be understood within the social realm. Social constructionism does not argue that there is an independently existing biological reality that has causal effects in the social realm. See for example the writings of Timimi and Breggin. According to Timimi with regard to ADHD the claims of scientific evidence for the existence of a biological brain disorder are highly questionable and so argues that ADHD is best understood as a cultural intervention rather than a medical condition. For over a decade social constructionist perspectives have argued that ADHD is psuedomedical and is not a biological conditon - like 'hysteria' which used to be a popular diagnosis (for women only as it means wandering womb) but it is longer a valid diagnosis.
The core symptoms of ADHD (inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness) are controversial as they can be argued to be 'normal' aspects of childhood and teenage behaviour. Hence it is argued that there are value judgements in particular social contexts regarding desirable behaviour and ADHD is based on just such a value judgment rather than physiological symptomatology.
From the perspective of Goffman's labelling theory (which is commonly misunderstood and misappropiated by professionals telling parents that it may be damaging to seek diagnosis) it is then argued that children may 'live up' to the label and that both children and parents benefit from this labelling as the stigma of having an unruly child is legitimized by medicalisation.
Neatly wrapped bollocks in my opinion. Tutors will teach this history of ideas regardless of whether or not they agree with it and tbh will not expect 1st year students to have any additional knowledge or personal experience. Also many first years are open and so the discipline trys to appear exciting, relevent and controversial - Marx, Weber, Durkheim don't do it anymore.
I haven't got time to read the whole thread, so this may have been said, but maybe he was basing his viewpoint slightly on this which says 15% of under 15s in the Wirral are given Ritalin, presumably as not all children with ADHD are prescribed Ritalin the incidence of ADHD is higher again. Is something that occurs that often actually normal behaviour? He is a lecturer he should be able to back up his statements, isn't sociology meant to make you think things through, certainly not spoonfeeding a load of facts? As a student your friend needs to find journal articles backing up both his viewpoint and hers and then say why her's is right
little the lecturer was not expressing a viewpoint but was teaching the required sociology texts and referring to research previously carried out. Sociology 101 is a whistle-stop tour through all things sociological and the material taught cannot be selected according to the individual viewpoints of the tutors. Logistically the lecture will be to the whole year whilst tutorial groups will contain a fraction of the students. There are multiple tutors.
The lecturer was not spoonfeeding supposed facts and unfortunately the statements that were made can be backed up by sociological research - see above (whether or not it is an adequate theory is a matter of academic debate). Sociologists, like other academics, do not base their 'viewpoint' on news articles but on research published in peer-reviewed journals. In any case they would not been seen dead reading the Daily Mail or quoting BBC news but are Guardian readers
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