Sample Nursing Paper on Stigma in ADHD

Stigma in ADHD

Part 1: The Problem

ADHD affects different sectors of the social life of a patient. Stigma, discrimination, and prejudice are some concepts that ADHD patients encounter throughout their lives. Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman helps to explain that stigma represents a situation where a person may receive disqualifications from complete social acceptance because of prevalent conditions like ADHD. Stigma against people with ADHD represents a reflection of expressions of discredit, especially concerning stereotypes from false allegations and characteristics attributed to the group of people experiencing unfavorable attributes, behaviors, and features (Gavin & McNicholas, 2018). Stigmatization among ADHD patients also occurs when a majority of the society maintains open views that the condition fosters attention-seeking, childish, or inappropriate motives. The presentation of concepts and behaviors related to ADHD to undiagnosed groups can also increase the tendencies of feelings of hostility and peer rejection leading to stigmatization.

The stigmatization consequences also fall on ADHD patients from society’s tendency of accusing affected people of the unwillingness to fit within the social system. Americans, for instance, mentioned that dangerousness among people and unwillingness to participate in social activities through antisocial behavior represented the main challenges promoting psychiatric disorders. ADHD, with it, focus on emotional and social adjustment challenges, thus, stands high chances of receiving focus in diagnosing stigmatization of its patients where society views patients as having choices concerning their behaviors, especially in public. Stigmatization also promotes prejudice concerning the symptoms of ADHD, where misconceptions may arise as to whether the people or environments are leading causes of the condition. ADHD stigmatization may accredit the status to concepts like poor parenting, alcohol consumption, of excessive use of sugar.

Part 2: The Person

            Erving Goffman was a social psychologist and sociologist famous for contributing the social theory for the active development and growth of symbolic interaction. The primary study areas added by the sociologist include social interactions, social constructions about self, social organization in experience, stigmas, and everyday living sociology (Honkasilta et al. 2016). The social psychologist also contributed to stigma through examining ways of protecting identities, especially when dealing with different social appearances, behavior, or standards. Goffman explained that stigma represents the shame or expressions that a person may feel when experiencing other individuals’ measures that can contribute to any form of discrediting.

Goffman helped to show that despite looking evidence showing ADHD as a disorder, parts of society continue to view the illness as defective and that those diagnosed with the condition have the same skilled, competent, and personable characteristics as the rest of the population. Lack of belief that ADHD represents a real condition promotes increased stigmatization portraying patients as lazy or sloppy. Academic performance represents another source of stigmatization for ADHD patients. The sociologist Goffman explains that society’s perception of the value of education creates a direct relationship between education and worth (Jetten et al. 2018). When ADHD patients prove academically challenged because of the condition, stigmatization worsens, especially in showing little to no value among the victims.

The sociologist Goffman expounded on some of the challenges of stigmatization on victims with ADHD. Stigmatization may cause obvious social problems like workplace discrimination. However, great harm derives from self stigmatization, where ADHD patients begin internalizing the negative stereotypes as if they represent truths. Self stigmatization can lead to denial in attempts to avoid any form of discrimination (Lebowitz, 2016). ADHD patients, for instance, may opt-out of medication if they feel that taking such prescriptions may contribute to the fact that they have a problem. Instead, the self stigmatization leading to a refusal to take medication may help in luring the patient to believing that they have health and no mental conditions.

Stereotypes also lead to stigmatization. Goffman explains that the majority of patients with ADHD may remain children. Nonetheless, a large portion of ADHD patients is adults. The perception in society that ADHD primarily affects only children leads to the creation of suspicion among adults claiming to have the disorder. Suspicion breeding stigmatization may lead to prejudice or wrongful analysis of ADHD patients.

The sociologist also offered different ways that people with ADHD can use to avoid stereotyping or stigmatization. People may control and take recognition of cases of stigmatization by maintaining proper awareness of the stereotypes. ADHD patients may understand that talking about the condition with different groups in society may lead to stigmatization (Lebowitz, 2016). Finding help among sociologists and psychologists on the matter can assist in developing management skills against any form of stereotyping.

Goffman also understands that revealing the diagnosis of ADHD represents a dilemma that the victim needs to master to avoid any form of stigmatization. Concealing ADHD may avoid any labels of stigmatization but may increase the risk involving indirect discrimination. Timing and judgment calls are as important as receiving advice from consultants and therapists on ways of revealing conditions like ADHD to society. Therapists and consultants can also help patients to understand the meaning of having and living with ADHD and concepts like stigmatization.

Part 3: The Possibilities

            Goffman’s supporters would participate in different projects today to avoid the growth of stigmatization concerning ADHD.  Getting involved in organizations like Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) or Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) can offer a voice for patients (Michel, 2017). The organizations help to unite patients with ADHD by providing the opportunity to speak up about the condition while educating the society that may contain misinformation about ADHD. Organizing local campaigns, for instance, can help to address some of the challenges like self stigmatization that many ADHD experiences in the hands of society. By focusing on sensitivity, being spontaneous, and thinking without limits, ADHD organizations can reach a broader audience with relevant data for the education of the society in preventing any forms of stigmatization.

Getting educated about ADHD, its effects, and symptoms through peer-reviewed sources and other materials like the Internet can also shed light on existing stigmatization affecting the care and treatment of the condition. The society can also receive accurate information on the effects of stigmatization towards ADHD to prevent its growth. Education also promotes information that leads to speaking up about the inconveniences regarding ADHD, especially those without any form of reference or proof like the stigmatization of the condition (Michel, 2017). Speaking up against the injustices of stigmatization for ADHD patients, for example, helps in the growth of fair and just treatment for those who cannot represent themselves like children. Speaking against stigmatization in media can help change the direction of the narrative to avoiding any ill-treatment of patients with ADHD. Finding credible sources on factors leading to stigmatization in ADHD is also helpful. The concept assists in realizing any non-psychiatry data that may remain misleading or promote the stigmatization of ADHD patients.




Gavin, B., & McNicholas, F. (2018). ADHD: science, stigma, and service implications. Irish Journal of psychological medicine35(3), 169-172.

Honkasilta, J., Vehmas, S., & Vehkakoski, T. (2016). Self-pathologizing, self-condemning, self-liberating: Youths’ accounts of their ADHD-related behavior. Social Science & Medicine150, 248-255.

Jetten, J., Haslam, S. A., Cruwys, T., & Branscombe, N. R. (2018, January). Social identity, stigma, and health. Oxford Handbooks Online.

Lebowitz, M. S. (2016). Stigmatization of ADHD: A developmental review. Journal of Attention Disorders20(3), 199-205.

Michel, A. (2017). Development, Mental Illness, and Solutions to Stigma. APS Observer30(4).