Sample Research Paper on 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

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
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

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 medicine, 35(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 & Medicine, 150,
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
Disorders, 20(3), 199-205.
Michel, A. (2017). Development, Mental Illness, and Solutions to Stigma. APS Observer, 30(4).