Neurobiology in public and private discourse: the case of adults with ADHD

Christian Bröer, Marjolijn Heerings, M. Heerings

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


How do people describe their health? How do their descriptions relate to public definitions? This article focuses on adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We look at Dutch adults who adopt the ADHD label and ask: which discourses structure their descriptions of ADHD? How do these relate to the dominant public discourse on ADHD? Do people use, for example, neurobiological explanations of ADHD? The research makes use of Q-methodology, which combines a discursive relational approach with factor analysis. We examine five different personal discourses that partly differ from the public discourse. People borrow neurobiological, psychological, sociological and even holistic arguments from public discourse to come up with a distinct set of discourses. Neurobiology resonates among adults with ADHD but does not dominate their thinking. Contrary to our expectation, this supports reflexivity instead of discipline theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-65
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
  • Attitude to Health
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurobiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Perception
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Terminology as Topic


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