ADHD, Values, and the Self

Paul J. Litton, University of Missouri School of Law


Ilina Singh provides data from a qualitative study interpreted to show that parents' decisions on whether and how to medicate their ADHD-diagnosed boys are based on a moral framework that "contains contradictory moral, cultural, and gendered ideals" about authentic selfhood (Singh 2005). Specifically, she found that mothers tend to justify Ritalin dosing during the week to free their children's "authentic selves" from impulsive ADHD-related behavior, but to defend withholding Ritalin on weekends to let their sons be who they "really" are. Thus, the apparent contradiction: how could a child's impulsive behavior reflect his authentic, real self on the weekends, yet be an obstacle to self-realization during the week? She seems to suggest that the data bolster doubts, raised in other disciplines, about the existence of authentic selves.