Are Anti-Authoritarians diagnosed as Mentally Ill? (ADHD/ODD)

Jenni - posted on 04/22/2012 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Posted on February 26, 2012 by Bruce Levine, Ph.D.



(Note: Read Bruce Levine’s latest post: “How the “Brain Defect” Theory of Depression Stigmatizes Depression Sufferers”)



In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.



Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.



Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities."



Read more at: http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/02/why-...



Here is a quick over of the 9 traits of the Authoritarian personality:



1) Conventionalism: Rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values.



2) Authoritarian Submission: Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the ingroup.



3) Authoritarian Aggression: Tendency to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values.



4) Anti-intraception: Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded.



5) Superstition and Stereotypy: The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories.



6) Power and Toughness: Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures; overemphasis upon the conventionalized attributes of the ego; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness.



7) Destructiveness and Cynicism: Generalized hostility, vilification of the enemy.



Projectivity: The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses.



9) Sex: Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings-on.”



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So basically, to sum it up; is Western culture over diagnosing and medicating anti-authoritarians and treating citizens who question and challenge authority as mentally ill (ADHD/ODD)?



Sounds out there and conspiratorial but could there be any truth to this?



Edit: Added more details within thread after rereading the article. I was kind of in a hurry when I came across this and didn't give it a good enough read to form my opinion. ;)

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Isobel - posted on 04/22/2012

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or you can look at it like the parents are too lazy to discipline their kids, or unwilling to believe that their parenting has led to bad behaviour and it's far easier and more satisfying to get a diagnosis and meds.



now...ADHD and ADD are very real and the kids who truly do have them need whatever help they can get BUT I don't think half the kids who are diagnosed actually have them.



I personally knew a couple that were potheads and alcoholics and they had three kids under 5. They would sleep till noon and then be shocked when they woke up and found that the kids had raided the kitchen and eaten everything with sugar in it...duh...what did they think children would do if left to their own devices? Anyhoo, the kids were then turned outside to play with the neighbourhood kids with no supervision until hunger brought them home again.



Yeah, all her kids were diagnosed with ADD...I'm pretty sure they were just neglected, and cracked out on sugar.

Isobel - posted on 04/22/2012

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ok, out comes the tinfoil hat...I only wear it for special occasions.



I DO believe that the corporations like our children medicated

Mrs. - posted on 04/22/2012

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But wouldn't being "Anti-Authoritarian" be a label too? Aren't you just switching labels?





The choice to go on meds is not being shoved into people's throats without their consent or their parent's consent. They choose to do this whenever their kid is labelled with something. I don't think the majority of people take this decision lightly when it comes to their kids. I know it is something my parents agonized over with my brother who was diagnosed with a litany of issues. They chose not to, some choose to.



The article makes it sound as if this is a Clockwork Orange situation of forcing the eyelids open and brainwashing those who step out of line. There is much more of a grey area when it comes to care and medication of kids with issues.

Stifler's - posted on 04/22/2012

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I do think we are too quick to demand a diagnosis when people don't set rules or employ discipline in their homes. I know many people who have no routine, no idea about discipline beyond whooping their kid when they do something wrong, shove them in front of a tv with biscuits and then they're like MY KID MUST HAVE AUTISM/ADHD/anything else that shifts the blame from their own laziness.

Jenni - posted on 04/22/2012

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Poor choice of words is all. I was trying to describe developed countries. I don't think myself or the article was saying Western is worse to this culture or that culture. It's merely describing a trend in developed nations concerning the over diagnosis of ADHD/ODD. And the relationship that may have to the Psychologist making the diagnosis own bias.



Are many people who are simply anti-authoritarian being diagnosed by authoritarian psychologists as ADHD/ODD and medicated for mental illness?

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Aleks - posted on 04/23/2012

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Exactly Stifler's Mum.

But I don't think its biscuits (if it is its probably Shapes...lol) - More like chips lol Or 2 minute noodles!!! You know.... the more numbers on the ingredient list the better ;-)



As for the anti-authoritarian... yeah, that is me to a large extent. I have an anxiety disorder, which I pretty much suffered for my whole life, but it has gotten worse since I was a teenager. I was not diagnosed till after I turned 30, so was not medicated, not until after my diagnosis and I was only on meds for a few months.

As for my anti-authoritarian nature - thats pretty much due to the parenting I recieved, or more so my parents being who they are. You don't get born in a communist country, get involved in anti-communistic/anti-government activities (and then have to piss off out of the country when things get a bit ..... interesting) and then NOT pass this type of thinking to your kids... so that is why I lean very much to the anti-authoritarian nature. But funnily enough my SO is on the other end... he leans towards the authoritarian personality...LOL

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/22/2012

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Also to add. My daughter is far from anti-authoritative. Actually most children with a "true" ADHD diagnoses are not this at all. They simply cannot process requests the same. My daughter is a very good girl. Yes, she pushes the limits, just as the next kid does. However, I am very strict and I have very firm boundaries and consequence. I have very rigid routine and a low tolerance level for sillyness. My daughter does very well with this type of parenting. If I was not strict or any of the other things I listed, she would not be a very well behaved child.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 04/22/2012

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Laura---now...ADHD and ADD are very real and the kids who truly do have them need whatever help they can get BUT I don't think half the kids who are diagnosed actually have them.

Exactly. It is a very real disorder but you hit the nail on the head. Way too many are being diagnosed with ADHD when they really just have shitty ass parents.

Too many GP's are giving diagnoses, when they should not be. The parents go in and say their kid won't listen and bam, here is a prescription for ritalin. Yeah, to me that is insane. First of all how could any parent be so willing to just throw their child on such heavy drugs? Secondly, how can a GP give a diagnoses of a disorder? They are not specialists. They have no clue.

A child being considered needs to be of school age, have shown several areas of inabilities within the classroom and home. They need to be assessed by a specialist and a parent should really be getting 2nd and 3rd opinions before accepting what any doctor is saying. Way too many parents of these "diagnosed" children are just fuck ups and their child is a byproduct of them and there inapt parenting. It is actually really sad. I have heard parents, here on COM, say their child has been diagnosed with ADHD and the child is 3. FFS. How can you decipher if a 3 year old is inattentive, hyper, unfocused, unorganized, has outbursts frequently, doesn't know others space limits, speaks out of turn and on and on.... At 3, many children fit these verbs. A child of school age, though, should be able to do most, if not all, of the above.

Tracey - posted on 04/22/2012

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Too many children (in many cultures) are being brought up thinking the world revolves around them and that they can do whatever they want without any consequences, they say I want and they get, they say no and the parents say they are exploring boundaries.

The brats go to school, kick off because a teacher is trying to tell them what to do, the parents can't or won't see that they have done anything wrong so assume it must be a medical issue.

The parents then go back to school and say their little darling has an official diagnosis so the teacher will have to put up with bad behaviour because it's not his fault, and while they think about it as they now officially have a "disabled" child lets try and get some benefits. Have unfortunately seen this several times.

Jenni - posted on 04/22/2012

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I'm not sure I'm ready to buy that it's a conscience conspiratorial plan by authorities. However, I could definitely see how a rigid, authoritarian dominated-structured society would view non-authoritarians as abnormal and their inherent behaviours as "misbehaviour". A society where conformity and authoritarian structure is the norm and those who deviate from the norm are viewed as abnormal or ill.



It does seem like a bit of a leap of faith to attribute the aggressive tendencies in children diagnosed with ADHD/ODD to rebellion against a rigid/strict authoritarian environment. But at the same time makes sense to me. I wonder how these children would fair in a more fluid environment, one the accommodates non-authoritarian needs. One that focuses on them as a different personality as opposed to a mental illness.

Jenni - posted on 04/22/2012

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After re-reading it. I think the article is trying to make the distinction between "true" mental illness and what is actually just a personality type. I have no doubt that I and the majority of other parents would not and do not take mental illness diagnosis lightly. But I think the article brings to light for professionals that there must be a distinction made between a personality type and a true mental illness and that perhaps psychologists who tend towards being authoritarian personality types would conclude a non-authoritarian as fitting the description of a mental illness like ADHD/ODD.



According to this writer's opinion the rigid structure of graduate and medical school weeds out many anti-authoritarian. He himself, was given the label in grad school as "“issues with authority”. Now whether this is true or not, I don't know.



I do want to make it clear that I think the article is rather insular and I don't think this would just apply to America.



I don't think he IS implying it's some conspiratorial plan by any unknown group. Just the way the system is set up by our society. To see those who test/question authority and have difficulties conforming to a standardized classroom structure, hyperactivity, who learn differently, who only pay attention to subjects of their own interest and choosing; as abnormal qualities befitting of the label of mental illness.



It IS definitely a radical way of looking at these disorders. And makes the suggestion that society and culture may have an effect on what we view as a mental illness. And the difference between labeling it a personality type and an illness is *important* in the way it would be handled. Medicated and therapy? Or nurtured and accommodated?



Now I'm not quite ready to jump to conclusions based on one article by a radical thinking psychologist and completely agree with him. I hold my skepticism. But I won't dismiss his hypothesis so easily either because I do believe he brings up some valid points. Especially, when using the example of Einstein.

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I do get a little tired of the demonization of 'western culture.' What is Western Culture and why is Eastern or Southern or Northern any better?

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