Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Fredrick Roth

Second Advisor

Richard Garnett

Third Advisor

Kimberly DeTardo-Bora


This study investigates the rise of the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosis. It approaches the topic from a medicalization perspective and frames it under the therapeutic state as proposed by Nicholas Kittrie in 1971. It asks three questions: how has society, and particularly, the medical community changed to allow the medicalization of hyperactivity and social control of active children? How has the continuing diagnosis of hyperactivity in children expanded to include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in both children and adults? And what forces are behind the continuously inclusive diagnosis and why? In an attempt to answer these questions the history of the diagnosis is followed from its inception through the present. Special attention is paid to studies of causality, stimulant medication, evolving diagnostic criteria, and research that place the topic within a social framework. Sources include reputable experts in the field, respected journalists, and organizational data, including the United States Government. Major theorists consulted include Nicholas A. Kittrie, Peter Conrad, and Max Weber. It concludes that the psychiatric community, drug companies and individuals are responsible for the disorder’s medicalization. Further, research into ADHD has not yielded results consistent or significant enough to justify a sick label.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder - Research.