Problem: How do adolescents experience attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and how are those experiences shaped and managed?
Methods: A qualitative exploratory design to investigate how adolescents with ADHD (N = 11; 8 males, 3 females) experience, perceive, and manage ADHD. Findings are based on a subset of data from a large grounded theory study of the experiences of living in a family when a child or adolescent has ADHD. The constant comparative method was used to analyze both individual and focus group interview data.
Findings: The primary finding, presented as a hypothesis, suggests that an ADHD adolescent's sense of self is distorted and that the development of self has been disrupted due to the neurobiology of ADHD and environmental factors associated with the difficulties of parenting a difficult child, social role expectations, and modeling.
Conclusions: Therapeutic attention to how the self functions is important in stabilizing and ordering an adolescent's sense of self. Intrapsychic psychotherapy may be an important therapeutic approach in helping adolescents with ADHD develop personal responsibility and increased capacity for empathy.