A disorder of anger and aggression: children's perspectives on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the UK

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Sep;73(6):889-96. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.03.049. Epub 2011 May 18.


This article investigates the social and moral dimensions of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis, asking what ADHD means in UK children's everyday lives, and what children do with this diagnosis. Drawing on interviews with over 150 children, the analysis examines the influence of a UK state school-based culture of aggression on the form and intensity of diagnosed children's difficulties with behavioral self-control. Diagnosed children's mobilization of ADHD behaviors and their exploitation of the diagnosis shows how children's active moral agency can support and compromise cognitive, behavioral and social resilience. The findings support a proposal for a complex sociological model of ADHD diagnosis and demonstrate the relevance of this model for national policy initiatives related to mental health and wellbeing in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression*
  • Anger*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morals
  • Prejudice
  • Schools
  • Social Support
  • Sociology, Medical
  • United Kingdom


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants