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Neurodivergence vs Illness

Frosty

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What is your opinion on the concept of some “disorders” in the DSM being treated as neurodivergences rather than illnesses? Generally, this is most common with ASD and ADHD, but do you think that this is a good shift or harmful? Do you think that this works better for some conditions or others? Does it help with stigma, self acceptance, or harm it?

Sorry if this thread starter isnt great. Im still kinda sleepy
 

Lexicon

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I think framing certain conditions as such may be helpful to remove the stigma of having an illness (though that stigma shouldn't exist to begin with), but typically a diagnosis/label in general is sought because said set of symptoms/traits/behaviors has been interfering with the individual's ability to function in some significant way, or adversely affecting their quality of life.

No matter how it's labelled, if it's causing problems with everyday life, some type of intervention (be it medication, &/or building up a personal toolbox of healthy coping behaviors) will likely still be necessary to aid in adapting to their environment, so they're better able to participate in important areas of life, & improve overall QOL.


And, while calling certain conditions a natural neurodivergence may help a person internally accept their differences in a good way, there's also a chance it may keep them from addressing the external aspects of said condition that are negatively affecting their life. Like, "well, this is just who I am, I don't need to develop skills to adapt, or medication to reduce the distress caused by my brain structure. I don't need a therapist/doctor to help me- those are for 'ill' people." When doing at least some of those things could make a huge difference for them.


There's also the chance that, removing the formal diagnostic label of a given set of traits may also remove reasonable accommodations at places of employment. May increase the risk of job loss, etc. Removal of the medical label could also reduce funding for studying these conditions. Kind of a ripple effect, there.

Overall, I'd say it's a double-edged sword, regardless of labels.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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I appreciate the idea of this thread. There is a lot of stigma attached to different labels. I think society is a bit unhealthy to a point of almost name calling with some of it. I also think there is a lot greater variation lumped into a small number of buckets.
 

The Cat

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I think its a good thing.

I think framing certain conditions as such may be helpful to remove the stigma of having an illness (though that stigma shouldn't exist to begin with), but typically a diagnosis/label in general is sought because said set of symptoms/traits/behaviors has been interfering with the individual's ability to function in some significant way, or adversely affecting their quality of life.

No matter how it's labelled, if it's causing problems with everyday life, some type of intervention (be it medication, &/or building up a personal toolbox of healthy coping behaviors) will likely still be necessary to aid in adapting to their environment, so they're better able to participate in important areas of life, & improve overall QOL.


And, while calling certain conditions a natural neurodivergence may help a person internally accept their differences in a good way, there's also a chance it may keep them from addressing the external aspects of said condition that are negatively affecting their life. Like, "well, this is just who I am, I don't need to develop skills to adapt, or medication to reduce the distress caused by my brain structure. I don't need a therapist/doctor to help me- those are for 'ill' people." When doing at least some of those things could make a huge difference for them.


There's also the chance that, removing the formal diagnostic label of a given set of traits may also remove reasonable accommodations at places of employment. May increase the risk of job loss, etc. Removal of the medical label could also reduce funding for studying these conditions. Kind of a ripple effect, there.

Overall, I'd say it's a double-edged sword, regardless of labels.


Regarding the bolded the folk who are inclined to do such things have always been inclined to do such things. They do it now, thaty did it before. Regardless what the system is they'll find ways to excuse themselves from that which they dont want to do and it doesnt matter what the experts or anyone says. :shrug: So I see it as less of a double edged sword and more like straight progress.

Thats not to say they shouldnt keep neurodiversity in the DSMs, a lot of the definitions and diagnoses even in the last one IV were pretty draconian.:mellow:
 

Earl Grey

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What is your opinion on the concept of some “disorders” in the DSM being treated as neurodivergences rather than illnesses? Generally, this is most common with ASD and ADHD, but do you think that this is a good shift or harmful? Do you think that this works better for some conditions or others? Does it help with stigma, self acceptance, or harm it?

Would it be treated any differently with the change? As Lexicon says above (which I agree with):

I think framing certain conditions as such may be helpful to remove the stigma of having an illness (though that stigma shouldn't exist to begin with), but typically a diagnosis/label in general is sought because said set of symptoms/traits/behaviors has been interfering with the individual's ability to function in some significant way, or adversely affecting their quality of life.

No matter how it's labelled, if it's causing problems with everyday life, some type of intervention (be it medication, &/or building up a personal toolbox of healthy coping behaviors) will likely still be necessary to aid in adapting to their environment, so they're better able to participate in important areas of life, & improve overall QOL.

The point should really be the impact on the individual's life, really, and how much it upends things to the point of them 'not functioning', but this- in the case of some mental illnesses (as it is called), is also very highly dependent on the individual's surroundings. I am moving forth with the assumption that we are accounting for illnesses that manifest in a large enough variety and a spectrum to warrant discussion on how much is neurodivergence, and how much of it is plain disability/mental illness. I am going to use autism and ADHD as examples throughout my paragraphs, since it's something I'm more familiar with.

There has been debate and discussion on the autism spectrum being another mode of processing instead of a disability, and that it's really actually nothing to be 'cured', like how there is a variant of people who like parties (Extroverts) more than hate parties (Introverts) (I know this is much less severe and not debilitating, but my point is the understanding that it is 'natural' and there's nothing 'wrong' with it).

It is true that autistics, however, cannot do a lot of things neurotypicals do- for eg (and to severely, overly simplify); they break down when they are overly stimulated, which then requires that they have accommodations, such as allowing noise cancelling headphones, or like how folks with ADHD are allowed a bigger window of time to complete exams in uni, have their own room to do so, etc. Here's the thing though, in a country of ADHD/autistics such 'accommodations' would be the norm and given without question instead of a special exception that is being made. The more 'unpleasant' autistic symptoms that autistics are more known for (meltdowns, etc) usually occur only in the face of stressors to the point of being overwhelming, which means it's more about how it is treated and the environment, that 'disability lies with the environment, not the individual'.

The point I am trying to make here is that with several types of mental illnesses, the level and type of 'neurodivergence' really depends very heavily on the environment and thus what norms are present, and I think the true bulk of the question that lies in OP here is how can we truly draw a definitive line in such a case? How can we truly assess if it is 'mental illness' or 'neurodivergence'? If the autistic is 'more disabled' or 'less disabled', or the ADHD individual is 'more distractible' or 'less distractible' depending on their environment, is it really a problem with them, or a problem with them being arbitrarily forced into norms for the sake of it? And- how much do we need to help, or how much can we get away with not helping? What does the answer to the question in OP actually solve for these individuals? If we as a society change nothing, and keep perpetuating ignorance despite our very PC attempt to understand "Okay, folks, what is actually wrong with these people?" we haven't really done anything.

I think questions such as the one in the OP usually (I'm not saying you, OP, are posing the question in this manner) come from people missing the point and focusing a lot more about offending less people or overfocusing on the divergent individual themselves (and often in a way that blames, or jumps to and assumes incompetence) instead of treating the symptoms as they present and asking themselves what they can do. The true stigma isn't with the name, it's with the symptoms and how they are treated, it's with the widespread ignorance in media, like the ones that portray schizophrenics as criminals, or ADHD folks as 100% bubbly '~creative~' people who can't plan for jack shit. It also places far too much focus on the 'mentally ill' individual rather than the society the individual is in- have you ever seem the question being asked if we blare sounds too loud, lights too bright for autistics? No, it's the autistic being 'too sensitive', which, while correct, places the burden entirely on the individual and absolves people from feeling like they can do, or have to do anything about it, which I think is a problem with questions phrased this way, and is a problem that allows questions such as these to surface to begin with.


Bonus for autistic readers (and I do still have a point to make that still ties back to OP as well, bear with me): there are people who build autistic friendly houses. For people who only experience autism as something they view as a third party, here's some (generalised) insight into what's going on that manifests in the behaviour that you see: How to create an autism-friendly environment - Living Autism

My point with posting all I did and including such a link is to argue and demonstrate understanding where things come from and why are the way they are is the first step to understanding the differences, which I would say is the first and most basic step we must take before we begin labelling anything at all based off our own very limited understanding of the experience as a third party watcher instead of someone living through it. Too many mental illnesses are labelled based off how 'disruptive' they are to others rather than as an explanation of how they work and what we need to do for them. Sometimes it is asked with the intention of finding out "Okay, so how much of what they are doing is their own problem?" It makes them seem 'difficult', 'unreasonable', because people don't understand where they're coming from and they're filling the blanks based off their own limited, neurotypical experience. To neurotypicals: you can only understand so much by watching how mental illnesses (which are internal) manifest on the outside, and I think that people need to recognise that an take care when trying to answer questions such as in the OP, and there is a lot of nuance that I can guarantee is not being accounted for. Stay considerate, and be informed.
 

Saturnal Snowqueen

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I really have no idea tbh. On one hand, it's kinda nice not having an illness. And while the neurodivergent label is pretty cool, it almost feels stranger than it being called an illness. Like neurodivergent, it's like, you're so close to being neurotypical and having the human experience(whatever that is), yet there's some cog in the machine. At least with an illness you know it's an illness. Also with autism, some people say, "It's not a disability and a different ability". And yeah, special interests are awesome, but at the same time, as someone who was diagnosed semi recently, it's like, being overstimulated so easily and having trouble assimilating is uh, definitely a different ability. It's really your choice what you want to call it, so long as it's not disrespectful to other people. It's also interesting, if you self diagnosis yourself with an illness, you'd be seen as paranoid, but self diagnosing yourself neurodivergent(and people are usually right tbh) is an enlightening experience. I never truly self diagnosed, didn't wanna give myself that label, but I always knew something was a little different up in the cranium.
 

Frosty

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Im sick of ADHD people. Tbh. This is straight up awful and Ill probably be cancelled for it, but Im sick of everyone basically with ADHD kinda constantly humble bragging about it. Like, people are constantly throwing their ADHD diagnosis around like its some shiny possession and its like no- literally its so fucking easy to get an adhd diagnosis. The last time I went to the doctor the receptionist was like “oh you take adderall for your adhd SO DO I” and I was like uh cool. Like. Good for you. Idk.

Im a huge hypocrite tho cuz I talk about my mental health all the time but I swear ADHD people irl are so fucking extra about it that i have to remind myself that adhd is even a real thing and not like- a trend
 

Maou

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Im sick of ADHD people. Tbh. This is straight up awful and Ill probably be cancelled for it, but Im sick of everyone basically with ADHD kinda constantly humble bragging about it. Like, people are constantly throwing their ADHD diagnosis around like its some shiny possession and its like no- literally its so fucking easy to get an adhd diagnosis. The last time I went to the doctor the receptionist was like “oh you take adderall for your adhd SO DO I” and I was like uh cool. Like. Good for you. Idk.

Im a huge hypocrite tho cuz I talk about my mental health all the time but I swear ADHD people irl are so fucking extra about it that i have to remind myself that adhd is even a real thing and not like- a trend
I feel this way about a lot of things like ADHD. Far too many people watch tictok etc and self diagnose themselves, then go tell their doctors about it. Doctors are like "lol, more meds to sell" and entertain them at the slightest inclination. Doctors are a bit too trigger happy with diagnosis IMO. It has become a trend, in a way. A trend to make big pharma money, and get people doped up on drugs.
 

Frosty

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I feel this way about a lot of things like ADHD. Far too many people watch tictok etc and self diagnose themselves, then go tell their doctors about it. Doctors are like "lol, more meds to sell" and entertain them at the slightest inclination. Doctors are a bit too trigger happy with diagnosis IMO. It has become a trend, in a way. A trend to make big pharma money, and get people doped up on drugs.
Yeah my psychiatrists office is known for diagnosing everyone with adhd so maybe I have a bias. But Im sick of people with adhd using it like a quirky personality trait. Like no. It sucks. It caused me, humble brag, to be in the 95% percentile on standardized tests but graduate with like a 2.1 gpa. That and other shit, but like no. Its a disability- not something that makes you special. Wow I shouldnt throw around test scores but I guess Im really raw tonight lol.

And yeah. Overprescribing is a big problem. I know people on like 7 different drugs and Im like dude. Maybe thats why you dont feel good idk. Like that cant be healthy. Im not saying all medication is bad, but like, you shouldnt be on more medication for your adhd and depression than your grandma is on for her heart disease. Like. No. Stop. Please.

Take your meds tho everyone. Seriously. Not trying to be antimedication or treatment. There just needs to be balance. Mental health matters but like- also dont kill your kidneys.

Again. Hahaha fuck. Disclaimer not a doctor listen to your doctors. Just advocate for yourself
 

Tomb1

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What is your opinion on the concept of some “disorders†in the DSM being treated as neurodivergences rather than illnesses? Generally, this is most common with ASD and ADHD, but do you think that this is a good shift or harmful? Do you think that this works better for some conditions or others? Does it help with stigma, self acceptance, or harm it?

Sorry if this thread starter isnt great. Im still kinda sleepy

I would have to look at the individual. Individuals more different than alike still meet the criteria for the same disorder but for different reasons. They just got overlapping traits. I believe the original DSM got into etiology, but the current DSM does not categorize based on etiology of conditions. I can't remember which disorder it was (might have been PTSD) but there was one where the possible combinations of traits to qualify for a diagnosis numbered in the hundreds.

So for one individual it works to treat as a neurodivergence and with somebody else works to treat as an illness. It varies based on how wide the gap is between the person's subjective normal for optimal functioning and psychology's "objective" normal.

A professor at the Harvard psychology department told me that mainstream psychology derives an "objective" normal from studies of groups of people. The objective normal is then formulated out of areas of consensus among the overwhelming majority of self-reports by those groups of people. That is the scientific method in psychology. In contrast to physics, psychology has not been able to provide any type of laws of psychology or come up with any type of what I would consider to be a scientific measuring tool to determine the accuracy of their hypotheses. Consensus reporting. When pressed, she conceded to me that self-reporting was subjective. Psychologists in the mainstream then use this "objective" normal as a framework for diagnosing people purely based on outward behaviors not fitting into the "objective" normal.

So I go back to my original answer that the answer varies case by case. For certain individuals trying to make them deviate from their subjective normal for optimal functioning to fit into mainstream's psychology's "objective" normal would kill their soul and do them more harm than good so is best in those cases to be treated as a neurodivergence....whereas for those whose optimal subjective normal is closer to psychology's "objective" normal, then using methods or treatments to fit them into psychology's "objective" normal would be more calibrated towards restoring them to optimal functioning.
 
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