Mine project diamand
Mine project diamand

Mine Project: Mapping Identity, Needs and Emotions in ADHD

Who am I? Listen to the stories of people with ADHD

Many people, both children and adults, suffer from forgetfulness and distraction, hyperactivity and impulsivity. When these problems are severe enough to affect people's lives, they may be diagnosed with ADHD. But people who do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis can also suffer greatly.


The distress experienced by people with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms is greater than the discomfort of "where did I put my keys?" or "I can't get my head around this" or "oops, sorry, I should have let you finish". The deeper pain often comes from interacting with the environment. The behaviours we typically see in ADHD often provoke disapproval and blame. They do not fit in with society's expectations. Not only the behaviour, but also the person doing the behaviour is disapproved of and needs to change. Children who exhibit behaviours that we call ADHD are much more likely to receive reprimands than compliments for what they do and how they are as they grow up. When parents attend parenting classes, they learn to praise desirable behaviour (which is not their child's 'natural' behaviour) and to ignore 'undesirable behaviour' (which is their child's natural behaviour). This also sends a message to the child that what they naturally do and are is not good enough and needs to be adjusted. In order to gain approval, meet expectations and fit into society, they must ignore and drown out their own experiences and needs. What society is really asking people with ADHD to do is to act differently than they are.


We assume that people with ADHD gradually learn to stop listening to their inner compass and to stop responding to their own physical cues and emotions. Yet bodily cues and emotions are necessary for us to function as human beings in the long term, because they are signposts to our limits, needs and passions. We hypothesise that people with ADHD are at greater risk of losing touch with themselves and their authentic and unique talents. Knowing what you feel (emotional awareness) and knowing what you need (needs) are two essential components of knowing who you are (19). We suggest that this loss of contact with oneself and one's needs contributes to the disturbed identity development and experience that we often see in practice in people with ADHD. We assume that the disapproving environment that young people with ADHD experience while growing up, the associated 'wanting/having to be different' and the necessary loss of contact with oneself and one's own needs compromise stable identity formation.


We believe that counselling people with ADHD can only benefit from attention to needs and emotions, as these aspects of human experience are essential for stable identity formation. Helping people with ADHD to find a stable (positive) identity will both reduce their distress and stress and enable them to develop and use their often diverse talents and form stronger relationships.


The aim of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of identity in ADHD and the role of emotional awareness and attention to needs. We want to create this awareness through (1) a scientific goal, namely to strengthen the evidence base for this assumption; (2) a dissemination goal, namely to communicate this evidence base to three target groups: (a) people with ADHD (and their environment), (b) care providers in clinical practice and (c) the scientific community; knowledge; (3) a valorisation goal: In this project we want to generate knowledge that can be input for future intervention development.

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