Reply To: Just diagnosed with ADD and belittled by (sexist?) psychologist

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Janelle_carson
Participant

I made an account just to reply to this– how infuriating. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are sexist dynamics at play, in addition to what others in this thread have said about this psychologist’s troubling misunderstandings of ADHD.

I’m a 28-year-old (female) PhD student at a top university. When I was finally diagnosed last year, my psychologist (a woman) gently suggested that I might consider a different career because she assumed I might struggle with being a professor. I bristled at that a little, although I think that in her case the suggestion was well-intentioned. I’ve since found a great psychologist who is fully committed to helping me be an excellent scholar and teacher.

For what it’s worth, echoing other folks in this thread, I’ve found that my ADHD does pose challenges around boring administrative tasks and chores, but in almost every other way it’s been a strength in an academic career. I’ve been able to channel my hyper-focus and passions into a lot of projects, papers, etc. Genuinely not trying to be braggy (just encouraging), but I have the highest scholarly output of anyone in my cohort, although they do give me a hard time about how I’m consistently late to classes :).

On the whole (ridiculous) stats topic–my mom, who also has ADHD (sought a diagnosis after mine), has a PhD in statistics and was a successful prof in the field for many years. The sexist b.s. she had to deal with, however, was truly horrifying (e.g., getting totally unjustified low grades from a professor who had asked her out). If you got sexist vibes from this psychologist and sensed he was questioning your intellectual capabilities, I would trust that instinct. My mom often wrote papers at the last minute until 4 a.m., and we had a lot of ice cream and curly fries for dinner, but she did important work. The field would be weaker without her ADHD brain.

I’m sorry that the experience of getting your diagnosis wasn’t empowering. ADHD, of course, has *no* bearing on your intellectual capabilities. Sexism and neurotypical dominance in the academy and in society at large can make things extra hard for academic women with ADHD, mostly as we have to deal with extra judgements and misunderstandings. I struggle so much, especially this time of year, with all of the department events that women PhD students are basically expected to bake for (ugh). I hope you get a better psychologist, and maybe find some other women/people with ADHD you relate to so that you can support each other’s goals. Another woman in my program has ADHD, and it helps me to debrief and commiserate with her. Obviously the research on posthumous diagnoses is highly suspect, but sometimes when I’m doubting myself I think about Einstein and DaVinci’s ADHD-style traits for a little confidence boost. 🙂 Hang in there!