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Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously.Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority.ADHD is defined by poor attention and distractibility, poor self-control and impulsivity, and hyperactivity.ODD is defined as a “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder”; and ODD symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.” Psychologist Russell Barkley, one of mainstream mental health’s leading authorities on ADHD, says that those afflicted with ADHD have deficits in what he calls “rule-governed behavior,” as they are less responsive to rules of established authorities and less sensitive to positive or negative consequences.On the one hand, I found it quite amusing, because among the working-class kids whom I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities.After all, I had done my homework, studied, and received good grades.By today’s standards, Saul Alinsky, the legendary organizer and author of , would have certainly been diagnosed with one or more disruptive disorders. Then the next day the rabbi turned up and he told me to start reading.Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Alinsky also recalls a time when he was ten or eleven and his rabbi was tutoring him in Hebrew: One particular day I read three pages in a row without any errors in pronunciation, and suddenly a penny fell onto the Bible . And I wouldn’t; I just sat there in silence, refusing to read.
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially , and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a Ph D or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for.
He asked me why I was so quiet, and I said, “This time it’s a nickel or nothing.” He threw back his arm and slammed me across the room.
Many people with severe anxiety and/or depression are also anti-authoritarians.