Being Different: Neurodiversity and Neurosocial Subjectification

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:55
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Fabian KARSCH, Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
What is it like to be normal? This question can hardly be addressed without a frame of reference. Just like deviance is only perceivable in relation to a certain norm, normality can only be framed as such in relation to variation. What is it like to be different? For those with experiences of marginalization, isolation or exclusion, this question may trigger many answers. Being different can manifest in numerous ways: being too short or too tall, too slow or too smart, belonging to the “wrong” gender or ethnicity, or being different in any other way from a specific reference group or set of norms. Distinction is a basic form of sociality enrolled to reduce complexity and constitute individual and collective identities. Modern medicine, as a normality regime, establishes distinctions by defining boundaries between health and illness. A striking example in this context is the definition of “sociomedical disorders”, which are characterized by variant emotional states, limited cognitive efficiency or deviant social behavior. Among these impairments, ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder not only seem to display an increasing prevalence but also remain contested. On the one hand, stakeholders (e.g. individuals affected or patient organizations) promote these diagnoses to gain recognition and access to health care benefits. On the other hand, labels such as ADHD, are widely criticized as ways of medicalizing social deviance. The Neurodiversity social movement aims at removing the medical label from such conditions and suggests framing them as neurological differences instead. Being neurodiverse nevertheless provides a crucial basis for processes of subjectification and communitarization that originate in and build upon neurological interpretations. The proposed submission follows an explorative approach and aims at identifying central issues to propose a strategy for further research on neurodiversity.