ADHD in Japan: A sociological perspective

  • Armstrong-Hough M
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Japanese research on ADHD is prolific, and clinical management of this condition in Japan takes place in one of the most accessible and efficient health care delivery systems in the world. It is therefore particularly instructive to examine differences in the identification, management, and social context of ADHD in Japan; these differences can tell us much about the role of 'local' cultural, political, and institutional forces in professional and popular perceptions of a global illness. As this subchapter shows, differences in the sociocultural and institutional context of ADHD in Japan lead not only to different experiences of illness among individuals, but also to different choices about its management and treatment for parents and clinicians. Although rates of medication usage for ADHD are on the rise in Japan, they remain low by international standards. The classic formulation of Ritalin, emblematic of the rise of ADHD in the United States, is eschewed completely, and there is evidence that clinicians and regulators alike have a preference for nonstimulant drug therapy. Medicalized understandings of the origins of ADHD symptoms do not seem to have removed the stigma associated with the diagnosis. These differences in the medicalization of ADHD in Japan are particularly notable in the context of the country’s notoriously competitive, exam-based educational system and high levels of anxiety surrounding child and adolescent behavioral issues. This short subchapter responds to three related sociological questions about the rise of ADHD in Japan. First, and most broadly, how has the medicalization of ADHD progressed in Japan? Second, what is the nature of the stigma associated with ADHD in Japan, what are its origins, and how is it changing? And finally, how has the course of its medicalization and its changing association with deviance influenced the identification and treatment of ADHD in Japan? (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)




Armstrong-Hough, M. J. (2018). ADHD in Japan: A sociological perspective. In M. R. Bergey, A. M. Filipe, P. Conrad, & I. Singh (Eds.), Global perspectives on ADHD: Social dimensions of diagnosis and treatment in sixteen countries. (pp. 261–269). Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved from

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