In recent years a number of terms have been used to define new handicaps, each said to be the expression of a characteristic ‘syndrome’. ‘Autistic’, ‘dyslexic’ and ‘hyperactive’ have all gained currency in the last fifteen years and have been backed by parents ‘organisations pressing for their increased recognition and far greater provision. The newest of these, ‘hyperactivity’, has reached epidemic proportions in the USA, and tranquilising drugs are prescribed there for its treatment on a vast scale. The existence of each of these handicaps is hotly disputed, however, none more so than ‘hyperactivity’, which is seen by many to be a myth propagated in the interests of the medicalisation and personalisation of deviance. According to this view, problems which are the result of social factors are treated as cases of individual pathology, like whooping cough or brain damage. Excerpts from three stories are presented below which illustrate three different routes to acquiring the ‘hyperactive’ label. The information for these accounts was provided by the clinical psychologist at the child psychiatric clinic to which the children came.