As we saw at the beginning of this book, historically, as well as in contemporary social science, psychiatry has been heavily criticized. Thomas Szasz (1961) famously argued that the very concept of ‘mental illness’ is a myth and should be discarded; Erving Goffman and others following in his footsteps tried to demonstrate empirically that psychiatric practices were inhumane and stigmatizing (Goffman, 1961); and more recent critics have argued that current conceptions of mental illness/disorder are overinclusive and pathologizing (Wakefi eld, 2010), and that the medical industry makes people’s lives worse because of the debilitating long-term side-effects of drug treatments (Healy, 2012; Whitaker, 2010). Although these critical analyses are all worth discussing, and all have something to contribute in the current age that is seemingly dominated by various psychiatric epidemics (ranging from stress, depression and anxiety to ADHD and personality disorders) and a general “medicalization of society” (Conrad, 2007), they do not capture the signifi cant experience of being diagnosed, or the various roles that psychiatric diagnoses play in the lives of the diagnosed today. In the words of Comstock, who has recently been charting the genealogy of the ADHD subject:

What was analyzed by the anti-psychiatric movement from the 1960s onwards as oppressive ideology and social control (working through stigmatizing unwanted behaviours as mental illness), appears in the 21st century as something that is often actively sought by people, who may be looking for conceptual resources with which to explain their problems and render their suffering meaningful. How, then, do people use a psychiatric diagnosis in relation to their own lives and experienced problems? And how can a diagnosis function as a resource for self-understanding? These questions are addressed in the present chapter.