Does Peter Have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

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4 Citations (Scopus)


From a practical theological perspective, this article reflects on the socially constructed nature of attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although ADHD as diagnostic label is relatively recent, children and young people so described have been written about in medical and psychological literature since the beginning of the 20th century. Drawing attention to current medical criteria used to diagnose ADHD as a disability, the article points to the normative influence and practice of powerful professional groups in determining whose behavior is considered acceptable or otherwise. To illustrate that ADHD is not incompatible with faithful discipleship, the article compares the medical and psychological criteria with descriptions of Apostle Peter's behavior as recorded in Scripture. Heuristically understood, Peter's behavior highlights that what is considered disruptive in one context may not necessarily be considered disruptive in another. Indeed, such disruption can be re-interpreted as a hopeful sign of God's grace. From a Christian perspective, existing practices that build on assumptions that ADHD is a problem to be solved are examined. Demonstrating that such practices tend to exclude children, young people, and their families from schools and from churches with significant adverse consequences, the article considers how Christians might build more hospitable communities capable of welcoming people whose behavior may at first sight, challenge accepted norms within and beyond the Christian community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-346
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of religion, disability & health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • faithfulness
  • discipleship
  • exclusion
  • hospitality
  • welcome


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