Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Psychoanal. 2014 Feb;95(1):43-66. doi: 10.1111/1745-8315.12081. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): an affect-processing and thought disorder?

Author information

Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen, Osianderstr. 14, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany.


In the literature on child and adolescent psychoanalysis attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is described as complex syndrome with wide-ranging psychodynamic features. Broadly speaking, the disorder is divided into three categories: 1. a disorder in early object relations leading to the development of a maniform defence organization in which object-loss anxieties and depressed affects are not worked through via symbolization but are organized in a body-near manner; 2. a triangulation disorder in which the cathexis of the paternal position is not stable; structures providing little support alternate with excessive arousal, affect regulation is restricted; 3. current emotional stress or a traumatic experience. I suggest taking a fresh look at ADHD from a psychoanalytic vantage point. With respect to the phenomenology of the disorder, the conflict-dynamic approach should be supplemented by a perspective regarding deficits in α-function as constitutive for ADHD. These deficits cause affect-processing and thought disorders compensated for (though not fully) by the symptomatology. At a secondary level, a vicious circle develops through the mutual reinforcement of defective processing of sense data and affects into potential thought content, on the one hand, and secondary, largely narcissistic defence processes on the other. These considerations have major relevance for the improved understanding of ADHD and for psychoanalytic technique.


affect processing; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); narcissistic defence; thought disorder; triangulation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center