From Gabor and Daniel Maté’s new book ‘The Myth of the Normal’
Contrary to what I, too, used to believe, a diagnosis like ADHD or depression or bipolar illness explains nothing. No diagnosis ever does. Diagnoses are abstractions, or summaries: sometimes helpful, always incomplete. They are professional shorthand for describing constellations of symptoms a person may report, or of other people’s observations of someone’s behavior patterns, thoughts, and emotions. For the individual in question, a diagnosis may seem to account for and validate a lifetime of experiences previously too diffuse or nebulous to put one’s finger on. That can be a first and positive step toward healing. I know this from firsthand experience.
The dead end comes when we assume or believe that the diagnosis equals an explanation—an especially futile view when it comes to illnesses of something as inherently abstract as the mind.