The Neurodiversity Paradigm in Psychiatry: Robert Chapman, PhD

Subtitled “Is neurodivergence to be cured or is it a healthy part of our social ecology?“, this interview with philosopher Dr. Robert Chapman is conducted by psychiatrist Dr. Awais Aftab and has been published by the Psychiatric Times:

Aftab: Let’s start by an introduction to the neurodiversity movement and the neurodiversity paradigm. What is neurodiversity and where does it clash with mainstream medical thinking?

Chapman: The neurodiversity movement is a social justice movement pushing for a shift away from the default pathologizing of mental, developmental, and cognitive disability, and towards what I have called a social ecological approach to understanding disablement. It all started when autistic individuals began meeting and raising consciousness online in the 1990s. Many realized they were tired of being represented as tragic deviations from supposedly normal functioning, and they were also often traumatized by ensuing attempts to treat or cure their autism. Eventually, as a new way to challenge how we think about normality, they began to talk about whether the principle that increased biodiversity is necessary for a robust ecosystem also applied to neuro-cognitive diversity within species. Just as we value, see beauty in, and try to conserve biodiversity, why not think about neuro-cognitive diversity in the same way? Based on this, Judy Singer, a member of these communities and, at the time, a sociology student, coined the term neurodiversity and called for a “politics of neurological diversity” in her 1998 thesis. Singer circulated her thesis, which was grounded in the theories of disability studies, among other autistic activists before publishing a revised version as a book chapter in 1999.4 This became a founding text of the movement, which rallied around both Singer’s concept as well as existing themes from disability studies.” …

You can read the full interview (and its introduction) from here.

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