The Danger of Self-Labeling

Photo by ryochijiA friend of mine was telling me about a recent visit from her adult son. One of the things my friend had lamented about in the past was her son’s inability to put things away. Shoes and coats were dropped at the door, food left out after a meal made, dirty clothes left in the shared bathroom. (The son is over 40 and single)

The son told his mom that it was just the way he is…because he is neurodivergent.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before: people claiming labels that they really aren’t entitled to, because it is convenient. (All three are real examples)

  • “I’m triggered by [x]. Stop doing that.”
  • “I can’t focus. I must have ADHD.”
  • “I can’t get along with anyone. I must be on the spectrum.”




While it could be argued by someone without an understanding of neurodivergence that everyone’s brains are unique and therefore everyone is divergent, that is not what the term means. Neurodivergent have have strengths and challenges that are not present in neurotypical brains. This includes people with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

While it could be argued by someone without an understanding of PTSD and anxiety disorders that a certain circumstance is a trigger, there is a big difference between feeling mildly anxious and shutting down completely or having a physical episode caused by past trauma.

Neurodivergence and trauma response require professional diagnosis, and in many cases, professional help to find ways to work with what is happening.

The danger with people self-diagnosing is that they are looking for excuses for something that they are too lazy to address.

Neurodivergence doesn’t work that way. Trauma response doesn’t work that way.

The son isn’t neurodivergent. He has never learned to pick up after himself and is using a label (which he has just “decided” on) as an excuse to continue to be a slob.

The person who is “triggered” is trying to control someone else’s behavior.

The person claiming ADHD just has a bad habit of checking her phone every few minutes and losing hours every day to social media.

And the man who couldn’t get along with anyone? Yeah, not spectrum. He was just an asshole who if someone reacted negatively to something said or done saying, “if you have a reaction to me, that’s on you.”

Photo by ryochiji


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