Marc Konstanzer, M.A.

PhD project

„Zappelphillip wird erwachsen“ - A German-American history of knowledge of ADHD self-help organisations and groups from their beginnings in the 1980s to the present (working title)

"ADHD. A Hunter in a farmer's world" - this is the title of a book published in 1993 by Thom Hartmann, who founded what was probably the first boarding school specifically for ADHD children - the so-called "Hunter School" - in Rumney, New Hemphsire in 1979. In his work, advertised as a "Practical Guide for People with ADHD", Hartmann argues that the clinical picture, which has been listed as "hyperkinetic disorder" in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD 3) since 1978, is not a neuronal disorder that (inevitably) requires pharmacological treatment. Instead, ADHD is a genetic peculiarity through which people with ADHD have developed "a different way of seeing the world" that can be traced back to the hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age. According to Hartmann, people with ADHD can be seen as the heirs of the hunters. However, with the beginning of the Neolithic revolution, the hunter's ability to "adapt his strategies in a flash" and "to put himself in danger without weighing up the risks" quickly lost its importance. In the emerging "agricultural societies", it was the farmers and no longer the hunters "who provided food and survival". Their "long-term view" and "low-risk behaviour" therefore prevailed as the "normative ideal of human behaviour".

Hartmann's work is one of the most powerful examples of knowledge production by ADHD self-help organisations and groups. The publications often served and still serve to help ADHD sufferers in their everyday lives and to give them a new, more resource-orientated perspective on their neurodiversity. The self-empowering counter-experts of self-help challenged the common perspective of early ADHD research, which initially viewed the disorder as a purely behavioural problem. As "affected people's knowledge from below", self-help positioned its locally and regionally produced knowledge against the scientific expertise of ADHD research and thus fundamentally changed the state of research. Today, ADHD is no longer seen as a purely behavioural problem, but as a complex developmental delay of the self-control system (executive function system) in the brain, which, depending on its severity, can persist into adulthood.

In my work, I would like to analyse the social and cultural practices by means of which ADHD self-help organisations and groups produce knowledge and position themselves socially, from the beginnings of self-help in the 1980s to the present day. At the centre of the study is the rise of "counter-experts" - committed laypeople and therapeutic practitioners of ADHD self-help - whose "knowledge of those affected" soon became an integral part of the entire field of health policy. The work traces the transfer of the self-help groups' epistemologies, which were always regionally and locally characterised, from the United States to the Federal Republic of Germany. It thus sees itself as a transnational history of knowledge.

About me

10.2014 - 09.2018 BA studies (major: Modern and Contemporary History, minor: Political Science) at the University of Konstanz and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Thesis: The significance of Thomas Müntzer for the history and remembrance culture of the GDR - an investigation based on the DEFA television film "Ich, Thomas Müntzer, Sichel Gottes" (grade 1.3)

10.2018 - 05.2022 MA studies (History, specialising in 19th and 20th century history) at the University of Konstanz

Thesis: "Wer sich nicht wehrt, lebt verkehrt" - Der Versuch zivilgesellschaftlicher Intervention gegen ein Großbauprojekt am Beispiel der Protestpraktiken der "Bürgerinitiative gegen die Flughafenerweiterung Frankfurt Rhein-Main" (1979-1981), (grade 1.0)

08.2022 – 12.2022 Research assistant at the Chair of Contemporary History of Prof. Dr Sven Reichardt at the University of Konstanz

since 05.2023 Research assistant at the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen

Central Student Advisory Service University of Konstanz
D.I.E. Firmenhistoriker GmbH, Aalen

Research Interests

History of social movements
History of knowledge
History of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Disability History


08.2022 – 12.2022 Research assistant position funded by the Centre for Cultural Studies Research