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Using ADHD as an excuse for poor behaviour, like Jacques in Love Island, harms people like me

When I was at university, I ran a student paper. There were two ‘rival’ student papers, and, as fate would have it, the editor of the rival newspaper was neurodivergent, like me. I thought that we’d end up being close friends, and tried numerous times to make that happen, but what I got instead was a year of relentless bullying, gossiping behind my back, false accusations about cheating my way to awards and trying to get me ‘fired’ from a voluntary position.

Of course, I tried to call them out on this behaviour numerous times and spoke to various other people about what I could do to mediate this relationship and get them to stop hating me, but the only thing I’d get in response was that they ‘couldn’t help’ how they were because they were neurodivergent. As a neurodivergent person myself, I knew this wasn’t true. That person was just a bit of dick.

This experience showed me that, more than anything, doing shitty things and being a shitty person can co-exist with being neurodivergent — and that’s why appeals from Love Island Jacques’ family that he appears to treat Paige how he did because he has ADHD just doesn’t wash with me despite him having now made the decision to leave the villa. An ITV spokesperson confirmed his exit, saying in a statement: “Jacques has made the decision to leave the Villa. He will explain his reasons to the Islanders during tonight’s episode. We fully support his decision and look forward to seeing what’s next for Jacques.”

Meanwhile, in their recent statement, Jacques’ family say that the Islander’s childhood diagnosis is “by no means a get-out clause for his actions,” but note how people with ADHD can come across as rude and disrespectful as a result of the behaviours that manifest from their condition. For those unaware, ADHD impacts the way different areas of your brain communicate with each other, which manifests in symptoms like being inattentive, emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, sensory overload, and executive dysfunction. Of course, just because I have ADHD, that doesn’t mean that I can go around dictating and gatekeeping who’s neurodivergent and who isn’t — and I have no doubt that Jacques’ family are telling the truth when they say he has ADHD.

The problem is that they don’t appear to specify what exactly it is that can be attributed to Jacques’ ADHD and what can be attributed to him as a person. This means that, whether they meant it to or not, their statement acts as a blanket response to all of Jacques’ purported misdeeds, meaning that it’s easy to explain away and excuse anything negative Jacques has done as being part of his ADHD. As someone who has ADHD, this is problematic for a number of reasons.

Last time I checked, dating a teenager in your 20s isn’t in the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for ADHD; nor is calling various women names such as “pathetic” or a “fucking clown” in what appears to be negging. Refusing to properly apologise to someone you’ve hurt, like he did with Paige in Casa Amor, isn’t part of ADHD either. Throughout his time on Love Island, I believe that Jacques has shown himself to be disrespectful and manipulative towards Paige on multiple occasions.

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