Fifty Great Things About ADD

Hi all! In a previous post, I spelled out all the important stuff in the DSM that concerns AD/HD. At the end of the post I suggested that there were a few misconceptions in that listing. I’d like to cover those now.

A Review:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
These criteria appear in a diagnostic reference book called the DSM (short for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

According to the diagnostic manual, there are three patterns of behavior that indicate ADHD. People with ADHD may show several signs of being consistently inattentive. They may have a pattern of being hyperactive and impulsive. Or they may show all three types of behavior.

According to the DSM, signs of inattention include:

* becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
* failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes
* rarely following instructions carefully and completely
* losing or forgetting things like toys, or pencils, books, and tools needed for a task

Some signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity are:

* feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming
* running, climbing, or leaving a seat, in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
* blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
* having difficulty waiting in line or for a turn

Because everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, the DSM contains very specific guidelines for determining when they indicate ADHD. The behaviors must appear early in life, before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. In children, they must be more frequent or severe than in others the same age. Above all, the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person’s life, such as school, home, work, or social settings. So someone whose work or friendships are not impaired by these behaviors would not be diagnosed with ADHD. Nor would a child who seems overly active at school but functions well elsewhere.
End of Review

Apart from a few lucky ones who meet inspiring teachers in their younger years, most people who retain their ability to think inductively because they’re not stuck in the dopamine-addiction deductivist trap tell horror stories about their school years.

For these people, school is usually just a few years of misery that they endure before being able to get on with life and achieve success in their own terms. In recent years has it become fashionable in some schools to characterize these people as mentally handicapped, with an affliction called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is sometimes just called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

To show that we really are talking about people who have access to their full faculties and are able to cope with the universe as it really is, we can look at a short piece written by a person who has often been told that he suffers from this terrible affliction, but who has retained his self esteem, and enjoys being himself. This piece by Bob Seay is taken from Additude Magazine, visible on the Internet at, and describes the ways he knows he is unusual:

Fifty (or so) Great Things About ADD
50 (or so) Great Things About ADD

Now about those misconceptions… 🙂

Seay does not have any problem keeping his mind on any one thing, as he himself states. The difference is that he keeps his mind very focused on things that interest him, and he gets bored by boring things. (Deductivists explain this ability of healthy people to focus much more than they can by nouning it as “hyperfocus”, and then saying that hyperfocus is a symptom of inattentiveness!)

Healthy humans focus on things that interest them with great drive and enthusiasm. People trapped in robotic behavior will plod on at anything they are told to with exactly the same disinterested lack of enthusiasm in every case. Describing the intense concentration that is required to do creative work as “effortless and automatic” also seems very odd until we realize that people trapped in robotic behavior never have experience of doing creative work.

Since this part of their own minds is asleep, they assume that this kind of work is not done by the mind! In the same way, people who can’t see structure can only learn by slowly and painfully rote memorizing unconnected facts. They don’t perceive a big picture that all the little facts just fit into. So they sit in lectures frantically taking notes, they revise, they cram. People who see the big picture don’t need to do any of this stuff, but the robotic people are so convinced that the painful and shallow way is the only way to learn that they carry on claiming healthy people are incapable of learning even after they turn in straight A exam results! *ahem*

There are also a lot of problems concerned with social behavior. Robotic people think of social relationships as being about going through the motions of scripted exchanges and so “fitting in”.

What they’re actually doing is boring each other, and doing this seems obviously right because everyone involved is maintaining their boredom addiction.

Healthy people think that conversations are about exchanging data about reality so that everyone can enjoy seeing new things. So they often draw attention to issues that the robotic people want to pretend don’t exist! This is what is meant by “inappropriate” comments.

In the same way, robotic people value the singsong exchanges between teacher and pupil more than the information content. Healthy people think that the purpose of asking questions is to obtain the answer. Note that there is no suggestion in the DSM criteria that the “inappropriate” comments are untrue, or that the “blurted” answers are incorrect. It’s a matter of different objectives. One group is interested in what is happening in reality, and the other group is interested in boring, scripted social exchanges.

It’s important to remember that from the point of view of healthy people, the most interesting parts of the world are simply missing from the robotic people’s agenda. This leads them to feel a great sense of sterility, boredom and loneliness. They also feel that they are always being whined at over trivialities. For example, Thomas Edison didn’t need to write “Invent the lightbulb” on a piece of paper to remember that he wanted to do this. His drive and determination to solve the problem led to him trying thousands of experiments before he found a suitable material for the filament.

Healthy people only become involved with things that they feel passionate about in this way, because there’s no time for anything else. Because robotic people don’t ever have this experience of passion, their lives only contain matters that healthy people consider trivial. On one famous occasion Albert Einstein and a colleague were crossing a street in Princeton when his colleague made a chance comment. Einstein was so struck by the profound implications of the comment that he stopped walking in the middle of the street. Unfortunately modern teachers and health professionals would discount Einstein’s visionary contributions to human knowledge, and explain that he was a mentally handicapped person who was incapable of remembering that he had to walk to the other side of the street.

Deductivist fixation traps its victims in a seemingly self-consistent picture where nothing is missing. The less aware a person becomes, the more they become convinced that their understanding is total and perfect. No matter how silly the things they say, they’ll always find something sillier to confirm it.

It’s an attitude that can’t be reasoned with from the outside, and in which people can do very dangerous and damaging things. If he was subjected to this kind of nonsense for enough years, Einstein might become very upset indeed. In the same way, many healthy young people are subjected to constant trivial nagging and insults, by people who (although they don’t realize it themselves) are driven to dislike the healthy people because they don’t participate in the mutual maintenance of boredom addiction.

No matter how hard they try to reason with their detractors, the healthy people can never succeed. At the same time, the way that robotic people always feel the need to be rushing from one scripted series of physical actions to another prevents healthy people from getting the quiet quality time that is needed to assimilate and contemplate their experiences. So it’s no wonder that many healthy young people are in a state of emotional distress at the present time.

The fashion amongst some people trapped in deductive thinking for describing healthy, creative children as mentally handicapped has caused a great deal of suffering. Yet as so often happens in this universe that is crammed full of patterns, a very valuable benefit has come along with the suffering. The error has led to lots of research being done to determine how so-called ADHD people differ from the majority, and this research has succeeded in finding a specific difference. So long as we remember that the difference doesn’t cause a mental handicap at all, but instead provides immunity to sinking into the listless, robotic state that everyone else is vulnerable to, we have in this research a treasure that the magicians have been seeking for millenia.


Doko ni datte, hito wa tsunagatte iru.
No matter where we are, we are all connected.

About L-bo

Not much to say, really...
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One Response to Fifty Great Things About ADD

  1. Pingback: “I have ADD” – Do you Really? « A Bit of Everything

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