Expert Advice On ADHD: Edward Hallowell

ADHD expert Edward M. Hallowell‘s new book, Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist, is his own personal story. But one part of who he is, having ADHD himself, is something many readers have already known.

However, as Hallowell states on his website, his view is that “ADHD is a terrible term”:

As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability. When it is managed properly, it can become a huge asset in one’s life. I have both ADHD and dyslexia myself and I wrote the book Positively ADD with Catherine Corman to profile a collection of fabulously successful adults with ADHD.

Featured below are quotes from two of his most notable books, Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder, and Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder, both coauthored by John J. Ratey.

Driven to Distraction

...You don’t mean to do the things you do do, and you don’t do the things you mean to do.

To tell a person who has ADD to try harder is about as helpful as telling someone who is nearsighted to squint harder.

Most adults with ADD are struggling to express a part of themselves that often seems unraveled as they strive to join the thought behind unto the thought before.

While we all need external structure in our lives—some degree of predictability, routine, organization—those with ADD need it much more than most people. They need external structure so much because they so lack internal structure.

I also see how essential a comprehensive treatment plan is, a plan that incorporates education, understanding, empathy, structure, coaching, a plan for success and physical exercise as well as medication. I see how important the human connection is every step of the way: connection with parent or spouse; with teacher or supervisor; with friend or colleague; with doctor, with therapist, with coach, with the world “out there.” In fact, I see the human connection as the single most powerful therapeutic force in the treatment of ADHD.

Delivered from Distraction

It is not a deficit of attention that we ADD-ers have, it is that our attention likes to go where it wants to and we can’t always control it.

Having ADD makes life paradoxical. You can superfocus sometimes, but also space out when you least mean to. You can radiate confidence and also feel as insecure as a cat in a kennel. You can perform at the highest level, feeling incompetent as you do so. You can be loved by many, but feel as if no one really likes you. You can absolutely, totally, intend to do something, then forget to do it. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but feel as if you can’t accomplish a thing.

THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE ADD ADULTS 1. Do what you’re good at. Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at. (You did enough of that in school.) 2. Delegate what you’re bad at to others, as often as possible. 3. Connect your energy to a creative outlet. 4. Get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is “well enough.” That doesn’t mean you have to be very well organized at all—just well enough organized to achieve your goals. 5. Ask for and heed advice from people you trust—and ignore, as best you can, the dream-breakers and finger-waggers. 6. Make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends. 7. Go with your positive side. Even though you have a negative side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side.

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