Feb 22

Newest ADHD Info from Hallowell and Ratey

Interested in the newest ADHD info from experts Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey? See ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction–from Childhood through Adulthood. Among other goals, in this update the authors aim to depathologize ADHD. They express a preference, for example, to rename this diagnosis VAST, or Variable Attention Stimulus Trait.

From the Publishers Weekly review of ADHD 2.0:

Despite the disorder’s reputation as a condition that occurs in childhood, the authors write, ADHD can often appear in adulthood, when ‘the demands of life exceed the person’s ability to deal with them.’ ADHD can be channeled in healthy ways once it’s understood, they posit: because people with ADHD feel ‘an omnipresent itch to create,’ the authors encourage readers who have the condition to find a job that highlights creative strengths.

As Dr. Lloyd Sederer states in his review (Psychology Today), “Both Hallowell and Ratey take ADHD personally and seriously: Because they too have this condition, and clearly are exemplars for making a big and rewarding life with ADHD.”

Management of ADHD is of course a major focus of this book. Hallowell, says Dr. Sederer, believes that interpersonal “connection” is the top treatment. In addition to other suggestions for effective management of ADHD, the authors note that medications can also be of great benefit.

Featured below are quotes from ADHD 2.0 as well as two of the previous Hallowell/Ratey 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.

ADHD 2.0

A person with ADHD has the power of a Ferrari engine but with bicycle-strength brakes. It’s the mismatch of engine power to braking capability that causes the problems. Strengthening one’s brakes is the name of the game.

The great mathematician Alan Turing summed us up when he said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” That sums us up perfectly.

ADHD is worse than the top 5 killers in the U.S. combined. Having ADHD costs a person nearly thirteen years of life, on average….And that’s on top of all the findings of a greater risk for accidental injury and suicide….About two-thirds of people with ADHD have a life expectancy reduced by up to 21 years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Feb 15

“The Love Prescription”/”Eight Dates” for Couples

Two important works by couples experts from The Gottman Institute, a famed relationship lab that studies all kinds of love relationships, are The Love Prescription and Eight Dates.

I. Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (2019) by John Gottman, PhD, Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD, Doug Abrams, Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD 

According to Nicole BrodeurSeattle Times, the authors “call this book — their fourth together — ‘a tested program of eight fun, conversation-based dates that will result in a lifetime of understanding and commitment, whether a couple is newly in love or has been together for decades’.”

Selected Quotes:

Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.

Make dedicated, nonnegotiable time for each other a priority, and never stop being curious about your partner. Don’t assume you know who they are today, just because you went to bed with them the night before. In short, never stop asking questions. But ask the right kind of questions.

Happily ever after simply means that both partners are known, valued, accepted for who they are and who they are becoming. The goal is to be able to love your partner more deeply each and every year you’re together.

II. The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy (2022) by John Gottman, PhD, and Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD

Per the publisher, the seven-day prescription involves the following:

Day 1: Make Contact
Day 2: Ask a Big Question
Day 3: Say Thank You
Day 4: Give a Real Compliment
Day 5: Ask for What You Need
Day 6: Reach Out and Touch
Day 7: Declare a Date Night

Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW, New York Journal of Books:

This book has many strengths. The main one is the simplicity and brevity of its action plan: changing one habit each day for one week. As long as no abuse is going on in the relationship and both partners are on board, it’s a place to begin—even if this cycle needs to be repeated—and a way to kick-start an upward spiral of love, respect, and caring connection. Following the evidence-based practices laid out by the Gottmans makes a lot of sense either as an adjunct to individual or couples counseling or as a last-ditch effort before entering more in-depth therapeutic work. There isn’t a marriage or romantic partnership out there that won’t benefit from this book.

From the starred review by Publishers Weekly:

Research-backed findings bring scientific rigor to the advice, as when the authors detail a study in which they watched participants attempt to resolve an argument and found that those who were still together six years later were the ones who had five positive interactions (such as a smile) for every negative one; to that end, the Gottmans suggest readers compliment their partners often. The astute guidance is straightforward without being obvious, and the authors excel at distilling sharp lessons from client stories. Couples should consider making this enlightening guide required reading.

Additional Info

Previous posts on this site that offer background regarding Gottman Institute research and material include the following:

Feb 13

Living Single and Singlism on Valentine’s Day: Bella DePaulo

Needless to say, Valentine’s Day is not fun for everyone. Many people resent the commercialization of love that it represents, and those who are and/or who prefer living single often feel slighted or judged.

Singlism” is social scientist Bella DePaulo‘s term to describe stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalizing, and/or discrimination against singles. Her books include Singlism, Single with Attitude, Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone, and Marriage vs. Single Life: How Science and the Media Got It So Wrong, etc.), and she states this about herself (Psychology Today): “I love living single (except for the singlism) and never did have those reveries about some lavish wedding with the bridesmaids and the big white dress.”

De Paulo elaborates: “Tell new acquaintances that you are single and often they think they already know quite a lot about you. They understand your emotions: You are miserable and lonely and envious of couples. They know what motivates you: More than anything else in the world, you want to become coupled. If you are a single person of a certain age, they also know why you are not coupled: You are commitment-phobic, or too picky, or have baggage. Or maybe they figure you are gay and they think that’s a problem, too (Singled Out).

Per her website, the following are some prevalent myths about being single:

  1. The Wonder of Couples: Marrieds know best.
  2. Single-Minded: You are interested in just one thing – getting coupled.
  3. The Dark Aura of Singlehood: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
  4. It Is All About You: Like a child, you are self-centered and immature and your time isn’t worth anything since you have nothing to do but play.
  5. Attention Single Women: Your work won’t love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you don’t get any and you’re promiscuous.
  6. Attention Single Men: You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or, you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay.
  7. Attention Single Parents: Your kids are doomed.
  8. Too Bad You’re Incomplete: You don’t have anyone and you don’t have a life.
  9. Poor Soul: You will grow old alone and you will die in a room by yourself where no one will find you for weeks.
  10. Family Values: Let’s give all of the perks, benefits, gifts, and cash to couples and call it family values

To be clear, DePaulo is not against non-singlehood. “I defend single people because we are relentlessly demeaned by myths and pseudoscientific claims that say our lives are second-rate. But I’m not advocating singlehood for all. Some people live their best lives married, and others find more meaning and fulfillment in single life. This is the 21st century. We don’t all have to choose the same life path (“Everything You Think You Know About Single People Is Wrong,Washington Post).

The many reports over the years that marrieds are more fulfilled than singles is disputed by De Paulo. A GoodReads review explains her view, expressed in The Science of Marriage, regarding the flawed research and offers this interesting related tidbit:

…DePaulo…touches on ‘matrimania’ – the extreme valuing and celebration of marriage, couples, and weddings rampant in pop culture, the media, the workplace, the marketplace, politics, religion, and everyday life. She follows with this clever quote – ‘When people who marry get an initial boost in well-being that then dissipates, perhaps that honeymoon is attributable not (just) to the ‘support, intimacy, caring, [and] companionship’ that they are supposedly getting because of being married, but to the fact that their life choice was just validated by other people, perhaps in a big, expensive celebration of themselves.’

If you’re interested in more from DePaulo, check out her Psychology Today blog called “Living Single.”

Feb 01

“Women Talking”: Book and Film

To some, this may sound like the kind of verbose material more fit for a stage play than a film. But Women Talking, adapted by the writer-director Sarah Polley from Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel, is vibrant cinema. Shirley Li, The Atlantic

Although it’s not just the women who’ve seen Women Talking who get it, I believe the women reviewers overall might get it better. But as Bob Mondello, NPR, states: “Anyone clear-eyed about the world today will recognize the truths that these women are talking.”

A brief summary of the book Polley adapted for the screen. Lily Meyer, NPR, indicates that the novel’s author, Miriam Toews, penned a pertinent Author’s Note (part of which also introduces the film):

Between 2005 and 2009, she explains, eight men in a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia raped many of the girls and women in their community, first rendering them unconscious with cow anesthetic. Women Talking is ‘both a reaction through fiction to these true-life events, and an act of female imagination.’ It is also a work of deep moral intelligence, a master class in ethics beautifully dressed as a novel.

Women Talking is comprised of the conversations that occur over the course of a couple days while the men go away to attend to related legal issues. Katrina Onstad, The Guardian: “One woman defends these conversations: ‘There’s no plot, we’re only women talking.’ It’s a brilliant meta-line that functions as a pre-emptive strike against critics. And the ‘only’ is sharply ironic: in this place – as has often been the case throughout history – women talking is not a small thing, but is in itself action and hence plot.”

Regarding the movie version, Sheila O’Malley, rogerebert.com: “The women meet in the barn and discuss their options, boiled down to three: 1.) Do nothing 2.) Stay and fight 3.) Leave the community.”

They ask the only man left—a former apostate named August, who has returned to the community as a schoolteacher—to ‘take the minutes’ of their meeting. (None of the women can read or write.) ‘Taking the minutes’ is an artificial device, but it’s the book’s organizing principle.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post:

Within the first few minutes, the main characters make their cases with ferocity, quiet logic or transcendent spiritual belief, depending on their temperament: Pregnant Ona, played with beatific calm by Rooney Mara, proffers her idea of a just outcome, wherein the men agree that women will be equal and educated members of a reconfigured community. Claire Foy’s Salome, outraged at what has been done and condoned, is far less serene, as is spiky Mariche (Jessie Buckley), who advocates for staying, with misgivings that become clearer as the women’s debate ebbs, flows and finally comes to its exhilarating conclusion.

Emily Zemler, The Observer:

Each character has her own beliefs and experiences, but they all want the same thing, which is to feel safe. Ona (Rooney Mara) remains optimistic despite what’s happened to her. August loves her, but she is desperate to find a life outside the colony…Agata (Judith Ivey) and Greta (Sheila McCarthy) stand in as the elder generation, who have been wronged for even longer. Frances McDormand, also a producer, plays a colony leader who is opposed to any discussion of leaving.

Safety from the Sexual Trauma

More from Hornaday: “‘I’m sorry,’ says August (Ben Whishaw)…’One day, I’d like to hear that from someone who should be saying it,’ comes the reply.”

Emily Zemler, The Observer: “It would easy to call Women Talking a #MeToo movie, but it’s a lot more than that. These aren’t trendy conversations; they’re long-held struggles that people of all genders have faced for generations.”

Lindsey Bahr, Chicago Tribune: “‘Women Talking’ is not melodramatic or desperate or exploitative. It is astute and urgent and may just help those previously unable to find words or even coherent feelings for their own traumatic experiences. And hopefully it might just inspire more works of wild female imagination.”

Two Other Themes: Forgiveness, Leaving Vs. Fleeing

Tomris Laffly, The Wrap: “The debate that unfolds around forgiveness in ‘Women Talking’ remains a radical one throughout, one that differentiates between forgiveness that’s often seen as ‘permission to do more of the same’ and true, unforced forgiveness. Equally invigorating is the women’s logical dissection of the unapologetic autonomy that sets ‘leaving’ and ‘fleeing’ apart.”

Jan 25

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Don’t Take Anything Personally. Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Ever feel hurt by something someone said or did? You took it personally?

He or she may have actually said, Don’t take this personally, but…—and you still did. Or the opposite: This time…It’s personal. So, of course, you took heed. (But maybe that only happens in the movies.) (It’s the tagline to Jaws: The Revenge, to be specific.)

How can you actually practice Miguel Ruiz‘s wise and strong advice in The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (1997)? Specifically, “Don’t take anything personally,” as he states as one of those four agreements. “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

Several other related quotes from The Four Agreements:

There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.

But it is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said. You are hurting yourself. There is no way I can take this personally.

…Nothing that your partner does is personal. Your partner is dealing with her own garbage. If you don’t take it personally, it will be so easy for you to have a wonderful relationship with your partner.

Matthew D. Della Porta,The Huffington Post, offers further explanation of the downside of not understanding this premise:

If you take things personally, you make yourself a victim of anything that others say or do. This is like riding bumper cars and feeling outraged that others are colliding into you! Some may hit you because they are being careless or they have no control over their car. Others may crash into you deliberately. It would be quite silly to feel upset about this because we know that when we ride bumper cars, we are going to get hit.
Likewise, in our lives, we will inevitably be struck by the criticisms and oversights of others. Will you be disturbed and flustered by what other people do? Realize that it makes no sense to give people such power over you.

Another resource worth a peek is psychiatrist Abigail Brenner‘s Psychology Today post aptly titled “How to Stop Taking Things Personally.” Her three key points on this issue:

  • …[D]on’t allow another person to tell you who you are
  • …[I]t helps to reflect on how important the relationship with the other person really is.
  • It can be helpful to ask for clarification before responding.