Jan 26

Hallowell and Ratey On “ADHD 2.0”

In ADHD 2.0, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey, both of whom have this “variable attention trait,” draw on the latest science to provide both parents and adults with ADHD a plan for minimizing the downside and maximizing the benefits of ADHD at any age. Publisher of ADHD 2.0 by Dr. Edward M. Hallowell and Dr. John J. Ratey

Over 20 years ago the groundbreaking book Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey opened the eyes of many regarding ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (see previous post).

In their latest, ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction–from Childhood through Adulthood, they attempt, among other goals, to depathologize ADD-related traits. They express a preference, for example, to name ADHD VAST, or Variable Attention Stimulus Trait.

From the Publishers Weekly review: “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.”

A pertinent quote from the book: “ADHD is a far richer, more complicated, paradoxical, dangerous, but also potentially advantageous state of being than the oversimplified version most of the general public takes it to be or than even the detailed diagnostic criteria would have you believe. ‘ADHD’ is a term that describes a way of being in the world. It is neither entirely a disorder nor entirely an asset. It is an array of traits specific to a unique kind of mind. It can become a distinct advantage or an abiding curse, depending on how a person manages it.”

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.

There is a Medication Table starting on page 122 of ADHD 2.0 that provides all you need to know about what is available. I learned some time ago that the psychoactive medications for ADHD have an indisputably immediate and robustly effective action. This is why Dr. Hallowell urges his patients (and readers) to ‘consider’ them. About 80% of patients respond; 20% do not — but that’s an impressive response rate. When asked to rank (1 to 5) ‘what works for ADHD?’ he places medications at #5. He knows they can significantly help a lot of people, even if they are not at the pinnacle of his pantheon of ADHD treatments. Hallowell also is a doctor who appreciates the additive effects of different, safe, and effective mind/body interventions.