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ADD - What it's like to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder

By oztun in Culture
Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 04:46:41 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I grew up with a very severe case of ADD. Before you start to get annoyed let me just say I have never taken any drugs to treat this problem. This is about what its like to suffer from ADD and not about the controversial drug Ritalin. I am very upset at the way Americans currently view this problem. Its hard enough to go through life with ADD without all the stigma being attached to it. My purpose here is to show you what its like to have ADD and remove some of the mystery for those who don't understand.

When I was 18 years old I first discovered there was something wrong with me. My whole life everyone told me I was just lazy or that I was crazy. I didn't know what to believe until I took a course in psychology in highschool. Back then (1992) I had never heard of ADD nor would it ever be mentioned in my class. I don't think ADD was even known about in 1992 (I could be mistaken on this). During my psychology class it occurred to me that maybe my environment played a part in the problems I had growing up. Over the next 9 years I tried everyday to make sense of my problems.

By the time I was 25 I saw that my problem was much bigger than just laziness. I was an emotional wreck. For years I was hypersensitive emotionally. At the slightest sad thing I would break down and start crying. Growing up in South Texas crying will get your ass kicked so its best if you hide it from everyone. I tried as best I could. My biggest problem was my lack of concentration. I couldn't concentrate long enough to finish anything I started. A task like cleaning my room could never be completed. I would start to clean and then get distracted by something I picked up which would cause me to think about something else and so on and so on. Life was a constant distraction keeping from doing anything for myself. I could only find motivation to do something if I felt there was no other choice. I did not want to be this way. I did not choose to be a lazy person nor did I want to. I hated myself for being such a bad person as everyone had reinforced into me was my problem.

Before I suffered from ADD I suffered from depression. My parents were young when I came along in 1974. My mother is extremely hypersensitive emotionally and was still like a child when she had me. My father was also very emotionally challenged although he had become a workaholic. His father left and he was the oldest so he worked and brought home money at a very young age for his mom. When he wasn't working he was getting drunk to dilute his problems. My mother was busy off with her friends doing drugs and having a good time. By the time I was eight years old my mom decided she couldn't handle raising me and left to move to the city and do her thing. When my mother left I wanted to go with her. Up until I went off to school I had spent everyday with my mom. She was like a part of me that I didn't know how to function without. Her leaving caused me so much pain I erased most of my childhood from my memory. I can't remember anything before eight years old except for a few things I did with my mom and very little else.

Now I see that I had problems before my mother left. This was because neither of my parents were there for me emotionally. I didn't receive the attention I required. I was a C student from day one. I got in trouble in school and was always the class clown seeking attention. I received swats (spankings with a paddle) from the school in every grade up till my tenth grade year including kindergarten. In the third grade I got in trouble once for trying to sell pills to other students. Another time in third grade I had a knife taken away from me. I carried the knife after my mother left because I was seeking the protection I felt I no longer I had from my mother. By the time I was in fifth grade I was smoking pot and cigarettes. By the time I reached high school I was doing anything that came my way. I got in as much trouble as possible. I felt as though the world didn't care about me so I was going to pay it back. Just like Columbine me and a friend planned to shoot up our highschool. Luckily something kept me from totally destroying my future. Although I'm sure I came close a million times.

Up until I graduated I hadn't thought much about happiness. I didn't really know what it was. I was in so much pain I couldn't look into a camera without my eyes watering. I didn't want my picture taken which is a part of ADD I still don't understand. Once I graduated it was time to be an adult. Making it on your own is very hard when your are emotionally immature as I was. I had a very low self-esteem although I was able to make friends. All of my friends were like me in that they weren't happy either. All of them had one parent and all of them used drugs. The ones who weren't like me didn't understand me much. They were happy and had both parents. To them life was life, to the rest of us it was all a joke. This is because we didn't have any reason to live. My and my friends are statistics, most of them are not working, or barely have a place to live, have been put in jail, or they are dead.

ADD is a problem that exist in the brain. Genetically it is possible that some people are more susceptible than others. I believe the biggest factor is your environment and how you were nurtured as a child. Those of us with ADD are emotionally immature. We didn't develop certain ways of thinking when we were younger because our conditions aren't favorable to our brain. There are three major factors that contribute to ADD. Nutrition, which me and my mother both had very poor nutrition. She never ate vegetables (even lettuce) and tought me to be the same way. A physically secure environment. I had a secure environment at home but growing up in a town with a high crime rate I was always fearful of my physical security. And the last is the unbroken relationship with a safe, ever-present maternal organism. I think I've explained where this went wrong for me. It is now hard for me to trust my people in relationships. I always feel like my friends or girlfriend is scheming to stab me in the back.

So now I am learning to live with ADD and I'm getting a little bit better everyday. I am twenty-seven years old and I recently found some happiness for the first time in my life. I had moments of joy during my life but never anything that lasted for more than a hour or so. I'm not sure what all I have to do to fully recover but I'm working on that. I just know that now I've figured out what's wrong I am much more happy and I wanted to share it with the world.

If you think you or someone you know might have ADD checkout www.scatteredminds.com. This website is for a book I started reading yesterday and I am halfway through it already. It is giving me the answers I have searched for the last 9 years. I feel like I found the holy grail I have been searching for my entire life. The most important thing society can do is to look at ADD as an allergy of the brain. Just like someone with hay fever can't make it go away I can't make my thoughts "just go away". Right now kids and adults with ADD are being tortured by their minds and the people around them think they are crazy, lazy, stupid, or a combination of the three. It is my hope that the public becomes more educated and aware of this problem and for parents to think more about the effects they have on their children.


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What is your thought on ADD?
o I think I might have ADD and know others who do too. 21%
o I don't have it but I think I know someone who could. 6%
o I believe ADD exist but I don't feel me or anyone I know has been affected. 11%
o I have been diagnosed with ADD. 14%
o Someone I know is diagnosed with ADD. 20%
o I've read this article and I still don't believe ADD exist. 19%
o I'm not going to read this article because I know ADD doesn't exist. 6%

Votes: 94
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o www.scatte redminds.com
o Also by oztun

Display: Sort:
ADD - What it's like to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder | 110 comments (87 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
I'm skeptical ... (4.42 / 7) (#2)
by Kellnerin on Thu May 31, 2001 at 12:32:02 PM EST

... of first-time posters with long sob-stories, but I'll go ahead and plug a book anyway.

Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey. The authors are both psychiatrists who have ADD themselves. Comes in an AudioBook version as well as paperback.

That is all.

--Stop it, evil hand, stop it!--

The Book (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by Davidicus on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:15:48 PM EST

Having seen them speak, and having read the book, i would advise taking teh book iwith a grain of salt. The book encourges the reader to feel sorry for people with ADHD, because they are at a disadvantage. the books makes some good points, but is fairly biased. In the lecture that i heard, they alternated between suggesting that a rigid enverionment was ideal for ADHD people, and telling us that it was the worst possible thing. I enjoyed the book, but didnt entirely trust it.

[ Parent ]
ADD (3.36 / 11) (#5)
by jungleboogie on Thu May 31, 2001 at 12:35:17 PM EST

The drug companies would have you and I believe that this is a problem with our brains. It isn't. There's no chemical imbalance. There's no reason that you should be "emotionally immature" because of ADD. That's a fucking crock of shit. If you are "emotionally immature" it is because you haven't been in the right situations to help you grow! Your "ADD" symptoms are a result of the world that has ignored you, that has bored you. It is up to you to decide how you are going to approach your life. You have "found happiness" recently becauese YOU decided to make the change. Anyone who tells people with "ADD" that they are crazy, lazy, or stupid is a moron.

Re: Well your mostly right (4.00 / 5) (#18)
by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:29:12 PM EST

Actually there is a chemical imbalance but I believe its an after effect of ADD and not the cause. There was a study with monkeys that showed the violent ones have low sertonin. They found that the low seritonin developed after the violence began. Those drugs are a crutch which is why I have chosen not to go that route. I am not emotionally immature because of ADD. I was/am emotionally immature because of my environment which is a condition the medical community has labeled as ADD. It is my belief they will change this from a disorder as they learn more about it.

You hit the nail on the head about the right situations to help me grow. Thats exactly why I have been recovering and escaped my depression was due to a change in my environment. The rest of what you said after that is entirely correct.

[ Parent ]

Got up on the wrong side (5.00 / 3) (#20)
by error 404 on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:35:43 PM EST

of of Ayn Rand's bed this morning, I see.
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
ADD is used too much to really have meaning (3.33 / 3) (#7)
by John Milton on Thu May 31, 2001 at 12:44:36 PM EST

ADD is just too much of a blanket statement. Whatever legitimate medical situation it represented has been debased. I'm not saying there isn't a syndrome, but for most teachers, the definition seems to be hyperactive child that I cant' handle. I've neither met anyone who has ADD in real life nor have I seen anyone with ADD symptoms who couldn't easily be explained by a more common place answer. If you have ADD, I'm glad you've found some stability, but you might beware of placebos.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

actually (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Davidicus on Thu May 31, 2001 at 12:59:31 PM EST

The technical term is 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' it is as legitimate a medical conditon as you can have (its been defiined as one by the medical community) It is an imbalance of a chemical in the brain, so its actually possible to test for it.

[ Parent ]
Er, no. (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by plastik55 on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 03:26:13 AM EST

It's generally not possible to do such a chemical test without cutting someone's head open. I believe all assays for ADD/ADHD consist of visual and cognitive tests.

Furthermore, ADHD of only thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance; the evidence in support for that contention is the fact that drugs which alter brain chemistry appear to be effective.

Furthermore, something being labeled as a medical disorder by the "medical community" does not automatically make it so. One only needs to look at medical texts from a couple of decades ago to realize this. Psychological disorders are particularly fuzzy, because we know very little about how the brain organizes sensory input and cognition.

I think there is a subset of the population who do suffer a chemical imbalance type disorder that looks behaviorally like ADHD, but it is my gut feeling that they are only about 5-10% of the people who are diagnosed as such.
[ Parent ]

RE: Thats ADHD not ADD (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:03:14 PM EST

You are refering to ADHD which includes hyperactivity. I don't have hyperactivity. My problem has been quite the opposite.

[ Parent ]
DSM-IV (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by Davidicus on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:11:04 PM EST

Accodring to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statictical Manual (of psycriatic syndromes) version 4) there is only one syndrome. ADHD. It sounds like you have ADHD primarily Innatentive, and i have ADHD combined type. (there is also ADHD primarily Hyperactive) Its concitered the same, becauise it has its root in the same problem, lack of a certain chemical. (Ritalin is a stimulant, so it enhances the producton of that chemical, so peopel act normal)

[ Parent ]
bleh (none / 0) (#17)
by John Milton on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:19:13 PM EST

Yeah, I tend to clump the two together in my mind. I do believe they're real. The problem is that they're a fad. Not a short time ago it was a fad that everyone was molested. The signs were anxiety, headaches, blah blah. Basically, traits that everyone exhibits from time to time. Sort of like stupid people thinking that having pneumonia means you have AIDS. When a medical syndrome becomes pop psychology and a method of legally drugging children, you need to redefine the term and hedge it in a little bit more. That's all I'm saying.

P.S.: If you have ADHD, you should probably make the title more specific to reflect that. :)

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
Thats a horrible way of looking at it! (none / 0) (#19)
by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:34:54 PM EST

When you say they are a fad you are stating an opinion. Maybe you don't have all the facts. I suggest you read the book if you want to know more. By suggesting that being molested is a fad you make yourself sound like someone who doesn't take the time to learn the facts. No one chooses to be molested.

I totally agree they shouldn't be drugging children. I think they need to look at their environment first which is what I thought I said in my article.

PS: I have ADD not ADHD.

[ Parent ]

You misunderstand (none / 0) (#26)
by John Milton on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:55:48 PM EST

It was a fad for teachers to diagnose children as having been molested. The symptoms they were told to look for were too vague to mean anything. In a way, they trivialised real victims. Everyone wants to be the brave one from the lifetime original movie, but no one wants to take credit when their wrong.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
I get it and I'm sorry if I offend you. (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 02:04:44 PM EST

But... I think that the misdiagnoses is not as big of a problem as "conspiracy theorist" make it out to be.

It's just like people getting locked up in jail for something they didn't do. Obviously we shouldn't let all rapist and murders out because a few get put in innocently. I also don't think we should stop trying to help people like me because a few get misdiagnosed.

I really am against the abuse of the drugs and I feel the enviroment is the cause and where treatment should begin. The drugs should ONLY be used as temporary relief to this problem until the true cause is identified in the individual.

I think what really scares people is the large number of kids being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. However look at the causes missing parent, lack of attention, etc. Next look at society today missing parents, kids being left with no parents around, etc. Its obvious there is a major problem and that is people in our society are so selfish. Thats another write-up that I plan to write once I learn more.

[ Parent ]

Oops, I did it again (none / 0) (#21)
by John Milton on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:36:31 PM EST

I've gotten flipped twice in this discussion. You have ADD.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
ADD is used too much to really have meaning (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by rde on Thu May 31, 2001 at 02:32:46 PM EST

I agree. And while I don't doubt that our author has a genuine complaint, I've got a lot of 'symptoms' he describes myself. I did terribly in school, I couldn't (or wouldn't) concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes (still have problems), and I hate having my picture taken. Do I consider myself a sufferer of AD[H]D? No. I blame the lack of school success on the teaching method; since I left school I discovered the joy of learning, and am now a great fan of history, maths and physics. The lack of attention is the bane of my family, but they're used to it and it doesn't manifest itself with sufficient visiblity that it bothers anyone else. I've long since put it down to absent-minded professor syndrome. Hubris? Perhaps. I've no idea why I hate having my picture taken.

[ Parent ]
Some information (4.20 / 5) (#13)
by Davidicus on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:07:51 PM EST

I'm not sure exactly when ADHD was first recognised as a syndrome, but i was diagnosed in .. 2nd grade, which would have been 85-86 or so. Ritalin has been around for 50-60 years now, and there have been long term studies of it. In my experience, the drugs help much more with younger kids, who have not yet learned to cope themselves. because i was given the drugs (and maxed out for my body weight) i was able to live a normal enough life to gain the social skills that i needed to survive. (i stopped taking Ritalin around 11th grade) It didnt stop me from dropping out of college, twice. but i can interact with people, and hold down a job, which i might not have been able to do otherwise.

ADD (4.12 / 8) (#24)
by Signal 11 on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:41:49 PM EST

Psychologists have argued whether ADD is actually a seperate disease with it's own eutilogy(sp?) seperate from 'high function autism'. But whether it exists or not, the truth is that it's usually misdiagnosed against anyone who exhibits problematic behaviors as a child. I know many people who are perfectly normal who were diagnosed as having ADD as adolescents. Really now - if it's a brain dysfunction, why did it suddenly go away as soon as they became adults and got jobs?

Just some food for thought... when people talk about ADD, it's not the disease they're talking about - it's the fact that they want to drug the damn kid because he's being independent and thinking "too soon"... as if, as adults, we can get away with that either... *sigh* ...

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

I was diagnosed (3.20 / 5) (#25)
by wiredog on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:50:07 PM EST

As a "hyperactive" in 76, before the Great ADHD Fad, and put on Ritalin. My parents took me off of it about a year later as they didn't like the side effects.

"Anything that's invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things", Douglas Adams
Great writeup (3.50 / 4) (#27)
by rebelcool on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:57:00 PM EST

The people who claim that it's not real or "not that bad" usually have never faced the frustration that results from mental conditions like this. Much like how people who've never experienced depression cant understand the crushing anguish that it causes.

Good job. +1, FP

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

It's not that it doesn't exist... (4.33 / 3) (#38)
by tzanger on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:45:38 PM EST

But rather that I believe it is far too overdiagnosed.

Just because Little Johnny is having trouble staying focussed doesn't mean he has ADD or ADHD. Just because he has poor social skills or just can't be made to do anything doesn't mean he has ADD or ADHD. Parents, teachers and doctors these days are too eager to find something wrong with the children and are only too glad to give a pill to make it go away instead of fixing the root problem (poor parenting, lack of quality time with the child, what have you).

I know you weren't singling me out (this is the first I've written in this article) but your blanket statement brought out this response. I am both parent and someone who, if he was a child today, would probably have been told he had ADD/ADHD by the school system.

[ Parent ]
Overdiagnosis (4.00 / 1) (#97)
by asreal on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 10:49:34 AM EST

I agree. The drugs to treat this (very real) disorder are used without discression. I have heard accounts from parents whose children were prescribed Ritalin due to slight behavioral problems. Teachers don't want to put up with individual thought, so any difficulties in following directions are 'dealt with' as soon as possible.

I'd be interested to know how common prescriptions for Ritalin are... does anyone have any numbers or first hand experiences with misdiagnosis?

i trust i can rely on your vote
[ Parent ]

me thinks you can concentrate quite nicely (2.57 / 7) (#32)
by mami on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:14:22 PM EST

otherwise you wouldn't be able to write that article the way you did.

Me thinks too that ADD is the invention of a conspiring conglomerate of scientists, school-psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and parent. They all know that they are lying. But they need a pretext. With ADD they don't have to admit they just can't deal with children's behaviour anymore. ADD allows them to continue to dwell on their denial to recognize that it is them who have changed and not their children.

May be that's a consolation to you. Since I read K5, I am really emotionally hypersensitive, I also suffered from depression, every technical geeks has slapped on my self-confidence and spanked me regularly with their virtual paddles. My family has deserted me and left me alone in the hands of scrupulous uebermenschen to abuse my allergic brain for further experiments.

I view myself as a guinee pig, I think like a guinee pig, I eat like a guinee pig and am obsessed to find a way to get even with the evil social scientist experimeners, also known as K5 authors, who just don't know how to design appropriate tests with guinee pigs. Now they messed me up and all they get is my hyperallergic reactions instead of real valid test results.

Get it, will you ??? I am allergic !!! Stop that !!! No more experiments !!! No more story writing !!! Give me my medication (also known as /.) and leave me alone !!!

Yet, I haven't found any physician who diagnosed me with ADD.

Yesterday I saw my doctor. He said I am a nice, ol' dummy guinee pig and he wants me to stay that way. Just gave me pills against high blood pressure. I took them. Now my brain is almost bloodless, can't think straight anymore. What's wrong with me ?

Ah, yes, BTW and the nutrition theory. My mom ate literally tons of "Wiener Wuerstchen" (hot dogs) when she had me. Right after they introduced the new German money after WWII in 1948. After years of half starving, she all of the sudden could buy hot dogs again. I think that's it. I have the Hyper Allergic Hot Dog Syndrom, also known as HADDS.

Healing (4.33 / 3) (#34)
by paulT on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:25:10 PM EST

me thinks you can concentrate quite nicely otherwise you wouldn't be able to write that article the way you did.

Isn't that kind of like saying, "I don't believe you're leg was ever broken because I see you walking now?"

Not all conditions are permanent and he clearly said his was improving.

"Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it" -- Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Rereading the article (4.33 / 3) (#53)
by mami on Thu May 31, 2001 at 11:10:58 PM EST

I admit that my attempt to be satirical might have been too harsh. I reread the original article and am not clear why my first impression was that this article didn't reflect autobiographical truth but more a well written fiction.

Let's say it's autobiographical. Why didn't the author react and defended it ? Anyhow, as ADD is a neurobiological disorder, whose cause is not known, so far there is no other treatment than sedation, AFAIK. So, I don't think you can say this is something which comes and goes.

With dyslexia many people say it can be treated (through specific teaching methods) and that most grow out of it. I don't know if that is true for ADD. With dyslexia it's a bit of both. There are too many (inspirational) stories out there of famous (and intelligent) people having been dyslexic - and of course they all made it and overcame their difficulties etc. Well, you can't expect people tell you stories, where dyslexicx did NOT succeed (would just add to the problems) , but that doesn't mean that the stories they DO tell you reflect the truth.

[ Parent ]
Just a side note. (3.80 / 5) (#57)
by Kugyou on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:01:34 AM EST

Anyhow, as ADD is a neurobiological disorder, whose cause is not known, so far there is no other treatment than sedation, AFAIK

Just a minor nitpick here. Ritalin is not a sedative - it's a stimulant. Which is precisely why it's so dangerous when a child who's just "being a child" is 'diagnosed' with ADHD by a school 'counselor' (well, the ones who are actually psychiatrists and licensed to prescribe medication) for no good reason (usually detected later in life when dealing with a reputable psychiatrist), and put on Ritalin. It makes them more hyper. Much more hyper.

I knew a few people back in elementary school that had this happen to them. They were told they had ADHD, despite their academic progress - two of them were in the 'gifted' program - and were put on Ritalin. In high school, I saw them again (after a three-year hiatus) and asked them how they were handling ADHD. I was shocked at the time - though I wouldn't be these days - to find that they later were "undiagnosed", and informed that they never had the "disorder" to begin with. This is after having their Ritalin maxed out, doctors wondering why it's not working, years of psychiatric evaluations, et ceterae.

Currently, my two best friends both have ADHD (primarily Hyperactive), and neither takes their prescribed Ritalin. Why? Because it strips away their personality. I've watched one of my absolute best friends - a "mobile DJ" - go from a very active, very caring individual to almost a drone when he took his Ritalin under orders from his employer. That order was swiftly rescinded - can't have a DJ who doesn't liven up a party.

To reference the top story, however, I'd like to make this note: If what the author suffer(s|ed) from is/was ADHD, then I'm very happy to see that someone other than my friends has learned to deal with it without being drugged. Ritalin is a very dangerous thing to be throwing at a child, especially in these days where - I will agree with another poster here - it's become a "fad". Not that it's cool to say that you have it, but that it's become the latest excuse du jour for anyone who doesn't want to deal with another human being as they are.

Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
[ Parent ]

Thanks (4.33 / 3) (#60)
by mami on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 09:44:40 AM EST

Sorry for not having checked the medication Ritalin ( I didn't know about the drug and didn't check for this article), but your comment just supports my uninformed sceptical feeling about the "easy way out in medicating too fast and too long and possibly with the wrong drug".

It's a bit a cultural thingy too. I once had to describe some of the problems my then already adult son went through a consequence of a messed up schooling due to his dyslexia to a (female) lawyer.

She "diagnosed" him within three minutes as "maniac depressive" or "having some sort of shizophrenic disorder" and asked me immediately to put him on medication. Needless to say that my son wouldn't take such medication without a fight. Happy to say that he "cured" himself spontaneously all by himself. He found something to do, something to love and something to hope for. That's all that was really needed in his case.

[ Parent ]
Drugs and personality stripping (4.33 / 3) (#72)
by WispFox on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 03:23:28 PM EST

"neither takes their prescribed Ritalin. Why? Because it strips away their personality."

I've noticed that this also happens in cases of manic depression (or whatever the current termonology is for it) - had a friend in high school, very active, creative, friendly soul. He wouldn't take his Litium (for manic depression) unless forced, because it completely removed his creativity.

I'm not sure how much of this is because of the fact that the manic sessions were probably highly creative, and how much of it is because the whole point behind treating manic depression is (IIRC) to try to flatten out the emotional roller coaster.

I will, however, say that it's truly a shame that so many treatments for emotion-related psychological disorders tend to have the effect of 'flattening' the person in general. It's hardly a *good* thing that the only way we know how to help people with chemical imbalances is to flatten their personalities and lives.

[ Parent ]
Neurobiological (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by paulT on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:14:41 PM EST

Anyhow, as ADD is a neurobiological disorder, whose cause is not known, so far there is no other treatment than sedation, AFAIK. So, I don't think you can say this is something which comes and goes.

From the article: I believe the biggest factor is your environment and how you were nurtured as a child.

The relation between the chemical balances in our brains, our genetic makeup, and our environment is complex to say the least. I don't know if any condition of the brain could be said to static in any way. People with these conditions exist within a range.

I don't know anyone with ADD but I have a very close friend who is bipolar and an ex-girlfriend (whom I am still friends with) who is also bipolar. AFAIK their conditions are permanant, they will live with them their whole lives. But while the condition does not come and go, how it effects them does. They have good days, bad days and indifferent days. With support, friendship, and treatment they can go long periods without anyone knowing there is a problem.

What I am saying is that just because a condition does not come and go, the symptoms can.

"Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
[ Parent ]
Sick and tired of anti-ADD whiners (4.60 / 5) (#44)
by MarkCC on Thu May 31, 2001 at 04:47:24 PM EST

I don't mean to necessarily target the particular post that I'm responding to, but it's a fine example of something that I'm sick and tired of.

ADD is *real*. Some of us have experienced it and lived with it. It does exist. It is not a figment of someones imagination. It is not a crutch for justifying our weaknesses. It is not an excuse for selling profitable medicines. It is *real*.

I'm really very happy for all of those arrogant prats who think that because they don't suffer from it, that it must not be real.

ADD is probably overdiagnosed. I'm not sure, but I won't argue that. But that doesn't change the fact that there is something real that underlies it.

ADD is well understood and well researched. It is a condition where the part of the brain that processes sensory input cannot keep up with the inputs, and becomes overloaded. (Even seen an overstimulated child? Notice how they act? Now imagine what it's like to live with that kind of overstimulation every moment of every day for the rest of your life. That's what ADD is.

Too many ignorant jackasses preach about how we "drug kids" to slow them down, believing that ritalin & friends are sedatives. Bullshit. Ritalin is a close relative of caffeine. It's a stimulant. The reason that it works is that it helps to stimulate the sensory centers of the brain so that they can keep up better. It works because it's allowing them to process the information without being overloaded. And if you've ever watched a kid with real ADD after taking ritalin, the difference is spectacular. Without the drug, they simply cannot cope with normal day-to-day activity. With it, they become (mostly) normal kids.

I've lived with ADD my whole life. I have a relatively minor case, and my parents were opposed to the idea of medicating it, and so we learned to cope (not too well) with it while I was growing up. It's hard. I'm now 35 years old, I've got my PhD, a great job with IBM, a very patient wife, and a beautiful daughter, so obviously I've learned to handle it. But I still lose it sometimes. It's a very hard thing to cope with. And it's had a huge impact on nearly every part of my life.

So I get very, very angry with ignorant assholes who think that they know better than the scientists who've spent years studying it, better than the people who've spent years living with it, who would deny children treatments for a very real, very treatable condition on the basis of their ignorance.

[ Parent ]

easy, easy (5.00 / 4) (#49)
by mami on Thu May 31, 2001 at 07:21:35 PM EST

considering how angry you react to my previous post, I think I answer.

Here you can read about classification of ADD/ADHD and the symptoms in the appendix. It's around since the 1980 and classified by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994 in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; the fourth edition of this manual, known as the DSM-IV .

It is believed to be a neurobiological-based developmental disorder.

Let me tell you why the above article caused me to react with sarcasm.

I have raised a dyslexic child, who is now going to be 28. I have also read through the list of symptoms given in above publication for ADD/ADHD. Compared to the symptoms a dyslexic child shows, the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are even more fuzzy.

The diagnosis of a dyslexic child is already hard enough. In case you have a multilingual child it's impossible. But the symptoms are compared to ADD/ADHD much clearer. My child was diagnosed during age eight to sixteen in three different countries (and three different languages) for dyslexia, a more precisely researched and defined learning disorder than ADD/ADHD.

Yet none of the testing entities were able to confirm their testing results as being caused by a biologic-neurologic disorder or by multilingualism (which can destroy a normal language (oral and written) learning process.)

If I look at the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, described in the DSM-IV, I would say that 60-80 percent of the symptoms you will find also in dyslexic children. I don't know how many of the ADD diagnosed children are also diagnosed as dyslexic. But one thing is clear, there is a multitude of symptoms and so far the causes are not known and many symptoms could have been caused or enhanced by a multitude of environmental factors as well.

I clearly believe that very specific symptoms of ADD/ADHD and dyslexia are neurobiological disorders. But I don't believe that the classification of ADD/ADHD and dyslexia and the description of the symptoms are precise enough to not allow for subjective and misleading diagnosis.

There are counties, where the number of ADD diagnosed children has risen dramatically within two or three years after introducing the classification in DSM-IV and schools have started to categorize children according to it. It is not clear if that is due to changes in the definition and classification or actually reflects a mysterious increase of ADD in one county versus another. I can't find a link, but I remember having seen a documentary on public TV on it. I think it was a county in VA.

Anyhow, my previous comment was meant to be satirical, because I had some doubts about the author's honesty. I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone, who feels he has ADD and suffers from it.

My son was boarding student in a specific school for dyslexic boys and I would say that over 65 percent of them could as well have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Some of them had clearly neurological disorders and all of them were extremely hard to sort into clear cut categories of specific disorders.

There is a huge melange of causes which can lead a child to show symptoms which ADHD describes. (For example with regards to the article, the author describes smoking pot and depression in his life. Both are causes and both cause each other - pot smoking causes or enhances depression - depression causes someone to smoke pot. A dyslexic child is so much in disadvantage compared to other schoolkids that it gets scared, depressed, aggressive, nervous, hyperactive and (add more emotional problems through more or less dysfunctional families in an economically depressed neighborhood) ends up very likely to be a pot-smoking, alcoholic, depressed, angry teen.

It's not always clear what causes what. But if children show these symptoms already as three or four year olds, then most often these kids are also firmly diagnosed by their mothers as "being different" and "having some strange behavioural anomalities". If this child was otherwise raised properly (no neglect or abusive shaking, spanking as a baby or toddler etc) those symptoms I would always take seriously and as a neurobiological, medical disorder.

And when it comes to medicating ADD kids, I can't give you an informed answer. I am just not taking a light approach to pumping a lot of drugs into school kids to "make them manageable" in today's school and family environment, though I understand that most parents have few other choices. But for me that's not the answer to the problem. Medication should not be the only thing offered to these children as a help. As you don't know the causes of syndrom, medication is a crutch, not a cure.


[ Parent ]

Then you don't know what ADD actually is (5.00 / 2) (#73)
by afeldspar on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 04:18:54 PM EST

me thinks you can concentrate quite nicely otherwise you wouldn't be able to write that article the way you did.

This is entirely true. It's the unstated premise, "If you really had ADD (and if ADD really existed) then you would never be able to concentrate", that reflects a misunderstanding of what ADD is.

ADD is not the same as "short attention span". That's an unfortunate myth promulgated by the media, which knew that this "ADD" was something ready-made for news reports and Movies Of The Week but never actually understood what it is.

Instead, ADD is a disorder that hampers your ability to concentrate at will and appropriately. Which is why ADD people can frequently get into just as much trouble by falling into a state called "hyperfocus", where they concentrate too hard on something that's interesting them and they tune out everything else. A classic story from the literature is of a writer with ADD who came out of a long state of hyperfocus and finally realized what that noise was that he'd been ignoring while he finished up the chapter -- it was a hurricane siren.

Many people will try to use "Well, you can concentrate sometimes, so obviously you can't have ADD," and when that fails, move to "Well, everyone has times when they can't concentrate, and times when they get way too wrapped up!" Again, the unstated conclusion ("Therefore there's no actual disorder") depends on an unstated premise ("It could only be a real disorder if the defining symptom doesn't happen to anyone else, ever.") Again, it's an unstated premise that happens to be false: Everyone gets short of breath sometimes; does that mean that asthma is not a real disorder?

-- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
[ Parent ]

ok, but how do you exclude drug's influence ? (none / 0) (#83)
by mami on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 02:28:37 AM EST

I get your point.

But I think I am too much thinking in terms of dyslexia. I could observe extreme variations in my son's writing capabilities. It was very clear that under pressure to compete or under depression his writing collapsed completely (up to 80 + spelling errors in one page), but still readable handwriting. On the other hand anything he wrote deliberately (happened obviously very seldom), were pieces which were (under the circumstances) acceptable.

When he became completely depressed and smoked pot the writing broke down and handwriting became truely unreadable. After that there wasn't any writing or reading anymore anyway.

At the same time, when smoking pot, he showed a lot of symptoms, which are described for ADD. His depression oszillated between being hyperactive aggressive and apathetic immobile.

I would think that it is very difficult to make a clear causal relationship of the described symptoms to ADD, when you smoke pot at the same time.

[ Parent ]
To those who think otherwise... (4.00 / 7) (#33)
by jd on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:17:33 PM EST

This is either a very accurate personal account, or an all-too-accurate account of the history of the way the illness is treated.

Mind you, mental illness in general is treated badly in the US...

  • There are solid reasons for believing that it's not covered by the disabilities act.
  • Mental Illness is =still= something to be kept secret, at home, at work, in the community.
  • A disturbingly-high percentage of the prison population have -severe- mental disorders.
  • Over 90% of all Americans have -some- untreated mental disorder. (source: John Bradshaw)
  • Reports by various UK investigative reporters link American psychiatry with cults, whereby escapees are tracked and captured.
  • A very low percentage of psychiatrists understand their field outside of the text-book.

    It was not until very recently, for example, that OCD was even a recognised condition. Bullemia was regarded as an "attitude problem". Until 20 years ago, there =was= no cure for Manic Depression, and even into the early 90's, recognition for it was virtually non-existant.

    For the record, I'm Bipolar I with rapid cycling and mixed states, am on the Higher Functioning Autism spectrum (probably around the Asperger vicinity), and have a most fascinating EEG. I know people with ADD, ADHD, OCD, and most other acronyms you care to name.

    My knowledge is "limited" - ie: I'm -not- "qualified" in any "formal" way. My information comes from reading, being willing to listen, and risking going right up the garden path.

    (It doesn't help that England is 20-30 years behind Mars - sorry, America - on mental disorders, or that those who debate it either see it everywhere or refuse to see it at all.)

  • 90%? (4.50 / 10) (#35)
    by DesiredUsername on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:29:24 PM EST

    "Over 90% of all Americans have -some- untreated mental disorder."

    I'm sorry, this is just ridiculous.

    1) How do you define normal if only 10% of the universe is normal?

    2) Besides the obvious problems of defining normality, what is a "disorder"? Especially considering that WAY more than 10% of people are fully functional, productive, happy members of society.

    Even if this person knew of their "disorder" if they are happy and functional (and if your claim is right, many many of them should be) why *shouldn't* it go "untreated"?

    Play 囲碁
    [ Parent ]
    Everyone puts words in my mouth. (2.50 / 2) (#40)
    by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:50:30 PM EST

    See my reply to gblues.

    [ Parent ]
    Ok, I see your point (4.66 / 3) (#43)
    by jd on Thu May 31, 2001 at 04:41:38 PM EST

    But I'd like to throw in one additional thought for you. If there were NO internal factors, whatsoever, what differented you from other people who had similar envonmental backgrounds?

    Some of those people will have become "schizoeffective". Others, "schizophrenic". Others still, "bipolar".

    The term "medical condition", as I used it, would be better termed "phsychological (environmental factors, as modified by physiological factors) and physiological (genetic, electical and/or chemical) condition". However, I thought that would be a little long.

    The problem is, everything in the human body is inter-related. Our senses, our memories, our behaviours, our entire physiological make-up, everything is inter-connected in millions of subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

    A classic example would be a bipolar person drinking a caffinated soda. The caffeine negates many mood-stabilizers (including lithium). The sugar then causes the brain to go from neutral to 5th gear in under 6 microseconds. The chances of a manic attack is extremely high. All this, despite the fact that neither sugar, nor caffeine, are (in themselves) manic-inducing. The "effect" is caused by the exact combination.

    This is where it gets really complicated. :) Because everything is so inter-related, it is impossible to say where you end and the environment begins. You can say what is -definitely- one or the other, but the inter-relations make even that fuzzy. You're better off finding the inside of a Klein bottle.

    Now, is this in any way telling you that finding an environmental solution is impossible? No! Not in the least. The complexities that make "exact" understanding so hard work in your favour. This is why 12-step programs can treat physical addictions. The inter-relationships are such that, by working on outside issues, you CAN resolve =some= internal physiological issues.

    (Note the word "some". You can't heal a broken leg, no matter how much "Family of Origin" work you do.)

    Is this me telling you that the -initial- factors weren't ENTIRELY external? Again, no! My only point is that you can't know for certain, and it doesn't matter, anyway, since you can -treat- it as though they were. That works just fine.

    Is this telling me you need medicines? No. Same reason as above. You can treat the problem as a purely psychological one, work on any poisonous pedagogy that you encountered, and be just fine. Because most medicines are too bloody dangerous, work on too small a subset of people with "matching symptoms", and frequently don't work at all, this should ALWAYS be the first line of attack by anyone.

    Is this telling me you -don't- need medicines? No. I'm not qualified to make that decision. Further, you and ONLY you can make the decision, after you've been working with therapy or some other psychological program of recovery, as to whether there are any unaccounted-for symptoms that are persisting AND are intolerable.

    (The latter is important. Many people will always have -some- symptom of -something- which is irritating and persistant. However, the cost of "fixing" the problem is usually much greater than that incurred by the problem itself, so most just ignore it.)

    For myself, when I got diagnosed BP, I'd already been in therap for over a year. Some issues were being dealt with, but others were clearly not being touched. Ergo, maybe there was something beyond what could be dealt with -adequately- by therapy. Once I dealt with that, I was able to get a much clearer picture of the psychological issues, and so on. Each step along the journey winnowed out some stuff, making other stuff much more evident.

    I could never be where I am, had I not taken each of those steps, AS REQUIRED. I would be a whole lot WORSE off, had I taken ANY of those steps out of sequence, or ignored them completely.

    For yourself, like I said, only you can decide what factors are relevent to the cause, what factors are relevent to the cure, and how best to arrange each to produce the best result for yourself. It WILL be different from my experience, that much I can say, but only because each person's experience is different.

    To wrap it up, apologies if any word or term caused offence. None was intended. Hope this clears it up some, or at least makes it bearably murky.

    [ Parent ]

    ADD + Depression (4.12 / 8) (#36)
    by shoeboy on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:33:03 PM EST

    Bad combination. You're always sad, but the reason changes every 30 seconds.

    This isn't actually a joke.
    No more trolls!
    No, it's not (3.50 / 2) (#47)
    by weirdling on Thu May 31, 2001 at 06:36:51 PM EST

    I'm mildly ADD myself, and mildly depressed most of the time. I know exactly whereof you speak.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    distraction beats obsession (none / 0) (#87)
    by anonymous cowerd on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 04:59:00 PM EST

    ...particularly if you keep a handgun in the house, funny guy.

    Or maybe not?

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

    stint grits
    darts file
    gratis ways to fit tins
    dapper angle
    ill apple
    -Barbara Baracks

    [ Parent ]

    First day of psychology (3.55 / 9) (#37)
    by gblues on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:41:31 PM EST

    Don't most psychology classes tell you on the first day not to try to diagnose yourself?

    Let's take a look here. Your parents were young, and your mother was emotionally sensitive. You grew up also being emotionally sensitive. I think that's a far more powerful cause than a phantom ADD bogeyman. You are/were emotionally immature because your parents were also emotionally immature. It's got nothing to do with medical conditions. So, forgive me if I don't sympathize.

    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    Huh? (3.50 / 2) (#39)
    by oztun on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:48:49 PM EST

    I never made claim that ADD/ADHD was a "medical condition". I specifically said it is a problem brought on because of environment. My point is that the problem is real and I didn't ask for it nor can it be controlled or solved overnight. I never tried to compare it to any physical condition nor did I ask for your sympathy.

    I am not asking for any sympathy from any of you. I wrote this article for people who care to know. Did you read the title of the article before you read it?

    [ Parent ]

    You don't have the facts. (4.33 / 3) (#42)
    by gblues on Thu May 31, 2001 at 04:19:05 PM EST

    here is a factsheet regarding what ADD/ADHD is and, more importantly, is not.

    ADD is not, for example, caused by environmental factors. It is defined as a biological disorder, and there's a number of factors that must be present in order to be diagnosed as having ADD.

    Given that your behaviour very likely is caused by environmental factors (i.e. the emotional immaturity of your parents), that would eliminate ADD as the culprit.

    If you want to know wether you truly have ADD, talk to a physician and/or a psychiatrist.

    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    [ Parent ]

    And you.. (4.00 / 3) (#45)
    by Kugyou on Thu May 31, 2001 at 04:52:22 PM EST

    Have taken as gospel a phrase preceded by "very likely". It is not defined as a biological disorder. Read the factsheet again.
    Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
    [ Parent ]
    diagnosis (4.40 / 5) (#41)
    by Delirium on Thu May 31, 2001 at 03:50:57 PM EST

    This is interesting to me, because nearly all the symptoms you've described can apply to me, yet as far as I know no one has ever suggested that I have ADD or urged me to seek a diagnosis. Perhaps that's because I have nearly all the symptoms except the "bad grades" part (I concentrate horribly, but I can usually understand material with a quick 15 minute glance at it, so can get As on tests without real concentration), and maybe everyone assumes "he has high grades, there can't be anything wrong with him."

    As for the depression, a great deal of people you know, probably more than you'd suspect, suffer from mild to severe depression. I know of at least a few of my friends who do, and some who you wouldn't suspect (I didn't find out until knowing them for many years). I do most of the time (though lately it's more mild), but few people would suspect it (and the few who would would probably be making tenuous "he listens to NIN so must be depressed!" connections).

    But I haven't gotten any treatment or even diagnosis for any of this. Why? Well, I don't like going to doctors more than necessary, and I certainly don't like talking about my personality or emotions with anybody other than close friends (or perhaps kuro5hin.org, [shrug]). I don't think I'd really be better off if I was taking some coctail of Ritalin+Prozac+whatever either.

    So do I have ADD and clinical depression? It's hard to say. Maybe instead I'm just lazy, have a short attention span, and am mildly unhappy. Where does one draw the line between merely different personalities and mental conditions (which obviously everyone has) and personalities and mental conditions that are so different and/or debilitating to justify calling them a "syndrome" or "medical condition"?

    Boohoo (1.33 / 9) (#46)
    by psctsh on Thu May 31, 2001 at 06:30:16 PM EST

    Your entire life has been a cliche. As such, you might want to read this.

    Been there, done that (4.00 / 2) (#48)
    by weirdling on Thu May 31, 2001 at 06:41:37 PM EST

    I know a lot of people who would agree with this exactly, except that they do not consider themeselves clinically ADD. Boring easily is often a mark of intelligence, what used to be referred to as 'genius-prone', which used to be a good thing. It's hard enough for a prodigy to try to grow up without people telling him something is wrong with his mind and he needs to fix it, either through drugs or 'just trying harder'. Unfortunately, very few teachers understand what's going on.
    So, when I encounter one of these people, I make friends with them, no matter how young, and try to show them that they are not alone. Once you have yourself sorted out, this is a good thing to do. Learning to live with one's self is a very difficult period of growing up and is much harder when one is exceptionally different.
    Anyway, good luck...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Welcome to my hell (3.33 / 3) (#50)
    by regeya on Thu May 31, 2001 at 08:13:46 PM EST

    Well, you're a year older than me, you grew up in a state South of me, and yet, it sounds like we have the same background. Whee. Fun, ain't it? As I say to my wife occasionally when she gets mad at me for drifting off while she's talking to me, "What were we talking about again?" She always says, "That's not funny," too.

    I've found that, to tackle my own personal demons, instead of pursuing money, I pursue work that keeps me busy at all times. I can't work at a job that has idle time. It drives me nuts. If I barely have time to think about what I'm doing, I usually do okay. If I have idle time, though, look out. I also try to avoid jobs where I have to pay attention to long conversations. Short, to-the-point comments directed toward me aren't considered rude; they're considered a blessing. :-)

    So, I'll never be rich, but I'll be happier if I stay right where I am for the next 30 years. :-)

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

    Not ADD by far... (4.90 / 10) (#51)
    by aralin on Thu May 31, 2001 at 10:27:12 PM EST

    I am sorry, buy, you are definitely emotional wreck, but this is not ADD by far. You may have some symptoms, but these are common to many other psychological problems.

    ADD is actually a very rare problem, the real ADD which basicly means that the time for which your mind is able to concentrate radically decreases from the 15 minutes that are normal to under 1 minute. Its usually connected with brain hyperactivity which is a natural effect of the chemical disbalance involved. You can track this problem easily also in writting. People with ADD have usually problems with concept and they parael the line of their writting with something else or write at the same time about different subjects. Their articles usually lack any conclusion. Handwritting has usually wide (big) font.

    The mayor problem of ADD was that the comapny that started to make the drug for treating the problem (its actually physically addictive behavioral drug) were paying big bucks to doctors to diagnose childern with ADD. Even just normal hyperactive childern. Anyone who for any reason did not pay attention to what the teacher said was marked as ADD and forced on drugs. With time there was a lot written about ADD, but the most dangerous thing is, that hugh campaign to broaden the range of people who actually have ADD.

    Once again, ADD is VERY rare!You will most likely not meet more than 2-3 people in your life with ADD.

    drug? (none / 0) (#52)
    by Davidicus on Thu May 31, 2001 at 10:53:16 PM EST

    I'm not sure which drug you mean, but its not ritalin. Fun ritalin facts can be found here.

    [ Parent ]
    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Tachys on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 12:07:25 AM EST

    I agree this is not ADD

    I have been diagnosed with ADD and I probably have the coolest parents in the world

    I was in so much pain I couldn't look into a camera without my eyes watering. I didn't want my picture taken which is a part of ADD I still don't understand.

    This is not part of ADD. I suggest the author of this article try to get himself some therapy.

    [ Parent ]
    A little big detail. (5.00 / 5) (#56)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 03:55:31 AM EST

    Who diagnosed you with ADD?

    For what you write it seems to me it was yourself.

    If you don't calrify this, then although you could have a problem, it would not necesarily be ADD and that would render all your article little more than the mussings of a tormented and uninformed mind.

    Is good you are finding stuff about how you feel, but help from a professional is very necessary (and I know first hand experience what I am talking about). I can't believe at face value that you have what you say you have unless you can back it up with the statemenet that your condition has been diagnosed by a professional.

    Of course you could make it up, but I think it would show up if you tried to explain what a fictional doctor would have told you.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    I was going to post a sympathetic response... (2.25 / 4) (#58)
    by Glacky on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 08:00:41 AM EST

    .. but something distracted me.

    Oh look, a butterfly!

    Damn, I'm cruel sometimes.

    Seriously, the human brain is the most advanced tool for damage limitation and routing known to Man. There's very few times when you *have* to rely on chemicals to keep you level (or at least, close to level) I dont say it's easy, but it's doable.

    I'm very skeptical of the current 'lets treat everything with a pill' fad, mostly because it plays right into the hands of big pharmaceutical corporations. After all, they don't make any money from people who believe they are fit and well.

    about your poorly reasoned conspiracy (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by shellac on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 06:42:16 PM EST

    What exactly do you know about the human brain and how it works? Just like any other part of the body, things can go wrong that require medical intervention. Psychiatric problems are not some kind of focal problems that can be "routed" around.

    Do you need a internet analogy to understand anything? OK, then try this one. Somebody with depression has EVERY SINGLE router on his network dropping packets like crazy causing a global slowdown. This corresponds to the low serotonin levels. There is some component of mis-manufacture of the routers (genetic component of disease) and mishandling of the routers when they were shippied to their destination (environmental component of disease). To a certain degree, many of the routers can be returned to normal function by applying a patch (Ritalin, SSRIs like Paxil, Prozac, whatever).

    Don't believe me? Why don't you try going on medline and doing a little search before dropping into your default "skeptical" mode. Look for randomized, controlled, double-blinded trials of anti-depressants versus just psychotherapy and you will learn that SSRIs are some of the most efficacious drugs that pharmaceutical have ever stumbled upon. To do this, follow that link above, and click on Limits. Set the Publication Type to Randomized Controlled Trial and then do a search for SSRI. Not only are SSRIs very effective, but most people are cured and weaned off them permanently.

    How many countless suicidal individuals have been saved from suicide by SSRIs? Hopefully more than the number of depressed k5-readers who will read your poorly thought-out comment and never try the psychotheraputic that could save their lives. I am posting this comment to do some damage control.

    Before being skeptical about a subject you know little about, try some research first router-boy. Poorly thought out conspiracy theories really piss me off. I wonder, are all medical doctors and research journals involved with the drug companies in your conspiracy also? Perhaps you have some element of paranoid schizophrenia yourself?


    [ Parent ]

    damn (none / 0) (#94)
    by Glacky on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 04:15:41 AM EST

    Paranoid? You're the one that's been tailing me at night, aren't you? go away!! :)

    Just because I used an analogy doesn't mean I don't understand how it works, and just because I'm skeptical doesn't mean I have no compassion.

    There is no conspiracy. It's just how it works. Sure, popping pills helps, but I said they weren't necessary, not that they weren't useful. I personally would have given a month's worth of anti-depressants for a week of proper TLC. Obviously other people prefer the less personal cure.

    If you want to continue the fairly silly internet analogy (and I was in a fairly silly mood when I thought of it, I admit) then depression is like spam. It's a social problem, and treating someone with drugs is applying a technical solution.

    [ Parent ]
    agressive behaviour (4.00 / 1) (#59)
    by doubleR on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 09:35:04 AM EST

    Reading such kind of articles, I'm surprised at the amount of posting I find deliberately cruel, or mocking, or even aggressive.
    I had heard before that some people find mental disorders embarassing or think that in some way the person affected deserves it (it's his fault, y'know!).
    Still, before I had not really believed it.

    Note: if you usually troll everything, I'm not talking about you.

    What medical disorder? (4.20 / 5) (#78)
    by John Milton on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 06:53:18 PM EST

    The author describes symptoms that could apply to anyone and some obvious neuroses. He then makes the grand leap of logic that he must have a biological disorder which is the twentieth century scapegoat for every personality dysfunction in existence. I'm sorry. I'm not attacking the author, but people need to deal with their emotional problems.

    Let me explain what's wrong with ADD or ADHD, which ever term you prefer. I will create my own disease. Let's call it manger.

    Manger is a disease associated with displays of violence and shouting. Victims of manger often have trouble communicating with their peers. It can often be diagnosed in young school boys. Studies have shown that those suffering from manger often have high levels of testosterone and adrenaline. We believe that we can counteract this with noradrenaline.

    It is believed that the Columbine shooters may have been suffering from manger. Also, symptoms of manger have been seen in many convicted killers and rapist. Studies show that proper drug treatment can alleviate the symptoms of manger. If we can isolate those young children who have these symptoms, we may be able to save the future of America.

    Manger is an emerging psychological disease. Before, we would have attributed these things to poor parenting or just disposition. But why blame our parents or ourselves for our shortcomings. Obviously manger has always been present in our population. Our society has only recently developed the enlightenment to see it for what it is.

    The problem with analysis like these is that they refuse to consider the notion of human inadequacy. If you have a problem doing anything, you are not inadequate. You are merely suffering from a disorder. This is a convenient way to avoid the fact that you are personally responsible for your life.

    Another example of this is temporary insanity. This is a legal fiction that we tolerate, because we can't come out and say "Yeah, you killed him, but we would have too." The flip side of this is that now we must play by the silly rules we have created. If we can give temporary insanity to someone we like, we must give it to the criminals who suffer from it also.

    I have no doubt that the author has problems, but placing the answer outside of himself is not going to help him. He seems to be working within his own life to solve his problems. That's good, but he doesn't need a sugar pill to do that.

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    Re: What medical disorder? (none / 0) (#86)
    by Tachys on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 05:19:32 AM EST

    So what you are saying is if there is a treatment which could have prevented what happened at columbine that would be a Bad thing?!?

    [ Parent ]
    Where did you get that? (none / 0) (#88)
    by John Milton on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 08:35:16 PM EST

    That's not what I'm saying at all. Manger was my term for anger. You can change the name and point to some biological symptoms, but that doesn't change what it is. It's a personal emotional state that you have to deal with as an individual. Creating a medical excuse isn't going to change you as a person. Yes, you can drug yourself to prevent it, but that's a cop out.

    In some cases anger can be biologically beyond self control, but how may cases are there. Not that many. Most of us don't get angry, because we have a neurological disorder. If manger was a disease as I describe, plenty of people would have it, because it would be the chic medical diagnoses.

    I don't doubt that ADD exists, but it is not as common as people would like to believe. Just because it makes people feel better to believe they have it does not mean that they do.

    It's easier to suffer from a disease than admit that you have personal problems.

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    I knew Occam, and sir, you are no Occam (4.50 / 2) (#89)
    by afeldspar on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 11:43:03 AM EST

    The problem with analysis like these is that they refuse to consider the notion of human inadequacy. If you have a problem doing anything, you are not inadequate. You are merely suffering from a disorder. This is a convenient way to avoid the fact that you are personally responsible for your life.

    And the problem with analyses such as yours is that you elevate Occam's Razor from a useful guideline into your personal license to be offensive because you have The Truth. Never mind that you don't even have all the facts...

    Your argument is 'I can describe it in terms of personality flaws; that means that any explanation of it in terms of biology must be an attempt to skip responsibility.' Let's skip over the subtle point that "personality flaw" is not an explanation, it is only the point at which our culture gives us an acceptable knee-jerk response to bring to it.

    Let's skip right to the point of how people first came to realize that there might be a biological cause for what had been considered solely a matter of personality. Namely --

    The influenza epidemic of 1918-1919.

    Occurring right after World War I and killing at least three times more people than the war did, this epidemic (more properly a pandemic) killed 850,000 people in the United States alone, and many of those who survived the high fevers had suffered brain damage.

    When large numbers of survivors -- including the soldiers who had been particularly exposed to the disease -- developed symptoms of irritable temperament, inability to control focus, and impulsivity which had not been present before their experience with the disease. This cluster of symptoms had frequently been observed before in individuals, but it had always been put down to individual personality. But thankfully, when they observed these supposed personality traits emerging en masse in people who had experienced a similar biological trauma, they realized that these "personality traits" might in fact have had a biological basis all along. It's a good thing that they didn't just short-cut their thinking process at the conclusion "human inadequacy".

    Remember, the point of science is to explain the evidence. Not to explain away the evidence.

    -- For those concerned about the "virality" of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code.
    [ Parent ]

    I'm not explaining away the evidence (none / 0) (#103)
    by John Milton on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:22:31 AM EST

    I'm referring to when people use a legitimate scientific illness to describe personal problems. Some people do have biological disorders which effect their behaviour. That doesn't give me the right to explain my behaviour by a medical syndrome that is not as prevalent as people would like to believe.

    I never disputed biological disorders like ADD. I disputed the use of those terms by teachers, parents, and even psychologist who don't understand them. In the wrong hands, personal dysfunction can be ascribed to any biological behavioural disorder.

    Just because pop psychology says so doesn't make it true. Some people have ADD. I don't think that the vast majority do though. I've seen far to many normal people diagnosed with this disease. Most of them are diagnosed by their teachers. Teacher talks to parent. Parent talks to doctor. Doctor convinces parent that child has disease. Parent doesn't want to medicate child. Parent is given a guilt trip about not wanting what's best for little johnny.

    It's ridiculous. We can't all be suffering from a mental disorder. Well, I guess you could argue that point, but I won't. You have to draw the line somewhere, and I'm sick of hearing about mental illness epidemics.

    On a personal note, I don't use occam's razor or even care for it. It's over used, and I don't see the genius in it that others seem to awe over.

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    This makes me sick. (4.33 / 3) (#61)
    by traphicone on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 09:45:42 AM EST

    I was going to vote this story up and participate in the discussion, but after reading some of the severe insensitivity and cruelty displayed by members of this community, I voted -1 in the sincerest hopes that this story and the venomous comments attached to it will never see the light of day.

    Saddest of all, I have to fight the urge to add anything useful here, as I can only imagine that the things I might say would be used as fuel, further precipitating the spiteful ignorance that I would be trying to dispel.

    You people have really fucking pissed me off.

    "Generally it's a bad idea to try to correct someone's worldview if you want to remain on good terms with them, no matter how skewed it may be." --Delirium

    Maybe they feel the need to debate? (4.66 / 3) (#63)
    by oztun on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 09:57:27 AM EST

    I have had a kuro5hin account for a long time but never felt good enough about a story to post it. I admit I don't know exactly how it works here. I did know that people would vote for and against my story however. The fact that the votes have remained positive reassures my theory that as a whole people who read have compassion.

    My thought is maybe these people get caught up in the debate. They can't relate to this story or maybe they can see that I'm a C student not a literary poet. They probably feel they don't want the story to go FP and in getting caught up they fire off their first negative thought to try and make a point to sway others. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we know the world if full of insensitive careless people. It doesn't bother me that people have negative comments. I'm smart enough to not read their comments when I start to feel depressed.

    In the words of Perry Farrel,
    Everybody has their own opinion holding it back hurts so bad.

    [ Parent ]

    In case my comment has offended you, (none / 0) (#82)
    by mami on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 01:47:27 AM EST

    I am sorry.

    But to be frank this anonymity thingy, the other story about Kaycee Nicole or Debbie or Ms Swenson etc. and my own experience with a somewhat different learning disability may have messed up my judgement.

    And of course I wanted to incite a bit of discussion. I certainly wish you well and hope you find what may help you through to feel happier and better.

    I can't help but thinking if my son could have written a story like that in his more desperate moments. Somehow I doubt it, but then, may be anonymity would have lowered the barrier to let it out. In hindsight I think that might have been good. But I am really not sure.

    I am still convinced that it is extremely difficult to diagnose ADD if you use drugs at the same time. But I haven't read enough about it, so I better keep silent.

    [ Parent ]
    correction (none / 0) (#85)
    by mami on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 12:51:51 PM EST

    answering my own question.

    I can't help but thinking if my son could have written a story like that in his more desperate moments. Somehow I doubt it, but then, may be anonymity would have lowered the barrier to let it out. In hindsight I think that might have been good. But I am really not sure.

    Well, I am sure now. It's definitely not good and damaging on all accounts.

    [ Parent ]

    Yikes. (4.60 / 5) (#64)
    by clarioke on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 10:07:02 AM EST

    There have been some very harsh comments here.

    Telling someone with ADD to just concentrate already is like telling someone who is clinically depressed to just get out of bed. It doesn't work.

    At the same time, there are some of us who have days where our feet just don't quite reach the ground. The days we stay in bed because there is nothing in this world that is worth getting up for. Those days are hard.

    Also hard for the person who is getting up for work that day, who watches the other stay in bed because "it doesn't matter."

    There are levels, here, people. Levels. Just because I have days when I won't get out of bed, it doesn't mean I need to go on drugs. It's a phase.

    Just because there is a point in your life when concentration goes down the toilet, doesn't mean you're ADD.

    Find a professional you trust, if you find you need/want to. I'm not saying everyone who is depressed or suffering from ADD can grow out of it. I AM saying, though, that compassion and understanding are necessary.

    Just as I don't yell and scream at the person who doesn't get out of bed in the morning, I won't yell and scream at the distracted person. I will help and understand as best I can; that's all I can do.

    I've found it more productive and helpful to hug someone and coax them into going to school, than yelling to get out of bed because you aren't depressed, you hear me?

    Compassion. It's a good thing. I promise.


    just get out of bec (1.00 / 2) (#95)
    by speek on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 07:29:14 AM EST

    Just get out of bed is actually the cure for depression - for that day. The next day, you have to do it all over again. If you want a longer cure, try doing some demanding physical exercise. nothing banishes the blues like a pounding heart, heavy breathing, and profuse sweating. Seriously, depression is a lack of emotion, and it's hard to be emotionless in that condition.

    For ADD, consider what the problem is - lack of focus, concentration. Start getting rid of everything around you that is distracting. The TV should be the first to go. Just admit to yourself that at this point, you can't handle certain things that others do. For a lot of us, TV has trained our minds into a scatterbrained, constant state of distraction. Take up meditation. Learn a game that requires concentration and play it with a friend (someone who can help you stay focused is probably essential, especially for severe cases).

    And, most importantly, try to stay conscious of yourself as much as possible. Remember yourself - it something very few of us do much of. When you get distracted by that old notebook when you're cleaning your room, it's because you've forgotten yourself, and become totally absorbed by the notebook.

    If you've really got a serious problem, don't be fooled into thinking anything less than aggressive, extensive efforts will solve it.

    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    consider this (4.75 / 4) (#66)
    by dnuoforp on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 11:58:47 AM EST

    I have first hand experience with the sort of symptoms you describe. I've also got several friends who had the same problem. I'm fully recovered now, as are a lot of the people whom I knew with the same problems.

    I also had a rough childhood, although not nearly as bad as yours. My friends, however, quite possibly had it worse than you. Anyway, I can empathize with you on what it's like to hate yourself, and blame your past for it.

    From your description and my knowledge of depression and ADD, I would say that you ought to consider that your problem is much deeper than ADD. You are depressed, and labelling yourself as ADD makes you feel better since you have an intellectual and clear scapegoat for your problems. Hypochondria is a defense mechanism that can be very effective in reducing anxiety, however, it is not a very healthy one.

    I would recommend that you seek counseling from a competent therapist who will not outright label you with a disorder. You might also read Mark Bryan's book, Codes of Love. That book changed my life. If you can't afford to buy it, you could probably find it at your local library. Read the introduction, and you won't be able to put it down after that.

    Good luck to you in the future.

    Also, an organization that might be helpful (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by dnuoforp on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 12:03:20 PM EST

    The various Mental Health Associations around the country offer free counseling to those who cannot afford to get it themselves and other services like support groups. The national website is http://www.nmha.org/.

    [ Parent ]
    NMHA (3.00 / 1) (#69)
    by oztun on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 01:55:46 PM EST

    I highly recommend checking this site out for anyone who thinks they might have a mental health problem. This is where I first found information a few months back.

    [ Parent ]
    Being different (3.66 / 3) (#80)
    by jesterzog on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:50:15 PM EST

    I have some of the symptoms of ADD, although not as bad as your own and I'm not sure if I'd be diagnosed with it.

    I have a horrible time trying to concentrate, since my mind gets very sidetracked and goes off in more detailed tangents about things when the subject's changed. There are some people with ADD who excel in their area because of this, and to an extent I've seen it more as being different than being a problem. Getting accepted and respected by other people is the hardest part. It might be people with the sort of upbringing you describe who have the hardest time of it.

    Often I can treat it as a strength, without trying to imply that it should be the same for everyone. Often when I have a difficult time trying to listen to people, I get a much better insight than most people into the bits that I do hear.

    David Keirsey wrote an interesting paper titled The Great ADD Hoax, where he argues that ADD is about being different than being problematic, and that the treatment of it by much of the medical proffession is disgusting.

    jesterzog Fight the light

    Whatever you have, I'm pretty sure it's not ADHD. (5.00 / 3) (#90)
    by raven on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 05:55:00 PM EST

    Speaking as someone who is planning on seeking treatment for ADHD, nothing you've said sounds like anything I've read on ADHD.

    I mean, you have had a HOST of really bad things in your life that probably did really bad things to your head, but none of it sounds like it's tied to ADHD. For one, I'm not emotionally immature, nor have I ever heard of it as a symptom, let alone your theories on nutrition and physical safety (?).

    Before you try treating yourself as an ADHD person, it would probably be a good idea to see a therapist, to get all the other crap in your life sorted out first.

    And believe me, I wouldn't tell anyone to just "get over" a valid mental illness any more than I'd tell a diabetic to "get over it and manufacture some insulin!".

    Yet another reply from an ADD-afflicted person. (5.00 / 3) (#92)
    by Kasreyn on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 07:05:07 PM EST


    I was diagnosed with ADHD (the more severe variety) when I was 9. My folks put me on Ritalin when I was 12 and it promptly ruined my appetite and eating habits; I was chubby before then, but I have been skeletal since I was 14. Ritalin is NOT the wonder drug people think it is; it never helped my so-called problem, all it did was fuck my life up more. I was visiting shrinks all through my childhood and not once did I see them do anything to disprove my theory that their entire profession is a crock. All they did was prescribe more drugs to my mom, who is a big believer in the power of medicine to cure anything (ick).

    I'm not one of those people who is going to sit here and whine about how the problems of his life aren't his fault because he has (insert acronym here). I think that's a load of bull. I can understand that ADD can make life a challenge (if you're not one of the thousands who are misdiagnosed by doctors these days - seeing as how hyperactivity and emotional immaturity are common among children anyway). I think it's a worthless cop out to blame one's troubles on a "condition", even though I actually could make a very strong case that ADD and perhaps complications have ruined my life.

    I'm a genius level intellect who dropped out of college and almost out of high school. I'm talented in many ways, funny, and insightful, yet most of my friends think I'm also more than half idiot. I have chronic sleeping problems of every stripe; it is 10x harder both to fall asleep and to wake up, for me, than it is for everyone else. I never get anything done, and I lose money as soon as I earn it, even though I never seem to spend it on anything.

    But my point is, I think it's lame to blame that on a condition. That's what my folks think - they're so forgiving and understanding it makes me retch. I don't know what's wrong with me, actually - in fact, I feel I have insufficient evidence to decide whether it's me that's wrong or the rest of the world. So I have reserved judgement.

    Honestly, I see the whole ADD thing as a facet of a larger ill. I call it "Americanitis" - the pervasive, almost viral belief that "It's Not My Fault". It's either some acronym-laden "condition" (there's one for every imaginable personality type, so now EVERYONE's got some condition that makes them beyond reproach), or else it's something else. It just disgusts me, the inability of people to take responsibility for fucking their OWN lives up.

    Note I'm not accusing you. I just felt this needed to be said. And now I shall get back to my life, which at the moment involves me preparing to personally accept responsibility for my failures, despite the significant likelihood they were "Not My Fault".

    Oh, shit - I've been infected!


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    "The View From in Here" (4.00 / 2) (#93)
    by Waldo on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 10:37:34 PM EST

    My mother, who is an essayist for NPR, wrote an essay on this very topic. It's entitled "The View From in Here: What Attention Deficit Disorder Feels Like."

    It starts with:

    I'm lying on my back in the sunshine, holding my little pink elephant up against the clouds -- pretending that we're flying -- when a shadow falls over me. It's my grandfather. He brings his face closer, right into my playpen, and he's smiling and saying something to me, something sing-songey. I turn away from him, hoping he'll just go away. This playpen is mine. When I'm in here nobody bothers me. I get to think and do anything I please. My grandfather goes away and now I can get back to flying with my elephant.

    I hear my father's voice. He's home from work. I run to my hiding place, a new one. I try not to giggle and give myself away as my father looks for me, saying, "Where's my little girl? Where's my Janny?" This is my best hiding place yet. I'm in the bathroom, buried under laundry in the clothes hamper. My hiding place is too good, and eventually, Daddy gives up.

    I decide that I sort of like it in the laundry hamper. It smells funny, but I like the way it muffles sound. My father's voice sounded far away, and now I should be able to hear my parents talking as they sit down at the kitchen table for their daily cocktail. But I hear nothing. And I like it.

    You can read the whole thing on her site, radioessays.com.


    ADDBlock (4.50 / 2) (#96)
    by Tachys on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 09:39:51 AM EST

    One thing I have found that helps me get stuff done is to do what I feel like. I have several things I need to do at anytime. The key is to find one I feel like doing, if I get bored with that go do something else. I don't try to "stay on task" that never works. I then just get nothing done.

    Unfortunately there are times where I just don't feel like doing anything. I seem to be at one of those times. Well, except I feel like whining about it on Kuro5hin.

    My mind is loaded with ideas on how to do things. But it is so difficult to get the modivation to do any of them.

    I have grown not to like the GUIs which come with most OSes. Maybe I could put my UT ideas on a web site, maybe the Gnome or KDE developers will use them.

    Well I don't feel think typing anymore thank you for your time.

    Victim Culture doesnt make ADD not real. (5.00 / 5) (#98)
    by skyhook on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 10:52:57 AM EST

    The core problem of any ADD discussions is a backlash against the victim culture that is so prevalent in today's society. For too long we have lived in a society where people thrive on being victims. Specifically in America we now place a much greater emphasis on Liability than we do Responsibility. I see a backlash against that. Any person who gets angry and swears that ADD isnt real is, in my opinion, trying to "take down" a "false victim".

    But those arguments don't do anything to lessen the reality of what I face every day. A "Substantial Attention Deficit Disorder" as diagnosed several years back by a psychologist after lengthy testing. More to the point, he was surprised that with the level of my ADD that I was able to hold a job at all, let alone be very well paid.

    And to those of you who say "How can ADD be real, look at how fuzzy the definition is." All I can say is, I've never been able to come up with language which adequately describes my mindset. I couldnt give you a description that you would understand that fully describes the way my head works (or doesnt)

    Time is irrelevant to me. Just within the last week I sat down at my desk at 9am with the intent of a marathon coding session to make some headway on a project I'm working on. I started by reading my email to check on new information from my boss. I got an email from a friend with one of those "You have GOT to check out this URL!" messages. I did. I began surfing. The marathon coding session completely absent from my mind. At one point my phone rang, the boss asking a question. It broke me out of my reverie. I loaded emacs to begin coding and looked at the clock. It was 2:14pm. Over five hours gone. No, I am not exaggerating.

    I usually compensate for this by the fact that I code very fast when I do code, and usually get ahead of schedule on purpose because I know I'll have road blocks like this. My employer is satisfied because I tend to meet all projected dates, and is unaware that I tend to write 90% of a 30 day project in the first four days.

    I too barely made it through high school. Since american education in the 80's wasnt really geared to handle ADD, I got through on luck. I graduated 138th out of 441 students. Our school gave standardized IQ tests in the freshman year. I worked in the school office during study hall and had a chance during the end of my senior year to organize student records. This let me covertly see the IQ scores of myself and my classmates. My IQ was higher than the top 63 students. And I was fifteen points higher than any of the top 35.

    I tell you this not to pat my own back, but to illustrate the difference between measurable IQ and the ability to apply it.

    I dropped out of three different colleges. Never even getting close to graduation. I've been fired from three jobs for "incompetence", which means it was a job I couldnt hide my condition.

    As for "happiness" I'm not sure what that means. A side product of my own particular breed of ADD is fear. Fear of not being able to compensate. Of being "found out".

    In the ten years I've been married and not living with my parents, I have never (And I want to stress here, this is not an exaggeration, I mean absolute zero NEVER) mailed a bill in on time. Whether it's car payment, electric, ISP, etc. I always have paid in arrears. Usually when someone threatens to cut service. As such, when the phone rings, or the doorbell rings, I get a fight or flight response. The adrenaline rushes.

    I have also not taken Ritalin. I was prescribed Dexedrine by the psychiatrist who diagnosed me. I took it for a month. It actually helped quite a bit. But non ADD time constraints prevented me from getting it refilled. Then, without it's beneficial effect, the chance of my doing what was necessary to get it refilled was gone. I just never remembered.

    To the author of this story, kudos. It's a valid description of what goes on in my mind. To the naysayers, I'd love for there to be a way that each of you could spend a day in my head "Being John Malkovich" style. I guarantee you would never doubt again.

    Victim Culture and ADD (none / 0) (#107)
    by phliar on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 12:28:44 AM EST

    Time is irrelevant to me. Just within the last week I sat down at my desk at 9am with the intent of a marathon coding session ... looked at the clock. It was 2:14pm. Over five hours gone.
    God, do I know what that's like! I do the same thing: I know that I will lose a day (or two, or a week) so when I can concentrate, I just get everything done. I beat all my work deadlines so people just think I'm lazy most of the time.
    I too barely made it through high school. ... I have never (And I want to stress here, this is not an exaggeration, I mean absolute zero NEVER) mailed a bill in on time. ...Usually when someone threatens to cut service.
    Yup, that's me. My phone got disconnected three times; the electricity a couple; but when the DSL got cut off, I knew it was time to do something about it. Now all my bills are paid by a service.

    The state of my house... sometimes freakishly clean; most of the time ridiculously bad. I make plans to do all kinds of stuff but something always comes up.

    My academic life was a strange mixture of Ds and As. I feel like an idiot savant. Straight Ds in math in high school, but I ended up becoming a math professor.

    No, I just feel lucky that it's very mild in my case, drugs help but I can get by without. (Although some drugs... marijuana gives me an attention span of a few seconds with memory to match. Quite pleasant, but I don't want to do that too often!)

    Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
    [ Parent ]

    How to portray ADD in the movies... (4.66 / 3) (#99)
    by Rojareyn on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 11:45:20 AM EST


    I've often thought about the best way of portraying what it's like to be ADD to someone who doesn't understand it, as if it were a short film.

    Scene opens with audience looking through the eyes of person with ADD. This person is in a crowded restaurant with people chattering around them. A woman in a business suite sits across from him.

    Woman: (Displaying some pie charts) Sales from the first quarter were a little down, what I'd like for you to do is...

    RUSH. The camera suddenly rushes off the camera down to the table where the menu sits. A piece of paper attached to the menu tells of today's specials. The woman's voice fades off to the background. Look, they've got a new minestrone soup...

    RUSH. Back to the woman.

    Woman: ... this should be pretty easy for you. You did a bang-up job at that last...

    RUSH. The camera rezooms to a conversation at the next table over.

    Man in next table: I'm sleeping there and then my buddy who was drunk as a rock at the party suddenly...


    RUSH. Camera zooms to a man picking up a cellphone muttering about how distracting it is.

    RUSH. A waitress drops a teacup, shattering it to the floor.



    Woman: Are you listening? Can you do this?

    You: Come again?

    Hope this puts it into perspective. It's VERY easy to get distracted and get off-focus when you're ADD. Some people come up with coping techniques and they don't even know it. For instance, my mother, who is ADD, has her lists (which I've inherited) since it's the only way she can keep on track.


    How to chose a shrink. (4.00 / 1) (#100)
    by telosphilos on Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 05:54:15 PM EST

    I really hate to believe this is necessary for me to post. I think people who have never had any experience with the phsychiatric proffessions are missing big peices of why ADD, ADHD and Depression are important. ADHD which is currently broken down into two catagories; predominately inattentive (formerly simple ADD) and predominately hyperactive (formerly ADHD), has been controversial since it first entered the psychatric lexicon.

    It is actually extremely difficult to diagnose correctly. You need to be carefully evaluated in a controlled enviroment by a trained proffessional. Your school special education teacher is NOT quallified. If you or your child is suspected of having ADHD, you need to take your child to an independant psychologist, prefferably not one recommended by the school district. You need a PHD or an MD to do the evaluation. The reason why you don't want the one the school recommends is because the relationship with the school introduces an unconncious bias in the evaluator. The doctor knows that you would not be coming to him if you were not experiencing problems. As a result, he is inclined to find something wrong even if the evidence is merely suggestive rather than strong. For obvious reasons, this is a serious problem when dealing with psychology in general.

    Depression is actually the most common diagnosis anyone who goes into a shrinks office will get. They tend to treat it like a catch all label. That is not to say that depression is not serious and deserving of attention. Virii are serious and deserving of attention, but a "viral syndrome" is doctorese for we don't have a nice little catagory to put this in. It is important to also note that clinical depression is slightly different than just plain old depression. Clinical depression is actually caused by an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain. Depression is not. The former can be treated with medications to great success. The latter should not be treated with drugs. Depression is triggered by factors in the patient's life such as a loved one dying, parents or self getting divorced, and other things. Depression is really more of a case of a person having a rough time in life and needing a good listener that can give them practical advice and help them work their problems out.

    As to the author of this story, it is quite possible that he is ADHD. It is also quite possible that he is depressed, but he is not able to diagnose himself any more than a medical student is qualified to diagnose himself with a rare disease. (Medical students are notorious for bouts of hypocondria since they have to study so many medical problems.) One of the theories about ADHD is that it is induced by having a highly stressed enviroment in childhood. It is up to him to get help if he wants it. There is no need for name calling or belittling. Life can be very rough and no one should try to discount other people's experiences. He seems to have found that he has a means of dealing with his life and wants to share them. I would recommend he find a good PHD psychologist to help him if that is the avenue he wants to use for help.

    In general, when looking for psychiatric help, I would recommend looking for some one you don't know personally that has relatively high credentials. I personally abhor conselors as unqualified. You want some one you don't know well so that the shrink will have an objective view of the problems you are describing to him. You will need some one that can look at what seems like an intractible problem with dispassion. Once the passions of the problems are laid bare to a non-involved party the solutions are generally much easier to reach. I am not saying that anyone should go to a cold caulous psychologist that makes them feel like a specimin pinned to a board for examination although, I own, it does tend to come accross that way. A warm affable person who makes you feel very comfortable discussing the problems may be just what you need and there are shrinks out there that have all of these qualities. I warmly respect the one that helped me as a child.

    The other big thing to look for is does this doctor's patient's get well? Is the psychiatric proffessional actually helping his clients or merely maintaining his paycheck? I wish I could say that the latter did not exist, but that would not be true. I have run into several. I have mild ADD myself and would never have even hit the school system's trip wires if I had not also been dealing the the emotional stress of my parent's divorce and several years of child abuse. In my case, I just have to sit on myself or have some one else do it for me to get things done. Strict rules and real responsibility as a child allowed me to be an effective member of society. Four years of real psychiatric help immediately following my parent's divorce has allowed me to be a happily married mother.

    My mother thinks I should be a shrink because I can usually figure out what is really going on. I am not sure whether I will persue that or not yet. I am deeply suspicious of the proffession because of the number of people I have met that are faking it. I believe that it is like the preisthood: There are them that are called, and then there are them what went. It is also good to note that a lot of people go into the field to try and figure out what is wrong with their own life and deal with their own issues. This is the crux of why I am undecided on the proffession for myself as a career.

    Now, I will appologize for being long winded and go back to idlely reading the articles and actively taking care of my teething baby. I am afraid this article hits one of my hot button issues spot on.

    -- Peace and quiet is a sleeping baby.
    and now the check please (2.00 / 1) (#102)
    by mami on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 09:15:50 AM EST

    In practice finding appropriate help for someone who needs it stops before it even started.

    Take the story at its face value. Most likely the person will never be able to pay for the help he needs and in all likelyhood he can't change a messed up childhood after the facts.

    If you are already depressed, nice words help very little if you have to hand over a $ 100.00 check for every 45 minutes of either calm listening or 45 minutes of "inspirational" talk by someone who hasn't much more to offer than a pill or a hug and a smile. Not to mention a ten plus page contract with language a patient can't understand putting him into a payment schedule, which is so obscene in many cases that honest lawyers would tell you to never sign that stuff.

    Facit: You end up in "holistic", "alternative" ,"self-help" groups or look for answers online, both of which sometimes can be again more damaging than helpful.

    [ Parent ]
    Really. (3.00 / 1) (#109)
    by telosphilos on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 02:26:54 PM EST

    As for my part, my mother and the US millitary paid for my psychological help as a child. From expirence I can tell you that the right perfessional can do an awful lot to help. What you are refering to is what I would like to help other people to avoid. My comment was really geared toward those around the person that needs help because the person in need likely does not need the additional strain and can easily be tricked by a faker. From your vehemence, I suspect some one close to you has been burned by one of the fakers.

    As for my part, of the eight psychologists that I have gone to over a 10 year period, four were "them that went". I am very familliar with the battle of the dueling shrinks. One of the two for the court was couldn't recognize the obvious. The other could thankfully. The one from the school was biased. One was in practice at a millitary base in Florida at the time. The other was exactly where you would expect them. She was in the Mass. Child Protective Services. Our case was proven well enough that I have not seen my father since I was seven years old.

    Nothing can change the past, getting psychological help is about changing the course of the future. I have been there and done that and I would like to help people avoid the pitfalls that I know about.

    Good luck and good life to you.
    -- Peace and quiet is a sleeping baby.
    [ Parent ]
    Not quite (none / 0) (#110)
    by mami on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 06:41:26 PM EST

    No, I think it would be quite difficult for a faker to handle my reactions. I have had just some special circumstances which taught me a lesson about this country. How easy it is to fall through the wide cracks of your system and where people who get in severe psychological trouble end up, if they don't have health care to offer to their children. That's why I am a bit fiercly protective mother and had to make my little remarks.

    I have just seen a couple of young adults without health care and no health care from parent's side, who never ended up, where they should, in care of true professionals. I am foreigner in the U.S., so that's something I can't get used to, even after having been a long time here. I just can't very well handle how mental illness is not taken care of. I think I see the same mentally ill people on the streets since over fifteen years where I live, completely neglected. Nothing really changes here.

    Thanks for the friendly words though. :-)

    [ Parent ]
    my personal response: (none / 0) (#101)
    by gtx on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 12:12:26 AM EST

    after reading this article, and being able to relate to many of the symptoms described above, i still have to question whether this is ADD. while, oztun, i'm not going to dispute there is something seriously fucked up here, i have to question the diagnosis. now, as you said below, you were diagnosed. i'm not going to dispute that either. however, i will dispute the accuracy of said statement. i honestly believe that the recent surge in cases of ADD being diagnosed is probably a sign that we're misdiagnosing a host of other problems. after i went to a shrink for a while saying many of the same things, i was told something completely different.

    i see a diary entry of my own coming on here. go there for the grand finale.

    i don't have anything clever to write here.
    i actually think that (4.00 / 2) (#105)
    by el_guapo on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:54:24 AM EST

    "the recent surge in cases of ADD being diagnosed " is more related to most families having either only 1 parent or 2 working parents and thus no time (or desire?) to spend time/effort with/on their kids.
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    AD[H]D (4.62 / 8) (#104)
    by DrKlip on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 07:36:27 AM EST

    I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD after covert experimentation with Ritalin, and the corresponding quantum leap of my rhetorical ability, convinced me that there might actually be a neurological, as opposed to just psychological, basis for my quirks.

    I found that Ritalin constrained my creativity and turned me into a bit of a robot, not able to do anything *other* than what was in front of me.

    Now Dexedrine is a different story. Very low doses (2.5mg, 3-4x/day) are sufficient to give me the extra "push" I need to be productive (in ther very broad sense of the word.)

    I still have quirks in my personality, unresolved emotional issues, normal human laziness, and all that bullshit. I still party, drink, womanize, and smoke KB. I still procrasinate. Hell, I still might fail all my classes this quarter! But overall I have found life much more satisfying with Dexedrine than without it.

    The main difference is that I am now more easily able to put that shit to the side and focus when something needs to be done. I have more "positive feedback loops" and acknowlege the little successes, which in turn gives me more of a reward. Everyday life proceeds with more 'ease.' When I do get distracted, I tend to return to work quite a bit faster. This means that (sometimes) I actually finish my work on time, which makes the next assignment or task just a bit less taxing.

    For me, the main "side effect" of treatment so far, however, is that I am so impressed with all the new things I am actually able to do satisfactorily (learn guitar, paint) that I spend time doing them rather than what I "should be doing." In other words, normal good ol' procrasination. This is clearly a behavioral "problem" rather than a neurological one.

    The moral of this little story is that there are neurological disorders, which sometimes respond to drug treatment, and behavioral patterns, which drugs themselves can't change. If, however, a behavioral pattern is merely a reaction to an underlying neurological disorder, then properly medicating the underlying disorder can allow the individual, over time, to change the behavioral pattern.

    Trying to change the pattern without such medication is akin to trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you haven't got any boots, boots, or legs, depending on the severity of the underlying disorder.

    There may be methods other than medication, and I would certainly like to investigate them as I don't fancy being on Dex my whole life on general principal. But medication, in many cases, is fast, safe and effective.

    As far as "being responsible for your own actions," of course that's the healthy way to be. However, there are so many forms of irresponsibility that are so ingrained in American culture at this point that it is almost impossible to go through life without picking up bad habits (e.g. substance abuse, TV, procrastination fundamentalism). Most people see their bad habits, but hide them from others. Thus you have this ironic situation in which everyone sees their own faults but not those of otherse. Hence they do not have proper data to evaluate situation, they end up getting irrationally guilty and depressed, which just leads to more negative thinking and bad behavior. For some people, blaming others for their problems may be the only way to break out of the guilt loop -- to that end, it may be therepeutic as long as it is not overdone. From my experience, it seems like if there is one event which can be used to make a sharp "break" from the past chain of behavior, it is often the catalyst for a whole new way of thinking which will, usually be much more positive. And this actually does account for a certain amount of the effectiveness of some psychiatric drugs -- they can say, "I am this person off the drug, but now on the drug I have a chance to be a whole new person." In other words, they're born again, only without having to swallow a whole load of theology.

    One final thing then I really *must* cease procrastination:

    If you fear that everyone's just going to get diagnosed with ADHD, go on speed and out-compete you, well, you might be right. That's kind of what happend with the Nazis (I know many of their leaders were on amphetemines, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the same is true of many soldiers and civilians. Of course back then lots of people were on speed, coke, etc. which weren't even recognized as "drugs" in the current sense. And in any case, the jingoistic, patriotic tactics of the Nazis probably led to extra dopamine in the brains of der volk. the effects of which are very similar to amphetemines.)

    The solution to this, however, is not denying the reality of peoples conditions or denying drugs to those whos lives are improved by them. The solution is to re-engender civic values of Democracy and good-will, and work toward sustainable global development and lots of other "touchy-feely shit" that we Americans, so far, haven't been very good at. That way, we wil have a future where people don't fear being "out-competed" and used up by huge faceless corporations, but they aren't lazy, self-victimizing slobs either. It *is* possible. Most Europeans and Canadians I've met seem to have accomplished it.

    As for how to do this, well, that's one of the things I've been trying to figure out for a long time. When I come up with something that's actually unique or valuable, I'll let you know!

    Now back to work!!!

    1st person narratives on neurological disorders. (3.00 / 3) (#106)
    by mahlen on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 07:30:54 PM EST

    Other 1st person narratives about what it is like to have certain neurological disorders:

    The January 31, 1997 episode of the NPR radio show This American Life has a piece about what it is like to hear voices, including an audio tape that attempts to simulate the condition. You can listen to a RealAudio stream on the site.

    The wonderful book Motherless Brooklyn is a loopy detective novel where the narrator/protaganist has a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome.

    Both worth checking out.


    Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gauge, nor any of the numerous idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes any mistake, a giant "?" lights up in the center of the dashboard. "The experienced driver", he says, "will usually know what's wrong."

    An Insightful Book (none / 0) (#108)
    by mami on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 11:47:04 AM EST

    This book, I think, is very enlightening. I started it yesterday night. It will help many.

    An Atlas of Depression , by Andrew Solomon. Came just out during the last days or two weeks or so.

    ADD - What it's like to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder | 110 comments (87 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
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