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The ADHD Brain: Quintessential Supercomputer?

Cowboys and sodbusters, the ADHD Supercomputer

ADHD is not a disorder. It is a difference. The ADHD brain is a genetic adaptation found in populations that have had to adapt to difficult situations; migrate, survive. There is very little ADHD in sedate, bucolic agrarian populations that have done the same things for eons. There is a lot of ADHD in Jews, Gypsies, American Irish, and so forth. These are groups that have been assailed and attacked.  And the survivors are the ones able to think on their feet, adapt, stay ahead of death.  America has an unusually high prevalence of ADHD because it is to America that the firebrands, pioneers, resisters, and survivors went. From Europe, Asia, Ireland, England; everywhere. There is a clear and direct correlation between the great creativity, productivity and success of America and the nature of it's immigrant, melting pot society. After WWII it was described as "The Brain Drain" as the best and brightest scientists, artists and so on...came to America. The Jews who made it, the Irish who made it earlier, were the one's who wouldn't take it, saw the writing on the wall and moved on. Notwithstanding the politically motivated Nobel prizes for "peace" and literature exactly how many Nobels have come out of the Europe engulfed by the Holocaust. And how many have come from the Arab world?

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The brain is the world's most sophisticated computer.  In the parlance of cyberese the regular brain has 20 gigs of RAM, a modest, linear processor (speed of sound), and a methodical, one thing at a time desktop.  Attempts to run too many programs at once slows it down until it freezes or crashes.  Programs must be put to sleep and then closed on the hard drive, and tediously retrieved when needed.

The ADHD brain has almost a google of RAM, a splendidly fast non-linear processor (speed of light), and a busy, frenetic desktop. Dozens or hundreds of programs are open and running all of the time; the RAM buzzes along with stupendous amounts of data, often to a fault. It is internally as distracting as the continuous attention to all manners of external and extraneous sensory input. It can't "turn off" at night and go to sleep. Neither can it's owner. It can frazzle you into anxiety. It can keep you "obsessively" re-checking things.

It's the distinction between the Cowboys and the Sodbusters.  One breaks new ground, explores and discovers. The other moves in and builds fences and makes rules and needs order and struggles for control. It's the difference between the Special Forces and the Regular Military. The former think the latter to be stupid bean counters. The latter think the former crazy! It's very difficult to make it in the Special forces without ADHD. They screen for it. You know; think on your feet, improvise, multitask, intuit, anticipate. You know; the irritating kid/adult who blurts out the solution to a problem before the teacher finishes the question/the committee administrator has explicated the conundrum.  Infrastructure? We don't need no stinkin' infrastructure!  Oh yeah.

Linear thinkers describe ADHD as an executive function disorder because folks with ADHD don't think as they do.  Actually the ADHD brain is a true Executive brain; non-linear, super-fast, creative, decisive.  It just doesn't count all of the beans, zips about and can't often tell you how it got there.\

That's why so many creative, inventive executives are forced out of their own companies when their success takes them to a critical mass (called the chasm by an author I can't recall) and there is a need for the dreaded infrastructure, organization and that most detestable of all, the administrative middle manager.

I'll enlarge upon this in future posts.  Now I've got four other things going on.  Cheers.

Jory F. Goodman, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, with more than thirty years of clinical experience.

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