Just Listen

The secret to getting through to anyone, anywhere, anytime

Does Everyone Have ADD? Concentration Interruptus and "Pseudo ADD"

Can't say, "No?" You've got concentration interruptus and pseudo ADD.

When your thinking is interrupted by your brain,
you’ve got real ADD;
When it’s interrupted by the world,
you just have trouble saying, “No.”

True ADD is about having your concentration (mind) interrupted from inside your brain, because the resting “idle” of your brain cells is too slow. When the resting “RPM” of your brain is too slow, your mind does not become engaged. You’re left functioning from your reptilian brain, reacting more by reflex than by reflection.

Natural adrenaline (which excitement/risk triggers as in extreme sports, trading, speculating and selling) raises the resting RPM of your brain enough to engage your mind (think of needing to get your manual transmission car’s engine beyond 800 RPM or it will stall). When your mind is engaged, it doesn’t think faster. It thinks more clearly because it is able to tune out extraneous stimuli and avoid becoming distracted so easily.

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Although this makes you more goal directed, it causes you to be less empathic to others. That’s why people with natural ADD (especially young children) often have trouble being sensitive to others. It is not that they are insensitive (i.e. intentionally and purposefully that way), it is just that they are “not” sensitive. Problems arise in relationships when your being not sensitive to others (and not meant personally), is taken personally by them.

Giving people with true ADD, Ritalin, Dexedrine or Adderall lessens the need to seek out excitement and adrenaline rush type activities to be able to engage their minds. Another benefit accrues to relationships by being able to listen more patiently. Being able to relate becomes possible whereas being able to achieve was the only option before.

I first coined the term “Pseudo ADD” twelve years ago, before my suffering from it took me down multiple paths (which makes me diversified on good days, and scattered on bad ones). It occurs when your mind is not interrupted by your brain, but when it is interrupted by the emotional needs and demands from people outside you.

Rather than being unempathic, you are too empathic and will drop what you’re concentrating on to attend to the needs of others (what the word “co-dependent” means). You have trouble tuning out the outside world with pseudo ADD and suffer from what I call, “concentration interruptus.” The treatment for Pseudo ADD is not medication, it’s learning to set clearer boundaries between you and people and internalizing it so that you don’t feel guilty (for hurting) or afraid (for upsetting) others when you say, “No.”

If you have real or pseudo ADD, you will like my books, Get Out of Your Own Way and Get Out of Your Way at Work… and Help Others Do the Same. They are both written for and by a person with ADD (i.e. moi) and consist of forty 3-4 page, stand alone chapters, each focusing on a self-defeating behavior.

Also we're coming to the final days of Amazon/Kindle's Sunshine Deal promoton of my latest book (and #1 in six categores), "Just Listen" Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone where you can buy it for $2.99.  And for a limited time, if you'd prefer to get it for free, you can do so by registering with the American Management Association.

Mark Goulston, MD, is the author of the new bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

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