From the Archives: The Curse That Keeps On Giving

From the Archives

A.D.D. is The Curse that Keeps on Giving. It never stops. It never lets up. It never gives you a break. It is a curse from Pandora’s Box. You can’t put it back in. It stays with you till death. You can’t take a drug that will wipe it out. You can’t get a transfusion or a transplant. You can’t even use sleep to turn it off: it interferes with your sleep. [ Read More ]

This post originally appeared in January 2009.

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  • Marisa

    Why do you seem bound and determined to make everyone with ADD feel as shitty about it as you do? Is it so bad for some of us not to mind, and heaven forbid to even be glad to be the way we are? Just because you want to be “normal” doesn’t mean you have to shit all over those of us who’ve learned to be happy with who we are.

  • Jeff


    While some of my posts can be less than sanguine (like this one), overall I try to take a realistic look at life with A.D.D. Therefore, realistically speaking, life with A.D.D. is not great. It is a life filled with many challenges. However, as I pointed out in another post ( See: ), there is no harm in believing that A.D.D. is a good thing but, since this is not backed up by any data, we must remember somewhere in the backs of our minds that we are living a lie if we believe there are benefits to having A.D.D. Other blogs ignore this reality and that’s okay. I choose not to.

  • Marisa

    Your experience is not the end all be all of the ADD experience. To claim that those who feel differently than you do about their having it are “living a lie” is insulting and conceited. Data cannot measure the individual subjective human experience. I know how I feel. I LIKE BEING ME. Throw all the data you want at that, and it won’t change.

  • Jeff


    You are correct that data cannot measure individual subjective human experience. No disagreement here. I apologize if what I have written seemed insulting or conceited. That was not my intent. However, the point that I tried to make is that we should not conflate our personal subjective “positive” experience as being the reality of the situation since this is the exact opposite of what is found when one examines the longitudinal data based on the experiences of many ADDers. Again, like the flat earth model mentioned in one of my posts, we can live our daily lives without ever taking into account that the earth is really round. However, when we push the bounds and go from, say, ground based travel to air travel, it is then that we remember the reality of the situation, namely that the earth is not flat but is really round.

  • Marisa

    I’ve read your science articles… they all point to statistics and percentages. Percentages are probabilities, not facts. The probability may be that we are going to lag behind others, but things defy probability in this world all the time. Why can’t we?

    However, having come off the impulses which started me posting comments here, and let go of the anger I was feeling about what I’ve read here, I believe I can see where your pessimism may stem from. Based on the dates in your article “It Does Get Better” you’ve been living with ADD for over 50 years, and while I must defer in some manner to your age, you’ve only known you have it for 5 years. Conversely, while I have lived with ADD for only 25 years, I have known what is different about me (different not wrong) for 12 years. You spent a considerably longer period of your life not knowing, and trying to shove your square peg ADD self into round holes we ADDers don’t fit in. You’re bound to have chipped corners from all that. So… sorry I snapped.

    Hang in there Jeff. It KEEPS getting better.

  • Jeff


    First, apology absolutely accepted. You certainly aren’t the first one to…er…go on the attack. My skin has become much thicker over the years.

    Second, you are correct that I lived with it for many years before being diagnosed so that certainly adds a bit to the level of pessimism. However, I have begun to notice some important – and positive – changes. I’ll have a post on that within a week or so.

    Third, keep in mind that may what may seem, at times, to be pessimism is really a hyper-vigilance against premature exuberance. When I’m thoroughly convinced about something, I’ll be the first to shout from the rooftops.

    Finally, you are not necessarily defying the probabilities since probabilities have a distribution. (Think bell curve here. That curve could get quite distorted with long tails, etc.) Instead, you are quite likely near the upper end of the distribution which is likely to be occupied by a small group of people.

  • Marisa

    I look forward to your upcoming positive post, and have to add belated compliments on your work debunking the denialists and quacks. It does exist. There is no cure. On these points we certainly agree.

    I should clarify my point on statistics. I was suggesting not that some of us will (as we will) inevitably lie in the higher end of the bell curve, but that the curve of the past need not be the curve of the future… I believe as our existence becomes known and we come to know ourselves and how we operate better, that it should be possible to move the peak of the curve further towards success for future collected data sets.

  • Scott Hutson


    I know a few things, but not many things. I also have ADD, and only been aware of it for a short time. I am 49, but since my diag. of ADD a couple yr.s ago, I have taken a very hard look at myself, and my past.

    Jeff said something about becoming thick skinned over the yr.s. I think maybe we all(ADDers) have become thick skinned in alot of ways over the yr.s. From not knowing why we were so screwed up most our lives.

    But we are all different, of course.

  • Ellen

    Is “normality” normal, though? Perhaps “normality” is one big communal illusion, sustained by a huge expenditure of energy (individual and collective), that is destined one day for collapse as people simply stop caring about measuring up to the standard, or run out of energy to do it (something ADD folks are familiar with). All of the norms that go into the current definition of “normal” might in fact be great works of artifice. It seems to me as if people with ADD don’t have a lot of energy to donate to this ongoing “dream of normalcy.”

    That’s my opinion of the topic of normalcy. I don’t really trust it, and don’t know why some people seem very obsessed with feeling it. Sure, it’s nice to FEEL normal and not have to THINK about trying to be normal, but today’s normal is tomorrow’s “what the hell was that all about”?

  • Jeff


    You have the makings here of an entire dissertation (if not a lifetime career) of unpacking the concept of “normal.” Of course “normality” is an illusion in that it is not a thing but a set of practices that are reproduced on a daily basis and carried out over time and space. (Anthony Giddens calls this “structuration.” ) Since we are the ones who are creating “normal” through our everyday interactions, you are correct to say that “normal” can change over time. But there really is a different sense of normal that is being referred to in my blog and which, upon reflection, I may have failed to make explicit.

    The type of “normal” that is lacking in an is not a set cultural norms per se but, one might say, internal norms. In fact, it probably makes sense to completely dispense with the words “normal” and “norms” since they carry connotations and implications that are not really at issue. What is lacking in an is an internal clock mechanism, that is, an internal physiological inability to conceive of time. (See this summarization of Barkley’s Model of ADHD: concerning the inability to conceive of time ) It is this ability to conceive of time that is not socially constructed but is physiologically constructed and which differentiates A.D.D.ers from non-A.D.D.ers.

    In anticipation of your possible retort (and in case you, too, sat through one too many anthropology or sociology classes much like I did), while the concept of time can and does vary from one culture to another, however, the internal physiological basis of time does not vary.

  • Ellen

    I think everyone can conceive of time, but are you saying that there is a correct perception of the rate of time’s passage? (i.e., correct for typical humans?) Or a correct range of variation of the internal clock? I wonder what studies have been done on the specifics of that.

    I also suspect that my conception of time (as an apparently ADD person) is not similar to yours, so, which one of us is more abnormal? For instance, when I think about cleaning out my filthy car littered with grocery receipts, I don’t just think of going down there and doing it, and filling the upcoming five minutes of the upcoming day — as someone with normal executive function might manage the time they can conceive of. I think about the next hundred years, and mankind’s ultimate destiny, and suddenly cleaning the car seems a very small thing indeed. My executive function apparently involves a lot more thinking and planning for my ultimate goals for the next hundred years – at least, that portion of it I will live to see.

    (You too?)

  • Jeff


    Quite interesting that you think that far down the road (one hundred years) because, yes, there are times when I do just that. However, doesn’t it seem like something is radically wrong here? Unless you are the Dalai Lama or something, who thinks about the next hundred years especially since you will not live for hundred years? So doesn’t this indicate a serious problem in our “internal” conception of time?

  • Scott Hutson

    Planning my next task.Then how much time will I have to do it? It depends on what time it is, when I finish planning it.

    Will I spend too much time planning? Looks like I already have, so I will just do what I “Normaly” do, and try to think of something else I can do, in the time I have left. But there is no time left…..because…Oh well. Maybe next weekend.

  • Katy B.

    Wow, I had kind of missed this whole post and the attached comment thread…the post of course, is pure Jeff, but the comment thread is particularly fantastic. Everything I love to see in a comment thread, challenge, debate, discussion, contrition, mutual respect for ideas…the exchange between Marissa and Jeff, particularly stellar for these reasons. A lot of people miss these days that it is in fact important to voice, AND honor and respond to disagreement…it is an art and a service to mankind to disagree and debate without disrespect.

    LOVE. IT.

    Now let’s get some new Jeff posts going…yeah yeah, real life, busy, blahblah…haha….

  • Ellen

    Jeff: Well, something is radically *different* with our internal time-spaces. But it doesn’t seem accurate to say it’s “wrong” until we pin down what the correct range of variation of time-perception is among the people who are not-wrong. I still haven’t come across anything in the research that pins that down that “right” variation of normalcy. Until I get a statistical figure in the literature, I will say “different,” not “wrong.”

    (Also, do we know if the Dalai Lama has ADHD? That would explain a lot)

    In the meantime, my “little list” tells me it’s time to do something normal for five minutes now.

  • Scott Hutson


    “Variation of normalcy”, I can say honestly, has been a diagnose’s for my atypical symptoms, by my Dr.’s.

    Sounds funny, I know, but it is “different”. I veiw it as something very “wrong” with me, when it comes to time management(exutive function,whatever),memory, a “Big List” of A.D.D. abnormality’s. It’s only words…but it is very real.

    I do agree with you about needing proof via. literature would be helpful. Here’s something interesting(I think) but probably of no value to you in your search>

    You helped me today, Ellen, Thank You!…Scott.

  • Katy B.

    Oh geez, variations on normalcy…makes me think of a time when I was in college and really thought I was losing my marbles. My therapist said “you’re not crazy, you just have intense emotions”. I think he was trying to tell me I was just a colorful variation on normalcy all right. Amazing how you can be so close to normal and feel totally out of place.

  • Ellen

    Scott, I’m glad whatever I said helped you!

    I wrote out some other thoughts on this (“normalcy”) and put them onto a blog, because it’s kind of long. You can click on my name for the blog.

  • Scott Hutson


    Thank you! I did, and I am always interested in the way others think about ADD, and how we deal with it! Good blog!


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