Science versus the “A.D.D. Self”

T he “Gift or Curse” debate about A.D.D. is really a debate over how to “live” science and how to live one’s life. It is a debate – a battle – between “the science” and “the self.”

The science paints a dismal picture of A.D.D.ers as people who are more likely to have financial problems, career problems, marriage and sexual problems. The science has nothing good or positive to say about A.D.D. other than A.D.D. is “positively” a handicap. The science is depressing. The science is dismal. [note 1] You can’t live the science without wanting to end your life. It is too horrible to contemplate; it is too horrible to have at the forefront of your mind.

In reaction to the science, the creates a more suitable image of the self. The A.D.D. vision of the self is creative, resourceful, fun and an inspiration to all. The thinks out of the box, thinks entrepreneurially, and so forth. [note 2] None of this is supported by the science but it is impossible to live the facts of the A.D.D. “dismal science.”

The question is, then, is it possible to live the “A.D.D. Self” (as described above) while, simultaneously, knowing the facts of the “A.D.D. Dismal Science”? Is it possible to mentally wall off the dismal science from the fictional A.D.D. self? Perhaps it can be done. In fact, we do it all the time but we do not realize it. We do it every time we get in a car, every time we take a walk, every time we get on a commuter train (but NOT a plane, a ship or long-distance train). The science tells us that the earth is curved yet that never becomes a part of our consciousness of short distance land-based travel. No one gives directions by saying, “At the traffic light, make a left turn and watch out for the curvature of the earth.” Somehow we can operate our lives thinking that we are on a flat earth while knowing that this is an illusion. Yet the illusion of the flat earth allows us to function on a daily basis and, I might add, function quite well. This seems to be the type of resolution needed in the case of science versus the A.D.D. self. To live one’s life in, yes, a self-deluded state but never going so far as to think that the deluded state is the true reality. For the traveler, it is to always know that, depending on the mode of travel, you may encounter the curvature of the earth. For an, it is to know that if one goes too far, one will be brought back to reality by encountering the facts of the A.D.D. dismal science.

  1. This sounds like economics, in its Malthusian guise, which was referred to as the “dismal science.” One could also call genetics the latest dismal science. While it may be nice to know that you have the markers for A.D.D., Alzheimer’s and liver cancer (the diseases that afflict my family) it is, at the same time, quite depressing. To think that despite the “you can do anything you want” ideology that permeates American culture, to find out that your life has already been mapped out beforehand by your genetic code is a depressing thought.
  2. This conception of the A.D.D. self is, to some degree, a mirror image of the American ethos of self-reliance, creativity, entrepreneurialism, etc.
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  • Scott Hutson


    Very interesting,and well said! This makes me think of the well known “Serenity Prayer”. Accepting,Courage,& Wisdom. I take this “Prayer”, not in a religiuos way, but more as advise to “Do Something”.

    I think that advise is hard for anyone to “Do”. And much harder for A.D.D.ers to “Do”. It(ADD)is not a “Gift”, for me anyway. I do think “Accepting” is a “Gift” only I can give to myself, to even attempt going on to next step. The words of advise are easy to say…..doing is….


  • Jeff


    I refer to that prayer often…though not by name. To be able to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you CAN change and, my favorite part, shoot the son-of-a-bitch that gets in your way (bet you never heard that part of the prayer < heh heh >).

  • Scott Hutson


    Sorry it so long to answer…I was looking for my bullets. They are probably in my gun safe….has anyone seen the keys to it? I think I put em in one of the pockets of one of my old shirts hanging in the closet.

    Good thing I put off cleaning out the closet to give to donate to something. There’s my gift of pronasticating when I need it!!LOL


  • Robin

    In case anyone reading this weblog would like to watch some presentations on current ADHD research, these links will take you to iTunes’ “iTunesU” section. The programs listed below are from The University of California at Davis. You shouldn’t need an mp3 device to watch these programs, but you will have to download iTunes (and no, I don’t work for Apple)

    “ADHD: Lifecourse Outcomes and Treatment Implications”

    “Advances in Understanding and Management of ADHD”

    “Executive Functions in ADHD”

  • Scott Hutson


    The more I read this post,the more I see the truth about “ADD Self”(my self). It is a battle every day, to wake up to the dismal truth. I cannot change the facts, but I can battle it.

    I can go “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” when I see the way to unlock the gate. But I have to realize, the fact that the “Wizard” will show me my “ADD Self” and bring me back to reality.

    A.D.D.ers are “Horses of Different Colors” and finding the color of my “ADD Self” is the battle.


  • Jeff


    I like the “Wizard” analogy…the difference between illusion (and smoke and mirrors) and reality.

  • Scott Hutson

    Yes Jeff, exactly! It would be nice to find a pair of ruby slippers, click the heels, and wake up to the world I was searching for. The world I already had, but did’nt realize it.

    I’m gonna have to get some real psychriatic help if I start dreaming about wearing ruby slippers. lol


  • Gina Pera

    I never took you for the ruby slippers type, Scott, but one can tell so little about a person via e-mail. ;-)

    Jeff — as always, great food for thought.

    I’ve always considered Facts as Freedom because they are the starting point to developing any strategy. (Then again, I just took the Meyers-Brigg test on Facebook and came up with ENTJ, same result as 25 years ago.)

    Scientists don’t set out to find dismal news. They devote years of education and research to finding out WHY things happen. Only when we know that can we change those things that aren’t going so well for us — from global warming to Alzheimer’s.

    Without scientific discovery focused on ADHD, we would still be stuck in the old paradigms of moral judgment. Or stuck with the snake-oil salesmen. Equal dead-ends, in my opinion.


  • Scott Hutson


    No worries about ruby slippers, they don’t make my size(chuckle).

    You make a good point about the scientific discovery, rather than snake-oil salesmen, and I agree.

    Funny you said snake-oil salesmen…Thats what Dorothy’s Wizard was. Is it just me & my “ADD Self”, or were you sticking w/the theme of my weird way of thinking about this subject?


  • Scott Hutson


    I just took the Myers-Brigg test @ I’m INTP according to that one…it’s very interestesting. Analyizing was 1 of the things mentioned. I’ve been called an “over analyizer” many times.


  • Jeff


    I think it’s important to realize that this post is written strictly from the viewpoint of someone with ADD who is grappling with the reality (which IS dismal) and the day-to-day lived experience of ADD. Scientists don’t set out to find “bad news” but sometimes the facts are, well, dismal. However, it is not possible to continually live with the bad news hanging in front of your face every single moment. Therefore the ADDer has to live a contradiction, of sorts, in the same way that we live much of our lives “as if” the earth were flat while knowing that it is a complete fiction.

  • Pingback: Does God’s Foreknowledge Preclude Mankind’s Free Will, or, Can You Have A.D.D. and Be Happy? | Jeff's A.D.D. Mind

  • Allen

    Relating to ADD

    I want to know if this is the area I fit or not
    I am 70 and did the ADD test a while ago and came up fringe until I answered the questions honestly, I do not think originally I was dishonest as much as I didn’t seem to see myself in a bad light.
    I am a non believer in anything from religion to science to ad nauseum -started when I was about 15 and going to bible class and the preacher said that only our little group would make it to heaven and from that without any searching I gave up belief and found for me it is the true path
    I finished high school but could not carry on because my whole being rebelled at the memoriser and believer thing – when younger I could only last at a job for a couple of years both from insecurity boredom – people seem to think that money will solve their problems but I was able to put my mind into a state of wealth and try to find what I would do differently with all the money and the boredom problem again raised it’s head – I have even put myself into the position of god and found that most people’s god could not exist in a supreme being. I do not know the ultimate question nor what I want. I have difficulty escaping into watching tv, or sports, or just about anything I have to participate, not watch though I can escape into mindless patience games.
    Is it possible that all animals including humans on earth are part of experimental station?
    I have managed to exist in this world with mainly anger as my emotion though not violent to anyone.
    The operating system I use on my computer is Ubuntu – I know many people but have no true friends with which to discuss anything that is interesting to me. If I have ADD i do not think it is bad just different. Thanks for reading this far

  • Jeff


    Though it is difficult to come to a definitive diagnosis based solely on your comment, nonetheless, the boredom, anger, difficulty with sports (issues with motor skills) and the repeated non-sequiturs throughout the post would certainly warrant further investigation. It is possible that you have A.D.D. It is also possible that something else may be going on. HOWEVER, it is interesting that many A.D.D.ers who diagnose themselves as having A.D.D. turn out to, indeed, have A.D.D.

  • Scott Hutson


    The first sentence you wrote:”I want to know if this the area I fit or not”. I can relate to that! And many of the things you remember about your state of mind throughout your life.

    As for me, I learned and found many answers right here @ Jeff’s. I think you will see that you fit, weather you are A.D.D. or not. Just the words in your comment, remind me to keep searching for answers.


  • Allen

    I have no delusions of genius or for that matter any abilities but I can relate to one place where you or someone else says shoot me and yet I have no suicidal tendencies but I do not necessarily agree with you that we are anymore damaged than the other masses who believe and memorise, some are more successful but alas most live lives of desperation due to poverty, war, etc. I find their world as intolerable as mine if not worse. I do diaries from time to time to either get into an exercise program or some other thing that will only last a time, like the diary which will go on for weeks and then not be touched for months or years – any way while looking at my diary dated August 8, 2004 I wrote the following: My eyes look but they do not see – my mind is an abyss without any abilities nor do I have desires – am I an android? Granted not a good android, perhaps a damaged android? END
    What I live on is hope that I will be able to connect to the knowledge within as stated by some of the Greek philosophers. If you have anyway to mine this supposed inner knowledge, please advise. Have a nice evening and the days ahead

  • Jeff

    Connect with the “knowledge within”? Hmmm….spoken like a true Platonist. However, there is no knowledge within. Knowledge is acquired over time.

  • Scott Hutson

    The last scentence in Jeffs post: “For an it is to know………”

    This has helped me to understand some things about my A.D.D., and I keep looking for answers. I will not assume that anyone will believe what I think, so I will just say what “I believe”.

    There is scientific evidence that A.D.D./ADHD,or whatever new word they (scientist) come up with. Is a nuerological disorder of the brain, that happens to us. The Fetal Development of the Brain,( Brain damage..etc) is the cause. And not the result of the bad or good things that happen/have happened in the world, to anyone, no matter the enviroment (wars,hunger,famine,abuse,etc..too long to list all). From the beginning of time(if there was a don’t know that answer..yet).

    A quote from Shakespeare: “We know what we are, but now we know what we may be”…….Hmmm I ‘ll have to think about that one.


  • Scott Hutson

    Here’s one the many things I read that gives me this opinion about scienctific facts that I believe.

  • Scott Hutson

    Here’s something about scientific fact’s and my own weird ADD self I just posted if anyone is inerested.

  • Pingback: You Have ADD/ADHD and You Will STILL Not Be Rich and Famous | Jeff's A.D.D. Mind

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