The Broken Escapement – An A.D.D. Metaphor

escapement.gif“Each swing of the pendulum releases the escapement, making it change from a “locked” state to a “drive” state for a short period that ends when the next tooth on the gear hits the locking surface on the escapement. It is this periodic release of energy and rapid stopping that makes a clock “tick;” it is the sound of the gear train suddenly stopping when the escapement locks again.” (Text & Image Source:

Isn’t the problem of A.D.D. really a problem of a broken escapement? The A.D.D. mind is that gear and, with a broken escapement, there is nothing to regulate its spinning. Sometimes the escapement is engaged, sometimes not. But it is the absence of this regularity that makes an an It is why an cannot sleep (their clock does not know when to tell them to stop); it is why an cannot (easily) complete a task on time (they have no internal clock); it is why an does not understand how small (positive) actions over a long period of time can a have a large (positive) impact in the future. It’s interesting that the lack of such a simple mechanism – an “internal watch movement”; the biological equivalent of an escapement – is the key that separates/differentiates the from non-A.D.D.ers.

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  • Gina Pera

    V. cool, Jeff.

  • Jeff

    Thank you! I thought it was a useful metaphor.

  • Scott Hutson


    Wow!! Thats not only useful, it’s worth a zillion bucks. Very accurate description of my own mind!


  • Jeff

    And look…I give it away for free! ;)

  • Scott Hutson

    Whew!!Thats a laod off my mind….I’m down to my last zillion dollar bill!

  • Scott Hutson

    Looks like gonna have to break it up, to pay the switch around A’s & O’s guy. Dang it!

  • Laura Martin


    This blog entry is one of the reasons I love your site so much. You have such a great way of putting things in a perspective that I have never heard before and that gives me a greater understanding of an ADD Mind.

    Thanks Again,


  • Jeff


    Thank you so much for being a dedicated reader and for letting me know that these ramblings & writings are not for naught.

    Metaphors can be so powerful in helping us to see things we wouldn’t normally see. The danger is that sometimes we mistake the metaphor for the thing itself. Not likely in this case but sometimes it happens…like when we describe the mind as being like a computer.

    • Betsy

      Or when some knucklehead days ADD is a gifiltefish, I mean, Gift?

      • Jeff

        ADD is like a gefiltefish…it's all mushed up. ;)

  • Pingback: The Metamorphosis | Jeff's A.D.D. Mind

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant. I love the way your right brain works. LOL It makes the explanation of some peoples symptoms quite clear. No wonder I enjoyed the movie Hugo. I wish I could take my brain to a clockmaker to fix it. 

    Now maybe you can write a wonderful story based on this metaphor. That would be fun to read. Maybe a fantasy or scifi short story about an ADD robot.

    • Jeff

      “scifi short story about an ADD robot.” – I like that idea!
      “Brilliant. I love the way your right brain works. ” – Thank you!!

  • Michele N

    Always good to be reminded I’m not the only one who has such a poor sense of time!!!

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