You Have A.D.D. And You Can Succeed: A Rebuttal By “Paradigm Of Thought” – Part II

A Bit of Background: A lengthy comment on the blog post You Have A.D.D./A.D.H.D. and You Will NOT Be Rich and Famous resulted in a lengthy response on my part that became the blog post You Have ADD/ADHD and You Will STILL Not Be Rich and Famous. The author of the lengthy comment, Paradigm of Thought, wanted to provide a lengthy and detailed response to that second post. I asked Paradigm to email me his response (it was too long to post as a comment) and I assured him that I would post it on this blog. Because of the length of the response I am posting it in two parts. This is the second part of his response. The first part is here.


You Have A.D.D. And You Can Succeed:
A Rebuttal By “Paradigm Of Thought” – Part II

The Counterpoints Raised by my opponent.

My opponent took the liberty of editing my original post, so I in the same spirit have taken the liberty to edit his. These editions have by no means taken away from his argument.

Counterpoint One

There is only one bulletin in my opponent’s Counterpoint that still remains untouched from my concessions listed above, and that is his counterpoint on Hyperactivity.

“Hyperfocusing can be an advantage IF you can turn it on or off at will. If you cannot do that… It is like being a marathon runner but not being able to use your running skills when you need it most.”

Counter-Counterpoint One

Just like a long distance runner, any advantage a person has must be trained to fit into their goals. Hyper-Focusing is no different. The trick is finding when you Hyper-Focus, and repetitiously simulating the stimuli in which you Hyper-Focus in. Eventually after much repetition one can learn to Hyper-Focus at will. I utilize this to write blogs and papers (I can sit at a desk for hours writing papers on boring subjects). Another technique is to keep it interesting, I often will use humor in my blog and post in order to keep my brain in Hyper-Focus mode.

Counterpoint Two

  1. “This is the power of positive thinking argument. If we think it…it will be so. Unfortunately, while this type of thinking may make us feel better… because they ARE Willy Loman, we never hear their stories. We only hear the success stories.”
  2. “You note that society inculcates us with the idea that we have a learning disorder. My argument against this is based, in part, on an anecdote. Though it does not constitute scientific data I think it illustrates a possible shortcoming in the “magical properties” theory of ADHD.”

The rest of this point is given in anecdotal form of a personal story of failure, my opponent also continues to point out:

  1. “Does this high IQ child need to know that she has a high IQ in order to be intelligent? Or is she intelligent even if she is unaware of her IQ? The answer would seem to be the latter… Shouldn’t the positive qualities of ADHD be evident in the very same way.”

Counter-Counterpoint Two

  1. My “power of positive thinking” argument, as you refer to it as, has not only some logical backing, but some scientific backing as well. As study in the University of Pittsburg by one Dr. Michael F. Scheier shows: optimists handle stress better, take disappointment better, and tend to be more tenacious in attaining their goals (Goleman, 1987). These are all traits that are important in success. The fact is that, while positive thinking won’t cure cancer, it certainly affects how we approach situations, and how well we deal with failure. I think about this fact every time I try to pick a girl up from the bar.
  2. In this argument, my opponent gives an anecdote that is no doubt both amusing, and informational on how failure tends to happen. In turn I will give an anecdote, not on my life, but the life of my boss.
    1. My boss began a gutter company some years back with a couple of his friends. This business started out looking like it would be promising, but in two years shut its doors for several reasons: corrupt contractors, corrupt business partners, and a lack of experience in the field. It was twenty years later before he got the opportunity to scrap up and form an Architectural Sheet Metal Company again. This time he had more experience, more wisdom, and a list of prior failures that would help him succeed. Two years into this company, I asked him what he would do if he found out the company wouldn’t last a week. He said, “I would show up to work tomorrow, because I don’t have the sense to give up.” Right now this company is about to have another record-breaking year in a recession (which is next to impossible). This company has received three Excellence In Construction awards from the Better Business Bureau, and it is the only Non-Union Sheet Metal Company in our area to gain contracts from The Builder’s Association. Oh… Did I mention that he and his most of his executive staff test positive for A.D.D.?
  3. This argument completely hinges on the idea that success in an is only valid if the did not know about his A.D.D. until after the success is made. So an is not successful if he knows he has A.D.D.? Forgive me, but I find that kind of hard to swallow. As I pointed out in my first fact listed above, social sciences are subjective. A person’s awareness of the hurdles that they must jump plays no small role in how well the person jumps his hurdles. Being aware of an issue gives a person an edge on fixing the issue. Plus the argument is not whether a person can succeed if they have A.D.D. and aren’t aware of it. It is whether a person can succeed with A.D.D. in general.

As a side note, I want to say Bravo to my opponent for trying to make a small business, it took a lot of guts to risk livelihood for a small business. My opponent mentioned in his anecdote that I might try to say the reason why he failed was because he didn’t quite think positively enough. No, there were probably other reasons. I will say that his attitude played no small part in why he did not pick up and try again, as most successful business must do in order to succeed (See Donald Trump in, The Art Of The Comeback.). As I pointed out in fact number 4 listed above, success is a learning process, and in all learning processes, the actions toward success must be repeated over and over.

Counterpoint Three

  1. “…statistically you are the outlier. Longitudinal data shows an abundance of horror stories and NOT success stories.”

Counter-Counterpoint Three

  1. My opponent sustains that statistically I am the outlier. I have to agree with him, and not because I have A.D.D. According to the Better Business Bureau and the Small Business Administration 50% of small businesses fail within the first year, and that number doesn’t get better until after the fifth year. Regime changes, market changes, poor credit, lack of income etc. These are all daunting facts of why businesses fail. However seeing as this business has made it over the five year hump, and assuming it will be there when I take over, I doubt it will go anywhere unless I am particularly stupid about it (which only time will tell).

Counterpoint Four

  1. You wrote:  ‘The fact is ADD or ADHD is no more disenfranchising than being “normal.”‘ If only this were true then this would be borne out by the numerous studies that have been done. Sorry to say, there is no data to support this assertion. There is too much data showing how undiagnosed ADHDers have believed whole heartedly that they could succeed and yet, despite all their efforts, they have still failed. The magic just didn’t work. Further, since they were undiagnosed they didn’t yet know that they should use ADHD as a crutch.

Counter-Counterpoint Four

  1. My opponent stands fast on the idea that A.D.D. is in fact more disenfranchising. I must point out that this argument hinges on his first premise, that a person with A.D.D. must not know beforehand that he has A.D.D. As I’ve mentioned numerous times knowing what you are facing is important. There are traits in A.D.D. that can hinder success (As I mentioned in my first post). But a person’s success if they know they have A.D.D. does not magically go away because he knew it, this is counter intuitive. I also can fall back my second premise. That successful people often don’t bother being tested for A.D.D. Why? Because their already successful, and don’t need to know what is wrong with them. Also because of the long running stigma is Psychology, an older individual who is successful will never visit a Psychologist for an old world fear of being thought of as insane. The fact is this argument does not hold water under scrutiny.

To Drive The Point Home.

As a final argument, I have decided to instead include a list of Modern people who test positive for A.D.D. :

  1. “Magic” Johnson – Professional Athlete – Rich and Famous.
  2. Robin Williams – Comedian and Actor – Rich and Famous.
  3. Henry Winkler – Actor: “The Fonz” – Rich and Famous.
  4. Stevie Wonder – Musician – Rich and Famous.
  5. Jack Nicholson – Actor – Rich and Famous.
  6. Lindsay Wagner – Actress – Rich and Famous.
  7. Tom Cruise – Actor – Rich and Famous.
  8. Dustin Hoffman – Actor – Rich and Famous.
  9. Stephen Spielberg – Director – Rich and Famous.
  10. Michael Phelps – Olympic Swimmer – Rich and Famous.
  11. Ari Emanuel – Entrepreneur – Rich.
  12. Matt Morgan – Professional Wrestler – Rich and Famous.
  13. Howie Mandel – Actor, Comedian, and Game show host – Rich and Famous.
  14. Paul Orfalea – Entrepreneur – Rich.
  15. David Neeleman – Entrepreneur – Rich.
  16. Danielle Fisher – Mountain Climber – Famous.
  17. Jim Carey – Actor – Rich and Famous.
  18. Prince Charles – Next in line for the English Throne – Filthy Rich and Famous.
  19. Greg Louganis – Olympic Gold Medal Winner (Diving) – Rich and Famous.
  20. Ozzy Osbourne – Singer/Songwriter – Rich and Famous.

I’m going to stop here, because I could literally go on for days.


The original argument was whether a person with A.D.D. can succeed or not. We find, because of inconclusive success data that it is impossible to determine exactly how many A.D.D. success stories there are. Furthermore, throughout the course of my argument, we find success has very little to do with A.D.D. And a whole lot to do with a person’s attitude toward success, as well as their attitude toward failure. I have shown numerous success stories of those who have A.D.D. and at least in one case how his attitude effected his success.  I have not once made a claim that because of A.D.D. we are destined to succeed, that would frivolous and asinine. My claim is that A.D.D. does not stand in the way of our success, rather our attitude toward it does.

Either Way, You’re Right.

Too often do I find people use A.D.D. or some other circumstance as a crutch or worse yet as a soap box. I find that the same people who have failures, are the people who seem to think A.D.D. is the thing that stopped. No, the only thing stopping you from success is you, nothing more. I quoted Henry Ford in the beginning of my argument for a good reason. Because how you approach a situation is just as important as what you do when the situation comes. There is a reason the most successful people in the world preach positive thinking practices, and attitude. Because it works. Not on any magical level, just because it modifies how you perceive things, how you react to situations, and your actions thereof.

I am a man of learning and research, and I have found through my own endevours, the experiences of the people around me, and the research into success that success has nothing to do with what you were born having. But in the end how you use what you have. So next time you say to yourself “I can’t, I have A.D.D.” I’m going to have to say, “You’re right.”

Goleman, Daniel (1987, February 3). Research Affirms The Power Of Positive Thinking The New York Times pp. C1.

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  • Scott Hutson

    So what is the importance of this debate? I will refer to the last part of a sentence, by Albert Einstien about his beliefs and Ghandi's veiws of political men of his/ our time> "Nonparticipation in anything you believe is evil".

    So I will agree with, "Either Way, You're Right"…… But We may be wrong about a lot of things.

    • Jeff

      It's probably less important, to a degree, for those who are already in the midst of their ADHD and they are trying to get on with their lives. But for those who have just learned about ADHD, they are more susceptible to this gift/curse, help/hindrance dichotomy.

      • Scott Hutson

        Oh yes Jeff, that is a fact. I’m proof of that. I fell into the trap when I first started Google-Inge ADD. I found out what a great gift I have, and for a limited time offer, I could purchase a book………Fortunately, I was careful enough to not buy a book, before I found out more about real people who had also wanted to believe ADD could be a gift. Well there is alot more than just reading about people who have ADD, and claim it will help us to succeed because of the symptoms of it. We all want good things, and we do get up and try every day to control our ADD. Maybe some people can. But not everbody can do what some people say they can do. Dosen’t mean we don’t want to or try to. I will just say it Jeff, ” I CAN’T!” be happy about having ADD. But I can face reality and realize that all ADDer’s are not all the same.

  • Jeff

    Hmmm…there are so many problems that I'm not sure where to begin so, in this comment, I want to look at two points you raised in Part I.

    1. You noted in Part I of this post you dismiss all social sciences because they are "inherently subjective." I assume you are not familiar with the amount of subjectivity that lies in the sciences such as in biology. Do you think the classifications based on genus, phylum, etc. is NOT subjective? It may seem like it is not subjective at this point in time because "science" has been used to justify the divisions much like "science" – in terms of replicating findings, reviewing the statistical significance of findings and so forth – is used within the social sciences to prove that what may have seemed subjective really has an objective basis. However, to dismiss all of social science with the stroke of a pen is not a refutation of the validity of social sciences.

    2. You also noted in Part 1, Fact Number 2 Revisited that "there is no arguing the fact that there are many ADDers who go through life happy and healthy without any sort of diagnosis." Interesting argument except there is a glaring problem. A fact cannot be based on an assumption and then, in assuming its validity, you reassert its truthfulness. You've assumed what you wanted to prove. Circular reasoning at its finest.

    So…your argument begins with dismissing all of social science (psychology, sociology, economics, etc.) as pure hokum. Further, to "prove" the validity of your assertion that there are happy and successful ADDers out there who are undiagnosed, you BEGIN with the assumption that this is true and use this to CONCLUDE that it is true. Hmmmm…this does not bode well. (More comments to follow.)

  • Paradigm Of Thought


    I'm sorry to say, but my first point was not intended to make such an assertion, rather dismiss your first fact, which was an appeal to the objectivity of social sciences. I personally love social sciences, but I understand that subjectivity plays a big role in it.

    Your argument sustains that social sciences, using subjective fact finding (Such as polls and votes), and then supported by statistics, a notoriously subjective science (This subjectivity is the root in why we have "standard deviations"), somehow compiles together to make something objective? Forgive me, but that argument doesn't hold water.

    But the fact that it is subjective, does not mean it is wrong. Anything, subjective or not, that garners consistent results is okay, in my book. My argument was simply to state that it doesn't matter whether a person who has ADHD knows it or not.

    On to your second point. My second fact wasn't so much circular reasoning, rather an appeal to belief logical fallacy. However, because of YOUR second fact, which was the same fallacy, I was under the assumption that this was acceptable in this argument. But very well, I will concede this, but only if you concede the same.

    You're not off to a good start, your first argument made an assumption that was not intended in the writing, nor specifically stated, and your second argument points out the EXACT same logical fallacy in my article as appears in yours (See your second fact).

    Thank you for your reply.

    - Paradigm of Thought

    • Jeff

      I think we should just drop the subjective/objective thing since we are both going in circles. I've never heard of standard deviations as being an indicator of subjectivity. I just thought it was a measure of variability. And keep things moving along since the real issues are in Part II, I'll concede the point. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

    • Jeff

      I think at this juncture it's pretty safe to say that we've probably laid out our arguments as best as we can and that those who read the posts and comments can draw their own conclusions. I don't think we will convince each other of anything…at least not now. We probably need to look at this in greater detail and in much smaller pieces in order to see what is/is not valid. Further, I think we're both pretty adept at finding logical flaws in each others reasoning.

      I think it is of utmost importance that you read and respond to Bryan Hutchinson's post. (… ) His major point is that through your overemphasis of the power of positive thinking you begin to sound like those who deny the existence of ADHD. I won't say any more about this because I think it's best you read his post.

      Side note: I'm buried in some work so there are a few points in your Part II that I will address in a week or so.

      • Paradigm Of Thought

        I have to agree whole heatedly that most likely it's time to shake hands, and go to our respective corners (I was going to suggest that myself). The reason is, from this point, we would just be going around in circles, and the argument would cease being fun for either of us. Quite frankly, after this it would become a pissing contest, and neither of us want that.

        I stated before, we're not going to dissuade each other, and I wouldn't want that. On my end, I have dedicated my time and effort in the hopes that I will succeed (Though I don't want to become wildly famous or rich, that just seems impractical). On your end, you have dedicated much of your time to teach people that ADHD is not a magical pill. I don't want that time to be wasted either.

        You have been the finest opponent I have ever had, I commend you, and I hope that our next argument will be just as fun and interesting to write.

        - Paradigm of Thought.

        P.S. You're right, the standard deviation is more about restriction of data than subjectivity, thinking back I don't why I argued it. However the subjectivity of statistics stands in the way that it garners data. All social statistics are based off of surveys and polls. A cynical man can question the ethics of poll takers (using "trick questions" and rewording), a less cynical man must rely on the fact that most people don't understand or don't have a clear side on an issue. But as you said this can wait for another time. I'm burned out and I have a still busy week ahead of me (I get to repair my car!)

        • Jeff

          First, I'm glad that we've come to the same conclusion. This horse has been beaten to a pulp. Second, sparring with you has been a blast. I've had a lot of fun.

          Now the problem is…what topic do we hit on next? :D

          - Jeff
          P.S. I can learn to live with the impracticality of being wildly famous AND rich!

  • Jeff

    One last thing. Statistics are not subjective. The fact that social statistics are based off surveys and polls does not make them more subjective. (After all, how do you measure "the social" unless you are dealing with people?) The problem, however, is two-fold.

    First, you are correct that there can be trick questions. ("Do you think America should have health care or should we have nationalized health care and become a country of lily-livered socialists?") This is the reason why, in any poll, you should see the original questions and, if multiple choice, the answer selections. Second, and this is a mistake too many people make, because someone had say "you can lie with statistics" (there's a book called "How to lie with statistics") many have jumped to the conclusion that we ALWAYS lie with statistics. There's no basis for that leap of logic. Instead, we need to question the statistics, we need to examine the survey instrument and then come to our own conclusions.

    Oh…I should have mentioned…I majored in several different subjects in college…one of which was sociology…years ago I've done a lot of survey work as a consultant so I know how to play with statistics and how to be truthful.

    • Victorious

      Jeff I will prove to you that I will be successful in the way that you are saying it is not possible for me to be. Thanks for your discouragement


      • Jeffs ADD Mind

        Please, yes, prove me wrong! I mean that! Seriously! But remember that your success will not be BECAUSE of your ADHD. Your success will be DESPITE your ADHD. ADHD is not a magical power or some sort of fairy dust (though sometimes I think I can fly out the window but…that’s another story). It is an oftentimes disabling disorder that CAN be treated, that CAN be controlled, that CAN be reduced in its harmful effects. But it is not and never will be the source of anyone’s success. And please, don’t take my word for it. Take Russell Barkley’s word for it. See the video on this page (here’s the link: ) titled “ADHD Is Not A Gift.”

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