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Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood Hardcover – March 15, 1994

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (March 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679421777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679421771
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

This clear and valuable book dispels a variety of myths about attention deficit disorder (ADD). Since both authors have ADD themselves, and both are successful medical professionals, perhaps there's no surprise that the two myths they attack most persistently are: (a) that ADD is an issue only for children; and (b) that ADD corresponds simply to limited intelligence or limited self-discipline. "The word disorder puts the syndrome entirely in the domain of pathology, where it should not entirely be. Although ADD can generate a host of problems, there are also advantages to having it, advantages that this book will stress, such as high energy, intuitiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm, and they are completely overlooked by the 'disorder' model." The authors go on to cite Mozart and Einstein as examples of probable ADD sufferers. (The problem as they see it is not so much attention deficit but attention inconsistency: "Most of us with ADD can in fact hyperfocus at times.") Although they warn against overdiagnosis, they also do a convincing job of answering the criticism that "everybody, and therefore nobody" has ADD. Using numerous case studies and a discussion of the way ADD intersects with other conditions (e.g., depression, substance abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), they paint a concrete picture of the syndrome's realities. Especially helpful are the lists of tips for dealing with ADD in a child, a partner, or a family member. --Richard Farr --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Hallowell and Ratey offer a fine addition to literature on ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). The authors employ a broad, general definition of ADD ("high-energy, action-oriented, bottom-line, gotta-run-type people") and continually emphasize the special, positive qualities of people with ADD. They describe how ADD affects adults--many Americans mistakenly think of it as a childhood curse--and explain how the American temperament helps create ADD-like symptoms. Best of all are the stories and case studies of myriad folks who have dealt successfully with their diagnosis. A state-by-state list of support groups are included in this excellent approach to an intriguing subject.
- Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, Pa.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

I am not very far into this book yet, but I have found it easy to read and informative so far.
This book also does a good job in discussing ADD in children and if diagnosed, ways of explaining to a child about how their brain works differently.
Matthew J. Fery
This book will help you understand your loved one with ADD, and also help them understand themselves!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 202 people found the following review helpful By on March 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Whether lay public or professionals in the field, this is the best book you'll find on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I treat patients who have ADD; many come bearing a well-marked copy of this book to say they've found themselves in it. To the others, I routinely recommend they read it before we finalize the diagnosis or decide on treatment. The tone throughout is rigorously scientific yet informal, relatively free of jargon, approachable by anyone with a high school education, and very supportive to the sufferer without being patronizing. It contains no propaganda, a rare virtue in books about ADD. Although written by physicians (who themselves are sufferers), it does not shill for medication management at the expense of alternative treatments that have been scientifically validated as effective. This is the ideal book for sufferers and their families, for teachers and those who evaluate the learning problems of children and adults, and for all health care providers. For those who find it hard to read, another book by these authors, Answers to Distraction, is written in an easier, sound bite format. Both books are available on audiotape, often the best way for the ADDers to "read".
-Phil Torrance MD (Diplomate in Psychiatry)
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328 of 349 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Raxter VINE VOICE on October 2, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How does a person go from being their own worst enemy to their own best friend? This book can tell you how -- and best of all, why.
Like many others, I had never thought of myself as hyperactive -- hyper-book worm maybe! I was creative and obsessive. I was determined beyond description -- if it was something interesting to me. And I was successful... enough. A natural born explainer and teacher -- I had the patience of a saint!
I never admitted to anyone that I constantly berated myself in my mind: Even a small thing like a load of laundry would become a reason to rant. "You stupid! You forgot to turn on the wash!" Later, I'd realize: I had turned the knob three hours before -- but I had forgotten to close the lid.... when I remembered to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer -- at midnight -- I'd get out of bed to do it. "No way dufus-head will remember tomorrow!" Multiply this small life detail by 1000 lost, forgotten, ignored, denied life details -- all day, every day. The tirade never ceased.
I never tolerated others being negative to someone who made a mistake. I forgave everything. I understood the need for tolerance and forgiveness -- but I never gave it to myself.
I was never capable of doing any one thing from beginning to end. With a 100 projects going on at once very few get done. And, I was never able to enjoy the applause when I did do something really well. "Next week you'll screw up." the evil, mean voice in my head said. How did I keep from driving myself nuts?
As a result of reading this book, I started a path that changed my life. I now realize and forgive -- Nay! Applaud! my "differentness." The hyper-creativity is still there -- now I know how use it.
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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Danny Hindes on August 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was a skeptic regarding this whole ADHD thing. Too many people are being diagnosed with it. Too many parents placing the blame on their kids instead of the fact that they both work. They use the TV as a babysitter. They allow the kids to watch unsupervised TV and movies. Seemed like every kid was being diagnosed with it.
But then everything changed for me. It changed when my 1st grade son - who can be a real pistol - was requested by the elementary school administration to be placed in an alternative school for uncontrollable kids. (Of course, this was their conclusion after months of talks.) To counter their on-site psychologist, we sought our own, and after many counselling sessions there, the doctor presented us with his diagnosis: ADHD. But my wife and I still didn't believe in it. We wouldn't accept the diagnosis. So we read some on it, and on Ritalin, and decided based on that informaton, to take the doctor up on his desire to prescribe Ritalin for him.
And it was a miracle. Seriously. He had only a week left in public school, but the teacher was astounded. In the end, we changed him to a private school anyway since he earned a bad-boy reputation that he did not deserve, nor could he seem to shake.
In my desire to learn more about it, I bought this book. What I uncovered, was not only a greater understanding of my son, but also the realization that I probably also was afflicted. This book is geared towards an adult ADHD diagnosis. It is well written, and enjoyable to read because it is filled with small vignettes, little stories of people and their difficulties, and how they sought and received treatment.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Hamilton on April 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
With undiagnosised ADD onboard, being raised in a large household the second of eleven children, with a perfectionist father who would not accept second best as a condition of showing his love for his children, and an obedient submissive mother was a challenge beyond discription. I was continually being punished for my actions and behavior, and not understanding ADD (or that there was even such a disorder) I felt as if I was a scumbag of the lowest order for the first 40 or so years of my life. My father had two degrees, or better stated two professions, one as a dentist and the other as an anesthesiologist. Hyperactivity was seen as a huge sin in my family, and I don't remember anyone as hyper as I was. When I asked my mother a few years ago how was my behavior as a child (of which I can remember very little) her comment was, "We didn't have a moments peace from the day you were born until you left home to become a missionionary at the age of 19!" Wow! What a eye opening statement! Reading Dr. Hallowell's book is such an experience! I read a case history in his book to my seven children substituting my name and profession (a dentist) for the person envolved, and when finished my ten year old daughter quietly took me aside and with grave concern asked, "Daddy how did they get your life's history in that book if you just bought it?" I have never read a book that hit home with more force in my life than did Dr. Hallowell's DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION! What a masterpiece of diagnosis and heartfelt concern. In the Bible there is a verse which states that we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Until reading (and comprehending) Dr.Read more ›
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More About the Author

I am a child and adult psychiatrist with private practices in Sudbury, Mass as well as on the upper west side in New York City. Both practices operate under the name The Hallowell Center, where we offer diagnosis and a range of treatments for ADHD and learning problems in children and adults. I also am a writer and a speaker. I am married to Sue Hallowell, a social worker and a therapist. We have been married for 24 years and have 3 children, Lucy, now 23, Jack, 20, and Tucker, 17 (as of April, 2013).
The major theme that runs through all my work is the magical power of the human connection, and the power of positive connections of all kinds. I also specialize in learning differences and have written books about how to deal best with attention deficit disorder, a condition that I regard as a potential gift, if it handled correctly. Having both ADHD and dyslexia myself, I am particularly qualified to help people with these conditions bring out their best
I welcome hearing from readers. Just send me an email to or visit my website at