73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have struggled with ADD for a very long time. I have known for awhile that I have it, but I had no idea how much of my life it affected. I found the stories of ADD at different ages very helpful, because I found myself in them for each stage of life and the struggles I encountered. Looking back, I realized that I am not defective, I'm just built differently. I have learned new ways to communicate with people, to approach problems, and even how to look back on my life. I found a lot of healing within these pages.
I had a lot of pain growing up and thought there was something very wrong with me. This led to many instances of depression, self-esteem issues, suicidal ideation, isolation, anger, and self recrimination. Why couldn't I just get it together? Why was I angry so often? (one story was particularly illuminating--in which the therapist asks the guy WHY he has so much anger and he says it's from many years of built-up frustration. It made so much sense.) Why couldn't I stay motivated in school or work? Why am I so scattered and disorganized?
I was born in 1980...ADHD research was still in its infancy, and so my symptoms weren't recognized. I remember one kid that was diagnosed as having it and everybody made fun of him and I was under the impression that it was an excuse. As I got into adulthood, I remember seeing a commercial for adult ADHD that put a name on what I was experiencing, but still tried to deny it was a problem. This has had wide-ranging effects on my life that I didn't even realize. Through this book, I have found that there is no shame in choosing to take medication or seeking out coaching or therapy. I have found a new appreciation for my creative ADHD brain and a way to approach awkward situations with humor so people can understand me better. I have also reached out to many people that I fear I may have alienated in my past or hurt with my impulsive behavior. I have rebuilt many bridges and mended friendships and even my family.
This is not a made-up disorder. It's not laziness and cannot just be overcome by sheer willpower. I've tried. I eventually run out of steam and it took so much effort to keep it going for so long that when I ran out of steam, my motivation and willpower to do just about anything went out the window. I'm so grateful to the authors of this book. I found so many answers that I have been looking for for so long. I didn't even realize this was the answer I was searching for, even though it was in front of my face for a very long time.
Thank you SO much for the detailed descriptions that explain how ADHD affects ALL areas of life. Thank you also for the case histories that I could relate to and feel like I wasn't alone. Excellent book and VERY highly recommended for sufferers of adult ADHD, or those that choose to be in relationship with someone that has it.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a fantastic book for anybody who wants to learn about ADHD. It was only after reading this book that I broke down and got myself tested. I was one of the many people that thought ADHD was an excuse for people with a lack of discipline and will power. I have never been more wrong in my entire life. I only wish I had known about it earlier. It could have saved my family and I a lot of heart ache and pain, not to mention money. It really is a tragedy to have gone through so many frustrating episodes in your life and find out that they probably could have been prevented or at least mitigated to some degree.
The best part of this book is the real life examples that the author describes. If you have ADHD, they will defenitely hit home. One in particular felt like it was taken straight from my life. ADHD is a tricky disorder because there's no definitive test for it. In fact, ADHD is really not a good name for it because the hyper activity wears off as you get older. I think it should be called something like Executive Function Disorder. That to me is a more accurate description. Executive Function is really what is lacking. The inability to follow through with goals, get organized, and multi-task. The name belittles the condition.
The one thing that is still a mystery to me is why it is so prevelent today. How is it possible that there is such an increase in people who have it? I hope one day there's an answer. While I think it's ridiculous when I hear people say they're grateful they have ADHD, I am grateful that the treatment and medication really does work for the vast majority of people. That's really the only good news.
I can also understand somebody's hesitency about taking medication. Who wants to take pills that alter your brain. I don't. All I can say is that habitual underachievement whether academically, socially, or monetarily isn't good for your brain either. Your a fool if you don't give it a chance. Exercise really does help and is almost as important as the medication. If you have ADHD and you're not exercising than you're just as foolish as somebody who won't give medication a try. Since ADHD is basically a lack of dopamine in your brain and exercise is guarenteed to increase dopamine in your brain you don't need to go to medical school to understand why it's a good idea. My aim is to take as little medication as possible. I think of exercise as a natural dopamine supplement. Less medication equels less potential for negative side effects. Exercise will also help with any kind of depression and self esteem issues you might have as a result of not accomplishing what you want out of life, thanks in part to the disorder. In closing, I think every responsible parent should educate themselves on this topic. I certainly wish mine had. You don't need to read a book on it to become aware of what to look for. If my parents had known about it, they would have avoided an incredible amount of anger and frustration. The book lays it all out there. It was important for me to read it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book has made my behavior much more explicable to me, my wife, and other relatives. If you have ADHD, or know someone who does, you'll recognize many case histories described here, but not others; ADHD takes a number of forms, and there is no single description of its effects.
The most valuable aspect of this book is that I realize that I'm not crazy, I'm not a bad person, and I'm not alone. Scratch that: the most valuable aspect of this book is that _my wife_ realizes that I'm not crazy, I'm not a bad person, and I'm not alone.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Full disclosure: I am a young adult living with ADD, having been recently diagnosed. Similar to a rabid self-diagnosing experience while scanning through symptoms lists on WebMD, I spent the majority of my time reading this book by finding many relatable traits between myself, the author, Edward Hallowell, (who also has ADD), and many of the author's patients described throughout the book. However; tied into these moments were also many small epiphanies, ideas for treatment/management, and a profound basis for hope.
Driven to Distraction is a wonderful window into the world of those suffering with ADD, from the perspective of a physician who also has ADD. Through numerous engaging examples of ADD patients, simple (yet complete) explanations, and steps for testing, diagnosis, and recovery/management, this book offers a more positive perspective on ADD and its prognosis (which, Hallowell might argue is essential to begin the ADD treatment process). In my opinion, the book was well organized, easy to read, yet descriptive enough to offer a full insight into the plight of those living with ADD. The most notable aspect of this book was that for someone with ADD (who dreads the thought of having to focus and read a long book in a short period of time); I was able to breeze through this book in one sitting. It was captivating and informative, and the frequent examples quickly hooked got me hooked on the patients' stories of recovery. This speaks volumes of the author's ability to get in tune with his targeted audience (people with ADD), which by his own definition is not an easy feat to accomplish.
Driven to Distraction follows a very simple organizational format by explaining the stories of various ADD patients, and how they've been struggling in their school, work, and professional lives. Their diagnosis process and psychotherapy interviews and then highlighted to show the path that many patients take to recovery. Their treatment is carefully detailed, as is their positive progress in life following the treatment. Chances are that any individual with ADD reading the book will be able to relate to one or more stories, which makes the book's message even more effective.
The book begins by describing the story of an adult male in his early 30s and struggling to maintain employment and personal relationships. The man's testing, diagnosis, and treatment process is described from Hallowell's perspective (the doctor of all patients in the book). This introductory case of adult ADD is then followed by a concrete definition of ADD - "ADD is a neurological syndrome whose classic defining triad of symptoms includes impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity or excess energy."
Hallowell then goes on to discuss specific patients and their stories across all ages and situations. He explains their stories and the impact their condition had on their families, co-workers, teachers, and spouses. And with each story, he describes in careful detail the steps each took on their path to their management of ADD. He also describes how ADD can manifest in different forms within different age groups. For example boys with ADD generally tend to display signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, while girls with ADD generally are inattentive daydreamers in the classroom. Adolescents and adults with ADD tend to be restless, impulsive, and have difficulty on following through on their goals and ideas. And when individuals with ADD who are part of a family or an intimate relationship, the condition can lead to a sense of disconnect between loved ones. ADD spouses often come across as inattentive to their partners' needs, and this can then cause a negative cycle of misunderstanding.
The key point to take away from the multitude of stories and examples of ADD is that there is no one single defining set of characteristics that manifests in individuals with ADD. If an individual suspects that he/she might possess some of the ADD characteristics (easy distractibility, inability to stay focused), then it is advisable to seek help from an expert in order to obtain the correct diagnosis. And just as there is no single set of characteristics, there is no set treatment. It will most certainly vary from patient to patient, usually combining some combination of psychotherapy, coaching, education, and medication (antidepressants and stimulants). Hallowell then describes some of the neurobiological reasons behind ADD symptoms, which include poor regulation of neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) within the brain as well as poor brain glucose metabolism.
Like mentioned above, this book covers the whole array of people with ADD, and many ADD patients are bound to find a story or two which are very similar to their own experiences. For me this was the story of Will, a curious and relatively intelligent student who was generally good at standardized testing but found it difficult to consistently succeed in the classroom. He often found himself underachieving and struggling with the management of everyday school tasks. While this sounds like many students going through a rigorous high school and college curriculum, Will's situation is highlighted by his internal thought process and struggles. Hallowell also makes it a point to describe Will's situation from outside points of view, including his parents and teachers (all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade). As someone living with ADD, I was able to relate to Will's internal mental struggle when he was dealing with the negative aspects of living with ADD during school. For many people with ADD, it is easy to get trapped in one's own mind, and it is a very dark and haunting place. Will's reason for eventually not continuing his ADD medication was also very relatable. Understanding Will's whole story encouraged me to continue my ADD medication, because it certainly presented a very tragic story. Most importantly, I feel like this story (and others) helped many people with ADD understand that they are not alone in this struggle, and that help is available.
"The secondary symptoms, and the ones that are the most difficult to treat, are the symptoms that develop in the wake of the primary syndrome not being recognized: low self-esteem, depression, boredom and frustration with school."
Unbiased View of the Patient's Struggles
Hallowell does a wonderful job in painting the whole picture for each case in the book, from start to finish. He includes the good, bad, and ugly. Not every story ends happily - many of the patients continued to struggle with their condition after treatment. This is a testament to Hallowell's desire to make ADD patients understand that the management of ADD is a lifelong journey. Rather than attempting to advertise himself or his practice, he was committed to arming all ADD patients by educating them about the reality of the struggle living with ADD. It's very easy for patients to lose focus again, which can cause further secondary symptoms such as depression and anxiety. By informing the public of these potential pitfalls, I believe this accurate picture of the disorder gives individuals the best chance to thrive despite the diagnosis of ADD.
"While we all need external structure in our lives - some degree of predictability, routine, organization - those with ADD need it much more than most people. They need external structure so much because they so lack internal structure. They carry with them a frightening sense that their world might cave in."
Detailed Action Plans
For each type and situation of ADD (adult, child, school, workplace, family, etc), Hallowell gives long lists of tips on the management of ADD. In my opinion, these lists offer a very readable and quickly accessible task list for those while ADD to follow (again, many ADD individuals love making lists and creating a structure which they can easily follow). Some tips include education of the disorder, coaching, getting rid of negativity, establishing of an external structure, anticipate missing deadlines, allow for additional buffer time for task completion, and having a good sense of humor. Again, these lists show Hallowell's ability to connect with his target audience and effect positive changes in their lives.
Driven to distraction is an easy and informative read that will undoubtedly help you to better understand the plight of those living with ADD. It backs its claims with real stories and biological facts, and most importantly, gives ADD patients hope and a clear path to their management of the disorder by relating directly to the readers. This book is an absolute must if you or anyone you know might have ADD. When reading the book, be sure to pay extra attention to situations which might arise in your own life, as it could really have a profound positive impact. Driven to Distraction might just be the missing key to helping millions live a better and more fulfilling life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2015
Before I read this book, I was convinced that ADD/ADHD was a diagnosis that we had invented to classify our angsty, fidgety, children who were not cut out to be in academia. I believed that issues with inconsistent parenting, constant distraction by television and video games, and general lack of motivation were pushing kids away from school work, determination, and dedication to their education and their futures. I saw a focus on medicating children with a miracle pill, a pharmaceutical miracle, and a giant cash cow for the makers of stimulant medications. After all, I had struggled all through middle school, junior high, and high school, and I had still managed to make it to college and get an Associate's degree. I could hold down a job, so what was happening to these other kids? They must just be lazy, right?
Wrong! This book has changed my life! Had I understood the symptoms, the behaviors, the signs that something was going on with me, and that I wasn't "learning" like other students were, I would have realized that despite being able to survive, I was not thriving. As it turns out, I have ADHD. And boy is it a doozy! This book opened my eyes! The frustrations that I had bottle up inside of me were all spelled out in the pages of this book by others who had experienced the exact same treatment and difficulties that I had! I immediately went to see a psychologist after reading this book, and for once, I finally felt as though I understood who I was and why I was. Never has this ADHD brain felt so peaceful and clear! : )
If you are struggling to understand yourself, a family member, a loved one, or a child, who has ADD/ADHD, this book will truly be the turning point for your relationship with that person. I strongly recommend it!