Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Different View

From ~ The Edison Gene by Thom Hartmann I was in India in 1993 to help manage a community for orphans and blind children on behalf of a German charity. During the monsoon season, the week of the big Hyderabad earthquake, I took an all-day train ride almost all the way across the subcontinent (from Bombay through Hyderabad to Rajamundri) to visit an obscure town near the Bay of Bengal. In the train compartment with me were several Indian businessmen and a physician, and we had plenty of time to talk as the countryside flew by from sunrise to sunset. Curious about how they viewed our children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I asked, "Are you familiar with those types of people who seem to crave stimulation, yet have a hard time staying with any one focus for a period of time? They may hop from career to career and sometimes even from relationship to relationship, never seeming to settle into one job or into a life with one person-but the whole time they remain incredibly creative and inventive." "Ah, we know this type well," one of the men said, the other three nodding in agreement. "What do you call this personality type?" I asked. "Very holy," he said. "These are old souls, near the end of their karmic cycle." Again, the other three nodded agreement, perhaps a bit more vigorously in response to my startled look. "Old souls?" I questioned, thinking that a very odd description for those whom American psychiatrists have diagnosed as having a particular disorder. "Yes," the physician said. "In our religion, we believe that the purpose of reincarnation is to eventually free oneself from worldly entanglement and desire. In each lifetime we experience certain lessons, until finally we are free of this earth and can merge into the oneness of God. When a soul is very close to the end of those thousands of incarnations, he must take a few lifetimes to do many, many things-to clean up the little threads left over from his previous lives." "This is a man very close to becoming enlightened," a businessman added. "We have great respect for such individuals, although their lives may be difficult." Another businessman raised a finger and interjected. "But it is through the difficulties of such lives that the soul is purified." The others nodded agreement. "In America they consider this behavior indicative of a psychiatric disorder," I said. All three looked startled, then laughed. "In America you consider our most holy men, our yogis and swamis, to be crazy people, as well," said the physician with a touch of sadness in his voice. "So it is with different cultures. We live in different worlds." We in our Western world have such "holy" and nearly enlightened people among us and we say they must be mad. But as we're about to see, they may instead be our most creative individuals, our most extraordinary thinkers, our most brilliant inventors and pioneers. The children among us whom our teachers and psychiatrists say are "disordered" may, in fact, carry a set of abilities-a skill set-that was necessary for the survival of humanity in the past, that has created much of what we treasure in our present "quality of life," and that will be critical to the survival of the human race in the future. This came to me via e-mail from Thom Hartmann's organization. I signed up for this newsletter after ordering his book, "Thom Hartmann's Complete Guide to ADHD." He has a theory, supported in part by microbiological research (regarding the interaction of dopamine system genes, DRD4, DRD5, and DAT1 and that of the monoamine system.) Or, something like that. I'm still wading through the medical journals and attempting to figure it all out. I mean, that is part of it, taking things apart to figure out how they work. For some people, its cars, for me, its people. There are articles from genetics, psychiatric genetics, psychiatry, molecular psychiatry, clinical psychology, neural transmission, biological psychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, neuropsychopharmacology, pediatrics, deviant behavior pediatrics, neuropsychobiology, internal medicine, and neuropsychiatric genetics. Yeah, yeah, but what does it all mean?? It means, there is an abnormality in my dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter formed in the brain. It takes messages from point A to point B. In most people anyway. Now, they can say all they want... but they really DON'T KNOW. There are many genes, and alleles of genes which have to work together to be so dysfunctional. Either my body doesn't metabolize something correctly or some little receptor rejects something and then it can't find a place to go and just kind of meanders around making trouble. However, according to Mr. Hartmann, ADHD and its genetic components were necessary in the hunter world of yester year for the survival of our very species. The Edison Gene. The Edison Trait. The Hunter Gene. The traits most associated with ADHD are seen as liabilities, when in fact, they can be valuable assets. Distractibility Distractibility is often incorrectly characterized as the inability of a child or adult to pay attention to a specific task or topic. Yet people with ADHD can pay attention, even for long periods of time (it's called hyperfocusing), but only to something that excites or interests them. It's a cliché-but true-that "there is no ADHD in front of a good video game." ADHD experts often noted that it's not that those with ADHD can't pay attention to anything; it's that they pay attention to everything. A better way to characterize the distractibility of ADHD is to describe is as scanning. In a classroom, the child with ADHD is the one who notices the janitor mowing the lawn outside the window instead of focusing on the teacher's lecture on long division. Likewise, the bug crawling across the ceiling or the class bully preparing to throw a spitball is infinitely more fascinating than the teacher's analysis of Columbus's place in history. Impulsivity The characteristic of impulsivity has two core manifestations among modern people with ADHD. the first is impulsive behavior: acting without thinking things through or the proverbial leaping before you look. Often this takes the form of interrupting others or blurting things out in conversation. Other times it's reflected in snap judgments or quick decisions. To the prehistoric hunter impulsivity was an asset because it provided the ability to act on instant decisions, as well as the willingness to explore new, untested areas. If the hunter were chasing a rabbit through the forest with his spear, and a deer ran by, he wouldn't have time to stop and calculate a risk/benefit analysis. He would have to make an instant decision about which animal to pursue, than act on that decision without a second thought. The second aspect of impulsivity is impatience. For a primitive farmer, however, impatience and impulsivity would spell disaster. If he were to go out into the field and dig up the seeds every day to see if they were growing, the crops would die. (A contemporary manifestation of this is the person who can't leave the oven door shut, but has to keep opening it to check how the food's doing, to the detriment of many a soufflé.) Restlessness Risk-taking, or, as Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey describe it in their book Driven to Distraction, "a restive search for high stimulation," is perhaps the most destructive of the behaviors associated with ADHD in contemporary society. It probably accounts for the high percentage of people with ADHD among prison populations, and plays a role in a wide variety of social problems, from the risky driving of a teenager to the infidelity or job-hopping of an adult. Yet for a primitive hunter, risk and high-stimulation were a necessary part of daily life. If a hunter were risk- or adrenaline-adverse, he'd never go into the wilds to hunt. For a hunter, the idea of daily risking his life would have felt "normal." In fact, the urge to experience risk, the desire for that adrenaline high, would have been necessary among the members of a hunting society, because it would have propelled their members out into the forest or jungle in search of stimulation and dinner.

Condensed from ~ The Edison Gene

Its nice to see a postive outlook. And research supported by a variety of medical specialists.

T-Bird made this observation last night, "You're an ADD Scorpion Empath. No wonder your life is hell." (Is that the same thing as an INFP?) My life is not hell. I'm just beginning to understand my complexities and how my biological and emotional traits feed off of one another. I'm settling down in my own skin, so to speak. Embracing those things which I have been told were "bad" or "abnormal." Seeing those things which were once liabilities as strengths.

Speaking of INFPs... I saw a comment from a fellow INFP that said, "My mind never sleeps and I don't understand why people just don't get it!" I get it.

Here's a question... If only 3-20% of the population (depending on whose numbers you use) have the combination of genes which lead to ADD/ADHD, and INFPs account for about 4.4% of the popluation, what are the chances that those having ADD/ADHD traits and those having INFP traits are the same?

If you care to take part in my non-scientific study, please do so.

The Bloginality test is here. If you already know your personality type then you're ahead of the game.

The Jung typology test is here.

Symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD are here. Or do you or others see you more often as:

Enthusiastic Creative Disorganized Non-linear in their thinking (they leap to new conclusions or observations) Innovative Easily distracted (or, to put it differently, easily attracted to new stimuli) Capable of extraordinary hyperfocus Understanding of what it means to be an "outsider" Determined Eccentric Easily bored Impulsive Entrepreneurial Energetic

If you would like a copy of the Thom Hartmann's e-mail, e-mail me here.

Otherwise, leave a message at the sound of the tone and I'll get back to you. *Beeeeeeeep*

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