Coming soon: a new web address for this blog!

[[[At the end of November I'll be migrating this blog to a new address, which will be:]]]

10 January 2013

Driven to Distraction - a book review about ADD and me

I started reading this book because my little Bear has ADHD, and I'm struggling to help him.

The book is Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood, by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey. It's mostly by Edward Hallowell, but includes the ideas of Hallowell's mentor, John Ratey. Not that it really matters. Both men are well qualified to write this book.

Anyway, I started reading it so that I could better understand my child. In the very first chapter, I realized I needed to be taking notes - this was good stuff which I knew damn well I couldn't possibly retain unless I wrote it down. Correction: I started taking notes while reading the Preface, which I almost never read in any book (yes yes, bad student, blah blah... that's not the point here, not exactly).

By chapter three, I was reading the book for myself. I'm still trying to understand my child, and the book is still immensely helpful in that endeavor, but I've become completely engrossed in it because it's about me, too. I'm learning that although I thought I had a pretty good handle on what ADD is (I'm including ADHD under the ADD umbrella), I really only had a superficial understanding. ADD is a spectrum, not a single set of narrowly-variable symptoms which are either present or not. And now, I'm sorely tempted to do that cardinal sin of psychology (and psychiatry, and medicine...), and diagnose myself. The more I learn, the more I see myself. Which would explain a lot. I mean, a LOT.

The book is filled with case studies in which I've seen myself and my little Bear, and it is giving me insight into each of us. It has gone beyond just opening my eyes, and shown me new paths to take which will help us both. It's also the first non-fiction book I've ever read that I couldn't put down. I'll probably read it a couple times. I've actually been taking notes, just because I never remember what I read unless I write it down. And this, I want to remember.

The only caveat I have is that it's dated, having been published in 1995. Some of the medications the author mentions are outdated. However, medication is only discussed specifically in three of the 300+ pages of the book. So this datum is really irrelevant, in my opinion. I scanned through those three pages and went on my merry way. Also, the contact information in the appendix is probably no longer useful, either. That's what we have google for, eh?


I just found a couple more recent (2005 and 2010) books on this topic, by the same author. They're goin on my amazon list... And done.

Also, apparently there's a newer, revised edition of this same book. I highly recommend it, based on this earlier edition's excellence. 


  1. So glad that you enjoyed this non fiction book. It's always a good sign when you find yourself wanting to pick it up again.
    As you pointed out the content of the book was dated - this is, regrettably, a fate many non fiction books (especially: science, medicine, etc) share.

    1. I'm going to have to check out the revision and some of this guys other books, for sure.

      It's funny though, the majority of the non-fiction books on my bookshelf are actually dated by a century or so. Those are the most fun!

      (Yes, I might have an old book addiction; if so, it's all Archer's fault for introducing me to the joys of book rooms in antique stores.)