ADHD Treatment: Have We Been Taking the Wrong Approach?

This has been taken from an article by Zoe Kessler on adult ADHD which I really enjoyed reading.


Much of what we read about adult ADHD talks about how we can overcome the standard challenges and hallmarks of the condition: disorganisation, time-management problems, overcoming impulsivity, and so on.

I appreciate the latest clutter-removal tip as much as anyone, but I think we’re missing something critical.

I believe the current emphasis on practical, everyday coping strategies is at the detriment of something far more crucial to our ability to maximize our potential and lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

And isn’t that what we really want from treatment?

 ADHD research

I don’t believe that a less-cluttered house will bring me nearly as much happiness as this one key element.

I certainly don’t think that by you and me shoving ourselves into little uncomfortable boxes that don’t fit and might even be painful and claustrophobic, the world will somehow be a better place. Au contraire.

Many of us will be wrestling with and tweaking our ADHD strategies for the rest of our lives. Maybe that’s because the professionals poised to help us (psychiatrists, ADHD coaches, therapists, etc.) are focusing on the wrong things!

Without this one fundamental component, I think every other treatment modality is doomed to fall short in its effectiveness.

What is it?

To my mind, the foundation that will uphold any and all other approaches (including medication) used to treat ADHD – from stimulants to smart pens – is building our core sense of self-worth.

I stumbled on an article called “Emotion Commotion” by William B. Dodson, a Colorado-based psychiatrist specialising in adult ADHD. (You can read the abbreviated online version here).

I can’t wait to get my hands on his upcoming book, What You Wish Your Doctor Knew About ADHD.

Dodson had me at his opening sentence:

“You cannot manage the impairments of ADHD until you understand how you process emotion.”

Every point he made after that crystallized what I’ve been increasingly becoming convinced of: until we address our underlying emotional hypersensivity, we won’t achieve our best and highest potential as individuals living with ADHD.

Specifically, Dodson addresses a common sensitivity to rejection, criticism and our own perception that we’re deficient in some way. He describes me (albeit much less so these days) when he says that many ADHDers are constantly tense and unable to relax, that they’re continuously sensitive to the perception that others disapprove of them.

I’ve always sensed a tension between those who are proponents of ADHD treatments that seem to have as their goal to try to fit us into structures (be they work, social, or educational) we don’t inherently fit into, and those quieter voices (including the one deep within me) that suggest that’s the wrong approach.

We’re in exciting and challenging times; with the arrival of Dodson’s book, perhaps we’ll learn more about how we can be ourselves in a world that doesn’t “get” us and thrive none the less. There have always been lone voices suggesting we ADHDers should live according to our own rules, but rarely has someone championed this idea in quite as forthright, compelling, and clear a way as Dodson.

I look forward to hearing more about his ideas. The impending debate should be interesting – and possibly even paradigm-shifting.