Sometimes a Great Insight….

Was it the cumulative effect of over two years of extensively studying ADHD, or was it the clarity of his explanation? I can’t be sure. I only know that after Dr. Bill Dodson, one of our pre-eminent ADHD psychiatrists here in Denver, allowed me to read the manuscript of his soon-to-be-published book, my understanding of ADHD deepened.

The impact was like the moment when you’re learning a foreign language where you cease translating and begin thinking in the new language. Similarly, instead of seeing ADHD as an object of study, I shifted to understanding it from the inside. Since that moment, I’ve so better understood my own ADHD that my ADHD coaching has taken a great leap forward.

This shift was all the more remarkable since I had been so impressed with the clarity of instruction I was receiving from the ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA). During my training with them, no other book outside of their text added much of anything new to my growing understanding of ADHD.  I felt like I was garnering such a complete understanding of ADD that I could truly count on it providing me with professional expertise. I had no idea there could be a shift like the one tripped by reading Dr. Dodson’s book.

I would attribute much of the shift to the agreements shared between the school’s curriculum and Dr. Dodson’s view. Certainly there was simply further confidence-building in seeing the match. But I also suspect Dr.Dodson extensively explained one feature of ADD that touched me so personally that it made the difference.

He writes on page 15, “ADHD is a brain-based condition.  It is not a failure of character or will.” Epiphany! I’m not a slouch after all! Well, we certainly covered this at ADDCA, but later on Dr. Dodson went on to give this absolution from character flaw a name. Clinically it is known as Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria; basically a big word for defensiveness. He went on to elaborate at length about how this condition develops very early on as a child recognizes that he/she is not learning or responding to the world as “neurotypicals” do. On page 5 he writes:

People from the ADHD World have a hard time with self-appraisal and self-awareness.  While they can often read other people well, it is very hard for the average ADDer to know from moment to moment how they themselves are doing, what effect they are having on others, or how they feel.  Neurotypicals can misinterpret this as being callous, narcissistic, uncaring, or socially inept.  Taken together, this extreme vulnerability to the negative feedback of others and the lack of the ability to observe oneself in the moment create a witch’s brew that makes the development of a firm sense of Self even harder.  If a person cannot see what is going on in the moment, the feedback loop by which we learn is broken.  A person does not know what is wrong or in what particular way it is wrong, so they have no basis for knowing how to fix it.  Perversely, they also don‘t know what they are doing right so they can do more of it.  This is why people with ADHD nervous systems appear not to be able to learn from experience. (Emphasis mine.)

The first emphasized trait combines not just defensiveness but also a chronic sense of insecurity. The self-doubt that haunts many ADDers puts a great stress on their lives and and their defensiveness profoundly impacts their closest relationships. The second attribute, the inability to learn from experience, really illuminated for me why and how I have difficulty with administrative tasks like budgeting, and especially remembering how to do taxes every year!

These were revelatory and profoundly facilitative insights. It is surely one thing to learn of such ADHD traits and struggles by reading about them, but a whole other to have someone enable an integration of understanding the condition as Dr. Dodson did for me.

These are just a few of the gifts of insight Dr. Dodson’s book provided me and what you could look for when it is published. But you don’t have to wait to learn from this ADHD Treatment Master. Come see him at Denver-Metro CHADD’s monthly meeting this coming Monday evening. See the details on my ADHD Support link. And you can sign up for automatic notifications of Denver-Metro CHADD’s meetings and events at



6 thoughts on “Sometimes a Great Insight….

  1. First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to
    ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself
    and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had a difficult
    time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there.

    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?

    Stop by my page: ganhar dinheiro

    • Hello Shirley,

      Thanks for responding to my blog. Writing is challenging, and getting started is the hardest part for sure. Now what has worked for me more than meditating to find a clear mind is actually just sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind, either on topic or not. I don’t edit at all, and know that most of it is just mental/emotional garbage that might have a gem or two in it for follow-up, and maybe not.

      Sometimes I just start writing by complaining about why it’s hard to get started on writing about a given topic. That helps me find my real motivation/inspirations about the topic, even what anger or animus may lurk behind my desire to address an issue. Getting emotional bias on the table, so to speak, also gives me insight into myself that enables me to write a better, more “objective” article.

      The core motivator is recalling the inspiration lying behind my interest. Finding the native enthusiasm helps to get my ideas and words going. And if it is a required writing task for work or school, for example, letting words rip around the requirement issue is also a way I get my own energies going.

      And there come times when this kind of clearing process moves me into my creative flow such that I then like to sit back and let it become a reverie. In this state of mind, ever-new ideas often arise that then inform my subject all the more.

      It’s amazing how much creativity lurks behind the clutter of every-day mind, or “The Maitrix” in popular parlance these days. So when it comes to practicing meditation for higher connection, writing like this is as good as a mantra, visualization or breathing practices!

      Please let me know if this helps.

  2. I am 29 years old and have been diagnosed with ADHD. I just started taking Concerta today 36 mg once a day. All day I have felt out of control and extremely sick. Is this going to improve with time? Also I am a former meth addict (clean for 10 years) I informed my doctor of this yet he still prescribed me the Concerta instead of Strattera.

    • I would get back with your doctor immediately and explain your reaction to the drug. I am not qualified to say for sure if these symptoms will go away over time, or with a change in dosage up or down. I must ask, is your doctor a psychiatrist, and do you know if he/she has training in ADHD? I’d outright ask. We’re so often intimidated by docs that we don’t question their expertise and advice. I’d ask if he/she has attended any conferences or received specific training in ADHD, especially its medication protocols. Now if right off she/he is not a psychiatrist, I would stop the medication and seek a second opinion from a psychiatrist whom you learn has ADHD experience. In my own med trials to find out which med worked for me, I had three different terribly unpleasant reactions before I found one that worked. I struggled with the negative reactions on one for three days before I dropped it; and when the other two were bad, I quit them right away. I understand these meds leave your body very very quickly, so there should be no harm in stopping cold-turkey. Let me know how it goes.

  3. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you
    do not mind. I was interested to know how you
    center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?


    • Thanks for the kind words, Jame. Funny thing is, my inspiration for writing doesn’t come with centering. It comes with a flash of passion to say something that’s gripped me. That said, I would argue that those first 10 to 15 minutes are not wasted at all. I’d imagine this to be just your creative metabolism at work, or that like athletics, it’s your natural warm-up time. For another perspective on it, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Love, Pray) TEDX talk on the root of the word genius. She has an amazing way of talking about that voice seeking expression through writing. Finally, I’d say honor your impulse to write more than being concerned about the product. Oh, and maybe even look more closely at that creative impulse. Look closely enough and I bet you’ll find it just another way you want to express Love.

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