A thorough examination of the hot new psychological syndrome, attention disorder deficit (ADD), formerly called hyperactivity and now believed to be neurological in origin, by two Harvard Medical School psychiatrists who have adult-diagnosed ADD themselves. According to Hallowell and Ratey, about 15 million Americans suffer from ADD. Symptoms include high activity, distractibility, daydreaming, impulsiveness, failure to complete anything from homework to a Ph.D., and language problems (ADD often coexists with learning disabilities such as dyslexia). The repercussions: children are often called stupid and lazy by parents and teachers; adults lose jobs, fail to achieve goals, and their relationships founder. Actually, many ADD sufferers have very high IQs, and the disorder, as the numerous adult-and-child case studies here show, cuts across all socioeconomic strata. Treatment combines psychotherapy and behavior modification, a ``coaching'' that encourages and reminds the patient, and drugs—85% of adults, the authors say, benefit from medication. Stimulants, such as Ritalin and Dexedrine, work on some, and desipramine antidepressants- -generally Norpramine—on others. Halowell and Ratey warn that a few children have suddenly died while on Norpramine. Because of the current tendency to medicate, they also stress that the diagnosis be rigorously made to avoid mistakes. To their credit, the doctors have gotten many patients back on track—and out of therapy—in a year. They stress independence, not reliance on one's therapist. A very responsible study for the layperson. According to the authors, the positive aspect of ADD—high creativity—should prevent stigma being attached to this highly treatable condition.
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