Warning to Pessimists: I May Be Wrong, But You’re Not Right

I know there is going to be a small legion of people (pessimists) out there who will to try their best to poke holes in everything I have to say. I welcome critical appraisals that challenge me to think and question my ideology. I don’t think blindly. But some people have a tendency to point out flaws for no other reason than to disagree.

Bring it, I say.

But first ask yourself, why are you even reading this? Be sure of your response before you answer, because I ask with an intuitive knowing what your latent intention is. Usually, it is some combination of the following phenomena:

–        You are jaded about something in your own experience and you haven’t found a way to get past it. The best way to bring yourself up is to pull other people down.

–        You flaunt your intelligence by deconstructing and criticizing someone else’s attitude because it makes you feel right about yours.

–        You are frequently negative, so by nature you subconsciously put a negative slant on things making them cohesive with your view – anything that doesn’t fit with the way you see things must be wrong.

To those legions of naysayers (who argue for argument’s sake), I truly wish you well but I am officially uninviting you from coming on this journey. If you choose to follow along, it is by your own choice and at the risk of your own nerves. I am not here to convert anyone who wants to wallow in the misery of their ADD. I am here to promote, inspire and motivate those who allow ADD to be a part of them, but do not grant the deficit model to govern their entire view of themselves.

But in the spirit of debate, I’m not shy of poking holes in my own theories. Holes could be stated as follows:

There is no science to suggest that ADD is a gift.

Yep, you’re right. There are camps of people who believe ADD is a gift. I’m not sure I totally support that idea; however, I will not deny the fact that having ADD can bring with it some strengths. There is science to suggest a strong link between certain genes (the 7R allele of DRD4 gene) and ADD, and these genes have had a specific advantage, evolutionarily speaking. More about that in a later post.

Telling people there are benefits to ADD is giving them false hope.

I am not telling anyone that life with ADD is wonderful, easy, or even something to aspire to (let’s face it – if you don’t have it, you probably can’t get it). I am not selling snake oil that intoxicates people with a notion of a perfect life, free from adversity. If you have ADD, then you already know what it is you are dealing with.

What I am selling is the idea that because of the adversity, you can bring strengths to the table that other people may not possess. People who are blind often have more acute hearing than others. That could be construed as a strength. It doesn’t mean they don’t wish they could see, it just means they use what they have got to the best of their abilities. And maybe they use some of those things just a little better than people who have all their senses do.

In the grand scheme of things, ADD isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. However, if having ADD has made you live your whole life feeling as if you aren’t good enough, it can certainly make it feel that way. Pessimists are prime example of this.


Playing to the strengths of an ADDer excuses bad behaviour and stops them from trying harder.

This is the single most damaging idea that ADDers and non-ADDers alike have about it. ADD has never been associated with a lack of moral character, any more than impotence has been connected to effeminate tendencies.

And anyway, when has being negative and ruminating on flaws ever done anyone any good? Unless you’re a poet or philosopher, negative rumination is probably going to do only one thing for you – hold you back.

The learned-helplessness model (see Martin Seligman and company) shows that people can be conditioned to give up trying when they believe they are powerless to change their situation. Finding opportunities to excel shows people where their power is.  What harm could amplifying your strengths do, apart from maybe depleting your deficits?

There are no strengths of ADD, only deficits.

Clearly, the bumblebee does not know that it is aerodynamically impossible for it to fly – because it does. Richard Branson was a high-school dropout. Thomas Edison was a third-grade drop out. For anyone to define a strength by merit of whether or not it is normal, assumes that being normal is, in and of it’s self –  a strength. You could argue that almost any attribute could be a personal strength, depending on what you do with it.


So there you go, you now have four ready-made responses if anyone challenges the view that your ADD has certain strengths. If I’ve missed any obvious holes to my own theories, please don’t hesitate to point them out in the comments below. We can meet at the O.K. Corral at dawn, just remember to bring your pistols.

In all seriousness, I would love to hear any of your objections or ideas about my theories, and especially any of your experiences when having ADD has been advantageous.

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9 comments on “Warning to Pessimists: I May Be Wrong, But You’re Not Right

  1. Good luck on your website. When I first read this post I immediately began constructing rebuttals, to the tune of two pages. I have been following your twitter posts and was concerned that this post signified that you and I were of two differing minds on AD/HD and I wouldn’t be able to get over that difference to be helped by the site. I chose to delete my post and wait instead. There were subtleties, nuances, and caveats which – if explored – would keep this site interesting for me.

    I am glad I waited.

    I still think that the uniqueness and creativity that comes with AD/HD comes from a lifetime of living outside of normal. I have learned to be creative because the mundane and menial are denied to me. I am glad I waited because as much as I don’t think AD/HD has intrinsically given me anything, being reminded that I can choose to draw strength from my experiences is good for me. After all, there are worse things to be denied than banal thinking.

    I hope you never go so overboard with your positive message that it down plays the damage that AD/HD can cause, but I wanted to take this moment to give you some encouragement. So far you’ve a great job walking the line between encouragement and speaking towards reality. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Aland – Thanks for your input and your straight-up critique. I am glad that my message seems to be getting across the way I intend it. In no way do I want to paint a rose tinted view of ADD. Focusing only on the positives is unrealistic and serves no one. At the same time, there is a plethora of very good writing out there that focuses almost solely on griping about the negatives of ADD, so I figured that market had already been cornered 🙂 I do hope to give a realistic view of ADD while at the same time maintaining a positive outlook. Its great to have some critical appraisal and I welcome your input on my future posts! Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and offer your feedback!

  2. It’s actually a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Truly a fantastic way to look at what most people would call a disorder. ADD, Autism and many other so called mental health disorders are finally becoming appreciated for their unique and sometimes outstanding contributions to our societies throughout the ages. This is due to people like you, Andrea. To have the passion and talent to “speak up” and “shout out”, you are changing the worlds’ conception of what, for so long, has been called disorders, may actually have been a planned and necessary part of our sociological makeup from day one of Creation. Many thanks for giving them a voice, Andrea!

  4. “……you can bring strengths to the table that other people may not posses….”. This is you over and over and over again.I don’t know if it’s because of your ADD, inspite of it, or has nothing to do with it, but I think you are simply brilliant. Your continued success amazes me, but doesn’t surprise me in the least. You are making a real difference in this world, especially for add’ers. Fantastic blog, I can’t wait to read more!

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