Scattered Minds: The Origins And Healing Of Attention Deficit Disorder


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Many Roads Not Travelled

Part 1: What is ADD?

To get through each day, natures that are at all high strung, as was mine, are equipped, like motor cars, with different gears. There are mountainous, arduous days, up which one takes an infinite time to climb, and downward-sloping days which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Attention deficit disorder is defined by three major features, any two of which suffice for the diagnosis: poor attention skills, deficient impulse control, and hyperactivity.

The hallmark of ADD is an automatic, unwilled tuning out, a frustrating non-presence of mind. People suddenly find that they have heard nothing of what they have been listening to, saw nothing of what they were looking at, remember nothing of what they were trying to concentrate on. One misses information and directions, misplaces things, and struggles to stay abreast of conversations. Tuning out creates practical hardships, and it also interferes with ones enjoyment of life. A continuous and whole experience of music is unknown to me, a high school teacher said. My mind is off wondering after only a few chords. It is a major exercise for me even to hear one brief song through on my car radio. There is a sense being cut off from reality, an almost disembodied separation from the physical present. I feel like I am a human giraffe, is how one man described it, as if my head is floating in a different world, way above my body.

Can’t Listen To Narrator

I opened an Audible account specifically so I can listen to this book, as well as another book of Mate’s: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I listened to Hungry Ghosts first, and I loved it. I was even more excited to listen to Scattered, since I myself have ADD. Unfortunately, the narrator is too distracting for me to be able to focus on the actual content.I read in another review that there is a version of this book at that is narrated by Daniel Gabor, who did an amazing job reading “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts”, so I opened another Audible account at, but it turns out I can’t purchase the other version of Scattered without having a Canadian mailing address.I am so frustrated. I’ve tried multiple times to listen to this book, but I absolutely can’t get past the narrator’s voice and inflection. I’m now about to purchase the book through eBay and hope I can manage to focus long enough to read the whole thing…

23 people found this helpful

The Defiant Ones: Oppositionality

And one may choose what is contrary to ones own interests and sometimes one positively ought Ones own free unfettered choice, ones own caprice, however wild it may be, ones own fancy worked up at times to frenzy What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From The Underground

Steven, a thirty-eight year old labour relations officer for a large company, was referred to me for ADD assessment. He was respected as a creative individual who brought original and innovative thinking to his work. A skilled negotiator, he was able to approach any situation from new angles and unique perspectives that could break a logjam when everyone else was stuck. I do things nobody else would dream of doing, but I feel I could be doing a lot more, he said. At times he would impulsively take on problems and responsibilities beyond his experience or control. This propensity for risk-taking had brought him and his company near the precipice of disaster more than once. As I wrote in my consult letter to his family doctor, it is a tribute to Stevens daring, acumen, and creativity, and thanks to some good luck, that so far he has avoided catastrophic consequences to his original and idiosyncratic approach to his work.

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Justifying Ones Existence: Self

If you persist in throttling your impulses you end by becoming a clot of phlegm. You finally spit out a gob which completely drains you and which you only realize years later was not a gob of spit but your inmost self. If you lose that you will always race through dark streets like a madman pursued by phantoms. You will be able to say with perfect sincerity: I dont know what I want in life.

Henry Miller, Sexus

I have wasted most of my life, said Andrea, a fifty-year old unemployed woman. I have achieved nothing, I have no excuse for existence. I havent justified my existence yet.

Guilt, shame, and self-judgement are commonly heard when one interviews adults with attention deficit disorder. Low self-esteem and a merciless self-criticality are so much part and parcel of the ADD personality that it would be difficult to know where ADD ends and low self-esteem begins. Many of the traits thought to be caused by attention deficit disorder are, I am convinced, not the expressions of the specific neurophysiological impairments associated with ADD but of low self-esteem. Workaholism, drivenness, and inability to say noall endemic in the adult ADD populationare some of the examples discussed in this chapter.

Characteristically, what this man did not think to write was: I want to learn to accept myself.

Book Great Narrator So So

Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention ...

Great book. I read this years ago and found it an excellent resource for parents and adults with ADHD, too. Most of the books I’ve found on ADHD are geared more to parents, and so I really appreciated that this was useful for adults who were never diagnosed. The narration is so so. I far prefer Daniel Maté’s narration – he narrated Gabor Maté’s other titles: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts When the Body Says No, and Hold On to Your Kids. I found a copy of Daniel narrating Scattered Minds on – it just opened recently – but not sure if Daniels version is on the USA site or not. Wish I’d known it was there before I purchased this version.Daniel is Dr. Maté’s son and he does a great job with these titles. He’s warm and sincere. Barry Abrams is okay, but rather dry – or maybe his reading just doesn’t feel as connected to the text as Daniel’s narration. I’m not sure what it was, but I found that I had to work a bit harder to follow this narration. If the reader isn’t really connecting with the text, then I find it hard to stay focused. Abrams doesn’t quite have the audible compassion Daniel brought to the other audiobooks by this author. And I also found Daniel’s narration very helpful in making sense of the science parts in In the Realm and When the Body Says No. I didn’t have to back-up and go over difficult sentences. Solid inflection can do that for an audiobook.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Performance1 out of 5 stars

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So Much Soup And Garbage Can

Medicine tells us as much about the meaningful performance of healing, suffering, and dying as chemical analysis tells us about the aesthetic value of pottery.

Ivan Illich, Limits To Medicine

Until four years ago I understood attention deficit disorder about as well as the average North American doctor, which is to say hardly at all. I came to learn more through one of those accidents of fate that are no accidents. As medical columnist for The Globe and Mail, I decided to write an article about this strange condition after a social worker acquaintance, recently diagnosed, invited me to hear her story. She had thought I would be interestedor more likely she sensed it, with a gut-level affinity. The planned one column became a series of four.

To dip my toe in was to know that, unawares, I had been immersed in it all my life, up to my neck. This realization may be called the stage of ADD epiphany, the annunciation, characterized by elation, insight, enthusiasm, and hope. It seemed to me that I had found the passage to those dark recesses of my mind from which chaos issues without warning, hurling thoughts, plans, emotions and intentions in all directions. I felt I had discovered what it was that had always kept me from attaining psychological integrity: wholeness, the reconciliation and joining together of the disharmonious fragments of my mind.

All my life I had known no other way to be.

Such An Informative Read

I was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type this year, and found this book very helpful for building a foundational understanding of the childhood developmental aspects of ADHD. I was concerned that as someone who does not really experience hyperactivity that I would feel invalidated by this book, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. I didnt love the narrator off the bat, but grew into his cadence after a couple of chapters. Overall recommend if you havent yet explored the implications that childhood development has for adult ADHD.

5 people found this helpful

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The First Book I Should Have Read On This Subject

I have read a ton of material on ADHD, the supposed top ones and each of them looks at it as a disease with a reactive set of answers to living with it and/or manage it. Gabor Mate has a completely different perspective on the subject looking at how ADHD is something that is learning to manage emotions and dealing with the emotions of people and kids struggling with it. As a person who has had ADHD since birth and struggled for over 50+ years with it, I feel I would have sped up my ideas on recovery if I had found this book five years ago when I was first diagnosed. Heartily recommend this to anyone who has or wants to assist someone else with this condition.

12 people found this helpful

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