Driven to Distraction: A Lifeline for ADHD Sufferers

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1446 Words
Date:  2023-07-19

The comprehensive and groundbreaking 'Driven to Distraction' is a lifeline book that educates over 18 million Americans who predict to have been diagnosed with ADHD. The bestselling book is also upgraded and revised with updated medical information concerning the answers to ADHD (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Through case histories and vivid stories of patients (both children and adults), Ratey and Hallowell elaborate more on the various forms of ADD from daydreaming to hyperactivity. The essay will give a summary of the book and provide an analysis of the narration.

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Having worked with children with ADD and adults with ADHD, Edward Hallowell, a clinician, and pediatric psychiatrist decided to find out about the gifts that come with this condition despite the negative comments given by frustrated parents, teachers, and doctors. According to Hallowell, ADHD has always been mistreated, mislabeled, and misunderstood as a disability (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Most importantly, the authors talk about the positives that can be derived from the disorder, such as enthusiasm, creativity, intuitiveness, and high energy.

Due to this, the author decided to team up with Peter S. Jensen (a researcher that had a child with ADHD) to come up with information that would encourage everyone on ways of living with people with such conditions (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). The practical techniques applied by Jensen and Hallowell showed that people should put the charms, positive essence, and talent of their children ahead of the shortcomings of the condition. The authors also dispel the common myths to offer coping tools that give a clean account of the treatment options and ways of dealing with a diagnosed family member, partner, or child.


In 1981, Hallowell was invited in a lecture concerning children diagnosed with ADHD and learned that children with this condition also portrayed different syndrome (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Hallowell also recalls that when he was young, he was diagnosed with ADHD, but he never showed any symptoms. After the lecture, Hallowell decided to diagnose people with the same condition by using Conner's scale. In 2012, Hallowell was invited in an interview, and he said that America is full of ADHD genes derived from the colonizers as they were known to be violent people (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011).

The author also added that people with ADHD genes colonized the country, and that is why the current population is filled with the condition. Even though the nation is prosperous, it remains with violence. Hallowell also added that ADHD does not include hyperactivity but can have symptoms that are hard to follow but can be traced when people misplace things, get distracted easily, or are unable to finish school assignments (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Hallowell also proved that Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, and Einstein all had ADHD.

The Ideas of the Book

By 1994, 'Driven to Distraction' sparked an understanding of the deficit disorder. The book is also recognized as a classic because of having more than one million copies sold (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). The idea in the article discussed more on drug therapies, the role of exercise and diet, and the way people define the condition. The doctors also noticed that most people who suffer from the condition remain untreated and undiagnosed.

In the book, Ratey and Hallowell build breakthroughs that would elaborate more on the guidelines of living with people with ADD. Ratey and Hallowell also wanted to show the audience the nature of ADD by coming up with an abridged audiobook (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). The audiobook elaborated more that the genetic aspect of ADD has correlations between the person and the brain. Therefore, the condition must not be mentioned to be in the category of a neurological disorder.

The authors also insisted that a person that has ADD is different from self-indulgent or being lazy by claiming that there is a difference between the personality flaw and a medical disorder. The book, however, does not give any clear way of differentiating the two aspects except through the diagnosis method, such as behavioral methods offered by the American Psychiatric Association (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). The behavioral approach, as mentioned by the authors, does not mean the patient's motives and intentions, and so when they are diagnosed, their moral life must not be judged. Hallowell also asserts his statement because he was once diagnosed with ADD, and he believes that the existence of ADHD in adults can be rare or extreme.

The Authors Writing Style

As Ratey and Hallowell point out, ADD is a misleading definition of an intriguing mind. Brilliant, charismatic, original, and often energetic, patients with ADD portray excellent gifts and talents embedded in their distracted minds. Their book was written in style to tailor to ADD learning attention spans and learning techniques, and delivered from accessible distraction and discussions (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). ADD can also be diagnosed when a proper treatment regime is used.

Even though Hallowell claimed that ADD is a common disorder, every example used to define individuals with ADD has enormous problems. For instance, adults and children underperformed both in school and at work. Majority of them were emotionally fragile, short-tempered, compulsive, and some went through low self-esteem (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Hallowell's narration wanted to show that psychiatrists that are qualified in treating psychological diseases need to treat patients with ADD with a lot of confidence instead of making scientific judgments.

The reason behind Hallowell is that ADD is a syndrome and that no blood tests or neurological tests are required rather professionally implying the DSM-IV criteria and prescriptions of stimulants like Ritalin to treat the condition (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). The author also sensitized that ADHD is a condition that is diagnosed by a non-specialist, and so patients are required to see a specialist instead of a generalist.

For treatment, Hallowell adds that psychotherapy should be used to treat rather than the psychodynamic exploration of childhood diseases. The best treatment is behavioral-based coaching to assist patients to focus on their attention. The author also recommended the use of group therapy, medication, and couples therapy because they act as antidepressants or stimulants, best known to deal with ADD.

Without a doubt, patients that went through this treatment began doing better. Yet no one would imagine that if a group of lazy people gathered with the self-indulgent individual with low self-esteem was motivated to change, they would benefit from the combination (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). This type of writing clearly shows how simple methods can be used in dealing with such conditions instead of using scientific facts.

'Driven to Distraction' is performed well and written clearly. Individuals that have similar problems with emotions and focusing and result in consequences that result in distraction will be encouraged when they read this book because it shows them that their condition and be treated. Virtually the book has nothing to do with hyperactivity, and so it cannot assist parents that have children that jump all over the classrooms and houses while destroying everything (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011).

The biggest flaw of the book is in the readiness to medicalize attention deficit disorder. Writers of similar famous works should be careful when defining terms like genetic and neurological if they cannot prove beyond what has been highlighted in the book (Hallowell & Ratey, 2011). Many people reason that laziness is a genetic and neurological disorder, as seen in ADD. Still, the truth is that the brains of lazy people exhibit differences in what drives them. The same group also happens to come from lazy parents, and this is the likely hood as to why the children are too lazy.


It is wrong to say that ADD is a moral failing and a medical disease. The analysis of the article shows that people must be tenuous to distinct to differentiate between a medical condition and a social condition. The best way the authors have shown is that instead of being judgmental, people should understand that ADD is a condition that makes it hard for people to pay attention instead of claiming that it is a medical condition.

The virtue shown by 'Driven to Distraction' showed people should remain focus on providing practical suggestions when dealing with people with ADD and the challenges brought by distractibility. The book is also apparent by showing how ADD began in America and how the genes were transferred from the colonizers to the modern population. It is also clear that the reason why Hallowell wanted people to see the positive side of ADD is that when he was a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Therefore, he well understood how people with such conditions are treated.


Hallowell, E. M., & Ratey, J. J. (2011). Driven to distraction: recognizing and coping with attention deficit disorder from childhood through adulthood. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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Driven to Distraction: A Lifeline for ADHD Sufferers. (2023, Jul 19). Retrieved from

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