A: How many people with ADD does it take to change a light-bulb?
B: I don't know? How many?
A: Want to go to the movies?
Since I quit drinking, I've been doing a lot of talking and reading about addiction and the psychology of obsession. One path of inquiry lead me to the notion that obsessive compulsive disorder was often behind addictive behavior and that replacing one type of obsessive behavior with another wasn't a "cure" for the "disease". They seem to have a name for just about every kind of behavior, and interestingly enough, a medical "cure" for such diseases. I've been trying to face my demons and banish them so I can lead a more simple and fulfilling life.
Recently, someone told me that psychiatry was the only area of medicine where doctors "voted" to determine what sorts of behavior were considered diseases and should be treated. The assertion was that the drug companies created incentives for doctors to classify behaviors which had medical methods of neutralization as diseases. Many of these behaviors, my friend asserted, were natural human behaviors that some people had and didn't require a cure.
Now I'm back to trying to figure out what parts of my personality I should change and what parts of my personality are actually features and not bugs. Of course the first step is to know yourself and identify the demons and quirks. Most personality traits have benefits and drawbacks and designing your life to maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities is probably a good thing.
Today, I had dinner with David Smith who has ADD. I think his ADD is worse than mine. We talked about a mutual friend who has, as David puts it, "terminal ADD". We talked about the hyper-focus that ADD provides and ways that you can use ADD to do things many people can't do. Harnessing ADD, rather than neutralizing it has interesting benefits. We talked about how modern society has allowed many people, who might have been dysfunctional in the past, to make valuable contributions to society. It's interesting how labels and the notion of disease can cause people to blame these things for their problems instead of trying to figure out how to turn these bugs into features. I realize that some people really do have diseases and I'm not trying to belittle their struggle. What I'm saying is that before we label ourselves and start taking therapy and drugs we ought to think about how all of these elements interact to create the human being that we are and place this in the unique context that each of us are in.