Thom Hartmann states from the beginning of this book that he is not a medical expert in ADD. His insight comes from years of working with abused and instutionalised children, and his own son's diagnosis of ADD.
The original title of this book was 'Hunter in a Farmer's world'. Hartmann's theory is that ADD is not a disease, or a fault in the brain, but that a number of people are mentally adapted to being 'hunters' as opposed to the majority who are 'farmers'.
A farmer understands that time and patience is needed to complete a project, and that land must be prepared and cultivated, seeds sown and a crop will grow. A hunter must live by his wits, constantly scanning the environment for his quarry or danger. He must be able to act quickly to catch his prey or avoid becoming prey. Hartmann suggests that while most of the (western) population are naturally farmers, it is the minority of hunters who are diagnosed with ADD.
The 'symptoms' of ADD, restlessness, constantly noticing tiny distractions, impulsive, yet able to hyper focus on a single project with no appreciation of the passing of time are all useful skills to a hunter. However a child or adult with these personality features will find themselves at odds with a world where consistency and forward planning are the norm.
So Hooray for Hartmann's ideas. ADD should not be regarded as an illness but a personality type. We simply must accept that people are different and find them a learning method and a career which suits them.
The book is full of personal stories from ADD individuals, young and old, some diagnosed early, some in adulthood. There is some ambivalence in its attitude to the use of prescribed drugs in 'treating' ADD. Some quoted that it really helped them; others that it made them feel muddy. It also discusses the tendency of many undiagnosed ADD people to 'self-medicate' with alcohol or illegal drugs, and that Ritalin may be a better solution for people who may endanger themselves in this way.
I will always agree with someone who promotes acceptance of people's differences and for taking someone's strengths, in this case energy, decisiveness and creativity, and using them. The book reminds us that medical opinion should always be sought in these matters, and that the drugs discussed should only be prescribed by a doctor or physician.
If you or a child has ADD this book should at least help you feel that you are not 'wrong' or ill. You have a certain set of skills which are not appreciated. The book lists several well-know figures who have been diagnosed or are thought to have been ADD, and shows how both their successes and failures can be attributed to the condition. I believe this book should give comfort, by giving a positive perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.