Saturday, June 27, 2009

Literary folks, ADD, and RDS

Okay, so I've finished Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, and am currently reading Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder in anticipation of having one of our children evaluated. And, as life would have it, the more I read, the more I think I should have myself evaluated as well.

At any rate, I was reading something in it yesterday that really made sense, and in which I saw a lot of myself. I would have blogged about it last night, but A) I had a baby who didn't want me to blog, and B) I left my book at work.

So, here goes. From Delivered from Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell (this is heavily edited down to not be too long, so that's why it sounds more positive and doesn't include as many of the negative traits; bolding is mine):

I have been drawn to literary people my entire life.... I have always liked to write, and many of my closest friends are writers, editors, publishers, agents, columnists, or other kinds of workers in the word business. I have always been intrigued by a commonality I have noted in literary people. They tend to be highly creative, witty, ironic, a tad cynical, and a tad depressed.... They have an extraordinary eye and ear for what is genuine. They pick up on the telling detail-- a man's pulling up his socks as he talks, or a woman's licking her lips just before offering criticism-- others overlook. They like to know exactly what happened. They love gossip. They abhor hypocrisy and spot it in an instant. They love honesty, and yearn for one honest conversation in a day....

As a psychiatrist, I have come to think of the literary type in genetic terms. I believe they inherit the gene that predisposes towards RDS [reward deficiency syndrome], as well as the genes that predispose toward verbal dexterity, keen powers of observation, a highly developed sense of irony, and a touch of depression. Due to the RDS, they can't find sufficient pleasure in ordinary life. So they resort to extraordinary means. For example, they write. They submit to that unforgiving discipline to try to improve upon life by creating order, even beauty, out of chaos. That is an extraordinary effort to find ordinary pleasure. When it works, they get a squirt of dopamine, and some endorphins and other pleasure mediators as well. They can get a milder shot of pleasure in other "word" ways, such as through a witty conversation or by reading a piece of writing that they love.

I have a whole lot I could say about this right now, but think I may finish the book and give this some time to roll around within before taking it on as a full blog post. But for now, suffice to say, this definitely describes much of what I experience, and describes quite a few of the closest friends I've had over the years as well. Whether or not it's in any way pathological, or simply inspired, or both, I'm not sure.

No comments: