Driven to Distraction (1994)

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Driven to Distraction is a book by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey which investigates the nature of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Driven To Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood
Author Edward Hallowell and John Ratey
Country United States
Language English
Subject Attention deficit disorder
Publisher Pantheon Books
Publication date
Pages 319
ISBN 978-0-679-42177-1
OCLC 28631839
616.85/89 20
LC Class RC394.A85 H34 1994


The authors discuss ADHD from a medical perspective, describing it as a genetic neurological disorder. They discuss the diagnostic criteria of the disorder as listed in the DSM-IV and distinguish symptoms of ADHD, such as impulsivity and difficulty focusing on tasks, from personality flaws such as laziness or self-indulgence. According to the authors, ADHD symptoms are caused by neurological differences and cannot be changed at will or "cured," although they can be managed through coping strategies and medications. The authors describe the biological mechanisms thought to underlie ADHD symptoms and also describe a variety of subtypes of ADHD.

The authors discuss the effects that ADHD can have on the sufferer's life, including:

  • Underperformance at school as a child;
  • Underperformance at work as an adult;
  • Interpersonal difficulties, including short temper, impulsive behavior, and perceived irresponsibility;
  • Compulsive behavior and low self-esteem

The authors then discuss strategies for treating and coping with ADHD, including obtaining a diagnosis by a qualified professional, treatment with medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, symptom management through diet and exercise, and coping strategies.