Attention Deficit Disorder

By Paulo Coelho

My friends in myspace touch some subjects that are really important for us. In the previous post, one of them mention that love was not a priority, and many of you had a chance to manifest your vision of love ..:

(By the way, as myspace was mentioning “sorry an expected error…etc”. I posted three times the subject, then I had to delete two, and some comments were also deleted). The same thing happened with this one, so if you subscribe, please forget the previous and make the comment using this post.

This time, one of the friends mentioned that her child has Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD). It is funny because the first time that I heard about it was from Nancy, an American myspace friend who came to Paris to meet me. According to Nancy, you put a child in a room with several toys, and IF the child does not get lost, she does not have ADD.

I can guarantee you: I would be immediately diagnosed as a severe case, because being a child (and even as an adult) I pay attention to everything and nothing.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

From that conversation with Nancy on, the subject started popping up in several conversations, and I got this as a sign. I started reading on the subject, and besides some concrete medical cases (like brain injury, for example), I really don’t believe that this is something that should be taken into consideration. Allan Greespan, the former Fed Chairman, was a musician till very late in his life, before deciding to go in economics. I am a writer, but I can be totally distracted if someone starts talking about archery (one of my passions).

I am not a doctor, but I lived in times where we took life as it is. I found a quite interesting text on internet, saying that people who are now between 40 and 60 years could not technically survive if we take the parameters that we use today.

Cradles were painted in bright colors that are now considered “dubious” because they could contain lead or some other dangerous element.
I am part of a generation that built the famous ball-bearing carts (I do not know how to explain this to today’s generation – let’s say they were metal balls held between two iron arcs) and we would roll down the hilly streets of Botafogo using our shoes as brakes, falling, hurting ourselves, but ever so proud of our high-speed adventure.
There were no cellular phones, our parents had no way of knowing where we were: how could that be possible?

Children were never right, they were always being punished, but even so they did not have psychological problems of rejection or lack of love.

At school there were good students and bad students: the good ones passed, the bad ones had to repeat the year. This was not a reason for consulting a psychotherapist – they just had to repeat the year.
And even so we survived with some scratched knees and few traumas. Not only did we survive, but we also fondly remember the time when milk was not poison, when children had to solve their problems without any help, fought when they had to, and spent a great part of the day without electronic games, inventing their own games with their friends.
I am worried about the children of tomorrow, with their parents with mobile phones, psychotherapists helping at each defeat and – above all – being diagnosed with ADD when curiosity is very important to be able to find our personal legend.

Now please feel free to comment or even insult me. This is an open forum.


  1. Puhon says:

    Thank you for your publish, i liked reading through it. I do not concur with it all however it was a good post.

  2. Sheeva says:

    Here is a pretty neat little thing from Paul Harvey.

    We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

    For my grandchildren, I’d know better.

    I’d really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and home-made ice cream and leftover meatloaf. I really would.

    My cherished grandson, I hope you learn humility by surviving failure and that you learn to be honest even when no one is looking.

    I hope you learn to make your bed and mow the lawn and wash the car “” and I hope nobody gives you a brand-new car when you are sixteen.

    It will be good if at least one time you can see a baby calf born, and you have a good friend to be with you if you ever have to put your old dog to sleep.

    I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

    I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it is all right to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you’ll let him.

    And when you want to see a Disney movie and your kid brother wants to tag along, I hope you take him.

    I hope you have to walk uphill with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.

    If you want a slingshot, I hope your father teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books, and when you learn to use computers, you also learn how to add and subtract in your head.

    I hope you get razzed by friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and that when you talk back to your mother you learn what Ivory soap tastes like.

    May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on the stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

    I hope you get sick when someone blows smoke in your face. I don’t care if you try beer once, but I hope you won’t like it. And if a friend offers you a joint or any drugs, I hope you are smart enough to realize that person is not your friend.

    I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandpa or go fishing with your uncle.

    I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through a neighbor’s window, and that she hugs you and kisses you when you give her a plaster of paris mold of your hand.

    These things I wish for you “” tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness.

  3. Layal says:

    Dear Paulo, I agree with you we live in a crazier world day after day after day. I always said I would never bring a child into this world, I ended up with one girl(3 years) hoping that she will have some of the good days.

  4. Bob says:

    My wife and i have a child (an enthusiastic red haired girl) that is very active, very talkative and border-less becoming border-ful . I applaud the devotion put into action by marc. It is inspiring and motivating for my wife and i to hear such stories of triumph. Our society wants to put people in boxes and continuously create labels of people, only to realize later how little we understand about ourselves and the One that has created us. Soon they will create a label for the silent child which will need to be given a drug to be more active, or the child that asks too many questions to be silenced. Maybe all of these children with their natural innate yet diverse characters are our gifts to grow, our last chance at realizing our forgotten “Dream”, our motivation to be more than we have been. Maybe they are the last life-jacket for a society hung-up on a continual drug of me and i which has only caused too much misery to this planet.
    Our daughter hasn’t been diagnosed but there are some telltale signs and we are struggling more with teachers and schools that are fixed on fitting her in. At the same time we are working with her to focus on the task at hand because she is an exuberant, intelligent, joyful and enthusiastic bomb! All in all, our family, our lives, would not be the same without this gift that we are learning to earn.

  5. Erik says:

    A friend of mine knows a lot about ADD. It is often diagnosed wrong, and being treated nowadays with addictive drugs that only could manage the problem, but never solves it. You see people getting skinny and life fading from their eyes when on Ritalin.

    The pharmaceutic industry does great deals in making drugs that don’t solve problems, so they can sell more.

    But concentration problems, like living in a mist your whole life, could be caused by many things. One of them is a sleeping disorder. Or a food-intolerance (for example gluten, that is in pasta, bread, cereals) causing a serotonine shortage. There are many ways that can be solved by blood and urine research and a special diet with certain food supplements.

    ADD comes with the feeling of knowing there is more inside than comes out. Chaotic but creative because you have to live with this kind of mind. Forgetting birthdays, paying bills, bringing books back to the library, allways being late, forgetting the time.

    I like people with the syntomes of ADD a lot. They are mostly artists, and are used to folowing their hearts.

  6. Barbie says:

    I agree. When I was a child, there was little ADD – and it was usually the child whose parents hadn’t instilled enough ‘fear’ in him…not fear of them, but fear of consequences.

    The bottom line is we all must learn coping mechanisms. Our society is good for giving natural things names and prescribing meds for them. Meds that do long term damage and prevent the development of natural coping mechanisms…I am pretty sure as a child I had and even as an adult have what people would call ADD – but my parents got me straight.

    I still struggle with focus…and even hyperactivity at times – but I manage because I learned to as a child. My parents accepted on my excellence…there were no excuses.

    Todays children are giving and being encourage to give too many excuses…excuses are tools used by the ignorant that make monuments out of nothing…and those who specialize in them seldom amount to anything. An excuse is always the opposite of action. Inaction usually isn’t the way to progress.

  7. addeline says:

    i don’t believe in giving drugs especisally when it is something like Add , diagnosed willy nilly these days. the same applies for all type od mentally disorders. I have a child who has a mental illness, although the medical profession was very understanding wnd prescribed the omega 3 plus the medications, i believe that we can do better and do without the medications – love and understanding plays a big part – research saus that in a country like Italy the mentally ill people fare better because of the family unit being stronger (all pulling in together).

    1. Marie-Christine says:

      Researches also show that Latin countries fare better in human contact (touching people) (180 times) in an hour against 90 I think in France and a very small proportion as low as 2 in the English speaking countries.

  8. Gael Johnson says:

    It is my opinion, agree or disagree, that children learn differently. The traditional classroom labels and forces conformity and mediocrity disallowing a child to grow as his soul encourages. Could the “lack of attention” paid to what a teacher feels is important at a precise moment be also due to the poor quality of food a child is provided? Too much tv? Too little attention to his needs? Some of us are needier than others and require a bit more patience and a bit more love. I know that several adults have found peacefulness with this label, but it is never too late to honor the child who was deprived as a child in the adult who still has needs and hopefully will always maintain that part of him/her that needs love. I beg you to find the courage to be who you are, without the need for labels (and medication).

  9. Amy says:

    I have to disagree. While there are certainly cases where the diagnosis ADD is overused, I think there is a difference between ADD and curiosity. In the latter, one may often wish to switch subjects or passions, but that person is capable of giving their passion to what truly interests them.

    I believe I would have been diagnoses as ADD had my mother not assumed I’d grow out of it. Later in life, I made great changes to my diet and changed some unhealthy habits. The difference it made was huge. It was like I had been walking around in a fog all my life and suddenly it was sunny out. I would hate to think by ignoring ADD as a real problem, somebody would miss out on feeling the changes I did by not looking at the real problems. For the record, I think drugs are a band aid treatment and are at best short term solutions.

    1. Linda says:

      My granddaughter has been “diagnosed” with ADD. Would you please give me details about your diet?

  10. marc says:

    I strongly agree with your view of ADD. My oldest son is a poster child for ADD. He is and was extremely strong willed and unfocused. Doctors encouraged us to consider medication and therapy. However we did not and would not consider this as an option. We toughed it out with him. We made it clear that there were expectations and that it was assumed that he would rise to them. We also challenged him to become “situationally aware” (borrowing a term from the Marines). This was mainly to channel his energy and exuberance into an awareness of his surroundings and how he fits within them. What resulted from this was a laser focus on whatever he was working on. This seems ironic that forcing him to be aware of his surroundings (i.e. distractions) would make him more focused. The result is that he finished high school as the Valor Victorian of his class, he earned his Eagle Scout award, and earned and almost perfect SAT score. He was recently accepted into one of the top colleges in our State. All of this was done with love and patience not drugs.

    What worries me is the automatic acceptance by parents that these drugs will solve their problems. They can give a child a pill and they behave and learn. However, I truly question if this is in the best interest of the child. It certainly solves the problem in the short term. But at what long term expense? There may well be some children that need this treatment. But what I cannot believe is how common ADD is.

    The raising and education of our children is the primary job of the parents. This will require tremendous sacrifice and patience. How can we expect great things from our children, when we do not put in the effort.

  11. David Jan says:

    I agree and disagree… hehe… as someone who would easily also be diagnosed with ADD and who has found his personal legend and is incredibly curious AND as a child and family therapist who serves parents and kids who have been diagnosed with ADD and/or are convinced that such labels may be useful to them… I respect the search of my clients to find a way to reconcile their “madness” their wanderlust… the frustration they feel when their child is running rampant and in front of a car… with the sense of love and deeper knowing that the person who is distracted is okay and fine the way they are. Ironically, at our clinic we have found the way of the Warrior to be one path these kids will choose and benefit from… asking them to still their minds and learn the skill of focussing it where and when they need to rather than they or authority figures believing that the monkey mind is “controling” them. In all, I would say that balance is important and love first, along with a concrete way ( not drugs or labels) to help us come back to wholeness.

  12. Sacheen says:

    I agree with your point of view. I have a child with this condition diagnosticated since he got 3 years old, and something that you forgot to mention is the fact that it is not only that the childrens have to go to a therapist, they medicate those childrens too. These childrens are very intelligents they just need patience and LOVE, but I think, and correct me if i’m wrong, that science just need to diagnosticated even more and more diseases for many reasons and one of them is because the money $$$….”You have that disease you need medication and you need to use it for the rest of your life” There is something about all this…