Full PreFrontal

Ep. 134: Edward "Ned" Hallowell, M.D. - ADHD: Marvelous, Magical, and Manageable

December 17, 2020 Sucheta Kamath Season 1 Episode 134
Full PreFrontal
Ep. 134: Edward "Ned" Hallowell, M.D. - ADHD: Marvelous, Magical, and Manageable
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Full PreFrontal
Ep. 134: Edward "Ned" Hallowell, M.D. - ADHD: Marvelous, Magical, and Manageable
Dec 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 134
Sucheta Kamath

If you come across a Wall Street trader, an ER physician, a trial lawyer, a sky-diving instructor, a trapeze artist, or a stand-up comedian, more than likely there is a race-car brain that has been well channelled in spite of its high propensity for intense stimulation and a desire to live on the edge. Experts say that a perennially super-charged and “always on the go” ADHD mode may or may not always translate into the most productive or fullfilling life because of the underlying executive dysfunction that results from the ADHD diagnosis. 

On today’s podcast, psychiatrist, NY Times bestselling author, and a leading authority in the field of ADHD, Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell discusses how the ongoing unexplained underachievement is the hallmark signature of of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); a challenging neurodevelopmental disorder. However, those with the right diagnosis and proper treatment can go on to unraveling their gifts which not only bring joy to themselves, but can benefit the world. 

Edward "Ned" Hallowell, M.D.
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D. is a board-certified child and adult psychiatrist, thought leader, NY Times bestselling author, world-renowned speaker and a leading authority in the field of ADHD. He is the Founder of The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School. He was a distinguished Harvard Medical School faculty member for 21 years and currently devotes his full professional attention to his clinical practice at the Hallowell Centers, speaking to audiences around the world, writing books and hosting the Distraction podcast. He has authored 20 books on various psychological topics, including ADHD, raising happy children, forgiveness, managing your "crazy busy” lives and most recently, his personal memoir. He has appeared on Oprah, CNN, Dr. Oz and other major networks. 

Books

Website:

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Show Notes Transcript

If you come across a Wall Street trader, an ER physician, a trial lawyer, a sky-diving instructor, a trapeze artist, or a stand-up comedian, more than likely there is a race-car brain that has been well channelled in spite of its high propensity for intense stimulation and a desire to live on the edge. Experts say that a perennially super-charged and “always on the go” ADHD mode may or may not always translate into the most productive or fullfilling life because of the underlying executive dysfunction that results from the ADHD diagnosis. 

On today’s podcast, psychiatrist, NY Times bestselling author, and a leading authority in the field of ADHD, Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell discusses how the ongoing unexplained underachievement is the hallmark signature of of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); a challenging neurodevelopmental disorder. However, those with the right diagnosis and proper treatment can go on to unraveling their gifts which not only bring joy to themselves, but can benefit the world. 

Edward "Ned" Hallowell, M.D.
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D. is a board-certified child and adult psychiatrist, thought leader, NY Times bestselling author, world-renowned speaker and a leading authority in the field of ADHD. He is the Founder of The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Medical School. He was a distinguished Harvard Medical School faculty member for 21 years and currently devotes his full professional attention to his clinical practice at the Hallowell Centers, speaking to audiences around the world, writing books and hosting the Distraction podcast. He has authored 20 books on various psychological topics, including ADHD, raising happy children, forgiveness, managing your "crazy busy” lives and most recently, his personal memoir. He has appeared on Oprah, CNN, Dr. Oz and other major networks. 

Books

Website:

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Sucheta Kamath  

Welcome to Full PreFrontal exposing the mysteries of executive function. It's always a pleasure to be with you all. One of my favorite things is to talk about how can we make ourselves better? How can we understand those who are around us, and particularly those who don't seem to be able to pay attention or not understand what the intention is sometimes not being on the same page. And it can lead to a lot of frustrations. And as a professional, I do this work in the field of executive function. But eventually when I present or talk to my colleagues, many people talk about this issue that you know what, I think I have ADHD, I think I know somebody who has ADHD. And so for the first time will be on this podcast talking about adults with ADHD. And it's such a pleasure of mine to introduce this amazing guest, Dr. Edward Hallowell. He goes with Ned, and he is a Board Certified child and adult psychiatrist, and thought leader, New York Times bestseller author, world renowned speaker and a leading authority in the field of ADHD. He's the founder of the Hallowell Centers in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle. He's a graduate of Harvard, Harvard College, and Tulane medical school. He has been a faculty member for 21 years as a distinguished Harvard Medical School faculty. And currently, he's a full time, I think he does many, many things. And one of the things I've been immersed in is in his own podcast, which I highly recommend listeners to do. But one of the things that brought him to a collective consciousness is one of his very, very famous books that he co authored with Dr. Reddy, which is called Driven to Distraction. So it's a great honor and privilege to be with you. Welcome to the show. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Thank you. Thank you, it's really nice to be with you.

Sucheta Kamath  

So since this show is about executive function, self-management, self-awareness, I like to ask my guests when you as a child became aware of your abilities, your strengths, your challenges. And was there anybody influential in your life when you are in when when you were a young person who guided you to discover more about your strengths and weaknesses? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Well, you know, I became very aware of one of my weaknesses in first grade because I couldn't learn how to read. And and back then if you couldn't read your diagnosis was you were stupid. And the treatment plan was to try harder. But I was very lucky because I had a first grade teacher by the name of Mrs. Eldridge, and she'd been teaching first grade for about 75 years. She didn't have any formal training and reading that I'm aware of, but she knew there were better ways to help kids who couldn't read then than calling them stupid and punishing them or ridiculing them. So what she did was very simple during reading period, when we'd be sitting at these roundtables, taking turns reading out loud, she would just come over and sit down next to me. And she was very plump, very rotund and so she'd put her arm around me, so I'd had this big, bulbous arm around my neck, and she would hug me into her copious. What's the word you use in a podcast? bazoom I guess and I'm imagining it. Yeah. And and I would feel so safe and so secure, and none of the other kids would laugh at me as I would stammer and stutter because I had the mafia sitting next to me. And that was the most wonderful intervention she ever could have done, the Mrs. Eldridge's arm. That arm has stayed around me ever since. Because I didn't feel ashamed of what I couldn't do. And by the end of the year, I was I was still the worst reader in the class. I have what we now call dyslexia. But But, but, but I was the most enthusiastic, bad reader. You know, I was the most enthusiastic student of reading in the class as well. And to this day, I'm a painfully slow reader. It takes me forever to read a book my wife says, I don't know how you know anything. You know, but but I majored in English at Harvard College and graduated with high honors while doing pre med that never would have happened. Had I had a different first grade teacher and and you know, that's why I say the real disabilities are not ADHD or dyslexia. They're fear and shame and believing, you know that you can't do something that you're less than. And then the other person sort of the other end bookending, early education was my 12th grade English teacher, Fred Tramallo, who handed in a three page story in September, and he handed back to me, and I can still see his red handwriting at the bottom of the final page. It said, Why don't you turn this into a novel? You know, and I was the only kid he challenged to do that. So I was flattered, but I was also terrified, write a novel short fly to the moon to, you know, it seemed completely impossible. But page by page, by the end of the year, I'd written a novel and it won the senior English prize. And, and what it did aside from, you know, turning me into a writer was was, it got me to prove to myself, that I could do something that I would have thought was impossible, that I, that I could do something that I would have thought was impossible. And that's such a gift to give someone at any age, if you can get a person to prove to themselves, not by complimenting them or cheerleading them, but by getting them to act, and do and perform something they would have thought was impossible, but you get that into your blood, and you keep trying. And I've been trying the impossible ever since you know, usually failing. But see, this success is in trying, that's the success that I love the game. And you know, whether I win or lose, I love the game. And that came from Mr. Tramallo. So Mrs. Eldridge and Mr. Tramallo, were the two people and, and you know, and it sort of highlights you know, what's so interesting about both ADHD and dyslexia. They both have serious challenges, vulnerabilities, disabilities, whatever you want to call it, associated with them. But they also have and this is the part of the general public tends not to realize tremendous talent, you know, and so I would say both of those conditions are markers of talent, and it's my job to help develop it. So I say to the people, I don't treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts. Now. Yeah, and but in the doing of that, you have to address challenges like I did have to learn to read even though I did it badly and slowly, and you know, haltingly I was able to do it, you can't major in English at Harvard without reading, you know, so and, and, and now I make my living by listening to words, speaking words and writing words, I've just handed in my 21st book. So So, you know, and yet I am challenged, you know, I'm a very slow reader, My mind goes off on tangents all the time. It's, you know, I'm constantly involved in, you know, more projects than I can handle, you know, so I have the full surface of ADHD, the ups and the downs. And, you know, there are major downs that can go with it, and major ups and so, you know, my job with myself and the people who come to see me is to maximize the upside and minimize the downside, you know, that the downside is pronounced, you know, the prisons are full of people with undiagnosed, untreated ADHD, so are the holes of the unemployed and the holes of the addicted and the holes of the multiple divorced and, you know, so this condition can be a horrible curse, but it can also be a superpower. And, and, you know, that's what you want to turn it into. And you do that, again, by minimizing the damage done by the downside, and then unwrapping the gift that's almost invariably embedded somewhere in there. And don't tell me that was finished the sentence just don't think because you're bad. At one thing. It does, it doesn't mean you're not really excellent at something else. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. I think what's so fascinating a First of all, I think you speak very beautifully about this Julius Siegel's concept of the charismatic adult, and it's that person's presence in a child's life, who brings hope, hope, there is that unconditional acceptance of that child, as is with big commitment to helping make the change, essential in spite of all the challenges, but I think you're talking about this second. And this is so evident in all the writing and the speaking that you do is this idea of really, really uncovering unveiling the gifts because I think they both are housed in side by side. So let's start in I was hoping to focus on and I don't know how to talk about that without talking about children. But I was wanting to focus on adults with ADHD. Why? What is ADHD in an adult? And why are so many adults are getting diagnosed so late in their life, like what happens to them in their early education that some of these challenges exist? But they get sidelined or never get fully unveiled as a disorder, or developmental disorders such as ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Because not enough people understand it know about it, simply, you know, I get people coming to me all the time, they said, well, the teacher said he doesn't have ADHD, the teacher has no right to say that the teacher doesn't know how to recognize this condition, particularly if the child is gets good grades, you know, if you do well in school, your chances of getting diagnosed are zip, unless you happen to come to see me or you know, someone who really understands it, and in this condition, need not be associated with failure. That mean it can be, but you can be I was first in my class, you know, and and, you know, nobody thought that I had any, but I have I'm twice exceptional. You know, I've got it dyslexia and ADHD, so, but I wouldn't have been diagnosed and back then nobody was smart and stupid. Like I said, Nobody, nobody knew about it. And to this day, if you're an adult woman, and you go for help 99 times out of 100, you'll get diagnosed with depression or anxiety and be put on an SSRI. And the the ADHD gets completely missed. Because the practitioner doesn't know about it, they don't know what to look for. They think it's hyperactive little boys, they don't realize that a partner at a fancy New York law firm can have ADHD, they don't realize that, you know, a president of the United States, you know, can have ADHD, they don't don't realize that you can be you know, a Nobel Prize winner, the guy who invented the polymerase chain reaction has ADHD had he passed away. But so people think you have to be struggling, you have to be failing, you have to be disruptive. And all of that, and it's just not true. So the the mental health profession, the medical profession is terribly, terribly educated about this, and they don't realize it, they just it's a list of symptoms in the DSM. And it's so much more than that. It's a way of being in the world, having this condition is a way of being in the world with positives and negatives. 

Sucheta Kamath  

So would you say executive dysfunction, inability to manage time organize thoughts, ideas, actions, not seeing the forest for the trees? Would that would those be good signs of somebody who is an adult will be struggling with if they have ADHD?

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Sure, but I think the most common tip off is simply unexplained underachievement, you can be you can be at the top of your profession and still be underachieving. You know, if only I could find the key I could do so much more. I have a self made billionaire in my New York practice, who said to me one day, If only I'd had this diagnosis sooner think what I could have done. I said you haven't done too badly. But you know, but there is this sense of, I could do more If only I could find the key. And the key is focus. That you know, the key is to being able to sustain focus is that. And again, deficit is such a misnomer. It's not a deficit of attention that we have, we have an abundance of attention. The challenge is to control it. 

Sucheta Kamath  

And not knowing where to pay attention to. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Yeah, yeah, we were completely driven by curiosity. The ADD mind is like a toddler on a picnic. It goes wherever curiosity leads it with no danger or authority. It's off into the woods off into the lake. You know, always looking into things curious. And you see and it really each of the negatives of ADD has a positive flip side. I mean,  

Sucheta Kamath  

Can you walk us through a few? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Sure. The flip side of distractibility is curiosity. If you didn't care, you wouldn't know what Oh, what's that over there? What's that over there? If you weren't curious, you wouldn't be distractible. So. So there's and ADD is full of these, these opposite pairs mean, the flip side of impulsivity, which is sort of Oh, so you so impulsively should get more discipline? Well, what is creativity? But impulsivity going right? It's fine. You don't you don't plan to have a new idea. You don't say it's two o'clock time for my new idea and then lay it like an egg. You know, you know, they, these new ideas pop, they come impulsively in the middle of the night, in the shower, driving to work, the spontaneous disinhibited, you know, and then and then hyperactivity, the third the sort of triad of symptoms, by which we define the condition is, you know, you get to be my age hyperactivity, we call it energy. I'm 70 years old, and I'm really glad I've got this little turbo pack on my back, you know, and so, so yes, there is a definite downside to this condition. No doubt about it. Like I said, the prisons, the addicted, but what most people don't know about is the tremendous upside and, and and it's not consistent. We tend not to be good at everything. We tend to be really good at a few things and awful and a bunch of others. You mentioned time management, you know, in our world are basically two times. There's now and not now. You know, so you say the paper is due next Thursday, not now. And it's gone until not now is almost now and then what it done and it we say we live pattern of chronic procrastination and what what you're doing unwittingly is you're self medicating because in a panic you put out a lot of adrenaline and adrenaline is nature's own stimulant medication 

Sucheta Kamath  

It propels you. Yeah, 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Yeah. And that's why people with this condition are drawn to high esteem professions, you know, trial attorney, brain surgeon trader, I'm a commodities exchange, racecar driver, all that kind of a huge preponderance of ADD in those professions.

Sucheta Kamath  

So I love that you make reference to this quote, it's anonymous, that "time is the thing that keeps everything from happening all at once." And so those who don't have this sense of passage of time, or have a way of gauging that the current state and future states are really living in the moment, which is great, but so many things happen for the future self. And so some of the sacrifices or kind of tempo, like, you know, like the delaying gratification is so that the future self benefits. So, 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

I think it was actually Tom Hartman, who said that, because really one of my patients years ago, gave me that line, "time is the thing that prevents everything from happening all at once." And I think he was quoting Tom Hartman. So anyway, it's a brilliant, it's so true. And it's a great way 

Sucheta Kamath  

I really thought about it when I was reading your work. And I said, That is so true, because one of the, I describe ADHD into as two characteristics. One is a time deafness and pattern blindness, so that our ability to detect patterns so that you can prevent a randomness, by recognizing themes. And that's one of the ways to streamline and organize your world. But that inability really causes a lot of chaos, because you're not able to superimpose any organization and structure. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

But at the same time, we're very good at making metaphors, you know, which is, after all, a way of defining a pattern, I mean, I'm one of my strengths is making metaphors for ADD, it's like you've got a racecar brain with bicycle brakes is one of them, and he has driving on square wheels and or you 

Sucheta Kamath  

Wait, that's just your intelligence, by the way, you're very, very intelligent. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

I think we do part of our creativity is we can we can make metaphors and, and, and yet at the same time, you're so right, we can also make messes, and more messes the metaphors. But you know, but one metaphor is probably, you know, worth 100 messages. 

Sucheta Kamath  

So, so, let's talk a little bit about the cost of ADHD, not for personal underachievement alone, but its impact on interpersonal connectivity, and particularly your ability to sustain, retain, and flourish, this human connection that is so valuable. In in order to compensate for some of the challenges right?  

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

You know, unidentified ADD can ruin relationships, the marriages and because the ADD was not diagnosed, and what typically happens is the the couple falls in love because it's new and exciting, and we love novelty. But then once the novelty wears off, and you settle into living together, what usually develops if the ADD is not identified and dealt with a parent child dynamic develops, and let's say the man has the ADD in the, in the wife, I keep calling it a ADD, because that's what it was called, when I learned about it, but ADHD. And the wife does not pretty soon the wife starts feeling like her husband's mother, because she's caretaker, I am reminding him, you know, and that's very anti romantic, you know, you know, you don't want to make love with your son or your mother, you know, and so, you know, the marriage breaks down, but if they get the ADD diagnosis, then you can fix it. You know, and I've seen it many times in my own practice, you know, marriages, right at the brink of ending, and then you bring in the concept of ADD, and you say to the wife, you know, he's not doing this on purpose, you see. And she says, He says, well does that make ADD an excuse? And I say, No, it's not an excuse. But it is a powerful explanation. It's not an excuse to get out of taking responsibility, but it is an explanation that can lead you to create ways of taking responsibility more effectively. And that's a huge deal. I mean, that's a marriage saver, and a career saver. I mean, so many, most of the creatives in any organization have ADHD. And half of them get fired because they can't be on time. They say whatever comes to mind, they insult people right and left the you know, the fart on elevators, you know, I mean, Do they do things that make them unpopular? And and and so you know, and so they get fired even though they've got more talent than most anyone there? 

Sucheta Kamath  

So So can you talk to this one challenge that exists along alongside with some of the challenges you described, which kind of come comes in the way of making personal progress, which is rigidity and, and resistance to suggestions by others, or being a little bit difficult? What are your thoughts about that, because I find that in my 20 years of experience, that if it's the person's idea, they tend to pursue it, follow it, but some of these ideas, they have flown by the seat of their pants, that and they have been successful by that approach in some circumstances, but then they adapt that approach to other circumstances, it doesn't work. And so when a therapist approaches, suggestions, processes, there's a little bit of resistance because it feels very confined, you know, confining, or it feels very imposing, what are your thoughts about that? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

We ADDers tend to be unbelievably stubborn. You know, we're, we're strong willed. And I'm really stubborn, whether it's a six year old or a 60 year old. And the best way to get us to do something is tell us not to do it. You know, it we we hate to be told what to do. I mean, most people don't like to be told, but we particularly we bristle if someone tells us what to do, and we dig in our heels, and you know, you get this pattern of struggle in couples and families and workplaces. At the same time, as I said, there's always a flip side, we tend to be unbelievably generous, big hearted giving, you know, give, take the shirt off your back, I mean, so you know, stubborn and rigid, one minute, and giving to the crowd the next minute. I mean, it's it's all these paradoxes. And and by the way, you know, the way to deal with that stubbornness is to appeal to reason, you know, you can say you really want to try this failed method a 30th time, do you really want to do that, you know, and you try to save the person from himself or herself? And they'll often say, Yeah, I do. And then they'll think about it. And then let's say, well, maybe I don't, maybe you have a point. So we're not, we're not terminally stubborn, we won't go to our death, you know, trying the same Bad idea over and over again, at least not too many of us. 

Sucheta Kamath  

And actually, I had David Burns, who is the founder of team CBT approach. And he has some phenomenal strategies for therapeutic resistance, which comes down to, as you mentioned, you know, like really empathic listening, building relationships, providing assurance, and then putting it back that sounds like you initially wanted to work on this, because this was not yielding you the success you wanted? And have, have you changed your mind? No, I haven't. So, you know, you also talk about you, right? I'm quoting you here that "while we all need external structure in our lives, some degree of predictability, routine organization, those with ADHD needed much more than most people, they need external structure so much, because they still lack internal structure." Can you speak a little bit about the mechanism of the internal structure? or lack thereof? Or does that mean?  

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Oh, the name of your podcast, you know, from Full Frontal. I mean, you know, we, we don't have full frontals you know, we just don't, you know, so. So, you know, that's probably why we're so creative. We have other other synapses that are doing coming up with new stuff, but the, the synapses that make the trains run on time, we don't have it. So we got to get it outside of our brain, you know, because it would, the inside part doesn't have it, you know, so. So we need lists, we need reminders. We need structure, one of the reasons you know, I did so well in my education is I went to highly structured schools, not military school, but very structured. And and, you know, people say, oh, structure impedes creativity. The opposite is true. Structure enhances potentiates creativity. Without structure, you have chaos, you know, so so beauty is really structured chaos, you know, you take the chaos of life, and you turn it into a painting or a sculpture or a dot novels, like, you know, you're bringing order out of chaos. And, you know, people say, well, it gets in the way of my career. I was like Shakespeare and Mozart, maybe the two most creative geniuses who ever lived certainly contenders for that prize. They both worked within unbelievably tight structures. Shakespeare was all iambic pentameter. And Mozart is like a sewing machine, and yet within those really tight forms, they created infinite variety and see that gives the line to this notion that structure inhibits create just the opposite structure. potentiates enhances creativity. Without structure, you have chaos. And that's our problem. Our problem again, you get opposites. Our problem is we create chaos. But our gift is we're usually very creative and able to impose structure on the chaos and create something of beauty, whether it's a business or a piece of art, or an elegant mud pie. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Yeah, I'm actually imagining this. So many of my patients that I work with have this challenge as well, that the chaos and the stress causes them to lose their mind lose their focus and lose their genuine gifts, they're not able to access it. But the time it takes to actually kind of sense the structure or like, abide by that structure, it looks very annoying to them. So I'm so glad that you're emphatically suggesting that now in your book, and you have many, many books, but well Driven to Distraction, you know, you talk about many, many strategies, and suggestions. So can we quickly review some of your favorite strategies? And particularly, I think, this concept, particularly since we are talking about adults with ADHD, this is this, this recommendation you have about making make a good choice in a significant other? So talk about that a little bit? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Yeah, well, those are the two keys probably to a happy life in general, but particularly with ADD, marry the right person, find the right job or partner with the right person and find the right job. And, you know, a lot of people are simply one right job away from an incredibly successful career, and they just keep continuing to labor in the wrong job. And the same thing with the choice of a mate, you know, I'm not a favorite, you know, I'm not saying go have a revolving door of marriages. But if you're in a, in a relationship that is not mutually satisfying. Get out of it, you're doing each other a favor, you know, it doesn't mean either one of you is a bad person, it just means it's a bad match. You know, and not, not every shoe fits every foot, you know, so you know, so you, you want to you want to be really careful. I mean, I stumbled into my marriage. We've been 31 years now the last person I was supposed to marry was my wife. I was supposed to marry some neurotic poet from Radcliffe, who liked martinis and smoke cigarettes. That's who I was destined to marry. Instead, I married this country girl from Virginia from a middle town in Virginia. Really? Yeah. Yeah. Who went to UVA? And I bet she was when I met her in a mental hospital. I love saying that I met my wife. And she was I was a resident in psychiatry, and she was a social worker. And I went out with her one night, and we've been going out ever since. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Wow. So what are your personality that that complements so much? With your crazy creativity and yet, disorganization? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

She's stable, sane, organized, you know, Rock of Gibraltar always there I love that always steady always the wind beneath my wings. We just always, you know, just, you know, she she was born happy. And she didn't have an ideal childhood but she had a good enough childhood and and she's just a happy woman. You know, she gets frustrated with one thing or another, but but she's just happy woman. And I have a very melancholy core, you know, because I had a pretty crazy childhood. And she's just the perfect. My melancholy. Yeah. Oh, my, my last book was I wrote about my childhood is called Because I Come from a Crazy Family. But I'll tell you how I was conceived. My father went off to World War Two, my two older brothers had been born. And he was captain of a destroyer escort. And when he came home, he went crazy. And he was put in a mental hospital diagnose schizophrenia, given shock treatment, that's what they did in the late 40s. And, and one weekend, they said, we'll let you go home for a trial visit. Then he said, Okay, so he came home. Well, they shouldn't have let him go home because he was still psychotic. So he decided he wanted to murder my mother and she artful woman that she was talked him into having sex instead. And that's where I came from. 

Sucheta Kamath  

You're kidding me. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Oh, he went back to the mental hospital. So So I had a father who was bipolar. And once once they got him on lithium and correctly diagnosed him. He spent the rest of the year teaching public school in New Hampshire, a beloved teacher, but my they got divorced because the doctors said he'd never get better. And then my mother married a abusive alcoholic who carted us off to Charleston, South Carolina, where I spent four really awful years and until my mother was smart enough to send me away to boarding school. At the age of 10, you know people think Oh, that must have been lonely. It was so much better than being at home with a wicked stepfather. And, and so, boarding school from 10 on I went from pheasant into Exeter to Harvard Medical School and that's what saved me. Well, it was the structure of these these wonderful schools that my grandmother fortunately had enough money to send me to. And but yeah, psychotic father, alcoholic stepfather, my mother became an alcoholic to bipolar brother, who was brilliant. He's now in heaven. But so there was there was chaotic childhood and yet, I, you know, there's this ACES school you familiar with the ACES school? 

Sucheta Kamath  

Can you tell us our listeners? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Yeah. ACES stands for the adverse childhood experiences score, and it's a very well documented study, where are they they've looked at now hundreds of 1000s of people, and they've identified 10 traumatic events that can occur in childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, incarceration, violence, there's 10 of them. And, and they've done the research, if you have four or more on the ACES is catastrophic. Yeah, your chances of having an adulthood that's anything like satisfying are very, very slim, you'll die young, you'll become alcoholic, you'll get divorced a lot, you'll go to jail, you'll commit suicide, I mean, all you name the bad outcome, that's probably what's in store for you, with a score of four or higher. Well, my score is eight. So I should be good, I should, at best be marginalized be you know, on the outs, you know, and and instead at age 70. I've got three wonderful children a wonderful marriage of love my work. And and you know, I've completely beat the odds. I'm a total outlier. But I know precisely how I did it. I know why I'm here talking to you today instead of six feet under. It's it's because of the power of connection. It's the it's because of the power of finding the right people, teacher, friend, girlfriend, the power of connection. And, in my case, God, I happen to believe in God. But I'm not pushing that on anyone. I'm just saying that's a another force in the source 

Sucheta Kamath  

Source of Yeah, 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

connection. The power of connection is so powerful. It's so and it truly saved me from what statistically should be a miserable life. 

Sucheta Kamath  

You know that? I have a question about that you have? Do you think it's your personality, because you have incredible warmth to you. And you have incredible ability to rub people in. Like, you do not look like somebody who has survived so much trauma to me. I had known a little bit about your background, but I did not know your score was eight. That sounds insane to me. And second thing is very remarkable about your experience is how you have cultivated hope. So can you speak as we and tell us a little bit? Where does that come from? Where is your resource of resilience? Is it within you? Is it the kind of temperament you harbor? How did that come about? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

I the grace of God would be my simple answer. More scientific would be genetic. You my mother, despite all her suffering, you know, called herself a cockeyed optimist. And, you know, after after two failed marriages and the abuse she suffered and she was looking on the bright side to her final days, you know, and she always talked about the bluebird of happiness and not just a symbol for happiness was 

Sucheta Kamath  

I see I see. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

And you know, so it's it's in the genes just as the ADHD is in the genes. ADHD is related to bipolar genetically. My dad was bipolar. And my brother was bipolar. And I lucked out and got ADHD instead of bipolar. You know, and bipolar is sort of wicked bad ADHD. Plus, bipolar is cyclical. And ADHD is not sick. Yes, but But yeah, hope, you know, I don't know it bubbles up spontaneously within me, I get very sad. Like I said, I have a melancholy core because of, you know, being sent away and lonely and all that kind of stuff. But in the midst of that melancholy core, there's this bubbling geyser of hope and enthusiasm, you know, and again, it's all these these contradictions. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I'm on the one hand, ridiculously hopeful and on the other hand, ridiculously morose you know, and and you put them both in the same person, you know, and, and, and it's it's not consistent, but that's ADHD consistently inconsistent. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Well, it's it's just, I think you must be a great person to go on trips with. That's what I'm thinking. You will be dragging people and showing them something really remarkable. And then retreat into and people are like, wait, wait, can we do more? And then you're like, no, that's enough. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

You're about to have a cheeseburger and watch TV. Yeah, 

Sucheta Kamath  

it's like, leave me alone. So as we end up, what do you have any recommendations of your favorite books that have influenced your thinking, your being that we can maybe explore? 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Well, the book in high school that turned me on to literature and really made me want to become a writer was Dostoevsky's, Crime and Punishment. And, and I don't know how someone with dyslexia would love a 600 page novel.  

Sucheta Kamath  

How did you read that? Because it was 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Very slowly. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Yeah, time and you didn't give up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

But I had to get it down. And then, you know, and then, in college, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Samuel Johnson, who most people think of as a pompous old white man from, you know, the 18th century. But in fact, he was very sharp and sort of a psychologist before his time and, and I fell in love with him. And of course, you know, you can't read Shakespeare without just being amazed the beauty You know, it the least of his sonnets is surpasses just anything. It's so you know, though those are, you know, those are all classical. But, and my kids say, Dad don't come off as pompous. I hope that doesn't sound pompous. But that's what that's what that's what I fell in love with. And, and, and, and I would add the Bible, but I'm not pushing God, please don't get me wrong. I one of my favorite prayers is "Lord helped me always to search for the truth. But spare me the company of those who had found it." So you know, so I'm not in any way, zealot. But but the King James Bible is maybe the most magnificent piece of writing ever, ever. And that's 

Sucheta Kamath  

What you're saying is faith. I think that that hopefulness that ever, in a present sense of hope that comes from that sense of very, very large, something larger than us. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Yeah. And it's self-replenishing. Because, you know, we see all the horrible things that happen. And that's though is the skeptics response, how do you explain evil and tragedy and undeserved suffering? And I can't explain it, you know, so So, it just, it's faith and optimism that bubbles up in spite of you could say it's, it's stupid, you could say it's because I'm stupid. I refuse to perceive reality. If I saw reality, I would have no faith and I'd be a pessimist. But I don't think so. I I just have a It's why I believe in eternal life. You know, they people ask me sometimes arguing about it, what proof proof do I have no proof. It's just a powerful intuition that this love that I feel for so many people and so many things that can't just die, that just doesn't incinerate, you know, and, and so when I die, I believe that continues on I believe love is eternal. And you know, I believe basically God is love, you know, he will say, I don't believe, let's say, Do you believe in love? Yeah, I believe in love. Well, then you believe in God, at least by my definition, you know, so. So you know, and I just think that keeps on I just think we It doesn't just end now. Maybe I'm a fool. And maybe I'm a gullible idiot, you know, but but so be it. That's how you're not, 

Sucheta Kamath  

You are a perfect, you remind me of a lifelong student of humanities. Somebody who has understood the meaning of life through perspectives that are enriched have come to us through literature, arts, and reflections of other people. And I think again, I'm going back to which is very remarkable is that your openness to receive? That's, I think that's something to do with your temperament more than ADHD. And I think that's the most infectious part about your work is, again, you present with so much hope every ADHD person in the audience once I had a chance to hear you speak and there were close to 1000 people in the audience and you had this message and people like I'm so proud to have ADHD and it's like, okay, okay, Take it. Take it easy. He has worked okay on his ADHD. Well, it's been great pleasure, Dr. Hallowell, you are an idol. You are an inspiration. And your work has meant a lot to me. And particularly talking about adults who sometimes feel lost, and I think that That idea we didn't even get into the, the, you know, five pillars of treatment that you often talk about. But I think, if I can summarize, what you're saying is, it's serious enough for you to do something about it. But it's not that serious that you will never find your way.  

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

It's it's so true. And I should add, you're an excellent interviewer, right? As you know, I told you at the beginning, I can't go much more than 25 minutes and you've held me you've held my attention way past 25 minutes. 

Sucheta Kamath  

Oh my god, I didn't even realize that.  

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

What a good interviewer you are. 

Sucheta Kamath  

But I truly, honestly enjoyed so much. And it's so funny. You're my first guest who has recommended three pieces of literature, which is our art and, you know, I speak five languages. Um, wow, read a lot of Indian literature when I was growing up and I have read a lot, not Shakespeare, I would say because Old English it's a little bit complicated for me. But, but, you know, I do find great inspiration. And I think I want to be you when I grow up so that I can infuse hope in people. Thank you so much, once again, for being with us live person. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell  

Thank you so much for having me.

Sucheta Kamath  

Well, that's all the time we have and thank you all for joining us on Full PreFrontal we are continuously exposing the mysteries of executive function. If you love this podcast do recommend to your friends and colleagues and and please, please, stay well stay healthy and know that you have this undying resource within you all you got to do is be hopeful as Dr. Hallowell has been here. So thank you again, have fun.