Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hallowell and the "Catholic Boy" syndrome

Great week for finding out my newfangled personal paradigms! Using methylfenidate does make me more alert/ aggressive. Terrible row with my daughter. She was able to set me in the right direction. Turns out there is little difference between self-effacing and  aggression. Long way to go before I reach assertiveness, but hey, I am new at this. What I wanted to talk about is where this is coming from. And Doc Hallowell is just the guy to explain it in "Delivered from Distraction" .

There are others that can explain how coping strategies and how they backfire, for example Jonathan D. Carrol But Hallowell is more concise. He introduces SPIN and SLIDE. The acronyms for Shame, Pessimism, Isolation and No-creative outlet (SPIN) on the one hand and Self-attack, Life-attack, Imagining the worst, Dread and Escape (SLIDE) on the other. What my wife dubbed "Catholic Boy Syndrome" would be more along the lines of SLIDE. Personally I definitely recognise some of SPIN as well (except for the pessimism). So the question is: "How can this theory help me to get better?". Now here it becomes somewhat tricky.

Since my primary belief in my new found system is Freedom, I do not really believe in shame. After all, Jesus is the judge of man, he alone can know what is in a man's heart. This is particularly true for someone like me: elitist, rich family (unfortunately not so rich myself), closed off family too, Kennedy style, suicides, rape and multiple alcoholism, not to mention favouritism and infighting. It is as difficult for others to relate to my history as it is for me to relate to "normal" people. Shame is not really in my make-up. There is no-one but God who can truly understand. Knowing I will have to explain myself to Him does not make it any easier though. I self-attack plenty, isolate myself, life-attack also, I don't dread (except for criticism) but I do desperately need creativity and do a lot of escape-ism (No alcohol for me, just books). So all in all the doc's description is fairly accurate.

Why are these processes so awfully powerful in the ADD brain (or indeed in the gifted brain as well)? I am sure that much has to do with being too sensitive and overwhelmed by the myriad of impressions both ADD and gifted people have to cope with. Hard to keep your eye on the ball. Even harder once you start following other people's line of thinking and try to conform. My stepsister once said: "I am a mixed up kid!". It was true at the time but still: she fought back and came out on top brilliantly! So a new beginning is possible.

The thing I need at this point in time is to define what I, myself, believe in or think is valuable. Let go of any preconception I may have that cause me to get frustrated or angry. And simply play! And yes, I will probably be selfish at first. And yes, being selfish is nearly ad bad as being subservient. But neither is important because at least I will be interacting again, Finding new truths and experiencing what really matters to me. Just step over the threshold, hence the picture of Janus.


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