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Smart But Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:08 am EDT

Despite decades of research into the condition known as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, many people still think of ADHD as a problem of hyperactivity, even of misbehavior. The stereotype of a person with ADHD--fidgety, with a short attention span, and even an inferior intellect--reflects an outdated conception of this complex disorder, according to Dr. Thomas Brown, a clinical psychologist and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders.

In his latest book, Smart But Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD (Jossey-Bass, a Wiley brand; April 2014; $24.95; Cloth; ISBN: 978-1-118-27928-1), Brown tells the compelling stories of past clients who were intellectually gifted, yet got “stuck” at school, work, or in personal relationships because of their ADHD.

Not only are many people with ADHD highly intelligent, Brown shows, but the smarter a person is, the less likely it will be that he or she will get timely help for ADHD. Some very bright people fail in school or lose jobs not for lack of smarts, but because of inadequately treated ADHD. Through these stories Brown also illustrates how ADHD often involves a problem with emotions--and not just with anger management (another ADHD stereotype). Those with ADHD have a hard time managing positive emotions, which can lead to big problems. Brown demonstrates how people with ADHD can have laser-like focus for some tasks--like playing a favorite video game--while they’re seemingly incapable of concentrating on other, more important tasks. Above all, Brown’s stories show how those with ADHD can move on toward a more rewarding and productive life.

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