Friday, March 14, 2014

Attention deficit

Many clients tell me that their mind is constantly barraged with thoughts – worries, neutral stuff, what-ifs, any and everything.  It’s the forty-year-old workaholic business owner and the 15-year-old boy who prefers television shows that “make me think”: not for the interesting content but for the inspiration to mental distractedness.  Often these and other individuals are also moving internally, perpetually: leg-shaking “psychomotor agitation,” hand wringing, shifting position.  Or, they have the continuous electric streaming current under the surface – tension – perceptible to the therapist almost as an intimidation: This intent-looking person may receive nothing from me, everything is peremptory, pushy, brittle, already-known, jackhammer.

Within all of them is a baseline: There is never stillness and quiet.  I invite readers to try an experiment.  Without benefit of breathing-focused meditation, which is a distraction in itself, quiet all behaviors, the internal ones, too, to where you are pure, silent awareness, of nothing at all but the fact of silent awareness – no breath, navel or mantra contemplating.  See if you can be absolutely clear and void for a minute, without some microscopic buzz or evanescent numbing wave or thought or self-awareness or image.  The pure silence of deep space.  I believe that most will find this impossible.  Of if not, it will feel difficult and wrong: Something is always happening inside us, and whatever its nature it must be considered a distraction.  A distraction – a quiet pilot light of mood or the nearly inaudible hum of electrical tension – that must always be considered a breach of a bond.  A bond with a desired thought, a piece of music, to a professor’s lecture, a wife’s presence, to self.

We are not all there, as something bends away the light inside us.  We have lost the young child’s ability to just be, without internal company.

I propose that at some level, nearly all of us are “adhd.”  So let us please kill this stupid and quackish diagnosis.

I look at the very bright fifteen-year-old who looks at me, a friendly smile, drumming with tension.  He must rip and ride wild four-wheelers or do “Title boxing” or use phenomenal drugs, or put himself at risk with his dangerous pets, or “think” to feel OK.  His source, his Big Bang, came in earlier childhood when he couldn’t have a healthy difference of opinion with his mother without father literally crashing the scene in crazy rage.  This is what happens when a kid’s hurt is ignored or even contemned.  Not allowed a voice, it turns in, curdles, becomes poison, tension, tics, good drive or bad drive, a chip on the shoulder, a rustling brain, a frozen smile, inability to turn off, inability to calm, to quiet.

It becomes the neurological static interference of injustice.

As a little boy, I had a few respite moments.  A summer day, I would lie on the hill that was my backyard and look at clouds.  Sometimes I would have a project with me: a nice chunk of wood and a good magnifying glass.  I’d make the sun carve a tiny flame into the wood.  It was a wonderful smell and sight, even though my designs were amateurish.  Though that was concentration, it was majestically empty, no agenda, just to burn and create.  There were no clocks, and the day, beautifully harmless, was permanent.
Let me know that you can go there now, and I’ll rescind your disorder.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.