Synopses & Reviews
Smart but Stuck
offers a series of true stories about intelligent, capable teens and adults who have gotten “stuck” at school or work, or in social relationships because of their ADHD. These moving and sometimes surprising case histories illustrate the many facets of the disorder and detail strategies and treatments those with ADHD can use to get “unstuck.”
In these pages you’ll meet …
- Sue, who earned good grades until middle school, then lost motivation for schoolwork. Now in 9th grade, she’s frustrating teachers and family while losing hope for herself.
- Mike, a college student who recently found himself on academic probation. His dad has always told him he’s smart but just lazy, and now he’s starting to believe it.
- Steve, a computer programmer whose ADHD struggles have led to him losing his job—and his wife. He’s good at programming computers, but not at programming himself.
- Sarah, who’s had trouble keeping track of things and getting work done since she hit menopause. She never had such a hard time when she was younger.
Dr. Thomas Brown, an internationally known authority on ADHD, highlights the often-unrecognized role that emotions play in this complex disorder. And it’s not just negative emotions. As Brown shows, those with ADHD also have a hard time managing positive emotions about certain interests and activities, making it hard for them to shift gears and pay attention to immediate needs and responsibilities. Brown offers an updated view of ADHD and explains why even very bright people with ADHD can get stuck, struggling to motivate themselves for important tasks. He demonstrates why many with ADHD can have laser-like focus for some tasks while finding it difficult to concentrate on others. Above all, Brown details paths that people with ADHD can take to move on toward a more rewarding and productive life.
Compelling stories that present a new view of ADHD
Smart but Stuck offers 15 true and compelling stories about intelligent, capable teens and adults who have gotten "stuck" at school, work, and/or in social relationships because of their ADHD. Dr. Brown highlights the often unrecognized role that emotions play in this complex disorder. He explains why even very bright people with ADHD get stuck because they can focus well on some tasks that interest them, but often can't focus adequately on other important tasks and relationships.
- The first book to explain and illustrate the crucial role of emotions in the daily functioning of those living with ADHD
- Brown, Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention & Related Disorders, is an internationally known authority on ADHD
Drawing on the latest research findings, the book describes strategies and treatments for getting "unstuck" to move on to a more rewarding and productive life.
Praise for Smart but Stuck
“No matter where you are in your journey to success, if you have ADHD, this book will help to speed you on your way. I could not recommend it more highly.”
—Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD, author, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction
“Clearly written, rich in detail, and full of helpful advice, this book will be beneficial to anyone with ADHD and to those who struggle to live with, understand, and help them.”
—Russell A. Barkley, PhD, clinical professor, Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina; author, Taking Charge of ADHD and Taking Charge of Adult ADHD
“This book, reflecting Dr. Brown’s 35 years of clinical practice combined with the latest findings from affective neuroscience, is a must-read for anyone who is interested in ADHD.”
—James J. Gross, PhD, professor, psychology, Stanford University; editor, Handbook of Emotion Regulation
“Dr. Brown introduces a forgotten piece in the life of those suffering from ADHD—the roleof emotions.”
—Luis Augusto Rohde, MD, PhD, president, World Federation of ADHD; professor,psychiatry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
“These engaging vignettes vividly bring to life emotional difficulties that, even for very intelligent teens and adults, can lead to frustration and failure in efforts to overcome their deficits in attention, organization, and motivation.”
—Mina K. Dulcan, MD, professor, Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics,Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern UniversityFeinberg School of Medicine
About the Author
THOMAS E. BROWN, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, assistant clinical professor ofpsychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. He is the author of several books including the award-winning Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults (Yale University Press, 2005), which has been published in seven languages. Visit him at www.drthomasebrown.com.
Table of Contents
The Author ix
1 ADHD and the emotional brain 7
A new understanding of ADHD and emotions; why emotions can be so troubling in the lives of those with ADHD; how the ADHDbrain processes emotions differently; the influences of temperament and experiences on emotions and motivations.
2 Eric 43
“I’m in a great university where I want to do well, but I just can’t get myself motivated to do the work. I did really well in high school; nowmy grades have tanked. I’ve been spending too much time hanging out with my girlfriend and smoking weed. I’ve tried some ADHD medicines, but they make me too jittery.”
—20-year-old university student
3 Karen 65
“My parents always taught me that I have an obligation to behave and achieve in ways that would not bring shame on my family.When I failed out of college, they helped me prepare to try again. I wanted very much to do it, but on that critical day when I was supposed to start the last two courses I needed to get readmitted, I was too afraid to walk in the classroom door.”
—22-year-old university student
4 Martin 81
“I’m in Mensa, but I earned no credits in my first two years at college—I was too baked to get myself to class.Now I’mdoing well in a few courseswhere the professors are really interesting, but I can’t get started on writing papers and often skip class. . . .With my miserable academic record, what’s the use in my trying to graduate?”
—23-year-old university student
5 Sarah 103
“I’ve been married twenty-five years, have three great kids, and had a decent career as a journalist, but I just got fired because I couldn’t prioritize and keep up with my work. Sincemenopause I’ve hadtrouble keeping track of things and getting work done. I’ve always had some trouble with these things, but it’s recently been getting worse.”
—50-year-old homemaker and mother
6 Mike 119
“My dad always said that I’m smart but just lazy;maybe he’s right. I got put on academic probation, and now I have to drop out. I’m always spacing out and can’t get myself started on anything until the last minute. I tried my friend’s ADHD medicine and it helped a lot, butmy dad doesn’t wantme getting evaluated for ADHDbecause he says themeds are like steroids.”
—21-year-old university student
7 Lisa 137
“Other kids don’t seem to get my jokes and aren’t interested in who I am. I try to make friends, but no one ever calls me back when I call them. I try to talk with my parents about it, but my dad doesn’t understand kids and my mom’s always yelling at me. ADHD meds help me get schoolwork done, but they don’t help with social stuff.”
—15-year-old high school student
8 Steve 155
“My wife divorced me three months ago, and then a month later I got fired from my job—both because of my ADHD! Meds help some, but not enough. I get stuck doing some things and don’t get around to doing what’s really important. I procrastinate, and everything takes me way too long. I’m good at programming computers, but not at programming myself.”
—32-year-old computer programmer
9 Sue 169
“Until I got into middle school, I always got really good grades and never got into trouble. Now everybody thinks I’m hopeless just because I dress Goth and don’t do much homework. My parents and teachers all look down on me just because of the friends I hang out with. They don’t really know me or my friends!”
—14-year-old high school student
10 Matt 185
“When I was in high school, I had friends.When I got to college, I didn’t know anyone and was too shy to make friends. I just kept to myself and almost never left my room except to go to class or get meals. I got pretty depressed, and after a while my sleep got messed up. I’ve stopped going to some of my classes.”
—18-year-old college student
11 Lois 203
“I teach special education, so I’ve taught a lot of kids with ADHD, but never realized I have it. I have trouble organizing my stuff and finishing paperwork on time, and sometimes I’m forgetful. I got through college and I’ve been teaching for ten years, but over the past year I’ve had a harder time, and those ADHD problems are getting worse—especially since difficulties at home began.”
—37-year-old school teacher
12 James 219
“If I don’t finish four papers this month, I’m going to be put on probation at school. I just can’t get myself to finish. I’ve had this problem for a long time, but now it’s worse than ever before. I’ve done the research for most of my papers, but I can’t getmyself past the first paragraph in any one of them. I’m stuck!”
—20-year-old college student
13 Getting Unstuck 235
How do the emotions of these teens and adults affect their education, work, family interactions, and social relationships? What treatments are useful for helping people with ADHD get unstuck from these difficulties? What can family members, friends, teachers, clinicians, and counselors do to help?
Questions for Discussion 243
Notes and Additional Reading 251