When my friend Oscar arrived to the coffee shop, his body language told me already about something really upsetting happening to him already. Oscar just told me how an argument broke out with his wife, just as the day arrived. The topic was repetitive: The infidelity event from last year. Oscar rush to explain to me how badly he wanted his wife "just move on". After ordering some coffee (skinny latte to try to cheat the diet), Oscar move on to tell me about his old girlfriend who cheat on him, years ago. Oscar's face blushed when he recalled how devastated he felt when he found about it. Interestingly, he remembered how quickly he was able to recover from there, remembered how within an hour he was making jokes, laughing, kind of happy. Oscar broke off contact with Lissette (former girlfriend), shut her out for months just to later reconnect with her, becoming friends.
At this point I asked him to speculate about some reasons why his wife Claudia wasn't able to move on, what it might be to need from him that has not received yet. At such point, it was clear that Oscar didn't feel bad enough about the affair. Oscar was being a "good boy"
and doing penance, but he was ready and wanted really badly to be finished with atonement and "move on". Claudia has told me before how bad she feels that Oscar never brings up the subject between them. It looks that Oscar just wants to forget that such incidents ever happened.
After some good jokes, as usually Oscar likes to entertain our meetings, he got some stone face to tell me how ashamed he feels about his increasingly levels of distractions and procrastination in pretty much every activities around his life, particularly when refers to something important and new task on his job. Oscar is a counselor like me.
I proposes him to draw this parallel: His urges to "move on" from guilt and remorse, putting those feelings out of his mind, seems to resemble the way he might be "moving on" when it comes up against boredom and frustration.
Oscar recalled and became aware how upset he was when coming to our meeting and additionally realized how hard he has been trying for years to avoid any emotion when dealing with this issue.
My friend seems to open up like a flower on spring when he realized with tears on his eyes how much pain he has been enduring and how he distracts from it so effectively that his pain seems to disappear.
It looks like that distractions responds to a mechanisms of psychological defense: a "habit of the mind", carrying a lot of a symptoms to the service of ADD.
My other sharing in regards to how some psychological elements are clearly present within the spectrum of ADD, is exemplified with the issues faced by Carmen. She told me about a "white lie" she told her boyfriend and how, such lie certainly have no reason, but now she could understand the dynamics behind such behavior: instead of admitting that she'd completely forgotten to pick up something for dinner on the way home from work, she told him she'd changed her mind and wanted to go out to eat instead.
Carmen managed to understand that she had lied because she felt ashamed to admit she'd forgotten, as she often does; she has been feeling as if she were somehow "defective" and that there is nothing to be done about it. The mere recollection of this whole incident or perhaps the discovery of possible new meanings behind the cover up made her face change colors and wanted to move to discuss other topics.
Few days later, I mentioned to her this tendency to move quickly to another topic as soon as I highlight what she has been doing. It feels as if she's moving so fast that she doesn't really take in what I was telling her. I got the sensation that Carmen was "moving on" to in order to escape the shame she feels about these life-long difficulties with forgetfulness, procrastination, lack of focus and self-discipline, as well as her tendency to lie about them to cover up.
I was able to show her how she moves on because she feels so “screwed up” that there’s no hope; her ongoing difficulties mean that she’s a “bad person” and won’t ever be otherwise. This feeling is so excruciatingly painful that she “distracts” herself from it by quickly moving away, mentally “changing the subject” so to speak.
Both Oscar and Carmen use distraction from pain that is felt to be unbearable (guilt, pain, etc.) as a habitual defensive strategy, and it then permeates all of their mental processes. I’m convinced that it lies at the root of their so-called "ADD symptoms".
Both of them are now embark on a full attempt to first be aware, second change those negative, pervasive thoughts, thirdly implement a new lifestyle (with plenty of physical activities, high food quality with lots of protein early in the morning), they geared up with a biofeedback device to help them to monitor their galvanic responses before stressful situations; meditation and progressive relaxation techniques are on board; their loved ones are part of the movement toward betterment as they shared openly about this late diagnosis in life.
Medication is still a consideration as some health practitioners strongly believe that some neurochemical imbalance might be the key for this condition.
Thanks to Psychcentral.com