Friday, September 09, 2005

Attention Deficit Disorder -- another name for Dissertation Deficit Disorder?

Those of you who know my 72 year old father will find this not-at-all surprising: he's recently been diagnosed with ADD and is taking Ritalin! File this under: I coulda told you that! The man is the opposite of a couch potato (good, in that he's not overweight) but he simply could not sit still, or concentrate on any one task for a long period of time. Big projects went unfinished. His attention span for any movie was seriously 15 minutes, tops. He'd watch the movie, fidget a bit, talk (loudly) to his cats, try to discuss the movie with his family members, and then give up and leave the room. (That's for rented movies at least, I thankfully haven't been subjected to his behavior at a movie theater, but I think there he manages to rise to the occasion.) Somehow he got a bee in his bonnet about Adult ADD, went through an extensive diagnosis procedure, and is now fine-tuning his Ritalin dose. [I told him he would make a fortune if he went down to the campus of Local University and sold it to desperate students during finals week.] So far it seems to be having a positive effect -- he has more energy, is more focused, and is completing projects left and right.

In some ways, this is inspiring. You're never too old to try something new, to try to make an improvement in your life. But gradually I've started to wonder: since ADD is inherited, what does that say about me?? The Doctor told my mother that, yes, it can be inherited, but that girls ("especially those who are bright") are skilled at overcoming the situation and compensating for any ADD tendencies. So did I inherit it? Have I merely been "compensating" all these years?

So lately I've been viewing my fidgeting, my daydreaming, my dissertation avoiding with a new and anxious eye. Is there some biochemical reason I just can't make myself concentrate sometimes?? Oh, were it that simple. In the end, I don't really think I have ADD. I'm pretty organized. Even though parts of my life/office are sloppy, I know where things are. I finish projects. I certainly have no problems sitting for hours on end watching even the most mundane television show. And I have managed to write hundreds of pages based on thousands of (well-organized) documents. But wouldn't it be nice to take a magic pill that would enable me to sit and intensely focus on dissertation-related projects?

This is not to suggest, of course, that I don't believe that ADD exists and that, for some, Ritalin truly is a "magic bullet." I've seen it with my own eyes. If only someone could prescribe Dissertationin for me... but I guess that's something I'll have to find on my own, huh?


At 9:52 PM, Blogger Overread said...

Oooo I would sign up for that. Something that could keep me from being distracted by shiny objects in the office, or a curiously bound book in the library when I ought to be dutifully plowing through my texts...

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Stewgad said...

Ha! Disssertonin! Sign me up, baby. Sign me up!!

At 7:26 PM, Blogger academic coach said...

Yeah! And since I'm already defended, I'll take some post docxil, please.


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