Is Bush Decisive or an Impulsive ADDer?
By Rob Kall
The Right wing claims Bush is decisive and asks for proof that Kerry is decisive. But there's another way to look at Bush-- impulsive, like a hyperactive kid with ADHD. This seems to fit him much better than someone decisive. It makes me wonder, if the NASCAR dads who are such a big part of Bush's base aren't composed, to a large extent, of ADHD diagnosable types. It's not surprising that they like the way bush shoots from the hip, that he's dyslexic, unable to speak coherently in full sentences.
On the other hand, there are plenty of ADDers, myself included who fit into another category-- the cultural creatives-- who have managed to learn how to rise above the roadblocks that the educational system can place in front of kids who are different. Thom Hartmann has described ADDers as Hunters in a farmer's world. It's a positive spin on a diagnosis that, when medicalized, is characterized as a brain disease. Hartmann and a handful of others have described ADD as the "Edison Gene," as a difference that contributes to making the world a different and better place, that the ADD gene's appearance in humans might even have led to the beginning of civilization.
People with ADD do poorly in some activities and jobs-- forget about having ADHD kids sit still in a long, boring class lecture. Forget about ADDers as accountants, farmers, book-keepers.
On the other hand, ADDers make great entrepreneurs, mechanics, emergency room doctors, surgeons, detectives, investigative reporters, programmers. One positive trait of ADDers, is that they, like hunters, can hyper-focus, keeping their attention on something that they are really interested in. That's why ADD kids are so good at video games, and why ADD adults are so good at programming.
Now, the medical approach to ADD, which considers it a brain disease, focuses primarily on drugging the patient. The drug of choice is some variant of Ritalin, or methylphenidate. Some have compared this drug to a low dose of speed (amphetamine) or cocaine. Of course we know that George has already experimented with cocaine, which we might guess was a natural form of self medication, just like studies have shown that babies left to chose their own food, will chose foods that provide balanced nutrition. Maybe Bush the party-guy with brain abuzz with alcohol and who knows what else, actually stumbled into a drug that was related to a drug class that might help him.
Unfortunately, like most things in life, anything in too much excess is not good. While many ADDers move on to lead productive, creative lives that contribute to the world's good, some succumb to the pitfalls and symptoms of ADD and end up in trouble, or worse, develop "co-morbid" pathologies, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, tic disorders which can turn into Tourette's syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder (O.C.D. and I don't think we need to worry about Dubya on this one,) oppositional defiance disorder (O.D.D. which might fit George, who doesn't want to listen to his Poppy and who was certainly a prankster in school) and if the O.D.D. gets worse, it can turn into sociopathy. There are those of us who feel that George W. is a high functioning sociopath, as are so many sociopaths.
Impulsivity is a common trait among all kinds of ADDers. It's something that successful ones learn to rein in, and to harness the energy to be applied to the hyperfocus that enables them to achieve success. But we've seen Bush lash out at reporters. We've seen him impulsively and stupidly lash out with the threat of a crusade.
That impulsivity is a manifestation of energy and passion, and that passion can also be seen as sexy, as powerful, as something to be admired. That's why some of his supporters see it as decisiveness. The problem is, there is no wisdom involved in acting quickly because you feel the need to act quickly. Hesitation can be deadly, but impulsive action can be just as deadly, and more likely foolish. What a leader needs is wisdom, strength and courage, and the ability to make quick, wise decisions. John Kerry showed his ability to do that under fire. He showed that he could courageously act, under fire, and save lives, without losing lives... without losing lives.
The ideas of patience or nuance and George W. Bush go together like oil and water. When impulsivity is combined with power, we get a frightening and deadly combination. When unrestrained, un-disciplined impulsivity is combined with ultimate power, then the nation is at risk, the very planet is endangered.
When ADDers do succeed, it is almost never alone. The creative artist finds an agent and manager. The entrepreneur builds a team, finds a "farmer" office manager or secretary who can take care of the details that the ADDer has no patience with.
We know that George Bush, in his youth, was a consummate failure, running business after business into the ground, only to be saved by Poppy's friends.
There's a difference between tapping your strengths and surrounding yourself with a strong team so you and your team achieve success, versus what George Bush has repeatedly done-- get appointed into higher and higher positions and then have his father's friends help save his butt. And that's certainly the way he became president and the way he put his presidential administrative team together-- a team of Poppy's former advisors and aides. And history has again repeated itself. These aging aides and advisors, with ideas nurtured in the sixties and, seventies, during the Viet Nam war, during the time of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, have given Bush advise that might have worked during those times, but they have failed him and the nation. Bush's ability to build a team, to lead the hunt, if we pursue Hartmann's ADD hunter model, has been a failure. Keep in mind that hunters only kill what they eat. The lead hunter has the responsibility of feeding the tribe, and bringing back the team of the tribe 's hunters alive. How un-Bush-like.
The right wing, conservative approach to kids with ADD is to literally require that they be drugged with Ritalin or some related medication. Over two million American kids are currently drugged on a daily basis so they will behave better in school.
I wonder what would happen if George Bush began taking the latest time release stimulant medication. Kids on stimulants tend to read more, with better attention. Maybe Bush would start reading newspapers. Kids on stimulants start getting along better with others, and make new friends. Maybe Bush would take another look at the advisors he's surrounded himself with and start making his own choices instead of having other people tell him who to listen to. Maybe, as his socialization skills improved, he'd be less divisive. That just leaves the problems with his sociopathy. It's hard to imagine that any medication would help him with the way he's sold out America and sold out our environment to corporations. It's hard to imagine him reaffirming the many treaties that the US is a partner to that he has violated or rejected. It's hard to imagine him curing or healing the broken relationships he's wrecked with other nations.
Of course my own path along the ADD trail has involved the use of EEG biofeedback, or neurofeedback, a training process that helps a person learn how to produce brainwaves that are associated with sitting still, focusing attention, quieting impulsive reactions... all skills that are teachable and learnable. But I've also learned that this approach is attractive to people who tend to be liberals. People who are seeking external authority, like the "strict parent disciplinarians" cognitive scientist George Lakoff describes, are less likely to be good candidates for health care that involves self responsibility. They've been trained to take orders and to take medications from an archetypal father-figure doctor.
Sometimes the only solution to an ADDer who has moved to take on the worst co-morbidities, such as sociopathy, is to keep him away from where he can do harm. For Bush, that would be either a one way trip back to Crawford, where he could be put to some form of safe work, like chopping wood, or a trip to jail.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor of www.OpEdNews.Com living in Bucks County , PA. He also runs the Winter Brain Conference where Attention Deficit "disorder " or "difference " is a primary them of the meeting. You can find over 150 additional articles by Rob Kall at this Archive
Letters From Readers
While I agree with many of your sentiments, I take issue with a few. No studies show that kids with ADHD are better video game players; in fact, I just read somewhere that while they might be attracted to the games more, they are actually inferior players. The same goes for programming. My husband's programming, for example, has improved exponentially since trying medication. Maybe that's why so many programmers work incredibly long hours (troubleshooting loads of bugs), and it would behoove them to try medication.
The people I know who are Bush supporters are also people who lack enough attention span to read the facts behind the charade. They tend to like black and white and not complex things that require them to focus too long on things that don't interest them (energy policy, etc.) Do you think more of his supporters have ADHD?