Great post, FWG. I wonder, though, about the ADDers’ reputation for being terrible drivers and how it reconciles with what you’ve said about pilots. I’m a good driver myself, but I usually require a lot of coffee to sustain my skills (I’m a caffeine addict as well).
Further to my remarks about my diagnoses, the story is that on the strength of my research I convinced my therapist (a psychiatrist from whom I was receiving psychotherapy and drug treatment for depression) that we should be looking at either or both autism spectrum disorder and ADD. She was completely dismissive of the former (“those people are distinctly odd, and you could not have gotten a law degree if you had that disorder” she said), but eventually came around to the idea of screening me for the latter. This consisted, essentially, of having me write a screening test and prescribing Concerta. She kept raising the dose every month (we saw each other once a week) and waited for “dramatic” results. She was never able to tell me what these would have been. After raising my dosage to the point where I felt overly stimulated and unhealthy, she announced that I didn’t have ADD. Six months later, seemingly out of the blue, she announced that I was Aspergers. Apparently she had done some research, and referred me to some good websites.
Perhaps I wasn’t accurate when I said my shrink wouldn’t describe what dramatic results would have been. She did, seemingly, imply that motivation, focus, and effective action regarding my search for employment (I’ve been out of work for a year and close to half of the previous 5 years) were what she was looking for. The problem here, in my opinion, was that by the time she had prescribed the meds I had already trained myself to manage effectively the low-key life that I had; by developing some effective rituals, I no longer would forget appointments, my keys, and whatnot. Further, I had been banging my head against the wall for years trying to find a line of work that I could enter and sustain employment in. When I came across a new idea, I would take action to investigate and implement new directions in my search for work. But I was often very discouraged, and generally unable to see just where it was that I should turn next. Solving the problem caused by my failure to turn degrees in law and archival studies into sustained employment should not have been the sine qua non of the effectiveness of drug therapy for a condition that she hadn’t yet really diagnosed.
By the way, I’ve never managed to do any work involving reading and writing without the assistance of a lot of coffee — except when I was taking the methylphenidate.