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Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder [Paperback]

Edward M. Hallowell , John J. Ratey
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 27 2005
In 1994, Driven to Distraction sparked a revolution in our understanding of attention deficit disorder. Widely recognized as the classic in the field, the book has sold more than a million copies. Now a second revolution is under way in the approach to ADD, and the news is great. Drug therapies, our understanding of the role of diet and exercise, even the way we define the disorder–all are changing radically. And doctors are realizing that millions of adults suffer from this condition, though the vast majority of them remain undiagnosed and untreated. In this new book, Drs. Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey build on the breakthroughs of Driven to Distraction to offer a comprehensive and entirely up-to-date guide to living a successful life with ADD.

As Hallowell and Ratey point out, “attention deficit disorder” is a highly misleading description of an intriguing kind of mind. Original, charismatic, energetic, often brilliant, people with ADD have extraordinary talents and gifts embedded in their highly charged but easily distracted minds. Tailored expressly to ADD learning styles and attention spans, Delivered from Distraction provides accessible, engaging discussions of every aspect of the condition, from diagnosis to finding the proper treatment regime. Inside you’ll discover

• whether ADD runs in families
• new diagnostic procedures, tests, and evaluations
• the links between ADD and other conditions
• how people with ADD can free up their inner talents and strengths
• the new drugs and how they work, and why they’re not for everyone
• exciting advances in nonpharmaceutical therapies, including changes in diet, exercise, and lifestyle
• how to adapt the classic twelve-step program to treat ADD
• sexual problems associated with ADD and how to resolve them
• strategies for dealing with procrastination, clutter, and chronic forgetfulness

ADD is a trait, a way of living in the world. It only becomes a disorder when it impairs your life. Featuring gripping profiles of patients with ADD who have triumphed, Delivered from Distraction is a wise, loving guide to releasing the positive energy that all people with ADD hold inside. If you have ADD or care about someone who does, this is the book you must read.

From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder + Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder + You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
Price For All Three: CDN$ 41.12

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This follow-up to the authors' 1994 manual, Driven to Distraction, has the advantage of personal testimony regarding adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)—the authors themselves have ADD—as well a very readable presentation of the latest research in the field. Defining ADD as a collection of traits, some positive, some negative, the authors intend to encourage those who have this condition or are raising children with it and advise on how to maximize their abilities and minimize characteristics, such as procrastination, that may hinder them at school or work. In a comprehensive overview, Hallowell and Ratey provide a new screening questionnaire for adults and list methods that physicians, parents and educators can use to diagnose and treat the ADD child. Of primary importance to readers are the recommended steps for living a satisfying life with ADD; these include developing personal relationships and engaging in creative activities that will foster self-esteem. The authors also separate nutrition fads from what is known about how diet can affect brain functioning and discuss whether to take medication. Overall, this is an excellent resource.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Advance praise for Delivered from Distraction

Delivered from Distraction is just what it promises. In this remarkable volume, Ned Hallowell and John Ratey bring the latest information on ADD to homes and hearts everywhere, conveying the burgeoning scientific information with humor, hope, and clarity. As the authors point out, ADD needn't be a sentence to secondhand status. The ADDer who hearkens to their sage and practical whole-life advice will make the most of his or her talents. This book is certain to be a classic for the next decade.”
–PETER S. JENSEN, M.D., Ruane Professor of Child Psychiatry, director, Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute

“If you read only one book about attention deficit disorder, it should be Delivered from Distraction. No two psychiatrists in America have thought more deeply about ADD than Ned Hallowell and John Ratey, and no one writes about it with more feeling, understanding, and accuracy. Most important, Hallowell and Ratey share their wisdom about living a good life with ADD. What an optimistic and helpful book!”
–MICHAEL THOMPSON, PH.D., New York Times bestselling co-author of Raising Cain

“Edward Hallowell has written a comprehensive, easy-to-understand book on ADD. This is clearly the definitive source of information on Attention Deficit Disorder.”
–HAROLD S. KOPLEWICZ, M.D., Arnold and Debbie Simon Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, director, Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine

“A deeply wise and truly helpful book, written with frankness, humor, and tremendous empathy. As a pediatrician, I have been recommending Driven to Distraction to parents for many years, and this new book brings the reader fully up to date in a rapidly changing field, combining the important information about the science and treatment of ADD with powerful advice about getting through life, succeeding in life, and enjoying life.”
–PERRI KLASS, M.D., author of Quirky Kids

“What is unique and particularly valuable in Hallowell and Ratey’s approach is the hopeful message, insistently repeated, that ‘at the heart of ADD lies a bonanza of wonderful qualities,’ and that in treatment, these strengths and talents can and should be identified and developed.”
–CHARLES MAGRAW, M.D., past president, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Helpful and comprehensive Jan. 27 2014
By Webby
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Highlights key aspects along with heterogeneity of Distraction afflicted people. Could be a bit less cluttered and more prescriptive. Good reading overall.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book Aug. 6 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book helped me to have a very good understanding of ADHD. I loved the way it was written and it has changed my life for the better. I keep this book close by so I can read it again and again so I know I am not alone and I can follow the tips inside. Thank you for writing this book. My husband also read this book to understand me more and he really like it as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Product was as advertized. Nov. 28 2012
By joe a
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author outlined the effect and affects of ADD on people's lives and how disrupting this little known illness can be on adults.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delivered From Distraction Oct. 18 2012
By Vito
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The "Bible" of ADHD! Again, Edward Hallowell M.D, shares his understanding and strategies to living to your full potential with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  226 reviews
201 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivered from Distracton Delivers! Dec 2 2006
By Janie Bowman - Published on
In 1994, Hallowell and Ratey published Driven to Distraction to rave reviews. Now, Delivered from Distraction hits the bookstores to similar accolades. The message of hope and celebrating your strengths is the same, the tone of empowerment is the same. What's changed? The very latest in the world of attention differences, including current research in lifestyle changes, supplements, medication, and testing. Unlike D2D, Dr. Hallowell wrote the book, but the project was shared with Dr. Ratey. Like Driven to Distraction, the book is sprinkled with observations taken from the pages of Hallowell's practice. This book is comprehensive and renovated extensively from Driven to Distraction.

The ADD field has grown more complex and saturated with "Do this or do that," - "Try this, try that." In four parts, Delivered from Distraction provides a foundation from which to discuss the ADD phenomenon: (1) What's It Like to Have ADD? (2) Three Stories that Tell the Story (3) Making the Diagnosis of ADD (4) Mastering the Power and Avoiding the Pitfalls: The Treatment of ADD.

There's a lot to digest in Delivered. The chapters I found fascinating were "ADD Self-Assessment Quizzes for Adults," "An evil, an Illness, or a Kind of Mind?," "The qEEG and SPECT scan" "Conditions that Coexist with ADD," "Bipolar or ADD?" "Genetics," "Are We Training our Children to have ADD?" "The Treatment of ADD: What Works Best," and "ADD in Families." That's almost the whole book...

By far, I was fascinated by the chapter on Omega-3 Fatty Acids and its relationship to inflammation and ADD. Dr. Hallowell and Barry Sears of the Zone Diet have teamed up for a study at Hallowell's center in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Does Omega 3 help people with ADD? A few people I know who take Omega 3 have positive experience with this supplement, so I was excited to find that there is a study in the works.

Delivered from Distraction is far from ordinary and my interest grew from page to page. It's an easy read, either from front to back or specific chapters of your choice. Perfect for those with wandering, creative minds. And written with a humorous streak at times, too. Definitely not boring.

Final thoughts: This book is comprehensive and updated extensively from Driven to Distraction. Bottom line? Delivered From Distraction delivers.
606 of 668 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great if you are an ADD newbie; new info for "old timers" Jan. 6 2005
By JackOfMostTrades - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Delivered from Distraction is a fine read (stylistically) and an excellent guidebook for someone who is professionally and accurately diagnosed with ADD, or for those who would like to know what having ADD feels like and the types of behaviors people with ADD are prone to exhibit. This could be of particular benefit to mental health professionals who work with people with ADD. And for those who think ADD is a pseudo-disorder or a political ploy (I'm not one of them), maybe this book will change your mind. Although as Dr. Hallowell reminds us, if such skeptics could walk around for a day with the symptoms of ADD, most would quickly change their minds, and would most likely reverse their stance on the idea that it is some sort of social construct. I myself recall the first time I took Ritalin. I was so overwhelmed by the relief it brought me, I almost began to cry. Overall, if you have read Driven to Distraction by the same author "team" published in 1994, you'll find a lot that sounds familiar, but also much about some new treatments--some "official," some experimental. These include new brain imaging diagnostic procedures, some very strange but interesting stuff about cerebellum stimulation (you have to read it carefully to understand it! (Wait till you see some of the theory behind it and what you actually do during the treatments!!); more specific nutritional advice, new medications (like Strattera, which I have tried but didn't find too helpful--which I'll attribute to the "different strokes for different folks" philosophy, and some really nice touches when Dr. Hallowell relates personal anecdotes about himself and family members with ADD.

This book has much personal reflection on the subject, which adds a friendly touch since one can get a sense of the writers as people, not merely authorities. If you are familiar with the many books on ADD that suggest strategies for living, ordering one's life, conscious awareness of one's proclivities, this book covers some of the same ground but in a more literary and empathetic way (maybe because Dr. Hallowell was an English major in college). It also does so in a way that makes a lot of sense and seems derived from the authors' experience and motivated by a true desire to help others.

The authors also include some new and fascinating "case studies" of people who used their ADD state of mind to their advantage and became highly successful (see in particular the story of the founder of JetBlue). These "success stories" are not so much pep talks (I wouldn't want to run an airline even if I could), but explanations of how one can use one's "disorder." Nevertheless, one shouldn't judge a group by an individual--which can, unfortunately lead to guilt should a reader not be a 'success' in the way the authors define one. However, I found it quite brave that individuals in the public eye, so to speak, are not afraid to speak about their ADD. (I've read in another source, the story of the founder of Kinko's. Who would think someone with ADD would create a company worth 2.5 billion whose major appeal is precision, meeting deadlines, and coordination?!) This is not meant to imply that the authors have a pie in the sky philosophy of "aren't I lucky I have ADD since it enriches my life." The book stresses the fact that regardless of how well you develop strategies to "work with" your special cognitive style, there will be days when things just don't seem to be working--times when all the strategies in the world don't seem to help. But, as the book points out, the important thing is not to beat oneself up about it.

As someone who is a writer, I related to this propensity at self-criticism. I can be very focused one day; however, on another day, my mind will just be so scattered I can't even type a sentence fragment. Everyone has bad days, and given the proclivity of many ADD people to feel dissatisfied with their progress in life (i.e., goals, behaviors, personal identity, etc.,) one should not expect some magic cure-all for one's condition. The authors imply that there will be breakthroughs in treatment but don't expect any "magic bullet" any time soon(that's a horrible metaphor--sorry!). But with that in mind, the authors still maintain an upbeat, positive outlook, and provide a well-considered, thoughtful holistic program to find personal and interpersonal success in one's daily life and in one's journey through life.

I particularly liked the five-step method (graphically illustrated as a circle or flywheel) of developing a positive view and a positive lifestyle to find what the author calls "lasting joy." I found it so simple and impressive, in fact, I plan to copy the diagram and put it on my refrigerator. While I might not have used this somewht idealistic DEScription of the PREscription, it is a very common sense approach with profound possibilities of changing both the way an ADD person can successfully address the issues of everyday living and develop a philosophy of life that helps one develop a more secure "ground of being" (to paraphrase Paul Tillich). It has often been remarked that people with ADD are particularly sensitive, and this trait is apparent in the tone of the book. For example, one chapter begins, "Let me tell you an amazing story about my son Jack." The author then proceeds to tell this story, and it reveals the author's deep sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and his desire to share personal experience--in a sincere, heartfelt way without any arrogance or showing off. Here is an (incomplete) list of certain tenets:

find a compatable, understanding life partner (although why that advice should be different for people without ADD is beyond me);

find suitable work that appeals to the ADD personality (high stimulation, non-sendentary, one that requires creative, outside the box thinking, low levels of supervision, etc., (although again, shouldn't everyone try to find a job that suits his/her personality and traits?);

eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly (nothing like pumping up those neurotransmitters naturally, although again, this is good commonsense for just about everyone);

be aware of and develop strategies to combat one's proneness to addictive behaviors (alcohol, illicit drugs, gambling, sex..hmmm...wait a second, I have to reconsider that last item!);

use human or technological aids to help order your universe (a good accountant, a good daily planner, professional "coach" if you can afford one (I had about 4 sessions with one, and I think that was just about enough), electronic timers, etc.);

learn cognitive "tricks" to stop ADD-type impulsive actions (like showing your impatience, blurting out what's on your mind, etc). During a "business meeting," I once started doing an imitation of Marlon Brando as "The Godfather." I swear the display was completely appropriate in getting my point across but it sort of got lost on the rest of the people. Of great importance, consider that medication should almost always be considered as one part of the "happy with an ADD mind" equation--assuming all the other building blocks are in place;

follow a holistic approach to your situation, and get rid of one-track mind thinking regarding "a cure";

Check out some of the new research and methods that have cropped up in the past 10 years or so.

There's lots more but it certainly can't fit in here

If you haven't read other books on the subject, read this one, then maybe an ADD friendly organization book; see a competent psychiatrist who has expertise in treating ADD,and be assertive regarding what works, what doesn't work, and even the possibility that no medication will work: regardless, don't go the medication route as though it will provide the answer to your problems. When you find you've adapted a way of being that works for you, get on with your life, and monitor yourself every so often--but not obsessively. BECAUSE, if you do have ADD, and you are compulsive, you are likely to spend far too much time reading every book there is on the subject. So unless you plan to make a career of it, read this one, augment it with a good book on organizational skills designed for people with ADD, and get on with your life. And if you do have ADD, from one comrade to another, have the best life you can! And something that works for me, is "Don't have hope; have faith." It will keep you more motivated.

Finally, if confronted by someone who still claims that ADD is a hoax, conspiracy, attempt to disempower minority populations, a drug company invention to garner profits (and I've read about every anti-ADD argument in 'the book', my advice is to converse with them as follows: from as far away as possible.
93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book May 5 2014
By de villa - Published on
This book has been instrumental in helping me with my ADD, and has even helped me to start kicking my Adderall habit. I also found a great OTC Adderall replacement to use in conjunction with the techniques in this book. You can find it on Amazon, it's called NeuroNRG NueroNRG - Mental Focus and Energy Supplement
136 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift to AD/HDers March 15 2005
By Kristi Swede - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Dr. Hallowell has given us a GIFT in this optimistic, realistic, encouraging book. Yes, there is a dark side to ADD (prison, alcoholism, unemployment...) but it's about time we heard about the strengths - intuition, creativity, the ability to connect with others, and the kind of risk-taking that changes lives for the better. Thank you, thank, thank you.

If you'd like the unabridged version, it's available from, and the reader, Dan Cashman, is superb. The same abridged version read by Dr. Hallowell is also available.
82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only... Aug. 29 2007
By Eddie Landsberg - Published on
This is one of those books that is both a gift... and very upsetting. - - When I was coming up, the terms ADD and ADHD were just becoming popular... only they were becoming so popular a lot of people were having trouble taking them seriously. - - It seemed like a faddy diagnosis and an excuse to medicate any kid who the television set couldn't babysit for adequately... At that time, I should note that it was clear that I had some kind of learning disability - -yet was a supposed "gifted underachiever" - - meaning I had a supposed "borderline genius" IQ but was too "lazy", "disorganized", "unfocused" even "bored" with school work.
(Back then the only treatments were "punishment", "tolerance" or counseling to deal with the "problem behaviors")
Ironically enough, just after I finished HS the SIMPSON'S became popular, and the term GIFTED UNDERACHIEVER also became a popular term... When I went to school however, bad grades meant STUPID... and there is no doubt, I carry some of the trauma and ridicule today (*Teachers just LOVE calling on ADD kids when they're not paying attention and singling them out.... supposedly to shame them into paying attention, but in reality, as an ADD'er I think it was just one trauma built on another!)

O.K. Years passed... and because of my inability to achieve in conventional settings I can't begin to describe all the problems, conflicts and restlessness I had in life... (and here is where I begin to get back on topic....)
HAVING READ THIS BOOK I actually read chapters of my own life story to such a point that had a been able to go back 28 years and been told "this is your future" - - I would have actually been able to read it and have SEEN my future (as well as perhaps get help.)

Anyway, recently I learned that I had ADHD, and you can have ADHD without being "hyper" - - and in looking deeper I realized that my life was a text book on ADD and it explained everything - - so here's my point:
Dr. Hallowell makes a lot of suggestions and leaves it open to the reader to choose... medication, therapy, coaching, 12 step program - - even yoga, medidation and nutritional supplements. Some may very well be quack therapies, others may be under-explored answers - - throw all bias aside fact is this: Had somebody given me this book 20 years ago... (long pause) I probably would have lost it (<-- ADD joke.... sorry.) But seriously... had I read this book a long time ago the anecdotes alone would have given me a lot of insight and helped circumvent a lot of pain.

In conclusion:- - No, the book does not offer an all in all 100% proven solves all single cure... but it offers OPTIONS... as well as anecdotes that not only demonstrate what its like to have ADD, but are cathartic to read as well... so I see this book as a gift... Looking back, I now realize I suffered because this wasn't common knowlege when I was a kid... on the other hand ADD is nothing new... there have been unfocused, disorganized yet creative people since the begining of time... now however, a syndrome that describes a condition that many people like me have is being formally studied and treatment options are being explored.

In conclusion, this book not only makes an insightful read, but may very well be a gift waiting to be given.
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