Is Attention Deficit a Disorder?
Is ADD/ADHD a modern epidemic or a case of over-diagnosis? Here are Sadhguru’s views on the matter.
The number of children that are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been growing steadily over the last decade, and even adults seem to be affected. Is ADD/ADHD a modern epidemic or a case of over-diagnosis? Here are Sadhguru’s views on the matter.
Q: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. Can you throw some light on how I can get rid of attention deficit?
Sadhguru: When it comes to the physical body and the mind, no two human beings have come with the same capabilities. What one human being can do physically or mentally, another human being may not be able to do. You do not need to get a title for that, like attention deficit disorder, ADD, or whatever else. The thing you need to look at is, how to maximize who you are? You have an attention deficit – I had another kind of problem as a child: I had too much attention. If I paid attention to one thing, I could not shift my attention to anything else. I would just be looking at this one thing for hours. People thought that was a problem too, that I was looking at only one thing all the time.
No Standard For Attention
I remember this situation so well. My father excelled academically, but “unfortunately,” he produced a son like me, who had no concern about academics of any kind. He was a very strict disciplinarian, and every evening from 7:00 to 9:00, all of us four siblings had to study.
I would pick up some textbook – it did not matter for me what it was. I opened it somewhere – I did not care which page it was – and I would find some tiny speck on the page, some flaw in the paper, and I just looked at that. It grabbed my attention in such a way that I sat there for two hours, just looking at this speck. I did not read a single word, but I never looked up, or looked here and there, because it really held my attention.
There is an entire world in a speck. People have spent their lifetimes looking at a microscopic molecule or an atom. Such a speck is much bigger than an atom. People thought I was going crazy because I had too much attention. So do not go on labeling yourself as this and that. Who decides you have attention deficit? Is there some standard, how much attention you must have, or how much attention you must get? There is no such standard – it is only made up.
The problem is that right from childhood, human beings are getting labeled, and they are supposed to carry these labels for the rest of their lives. What level of attention you have at five, six, seven, eight, fifteen, or twenty years of age can be entirely different. Have many of you not evolved in this process? On the first day of school, you could not figure out a damn thing – maybe later on you did well. Or maybe on the first day, you looked like you understood everything, but by the end of the year, you did not get anything.
Does everyone have the same kind of attention? Definitely not. I never had any attention for what was happening in the classroom, because I did not find that interesting. But I did have attention for all kinds of other things. Does this mean I had attention deficit? No. I was just not interested in what they were putting up on the blackboard, that is all.
With Passion Comes Attention
Have you noticed, if you are young – or when you were young – at a certain age, if you were drawn to someone, you did not have to concentrate on them – they just invaded your mind. I am using this example because in this case, there is a chemistry in your body that supports your attention. To pay attention to other things needs a little more effort. You need to develop intense passion for something that you think is important. If you have a keen interest in something, there will be attention. Find something that you are passionate about – then attention will come of its own accord.
Whatever the state of your mind has been until now need not be the state of your mind for the rest of your life. To change the framework of your mind is the easiest thing to do, because it is naturally the most flexible aspect of who you are. To change the framework of your body is very difficult. But too many people turn their mind into a concrete block. What do you want to use your head for? Just head-butting? The use of a head that is like a concrete block is very limited. You must keep your mind as flexible as possible. The more fluid and flexible your mind is, the more you can do with it. So, it does not matter what labels people put on you. If you wish, you can change the structure of your mind now.
Editor’s Note: In Mind Is Your Business, Sadhguru explains that only if we make it “our business” to transform this uncoordinated mess into a well-coordinated symphony, will we be able to use the mind, rather than be used by it. Download now https://www.ishashoppe.com/downloads/portfolio/mind-is-your-business
A version of this article was originally published in Forest Flower, October 2017.