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Inconsistent effort may be sign of attention disorder in adults and children

Yale University : 08 September, 2005  (New Product)
The adult or child who only concentrates when performing an activity in which they have a deep interest, such as playing a sport or drawing, may have 'impotence of the mind,' according to a new book by Thomas E. Brown, clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.
'Impotence of the mind is a chronic inability to mobilize focus and effort unless the task is personally interesting,' said Brown, who specializes in treating adults and children with attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 'Such problems may appear to be a lack of sufficient willpower, but often they are manifestations of a complex disorder of the management system of the brain.'

His book, 'Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults' (Yale University Press), offers practical guidelines for identifying and helping individuals of any age who suffer from the complex impairments of ADD, an often talked about but widely misunderstood disorder. The book offers an explanation for the adult or child who may appear unmotivated and have chronic difficulty in focusing on and completing most work tasks, even when they know the work is important and they actually want to do it.

Contrary to conventional views of ADD/ADHD as a behavior problem of young children, Brown said that this is essentially a syndrome of impairments in neural networks of the brain that involve short-term working memory, activation, regulation of alertness, and other functions related to attention. Research has demonstrated that this syndrome is associated with problems in chemical transmission of messages within the brain; it is highly heritable and affects about five to seven percent of the general population.

Brown said some children with this disorder are diagnosed in early childhood but many are not diagnosed until middle school or high school when they are no longer guided by a single teacher. Others may not show evidence of a problem until college when their parents are no longer there to provide structure and support. In some cases these problems are not recognized until adulthood when the individual discovers chronic problems in work, social relationships or parenting.
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