Attention on Demand, New e-book!

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Attention on Demand:  How to Create Tremendous Focus to Achieve What Matters in Your Life!

by Thomas C. Petrie, B.S., C.D.N., Nutritionist

with Special Chapter on E.E.G. Biofeedback,                                                                  by Mary Jo Sabo, Ph.D., B.C.I.A.

Part I:  ADD & ADHD: a Huge National Problem

  1. Introduction
  2. Conventional Versus the Holistic Model (page 12)

Part II:  Basics that are too often Ignored by Individuals, the Mainstream Media and Even Some Health-Care Professionals

  1. ADD in Children Versus Adults (21)
  2. How Proper Fat Intake Improves ADHD Symptoms (26)
  3. Your Diet and the Appropriate Nutritional Supplements

Can Really Make a Huge Difference in Your ADHD!  (43)

  1. Your Gut Is Connected to Your Brain! (62)
  2. Toxic Metal Overload and ADHD (67)
  3. Attention Versus Memory (82)

Part III:  Attacking ADHD in Different Ways: Programming Your Mind for Optimum Focus and Attentiveness

  1. Stress Management and ADHD (92)
  2. EEG Biofeedback (100)
  3. Motivation, Organization and Memory (106) 
  4. Advanced Memory Techniques (110)
  5. Summary (116)

 

About the Author  (121)

Bibliography

References

 

© Thomas C. Petrie, 2015, All Rights Reserved.  No copy of this document can be reprinted without authoriza-tion from the author.  Reasonable requests to make copies of parts of this work will not be refused.

Chapter 1

Introduction to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (A.D.D./A.D.H.D.)

One usually thinks of ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) as primarily afflicting children.  Yet the truth is millions of adults, like children, have difficulty keeping their minds focused on the important ‘tasks at hand.’  In fact, millions of Americans of all ages and walks of life have trouble keeping their ‘mental lives’ in a healthy state.  In addition, many more millions fail to take full advantage of the enormous potential contained within their minds.  Both of these issues will be dealt with in this book.

To put ADHD in perspective as it relates to ‘mental health,’ it might prove instructive to review the current state of our minds.  By doing this, one can clearly see how certain things we’re doing today—be it dietary choices, lifestyle choices and so forth, might be exacting a toll.  It is then in this framework that one will more easily understand a link between our attentiveness difficulties and our poor dietary and other lifestyle choices:

  • Ten percent of the American population has been diagnosed with some form of mental illness (such as bi-polar disorder, panic disorder or phobias)
  • Since World War II, the prevalence of clinical depression has soared. It is now estimated that over ten percent of the American population suffers from depression severe enough to require medication.
  • Seven to fourteen percent of children will experience an episode of major depression before the age of fifteen.
  • More mild forms of mental disorders such as panic attacks and social phobias don’t always show up in statistics but DO affect millions of Americans, many of whom seem to suffer ‘silently.’
  • Approximately one-fourth of Americans suffer from a mental health crisis in any given year.[i]
  • Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa are increasingly common in young adults, especially teenage girls.
  • One child out of every five suffers from a varying degree of behavior problems… ADHD is quickly becoming one of the most common health disorders today…it may now affect up to twenty percent of children in American schools.[ii]

Approximately three to six percent of the school-age population has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.[iii]

This writer believes ALL so-called mental disorders are not disorders of the mind but are due, in large part, to imbalances in body chemistry perhaps exacerbated by an unreasonably stressful life, a crummy environment, physical, mental or sexual abuse and perhaps the use of psychiatric medications to the exclusion of more natural, holistic approaches,   Yet, the current treatment for the aforementioned mental disorders—including ADHD, is on rare occasions, psychotherapy or talk therapy but by far more frequently, a prescription with a powerful drug such as Ritalin® or Adderal®.  As this book will illustrate, not only is the “drug therapy approach” essentially ineffective, over the long-term, it delays the implementation of therapies that do work.[iv]

Not since Time Magazine did a cover story on Attention Deficit Disorder in July of 1994, has the public been so aware of this issue.  Ten years later, July 14, 2004, the New York Times Magazine did a cover story, “The Workers are Restless,” “Kids aren’t the only ones who suffer from A.D.D.  America’s cubicles are rife with disorder, fidgeting, unproductiveness—and anguish.”  So the issue has been in the news, even if all the aspects I’d like to see discussed, such as better nutrition, are sometimes (more often than not!)… missed.

Estimates are that at least fifteen million American children and adults are affected with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADD/ADHD)[v]  Also, many adults suffer in silence because they do not want the stigma associated with poor focus, distractibility and inattentiveness or a label of ADD!  For this reason, there are likely many more millions of adults who have this condition.  Well if some folks can shout from the roof-tops that they’re gay, why can’t ADD adults admit that they can’t find anything or remember what they were doing five minutes ago?  {Fortunately we can remember that Mozart Piano Sonata because it keeps playing in our head when we turn off the radio or stereo!)

Symptoms of ADD or ADHD vary widely and most frequently are as follows: restlessness, inability to sustain concentration, frequent inability to complete tasks, mood swings, disorganization, (at times), difficulty in coping with stress and in young children, temper tantrums.   Some have called the behavior of adults with the disorder as ‘consistently inattentive.’   I would disagree and call it “frequently inattentive,” since many ADD adults have very good focus if you catch them at the right time.

Ideally, the individual believed to be suffering from ‘ADD’ should have a complete medical evaluation, preferably by a doctor specializing in preventative medicine.  In this way, serious underlying medical conditions such as nutritional deficiencies or environmental poisoning—to name but a few possibilities—can be eliminated as a cause of their ‘ADD symptoms.’

As mentioned earlier, ADHD in children is commonly treated with amphetamines like Ritalinâ, (Methylphenidate), Dexedrineâ and Cylert.â  Sometimes psychological counseling with or without behavioral modification is also used.  However, a recent published study presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry a few years ago, suggested that psychological counseling with medication did not improve the results.[vi]  The take-away message from this?  Drugs are ALL that’s needed!  It is as if all the other modalities for treating this disorder did not exist!

Amphetamines are the ‘one-problem, one solution’ mentality originally pioneered by Dr. Louis Pasteur in the late 19th century.  Dr. Claude Bernard, Pasteur’s contemporary, taught that disease normally had many factors that could affect its outcome in either direction.  Unfortunately, his teachings were largely forgotten until the ‘holistic health movement’ began sometime in the early 1960’s.  They are STILL forgotten by the majority of practicing physicians, unfortunately.  This book presents some potential solutions to a significant issue that is not a disease in the classic case (e.g., there are no laboratory tests to confirm an ADD or an ADHD diagnosis).  Still, as this book will demonstrate, the disorder can disable folks significantly, just the same.

While this book is primarily directed towards ADD adults, yet many ADD adults also have children who have symptoms and these children may be pressured, by teachers or their doctors, to get on the medication bandwagon. For this reason, this book may provide some helpful guidance for parents of ADHD children.  Please note that this writer is not a psychologist and does intend to lead the reader to believe he has all the answers for children or even adults for this matter.  He only hopes to have some answers, perhaps many, that may be of help in your situation or in that of your children.

The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses!

The conventional thinking has long been that children with hyperactivity, after treatment, will ‘outgrow’ their disorder.   Unfortunately, this is not true since many a hyperactive child simply becomes a troubled teen or adult.  In his book, the Hyperactive Myth, Dr. Sydney Walker, III reports that approximately fifty percent of children labeled as having been hyperactive as children do apparently ‘grow out of it’ as adults.[vii]  This could have been due to the fact that many of these children were in fact normal active kids, misdiagnosed as having had some disorder.  Whether or not they were junk food junkies or suffering from other undiagnosed medical disorders, is unknown.  The other half may have been diagnosed, however, virtually no one had looked or was looking for the actual causes of the apparent ADHD.  Unfortunately, with the possibility of underlying causes being virtually ignored, even into adulthood, many adults haven’t fared very well, despite many times being given prescribed medications as children.

In 1993, for example, Dr. Salvatore Mannuzza and his colleagues did a study looking at adults who had been labeled as being hyperactive as children.  His findings were that such adults were far more likely to have low paying jobs and a significant minority of them committed irresponsible and violent acts.[viii]

General Information that Pertains to Children and Adults Alike

Before ADD was recognized as a syndrome that could be treated, it was lumped together as one of those ‘bad’ characteristics in children.  In adults, well, they’re just forgetful, careless or lazy if exhibiting ADD symptoms.  And in children, treating ADD is big business.

The credit for defining ADD—although it was not called ADD or ADHD at the time—is sometimes attributed to a British Pediatrician, George Frederic Still.   This was back in the early twentieth century when children were supposed to know how to behave, and behavior out of the ordinary was not tolerated so well.  Indeed throughout history, children have not always been treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.  Dr. Still hypothesized that the syndrome or condition was due to genetics or injury at birth.  Like most doctors, no blame was placed on the parents for their children’s impulsive, lawless or hyperactive behavior.  Yet, as will be clearly demonstrated in this book, some blame ought to be placed on the parents.   This belief is in contrast to that promoted by Hallowell and Ratey in which ADHD is not the parents’ fault.3

Genetics could cause the biological needs, for certain nutrients to be higher than normal in some individuals.  If a LACK of a specific nutrient or nutrients can contribute to inattentiveness, then so be it.  One does not, however, inherit inattentiveness, they inherit whatever underlying biochemistry or specific neurological mechanisms that may, in turn, cause attention to be less than what it should be.

The fact that ADHD was NOT a huge problem just two generations ago, indicates that arguments in favor of it being genetics are just nonsense.  And speaking of neurological mechanisms, it would be irresponsible to not point out that the proper function of a child’s nervous system depends upon nourishing the nerves/nervous system as well as possible!  One therefore, can’t ignore the possible link between toxic metals in vaccines (aluminum, mercury), and how these extreme neurotoxins may be at least partially responsible for the huge increases we’ve seen nationwide in ADHD in our children. And what parent wouldn’t admit that their child(ren) could eat better!

If eating a good, pure diet, having no mercury fillings, avoiding allergenic foods, meditating regularly (and practicing other ‘mindfulness’ techniques) ‘works’ (in reversing ADHD symptoms), then it would be accurate to say one hadn’t been suffering from a ‘disease,’ in the first place, wouldn’t it?  In other words, IF implementing any of the numerous items discussed in this book improves ones focus, attention and short-term memory they’re not suffering from a disease.  This fact, by itself, precludes the possibility that genetics is solely or even primarily to blame for ADD.  But as I said, genetics can influence biological requirements for various essential nutrients.  (Sorry, ALL nutrients are essential.)  Genetics can also contribute to ADHD as its role in “epigenetics,” that science that relates to how genetics can play a role, IF the environmental trigger is present.  Vaccinations are an example in which children might be free from ADHD, but, given the right trigger, (e.g., a particular vaccine), their symptoms appear.

That genetics is not solely to blame was considered by Hallowell and Ratey, who wrote the following summary regarding the case of a young child afflicted with ADD:

“….one part of the problem was that for the first three years of their lives, they had not had a stable home or adequate shelter or sufficient nourishment[emphasis added]  How much neurological damage was done during those years remains unclear.”14

So in this one instance, the question of nutrition WAS raised, however, obliquely, and the two psychiatrists deserve credit for at least mentioning that nutrition might matter!  Also, in the year 2000, Dr. Edward M. Hallowell wrote a positive comment on the cover of “The L.C.P. Solution, The Remarkable Nutrional Treatment for ADHD, Dyslexia & Dyspraxia”, so it’s obvious, that in just six years time, Dr. Hallowell has come to see nutrition—at least as represented by the essential long-chain fatty acids—as important in improving the outcomes of children with ADHD.

One of the reasons the subject has received such scant attention is that doctors, as a rule, do NOT consider nutrition all that important.  Surely they give its importance occasional lip service, but if the recommendations given to parents for their children on what to eat and what not to eat are any indication, there’s very little told to parents about nutrition and diet that will make meaningful positive changes with regards to improving the focus and attentiveness in their children.  Ditto for adults who seek help from their doctors for these types of troubles in themselves.

So now would be a good time to read what former President John F. Kennedy had to say about the importance of being open-minded.  If practicing doctors would heed the late President Kennedy’s timeless words, we would NOT be in the mess of so many massive cover-ups of therapies that work for so many different health challenges, be it ADHD or any other health challenge, for that matter:

“As every past generation has had to disenthrall itself from an inheritance of truisms and stereotypes, so in our time, must we move on from reassuring repetition of stale phrases to a new, difficult, but essential confrontation with reality.

For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.  Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forbears.  We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations.  We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”       –  John F. Kennedy, Yale Commencement Address, 1961

The conventional diagnosis of ADD is almost universally made within the frame-work of a psychological perspective.  The most commonly used is that of the American Psychiatric Association in their publication the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–IV.  It is a lengthy document, in which eighteen characteristics are listed under one of the following three categories: In general terms, two-thirds of a “yes” response is necessary for an affirmative diagnosis, although other psychological factors may be considered.

  1. Inattention, for example, the individual often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  2. Hyperactivity, for example, the individual is often ‘on the go’ or often acts as if ‘driven by a motor’
  3. Impulsivity, for example, often blurts out answers before questions have been completed. This is most commonly a symptom in children since by adult age, well, adults act more like adults, don’t they?  (Please do not ask my wife if I act like an adult most of the time!)

This “American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders –IV” is a totally non-scientific and non science-based document!  One year, something (e.g., homosexuality) is listed as a ‘disorder’ another year it’s out.  In one study, a professor screened her classroom audience for DSM-IV symptoms for several disorders.  The students found that seventy-five percent of the class ‘fit’ the criteria for “borderline personality disorder,” and one-hundred percent of the men fit the criteria for “premenstrual dysphoric disorder.”

Keep in mind that at any one time, many children and adults are suffering from the ‘symptom picture’ of the ADD child.  In addition, what one is looking at are just that, ‘symptoms’.  The majority of physicians are NOT looking for any of these factors: food allergies or food/ additive sensitivities, (many of which can affect brain functioning), a history of any brain injury or chronic low level lead, mercury or aluminum poisoning.  In addition, B-vitamin deficiencies, essential fatty acid deficiencies, or even protein deficiencies are seldom being investigated.  In other words, this DSM is looking at symptoms, that is all.  For those that believe all doctors routinely exclude possible underlying biological, physiological or traumatic causes for a child’s ADD or ADHD behavior, think again: Such screening is rarely done.  And in the high pressure world of managed care, (and now “Obama Care”), where less care is the preferred treatment protocol, the fact that very few doctors do any more than pull out their prescription pad for Ritalin® (or some other medication), is not surprising, however, disheartening it may be.  There is little reason to believe that the ‘treatment’ for ADD in us adults—if it is considered at all as a ‘problem’ in the first place—is any more comprehensive than that given to our nation’s youth.

While this book is directed towards ADD and ADHD adults, the treatment choices given to children will also be considered for a more thorough understanding of this issue.  In addition, it would not be surprising if many ADHD adults reading this book also have children who are suffering themselves.  Sometimes these parents may find that their children are being pressured, in some way, to get on the medication band-wagon.  This book will give you the tools you’ll need to possibly stay off this wagon with your own ‘treatment’ and get on the ‘comprehensive/holistic therapy’ bandwagon, instead!  Your own experiences and broader knowledge can then perhaps be used to provide a more comprehensive and, ultimately, more satisfying treatment for your child or children who might be suffering unnecessarily.

Must it be labeled ‘ADHD’?

There is a third view on the subject of ADHD and it is that it simply does not exist.  In defense of this view is this observation:  The symptoms of ADHD, such as those listed in any medical text, (e.g. DSM-IV), are typical behaviors of children and even some adults!   Children do act unfocused, hyper and hard to control, at times.  Adults are frequently disorganized, irresponsible, bored on the job, and often not living up to their full potential.  (This writer fits that picture very well.)

The view of this author is that the symptom picture of ADD exists, and that many adults, perhaps a significant minority of them, qualify!   However, there is no such disease as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  With this in mind, the major purpose of this book is to maximize the reader’s attentiveness, decisiveness, follow-through capabilities and peace of mind—abilities that they always have had within themselves.  The other purpose is to simply get the reader to think outside the box!  Too many people allow others to do their thinking for them.  In order for Americans to cut their total health care expenditures to less than 1.6 trillion dollars per year, greater personal responsibility in one’s health care must be exercised.  Just as this book was not thrown together in a weekend, neither will you be able to train your brain for maximum functioning by glancing through this book for a few minutes!  It is not a simplistic approach, but a straight-forward, comprehensive and sensible approach that anyone can follow.  But it will be work, that’s for sure!

This author’s view is that ADD is not a disorder, because it is significantly improved on numerous occasions when a holistic method of dealing with it is implemented.  The reason the word ‘treated’ is not used here is because that would imply that it is a disease, and ADD is not a disease although it may be a complicated ‘symptom picture’ to which many millions, unfortunately, claim ownership, this author included.  Also, I can’t claim to treat a disease, since that’s additionally called “practicing medicine without a license, and well, I’m ‘just’ a nutritionist and we don’t treat disease.  Help people get healthier?  Yes!  Treat disease/s?  No!

Living with ADD/ADHD

Have you ever watched Columbo on television?  Well speak highly of the lead actor in this popular 1980’s television series, Peter Falk; He was born in Ossining, NY, the town in which I grew up!  Ever notice how he frequently seems clueless, but always gets his man?  Well he is an example of someone who just acts like he’s not paying attention and uses his low-key attitude to disarm the potential criminal into relaxing.  Indeed, the hapless criminals even sometimes feel a bit sorry for Columbo and might, on occasion, ‘help him’ because of his apparent disorganization and disheveled appearance.  Well the ADD sufferer feels like Columbo’s character on a regular basis!

Some folks believe that if one with ADD symptoms simply ‘tries harder’ to improve their short-term attention and focus, that would solve ‘their problem.’  Others just repeat the oft repeated phrase, “Pay Attention Better!”  Heck, if one could pay attention to any of the issues or questions long enough to know they were issues needing to be addressed or solved, they most certainly would!

An Important Point!

No one and especially a person with ADD can “will themselves to pay attention”!  In addition, unless the person with ADD actively tries to solve their problem, by first acknowledging its existence, a useful solution can’t be implemented.  It took this writer thirty years (from age 13 to 43), to admit he had a focus difficulty! “Trying harder” with lots of “self-help books” was the only solution I ever implemented!  So I thought it was failure to know about goal setting, planning and time management!  Was I ever so wrong!

By solution here, we’re talking about an intensive multi-faceted program that aids the individual in focusing on all important tasks automatically, without, at the same time, enduring much stress.  Only in this way will one remember with what projects they should be involved and on what projects they were working, just an hour or so earlier, before getting rudely interrupted by that phone call!

The issues mentioned above are not that difficult.  However, it’s the strain of focusing on the question long enough to get a complete answer that is frequently difficult.  It is, unfortunately, not an automatic process in the ADD sufferer!  That’s the major challenge!  The desire to pay attention is certainly there, it’s just that the capability is just much less than it is in average, unaffected folks.  As for the hyperactive component, in adults, it’s often not present.  Still, the recommendations for getting a handle on ADD are also pertinent to ADHD, where, of course, the “H” stands for hyperactive.

Faith Matters!

This definitely is one of the factors at work in the ADD sufferer.  If a child or adult constantly forgets what they’re doing (or should be doing), if they keep losing or changing jobs, if they feel “useless,” this can obviously, lead to a lack of faith.  This sometimes translates in frequent procrastination or in taking action, or action that is only partially helpful or even ineffective action.  If one has more faith in themselves, this will—sometimes improve their ADD symptoms.  Remember, faith in oneself is another word for self-confidence, and IF you want to improve your focus and attentiveness, it helps to believe in yourself.  In short, faith matters!

Winning the Battle against Inattentiveness Begins with a Commitment to do so!

The subject of keeping one’s mind on beneficial material long enough for it to be ‘learned,’ depends on many different factors; here are the four top ones:

  • A sincere desire to train the mind and body to be highly ‘attentive’. However, it must be noted that if the underlying issues causing one’s ADHD are not addressed, one can’t easily train the mind in this area.  So don’t berate yourself if “trying harder to focus better” doesn’t work.  That by itself usually doesn’t help a great deal, but it’s a start.
  • A healthy, non-‘stressed-out,’ mind. See especially Chapters 9, 10 and 11, ahead.
  • A quiet, distraction free environment within which to learn this material and,
  • The willingness to follow-through and commit to practicing this material in the real world and on a regular basis. This book can NOT teach the reader about commitment, without which success in conquering inattentiveness cannot be achieved.  But by doing, that’ll show you commitment in action.

There are many advantages to getting control over ones ‘inattentiveness.’ In children, school performance improves, as does interaction with teachers and their parents.  Also, growth in the neurological systems of children and physical growth both improve when ADHD is prevented in the first place.  This book can be a primer in prevention of ADHD as well.

One purpose of this book is to help the ADHD adult focus long enough to implement the helpful strategies and techniques learned herein. Its secondary purpose is teach that once ADHD is “under control,” you can live the life you want and achieve, substantially perhaps, the success you deserve!  After all, what good is a ‘victory’ over inattentiveness if you can’t apply this new wonderful state of mind to something worthwhile?

For the purpose of this book, “more focus” presupposes that this focus is on things that truly matter, not focus in watching television or playing video games!  Things that matter would include taking better care of your family, attaining better fitness and improved health, having a better job or not bouncing checks anymore, and whatever else better focus and attentiveness could mean to you.

The next chapter will address the differences, briefly, between conventional and holistic therapies.  In so doing, you’ll also be introduced, indirectly, to the many factors that could be at play in your personal situation or that of your child(ren).  I hope it makes sense to you.

[i]    “Self-reported frequent mental distress among adults, U.S., 1993-1997 (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),  JAMA, Vol. 279, no 22 (June 10, 1998): 1772

[ii]    Sky Weintraub, N.D., Natural Treatments for ADD and Hyperactivity, Pleasant Grove, UT: Woodland Pub., 1997: 12-14.

[iii]    Dr. L. Goldman, et al., Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents, Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA), 1998,    279: 1100-1107.

[iv]    Mary Ann Block, No More Ritalin, pub., Kensington Books, 1996.

[v]    Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, Psychiatrists, Driven to Distraction, pub., Pantheon, 1994.  Also, the publication of Driven to Distraction by Psychiatrists, Hallowell and Ratey (1994), No More Ritalin and No More A.D.D. both by Mary Ann Block (1996), Healing the Hyperactive Brain Through the New Science of Functional Medicine by Michael R. Lyon, M.D., (2000) has drawn additional needed attention to this syndrome.

[vi]   Family Practice News: Medication Makes the Difference in ADHD & Doctors are Advised to Stick with Stimulants for ADHD, Vol. 28, No. 23, Dec. 1, 1998.   This study was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health

[vii]   Sydney Walker, III, M.D., The Hyperactivity Hoax, pub., pub. St. Martin Press, 1998.

[viii]   Salvatore Mannuzza, Dr., et. al., Adult Outcome of Hyperactive Boys, Archives of General Psychiatry, 50, No. 7, July 1993, 565-576

If you would like to Purchase  “Attention on Demand,” this e-book is only $15.00.  If you two e-books, the price is $25.00 and three is, just $30.00, a great value!  Remember, I’ve spent years working on all three of these books, so these are not “weekend” e-books!   And if you’re ordering…Thanks for your order!  While it’s not necessary, if you want to send me a confirmation e-mail that says, “Tom, I just ordered….” that would be fine!

Finally, if you would like a 25 minute telephone or Skype consultation, which includes any or all of these e-books, the price is just $65.00!  With my confirmation e-mail and .PDF attachments–of whatever books you’ve requested, my telephone number will also be provided to you.