ADHD is Chronic Trauma and Anxiety

ADHD is Chronic Trauma and Anxiety

I talk through the misperception that ADHD is its own diagnosis. Why we prescribe amphetamine for it and what should be done instead.

Episode Transcript:

Good morning, everybody. There's a lot going on this morning. The first thing is I am on day three of a three-day fast. Typically, day one is a lot of your brain and your stomach going eat, eat, eat, eat. But I always feel much, much better when I fast. My brain's clearer. I have less pain in my joints. Obviously, it reduces inflammation. And then day two, I tend to have a lot of mental clarity and a reasonable amount of energy. It's not like I feel like I would want to do a heavy workout, but Then usually day three, I'm really starting to feel it. Maybe don't feel as fluid in how I talk and the amount of vocabulary available to me and how quickly I'm able to express. But the reason I stick it out is that I don't know if it's autophagy or autophagy, but the process of your body going through and consuming and breaking down cells that are not operating well, cancer cells, any cells that are suboptimal and eliminating them or even consuming them really starts 48 hours in. So it starts towards the end of day two. So really day three is when you're really spending some time and your body's starting to freak out and go, we need to align the system. We need to make the system more efficient and more elegant. Um, so I stick, I stick through day three. So anyway, that's going on. Uh, the other thing that's going on is I came in this morning and about once every two or three months, my key will not work in the handle of my office. And then I have to call the. Owner and he calls a locksmith and whatever. So we may get interrupted. Also, I find that annoying and distracting. So I was all ready to do the topic that I was going to do today. And then that annoyed me. It took about 15 or 20 minutes and burned through part of my time that I wanted to use to do the podcast, but I'm going to take a run at it anyway. I wanted to speak on, well, no, first I want to review the rules, right? Remembering that the intention of this podcast, even though it's been highly psychological and therapy oriented, the true intention of the podcast is that there be a space in which I can think through ideas that occur to me or ideas that are presented in articles or by other people in a space that's safe with the kind of people who understand that the fact that I'm playing through an idea does not mean that I'm advocating for it or that I think it's absolutely true or that I arrogantly think that I'm telling you what's true and that you're wrong. This is a space to talk through and work through ideas knowing that they may be false, or you may find them to be false, or they may accidentally offend someone because we may blindly not realize that the perspective that we're exploring actually puts someone down, etc. etc. And we don't want to intentionally do that. But this is a place in which to sort through ideas. So that's the first thing to say. The second thing to say is, by family culture, when I talk about ideas that I've thought about a lot, and then I've observed things, underneath it all, I have developed, I think, a healthy humility to know that I may be wrong. I mean, science is wrong. Authorities are wrong. Doctors are wrong all the time. And so I know that I may be wrong. And I know that people accord me a certain amount of respect due to the number of years that I've spent studying human beings and watching human behavior and studying psychology and being a therapist. And none of that means that I'm not wrong. And so Um, Oh, and you could see the, you can see the fasting, right? I lose my thread. So we'll see how this goes. Um, the last piece that I want to put on the table is talking about family culture. I come from a family who fiercely debates ideas and argues and argues and debates, um, especially on my dad's side of the family, intensely intellectual, um, regardless of education level is intensely intellectual, quite intelligent. So I grew up around people talking, but in the culture, the way they talk, my father, my uncles, myself, my brothers. When we're playing through an idea that we're sort of have evidence of or that we've thought through, we talk as if it's true. And we also sometimes talk with a tone of complete assurance that this is how it is. And that certainly can help. If you're reassuring a client, it can make you a successful public speaker, it can make people feel happy that you seem to know what's going on. But I want to say that I talk that way, and I'm going to talk that way this morning about the subject that I'm going to bring up. And that still doesn't mean that I'm not wrong. I could be wrong. I also don't have a legal or scientific medical backing to what I'm saying. What I'm saying is come from many years of my own experience. It's come from years of anecdotal experience with clients. It's come from watching people before then. Furthermore, it comes from an instinct, my belief of how humans interact with medication and how humans interact with searching for causes of things. How I addressed in another podcast that humans have this horrible muscular bias to always settle on the simplest and most easily controlled cause as the primary cause, because we don't want to consider the possibility that the cause is complex and not in our control. Therefore, we're thinking through something that there isn't anything we can do other than to sort of accept the situation. That's the background. Those are the rules for the podcast. If I upset you or if you're someone who doesn't fit the model of what I'm saying, I acknowledge that. I have friends who I've posted what I'm going to say on Facebook who have come back and said, hey, this is going on with my kids and this was always true. And, you know, what you're saying is not true in my case. And I respect you. I respect the fact that I don't know you. I don't know your family. Furthermore, I don't know your situation. And so if what I say doesn't fit for you, and even though I may say it as if it's totally true, and I may line up a bunch of evidence, you're free to just take it and throw it out. Or you're free to post a response in the comments and be like, Hey, there's something you're missing here, et cetera. Because it's not just for me to play through ideas, but you get to play through ideas as well. But I encourage you not to take anything I say as personal or ill-meant. So the topic that I want to bring up is one that I get heated inside my own head concerning ADHD and ADD and the prescription of amphetamine. To children, sometimes as young as seven, 10, before their brain has even gone through the second round of neural pruning, which means that their brain is still in process of constructing itself, introducing a medication that's quite effective, which also means that it's quite muscular in how it interacts with the brain and what it does. And so here's my statement. In my own experience, and as a therapist, I have never, ever, ever met someone who had, quote, ADD or ADHD, who had a problem with reduced dopamine in their brain, which is basically the correlate that they're saying that people with ADHD or ADD It's not that they have too much energy. You see them flopping around, and you see them easily distracted and these sorts of things. But in fact, their brain doesn't have enough tone in physiological terms. Tone meaning enough energy to tighten it up and have it present and ready to pay attention. And so due to this theory that the brain doesn't have enough tone and that people with ADD or ADHD actually have low levels of serotonin, sorry, of dopamine, then these people are prescribed medications and all ADHD medication is amphetamine. And I think sometimes people don't actually know this. This is why college kids abuse it. This is why some people like chopping up two or three pills and then snorting it, and essentially you're getting a meth-like experience, right? So number one, you need to put on the table the connection. That methamphetamine, that thing that destroys lives and people do it a couple of years and end up with their teeth rotting out and sores on their face and completely tweaking and life destroyed, meth is just a much more refined more powerful version that results in a massive dopamine dump in your head. And dopamine is related to the ability to intend, the ability to focus. Dopamine is related to our feeling that we are taking right action and moving things forward, which historically you have to guess that evolution built that in to be like, oh, I can figure out how to chop this tree down, and I can figure out how to strip it of bark and I can figure out how to cut it up and form it into a canoe. And then by doing that, I can figure out how to move and get to this lake, and then I can fish, and then I can feed my family. So these long, long processes in which evolution has used dopamine and dopamine hits to instruct you that you're on this process. You should have this feeling of right action. I'm taking right action that satisfies my evolutionary needs. Right. But methamphetamine is a massive hijack, massive hijack. I forget the numbers, but I think it's something like in thousands and thousands of time, the natural level of dopamine. Amphetamine is a milder version, still a significant version. And I've seen young clients, you know, 15, 16 on really high amounts, and I've had clients get addicted to it and abuse it and then struggle to get off of it. That doesn't mean that amphetamine medications, ADHD medications aren't for some people. Again, if what I'm saying doesn't apply to you, and it worked for you and really helped you, and you don't feel tweak, and it doesn't make you uncomfortable, and you're on just the right amount, and you were able to focus now, and you were not before, God bless. That's awesome. That is not what I have observed. So this gets a little deeper. I usually share from my own experience, yes, So in my own experience, I thank goodness I was born in 1967 and grew up in the 70s and early 80s in a small town where people just didn't do mental health and didn't do medication. It was just not a thing because I was so hyper And I don't think anyone knows this from inside my own experience, right? How I experienced? Everyone knew that I was hyper. Everyone knew even though I was a good kid and teachers didn't dislike me. I wasn't disrespectful. I was so hyper. Furthermore, I was unmanageable. When I went to middle school, there was a point at which, um, teachers would move me out of their class and into another class. And there was one teacher who was a kind guy, and he was a very good teacher. And I never felt, I felt bad, but I didn't feel, it didn't feel personal where at one point I was just wiggling and moving and talking and joking and all that. I just couldn't stop, couldn't stop moving my body where he said very firmly and directly to me, looking at me, You know, you're in my class because the other teachers didn't want you in their class, and you don't have anywhere else to go. There's no other class to go to in this period. And there were other kind teachers. You know, I had a lot of really kind teachers. Um, there was another kind teacher, one of my middle school football coaches who tried to sit down and talk to me and say, you know, when you feel that way, can you just like put your hands on your desk and squeeze them into fists and just, you know, will use your willpower. And it's like, no, the answer was no, that the feeling of agitation was almost like being shocked. It was like an electric shock that just would not stop. And the only way to get some relief from it. Was to move. And it wasn't even like, oh, go be athletic. It was just like this agitated, like move, bounce your leg, talk, say something, say anything, move around. And again, I was lucky that I had reasonable intelligence. I read an enormous amount. Reading was very soothing for me. And so teachers knew that it wasn't a problem of like, oh, he just doesn't understand. But I can tell you that starting with first grade, my ability to just sit there and absorb information just didn't exist. And then I got behind and that became a bigger and bigger problem. And the one thing that I could do was read. So if it came to literature or narratives, I could interact. But I often tell people with young clients who come in really worried, I essentially failed high school. Um, I had a teacher who to sort of help me out because I needed a D in his class to pass high school, um, essentially gave me a special project and said, look, you do this, and I'll give you a “D” And, uh, I went home and. I made a topographical map of the Lewis and Clark Trail. And by that, I mean my sister, who was quite nurturing as a human being and had taken care of me a lot as a child, made the map and painted it. I think maybe I sat still next to her as she did it. And we're talking about, I was in high school, I was a senior, so I must have been 17 or 18. This continued. And the one thing that I was good at was music. And I knew that it was a big problem. I had never studied my entire high school career. I just either sort of intuitively understood on tests and was able to answer just because I was smart and was paying attention. But I never brought a book home and studied with few exceptions. And so it makes sense that I almost failed. And I just didn't have the ability to internalize new information because I was so agitated. Again, it literally felt like someone was shocking me the entire time. So when I moved away from home at age 19, I spent a summer, maybe two, I don't remember after I graduated. Working with my dad, working with my hands. And then I moved with a band to Los Angeles I went to a school called Musicians Institute and I had settled on, well, music is the thing I can do. Like music is something that I was perfect at. And so I have to succeed at this because I just can't internalize. I can't sit still long enough for anything else. Like I have a natural instinct for this and that has to be enough. And when I went to the school, They had a reasonably challenging curriculum where you had to know a certain amount of music theory, et cetera, et cetera. And in my first month, they dump an enormous amount of information and training on you. And they even tell you, you're going to be totally overwhelmed. And you're going to spend years sorting through it. And don't freak out, because nobody internalizes all the information. We're just exposing you to all this stuff. In the first month, where there was some academic stuff that I was supposed to learn, I was actually quite suicidal because it was like, I can play scales. You can show me stuff. I can learn. I can learn. But if you give me academic stuff where I have to look at a piece of paper and internalize information with notation and explanations and theories about how stuff works, I've never been capable of doing that. Then I had this horrible experience where the agitation was there was so serious and was like, I'm an adult now, I left home. If I literally cannot internalize information, I understand what this means. I understand that I am not functional, and I either have to tell my parents that I'm terribly mentally ill, maybe I'm going to be put in a mental health hospital, Maybe I become homeless. If music, one thing that there's a possibility I could make a living at and that I have some talents and that I'm good at and that I enjoy doing, if this presents me with challenges that I can't sink into it, I'm screwed. I was actually pretty suicidal. I was like, I've got nowhere to go. Thank goodness, out of pure desperation, I slowed down, and I forced myself to take one piece at a time and to learn. And luckily my guitar instructor previously was classically trained and had taught me music theory. And because I enjoyed working with him so much, and I think because he understood me as a human being, I had already learned a lot about music theory and I had enough of a background that ultimately I was able to do quite well in ear training, in sight-reading, and I actually became a little academic about it. And I actually would sometimes help other students who didn't understand it. I sort of got into teaching for the first time. And in a way teaching saved my life in that way, because I found that if I could slow down and explain it to myself, and explain it to someone else, it would calm down my nervous system enough that I could deeply internalize. And what's really important about this, right? Not to make the conversation about ADHD or ADD totally about my story. What's really important about this and what's really important if you have a child who's really agitated, and they just can't seem to focus, and they're bouncing around all the time is to know that I came that close to failing a high school that barely had any standards. We didn't even need a second language. I graduated without studying geometry. I graduated without passing algebra one or two. Furthermore, I just did some remedial math. Once I conquered that problem and then ADD or whatever you want to call it, the inability to sit still remained a massive problem for most of my adult life. But I went to college and did quite well, and I think graduated undergrad with like a 3.5 or 3.6 something. Really respectable and spent a lot of time tutoring. Being a tutor and tutoring other students or writing tons of papers. And I had a similar experience of a real challenge when I started college. And it was like, well, when I write a paper, it can't just be what I want to say and what I want to think. There's such a thing as a research paper, which I had never done in high school. And I learned to do that so well that in the last two years of my undergrad, it became effortless for me. I could sit down and all of my papers were A, A, A, A, A minus A. And I had instructors say, hey, you need to go to grad school. Which I didn't do until my 40s. And in grad school, I graduated from Pepperdine's psychology program with a perfect 4.0. So partially I'm bragging, but what I'm saying to you is if you're a parent who has this kind of child that you know that they're intelligent, don't freak out. I literally basically failed. They basically gave me a pass at this little small-town high school that had very low standards. And I have no doubt that if I was younger, and I had the money, I would have no problem doing a doctorate. That's probably not in the cards anymore. But the point is that we have to stop pathologizing kids. I am a case, a one-off story, an anecdotal situation where my ADHD was so severe that I basically barely internalized anything my entire childhood. When I graduated from high school, I couldn't do basic arithmetic, like I had difficulty multiplying and dividing, et cetera, et cetera. In my master's program, I took research and statistics and got an A. So the point is, even in undergrad, I got As and BS in all of my math classes, which was a more challenging subject for me. My point is A, if you're a parent or if you're one of these people, be very, very, very careful about the messages being sent to you. That there's just something biologically, you were just born with this brain that is this way, and you can't do anything about it, and you need an upper, you need a stimulant to sort it out. So here, so that's the background. So here's the part where I think I'll step on people's toes and there are going to be psychiatrists who are like, you don't know what you're talking about, you're not an MD, you're not a psychiatrist, you're not deeply trained, et cetera, et cetera. But I do know what I see, and I can tell you I have never, ever, ever, ever met someone who quote unquote had ADD or ADHD who hadn't had a significantly traumatizing childhood. So what I'm saying to you is, ADHD does not exist as a one-off thing on its side, its own DSM diagnosis. It is a traumatized, intensely anxious, intensely over-activated human being, which is exactly what I was. I won't go into what I experienced. It's still highly conflicted in my family. There's still tons of denial, but essentially, there were some really horrible things that were done specifically to me and not to anyone else in the family. And I was badly, badly traumatized. And I struggled with overwhelming PTSD for decades. I'm a therapist now because I spent easily 15 years figuring out how to solve it. And once I solved it, I was like, holy shit, like, you don't have to live with this. You don't have to live with this. It's not, oh, there's something wrong with your brain chemistry. I think that's one of the biggest, you know, is there somebody with endogenous depression who was just born that way? Maybe I'm not out there doing shitloads of research. I've never seen it. People are always depressed for a reason. Sometimes they're depressed because they've had, in my case, I would have severe depressions that would just slam me And I couldn't get out of it. And during those depressions, I could barely even read or think. And that was really terrifying because I was like, well, if you can't function, what are you going to do? That was not a result of endogenous depression. I didn't have major depressive disorder. I solved the problem permanently. It's gone permanently. That doesn't mean if someone dies, I won't feel really sad when my sister, well, the sister died. I felt very sad and depressed for a while, but that's just being human. So this idea that you're born with this chemical imbalance, first, the brain is so complex. The fact that they're running this idea at you that it's about a chemical imbalance is literally big pharma landing on what I talked about before, the human need to believe that there's one linear primary cause of what you're experiencing. Therefore, I can just go pay someone, and they're going to give me a pill and that solves it is bullshit. Yes, your brain might be imbalanced. When I was severely depressed, yeah, I'm sure there was low serotonin and low dopamine, but it was not because I was born with a brain that had a problem with low serotonin and low dopamine. If I took the time to trauma dump and tell you everything I went through, you'd be like, oh shit, yeah, okay, yeah, of course you were depressed. And that's what happens, right? That's what I see with clients. Every single one of my clients with chronic PTSD who has had severe adverse childhood experiences like ticking off 10 of 10 or whatever the scale is at intense levels sooner or later is like, you know, I think ADD. Okay. So here's what I'm saying. Here's the argument. If you take someone, and you snap them into fight or flight where their nervous system is constantly screaming like either fight something or run away, fight something or run away, fight something or run away, individual humans will have many, many ways that they respond to this. For me, because I was not big, I was tall and lanky, but I was not big, and I don't have aggressive tendencies, I wasn't the bully who was beating people up. I didn't do great in sports. I am hyperverbal, so I just talk shit constantly, told stupid jokes constantly, sang, made up songs constantly. So that was my way of dealing with it. Somebody else will deal with it by restricting their food. Somebody else will deal with it by drinking. Somebody else will deal with it with heroin just to feel, you know, a half hour of calm or whatever. The way people will deal with it will be different. But I can't think of a single traumatized, heavily traumatized client that I've had who doesn't at some point talk about my ADD, my ADHD, as if it's this other thing. It's just a badly traumatized human whose nervous system is hyper-activated. They have normalized it. They've learned tons of coping mechanisms. Furthermore, they've learned to just make sense of it, even to explain it to other people. I'm hyper. Some people have more energy than other people. I'm pretty sure maybe I was born. I'm a born introvert. So that means a nervous system that's more sensitive that activates faster. But I lived with a chronic severely high level of activation, constantly on threat assessment, jumping, startling every time there was a loud noise, feeling uncomfortable if I was sitting with my back to the door and I couldn't see the door. Like I just felt uncomfortable. This is classic PTSD. And I lived with that for decades. And so my way of normalizing it was a constant move and talk shit and joke around and blah, blah, and just constantly just run this energy out there. That expressed the energy but also kept people from accessing me and needing me to have a calm brain and process anything. If someone's that hyper and that obnoxious all the time, what they're doing is they're ensuring that they are never made responsible for something, and then they never have to face the fact that they are incapable of taking the responsibility on because their brain cannot sit still long enough to just work through a problem. All of these people have hyper-activated nervous systems. Okay, let's say you're a parent, and you have a child that struggles with this and right now you're feeling awful because you're like, so what are you saying, Jon Sorensen that I abused my child? I'm not there. I don't know. Let's take the word abuse off the table. Sometimes parents are highly anxious. And they behave in sort of agitated way where they're flip-flopping, and they can't quite focus. And you're like, well, it's genetic. No, what you're doing is establishing an environment in which your child grows up and feels overstimulated and over-activated. And they don't have a way of dealing with that. Kids don't have a way of dealing with overwhelm. They do it in very primitive, very primal ways. And so maybe you're a perfect parent, maybe you're a really loving parent, but maybe you really struggle with anxiety. Maybe you really struggle with trauma. And even though you're a kind and loving parent who pays lots of attention and tries everything that you can to be a tentative, that you have this activated energy. I can tell you that I know that there was some of that from my firstborn, from my daughter. I was still really overwhelmed with being a parent and still hadn't completely solved all of my body issues. And my wife and I were still working out like, what does it mean to be a parent for both of us to have full-time jobs and have a child? And my daughter spent more time in a sort of fragmented environment. And she's more anxious than my son. Who didn't, right? So I'm not saying this to say all, like, if you have a kid who has ADD or ADHD, that you're a horrible parent. But I am saying it's a true way more often that it's a parent who's normalized abusive behaviors because that's how they were raised. They might not know that they're abusive, but often they'll be agitated, really negative. They'll say things they don't think are critical, but actually are just like out-and-out critical. Furthermore, they'll constantly ride their child, right? So you see children who are just constantly being ridden and managed and controlled. And the parent will say, well, I'm parenting you. That they think that's what parenting is when in fact they're just harassing their child and sending negative message after negative message after negative message, which overwhelms that child's nervous system and puts them in a state of fight or flight where every time they do anything, even though the parent isn't there, this internal message is like, yeah, but they're, but they, you know, don't do that. Yeah. No, you're going to do it wrong. You're going to mess it up. You're like, why didn't you? Well, they have that inside. I had that insight at a level that it was impossible to accomplish anything. The second I engaged a task, it was just this roar of internal voices, which we don't need to go into how I received that message. I know how I received it. Okay. ADD, ADHD. Is a chronically overdrive nervous system. Now, when you chronically overdrive a nervous system, it often crashes into depression. So people with ADHD or ADD may have low dopamine levels, but it's not endogenous. They were not born that way. They may even be born with a sensitivity. That means it's easier for them to get depressed or whatever than somebody else. That's a real thing. Introverts’ nervous systems are more sensitive. And so a one-off trauma might really do significant damage to an introvert. And an extrovert might be like, yeah, that sucked, but it just didn't leave a lasting impression. This is not to say that there aren't individual differences. This is to come back and say that every person I've ever met and myself included who is severely ADD or ADHD has had a very difficult or chaotic or fragmented childhood or tons of neglect, intentional or no. They might've had parents who had to work both of them 12 hours a day. I observed at an elementary school where that was very sad. There were lots of new immigrant parents who were working six, seven days a week. And they had all these programs at this elementary school where you could drop your kid off at seven a.m. in the morning or a quarter of seven. And the school would feed them breakfast. The school was doing a great job dealing with it. School would feed them breakfast, feed them snack, feed them lunch. They would. It was elementary, so they would get out at two thirty, and then it would have been after school class, and then they would have a program after that because some parents were not going to come pick them up until five thirty. So kids were spending all day in school. That's traumatizing to lots of children, and they don't know what to do with it. And what if they're getting bullied a little in elementary school? And that doesn't blame the parents. The parents are doing what they have to do. So this is not a diatribe against parents. This is to say that I've never met anyone who was quote/unquote ADD or ADHD. Who wasn't badly traumatized over a significant period of time or neglected. So let's put the sociological part to the side and go, here's a nervous system that's intensely chronically over-activated. Do you really think it's a good idea to give them an upper? And do not be confused. All ADD and ADHD medication is amphetamine. It's an upper. You're giving your kids or yourself or whomever the same thing, a milder version of methamphetamine. It's amphetamine. It's amphetamine, it's amphetamine. If no one tells you this, this is almost like criminally negligent. It's amphetamine. Am I saying you shouldn't take it? No. What I'm saying is Big Pharma is not honest at all about what's going on. They just want you to take it. Now here's the thing. There's another medication, I wish I could remember the name of it, that is like the new ADD, and it has a completely different name, and one of my clients had been prescribed it. And I was like, Oh, I don't know. Like, is there something new, different? I went and looked for it. Guess what? Amphetamine, amphetamine, amphetamine. Every time it's amphetamine. Okay. If you have a problem being calm, and you take heroin, heroin is very effective at calming you. If you have a problem with anxiety, anzolytics are very effective. Prozac can be effective at treating depression. When you introduce a chemical that is designed to land on the same receptors as the neurotransmitter that you're missing or the thing that's going on in your brain that makes life difficult for you, you're going to have an outcome that moves you in the direction that you want to go. But it's going to be, it's the same process as someone who drinks, someone with social anxiety, who drinks to get through a party. Do not kid yourself. The fact that an MD or a psychiatrist tells you, you should take this Yes, maybe they're managing it to make sure it's within reasonable levels, and maybe it's not a street solution, so it's a healthy dose, blah, blah, blah. I'm not saying that shouldn't exist. I have taken psychotropic medication for about a decade. Furthermore, I did. But don't get confused that this is different from taking, look, Sometimes a psychiatrist will prescribe Gaba, gabapentin for people who are overly anxious. Alcohol lands on the Gaba receptors. When you go to an MD or a psychiatrist, You're engaging the same process as your buddy who had a awful childhood and is pretty anxious and has lots of social anxiety who has to throw down three drinks before going to the party in order to have a good time. You're doing the same thing. You are medicating. Furthermore, you're introducing a chemical. Alcohol lands on the Gaba receptors and depresses the mental processes. When you go to a psychiatrist in MD, and you're like, I'm really anxious, I have difficulty sleeping at night, blah, blah, blah, and they prescribe you gabapentin, it's the same thing. So let's bring it back to ADHD. Everyone knows that a meth head can get stuff done. Everyone knows if you need your apartment cleaned and your friend's a meth head, you could invite him or her over and go, hey, man, cut this up, snort this like, like, let's clean my apartment. The image comes up of Breaking Bad in which I forget the names of the characters. I'm terrible that way. Where they had to get access to a house and the dude was unstable who lived at the house, but he was a bad, bad meth head. And so the younger character, the protégé of Mr. White says, watch this. And he goes into the yard. He starts digging a hole, digging a hole, digging a hole. Pretty soon meth head comes out. What are you doing? Digging a hole. Pretty soon meth head gets his shovels, digging a hole. If you're hopped up on meth or amphetamine, it is going to tighten your brain up, flood you with dopamine, and you're going to feel super purposeful. That is what it does. That's what dopamine does. That's what dopamine correlates with is a feeling of purpose or taking right action. Meth heads have feel purpose. Okay, so a psychiatrist and an MD is not prescribing meth, right? You could take enough aspirin to kill yourself and a doctor is going to prescribe aspirin. So be very careful about what I'm saying here. I am not saying psychiatrists and MDs are drug dealers. There are people out there making that argument. Some of them are. Some of them are really unethical. Whatever. I'm not getting into that. That's not what this podcast about. What I'm saying is the fact that ADHD medication works doesn't in any way, shape or form prove that it is the appropriate response or the appropriate way to treat or help someone heal or deal with the fact that they have a hyper activated nervous system. It would have been, I'm very thankful to my mother on this because she was very, very anti-drugs and anti-diagnoses. I would have been a prime candidate. I guarantee you, I have seen few people as hyper and unbearably obnoxious as I was when I was a kid in modern day. Furthermore, I see kids are just kind of like have a little too much energy, too bouncy and schools immediately like, well, we need to have them evaluated for ADD. Man, this is just sick. You got to stop. These kids need to go out and run. I saw an elementary school where the whole playground was concrete. And they had taped off areas where it's like, Oh, here are these lines. You're in this group on recess. You run, you go to this area. There's someone monitoring it, and they say, okay, , since that go, you run to the other end. And then you come back, and you get in the line and that's what you do. And then there's a line at the tether ball area, and you play for three minutes. And then the next person plays the entire thing. And the elementary school was dealing with like, why are these kids so hyper and jumpy? And what's going on? And what are they eating? It's like, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? You can't do that to children and think that they're going to be able to sit still. Kids do not get anywhere near enough activity and physical activity. So in my case, legitimately, that would have been an obvious diagnosis, ADD, ADHD. But this is happening with kids who just don't get enough physical activity or enough personal attention. There are all these complex causes of these states. And our society is like, oh, boom, let's give them an amphetamine. OK. If you can't tell, this really pisses me off. It is deeply unethical that society, that American society is like, The only solution to a kid sitting around with a nervous system that's so chronically over-activated is to assume they don't have enough dopamine, and I'm going to give them an amphetamine and give them a dopamine dump. It's ridiculous. We got to stop, guys. We got to stop. Are there people Who meet the medical definition of ADHD? They were just born with low, maybe I don't know, but I can tell you it wasn't true for me. And it's not been true for a single client I've ever sat with. They are always chronic PTSD, chronic PTSD, chronic PTSD, highly over-activated nervous system, adrenaline, cortisol, which shuts down the hippocampi, the part of the brain that does memory. This person can't remember stuff like short-term memories out the window. All of my clients who come in a little older with chronic PTSD are like, do I have Alzheimer's? Because cortisol is shutting down their hippocampi and shutting down their ability, their short-term memory especially, but even long-term memory, it's difficult to create memories because cortisol is acting on that area of the brain that's sensitive to it. And we're like, oh, give them an amphetamine. Let's crank them up. Okay, it's going to work. It's going to work for the same reason that Jessy the character going and intensely digging holes for no reason in the backyard is going to chill out this meth head who's otherwise highly unstable because that's what amphetamines do. Just like if you're having trouble sleeping, toss back four shots. It's going to work. And then you're going to wake up with anxiety at three in the morning when the alcohol leaves your system and your brain bounces back. You know, like your GABA receptors, your brain to stop producing GABA because you had such an overwhelm of GABA interaction. And then you process the alcohol and your body's not making GABA. And then suddenly you're super anxious in the middle of the night. That's what all of this stuff is. Again, Who cares what I say? If you take ADD medication or ADHD medication, and it works for you, and you have a psychiatrist managing that for you, or it just works for you and has for years, , but you are the exception to what's going on. You're the exception to what's going on. So I have to close because I have incoming. I could literally go for days on this topic. Again, this is not to criticize MDs or psychiatrists. There are appropriate uses of psychotropic medications. They're not drug dealers who are just sitting here pushing this stuff. I'm not making the comparison to say that, but what I'm saying is they're engaging the same mechanisms as someone who drinks to calm down. They're introducing a chemical into your brain to have this muscular impact on your brain to give you a chance to experience something differently, to operate differently and to build in different habits. They're doing their job. Furthermore, they're doing what they should do. And most of them are good ethical people. This is not to place them in the same camp as a drug dealer. But what I'm saying is the mechanism is the same. So if you're saying, yeah, like I took twice as much ADD medication as I should have. I actually snorted it and I did the best I ever did like on my paper. But yeah, it works. It just doesn't work long term, and it's not solving the actual problem. Because the actual problem is not that you have a dopamine problem. The problem is you have an over-activated nervous system. You probably had a chaotic childhood and no one ever trained you. I had to train myself to learn to focus and to immerse myself. And I told you it was so difficult. There was a period of time I was seriously suicidal. It was like, if I don't succeed at this, I got nowhere left to go. I'm trying to succeed at music, the one thing that I've ever been good at. So what I'm saying to you is maybe there are exceptions where it truly is true. They were born, they have an endogenous problem with low dopamine. I haven't done the research. Don't listen to me. But what I'm telling you is in my own experience and in my experience with clients, And with people in my life, I have never met someone with serious ADD or ADHD who isn't actually struggling with medium to high anxiety or chronic PTSD. So they're over-activated, and we're like, we're going to take you an over-activated person, and we're going to slam your brain with a dopamine dump that makes you perfect at focusing. Yeah, same as every meth head. It might solve the problem in the temporary, but no one is calling it what it is. Children who are anxious, children who are traumatized, children with chronic PTSD, children who don't have enough attention, children who don't get enough exercise and activity, and just going, oh, there's a drug for that, it's amphetamine, and it works temporarily, is not a smart or healthy solution. As you can tell, I feel very strongly about this. Again, this podcast has meant for me to play through ideas and to say what I have to say. That doesn't mean you have to listen to it or believe me. And you're welcome to push back in the comments if you like, or if you want, you can come on, and we can talk about it in person. And if you have counter evidence, please, I'd love to hear it. And it would make for another good podcast. All right, guys, I have incoming. I hope you have a wonderful day and I will talk to you next time.

Meet your hosts:

Jon Sorensen


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