I'm Tuning You Out

I'm Tuning You Out

I read the most fascinating analysis about ADHD from a highly regarded (and highly compassionate) Canadian physician, Gabor Maté. He says ADHD traits like tuning out and distractibility first develop as emotional defense mechanisms against distress (anxiety, sorrow and pain). The stages go something like this:

As a child:

You grow up in a stressful parenting environment (abuse, addiction, poverty, etc.)

You can't fight back, escape or ask for help

While your brain is developing—you tune out

The tuning out gets wired into your brain

The tuning out becomes the "default setting" of your brain

As an adult:

You're diagnosed with ADHD

Unfortunately, we don't yet know if ADHD is a permanent condition. For example, how malleable is the brain in adulthood? One thing seems to be certain: Expose yourself to a more nourishing environment and it leads to positive changes in the structure of the brain of adults.

I've suffered from ADHD for as long as I can remember. And yes, I grew up in a very stressful environment, impoverished—with parents and siblings fighting all the time. There is one positive, though. The little focus I do have goes to things that are very important to me—that I'm interested in—such as educating myself about ADHD, Depression and Anxiety, as well as my few hobbies, such as photography, screenwriting and filmmaking.


The British Psychiatrist R.D. Laing wrote that there are three things human beings are afraid of:

Death, other people, and their own minds.


Featured Content

Notice: Moderation has changed!

We are thrilled to welcome The Shaw Mind Foundation to the community!

Learn more

Featured by HealthUnlocked

6 Replies

  • I like that R.D. Laing quote Richard :) Gemma

  • Me too! :)

  • Yes, this is the standard psychoanalytic view - that we shut off from emotions that hurt us and if too much stimulation comes from the outside we shut off from that too - in that view some individuals are particularly sensitive and may need to defend against experiences that are not necessarily abusive intentionally but may just be insensitive to the needs of a baby or child, in which case the results can be ADHD or if earlier then autism. x

  • I think this is why I am so hesitant about my next move. I had a childhood that involved emotional outbursts, a volatile parent and sister, then got involved with a volatile marriage (fights with his ex over his kids). When I had my daughter I left in the hope I could give her a more settled upbringing, but the lack of family support led me to get involved with yet another drama queen. After that marriage ended with a lot of aggression and threats, I am again desperate to find a settled place. However my family drew me back in with pressure over my mother's illness. Now I am desperately looking for my own place, but trying so hard to make a good decision I have not made any decision. I sometimes think I have found a solution, but then feel not worthy of my choice. I find it hard to focus on anything, obsess about my own issues, easily distracted etc.I have become very shut in, withdrawn from the family who I feel have let me down once again and tried to trap me.

    All I want to to live in peace, have a real home, not a show home or investment property, and create the family atmosphere I want so much, but I am just not getting there. I have no-one I can call and talk to about my options.

  • I am sorry if you have already said, but which country do you live in?

  • USA-California