Updated: Jun 1
Of course, the term ADHD is a fuzzy category used in Western countries as a “diagnosis” for a “disorder”in our psychiatric medical model. Your kid’s counselor labels him ADHD . Quick, put him on drugs!
Of course, he might be just bored at school, realizing that he can get a better education on the Internet, not to mention porn, which is a lot more interesting than staring at old Mrs. Grant's boobs all day. .
Maybe. He was left-handed, probably dyslexic, polymathic, autodidactic, insatiably curious, and had trouble finishing projects. Mona Lisa's smile--a subtle detail most artists would have missed--is a giveaway.
“ADD”? Another disorder. ADD is also known as “inattentive” ADHD. So your kid doesn’t pay attention in math class? Whoops! More drugs.
But “ADD” is also referred to as the “Edison Trait”. Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were poster kids for that.
Clinically, I have been diagnosed as having ADD. I am also dyslexic, dysgraphic, and a polymath with a significant degree of LLI , or Low Latent Inhibition.
People categorize me in also sorts of ways – as having a superfragilistically high IQ if they like me, or maybe form of ASD, such as Asperger’s or savant syndrome, if they don’t.
“Autistic” people are not the same as people like me --but like people in my category, they are all different. Autism is not a “disorder” any more than ADD, ADHD – or genius is.
To compensate for the contradictions, institutional psychiatry calls autism a "spectrum", a clever bit of semantics. A DSM IV “disorder” is a medical diagnosis to assist medical doctors – psychiatrists—in “treating” or “normifying” the “abnormal”, which is their bread and butter.
But, what exactly is a “spectrum”?
Most of the electromagnetic and acoustic spectra are invisible. We know what our eyes can see- and our ears can hear-- but the rest of it? Your dog or cat “hears” the world, as much as they see it, at frequencies beyond our hearing. Not to mention, “smell” the world.
In the case of autism and any ‘neuroatypical” state we are really talking about behaviors and especially perceptual abilities that “normals” do not have to the same degree, any more than they share their pets’ special abilities, although they can hear and smell , too.
Hierarchical, dominance societies are built on concepts of ‘normalcy”, not that means the same or of equal value, just organizations in categories or “identities’. It is taxonomic logic. Therefore, “identity” is always a “category--with subcategories. Black, white, Asian, etc. Male, Female, Intersex. Gay, Straight, Bi. Child . Teen. Young adult. Middle-Aged. Old. These are also types. If typify groups, it is easier to control them, and get them in lock step operating to a set of rules.
Who are you today?
The Wheel of Fortune?
Each "identity" assumes "normal" or "socially acceptable" behaviors, which are provided for us through conditioning aka "training" since these are not so much "natural" as nurtural.
We do this with our pets, of course. We train them. Cats might be an exception—they train us.
“Atypical”, however, does not fit in. We can’t “normify” it. It is not "nurtural".
Yet, all great art, scientific invention and the like come from atypical people, who are lionized if they create something of social worth – but otherwise ignored or even classified as “sick”. That is why genius generally becomes most famous after the person dies.
As a “neuroatypical” or ‘neurodivergent” person, I can do things other people can’t.
But my abilities are also disability. I function best with help. When I left home, I lived in a small community of Canadian First Nation people – where I was immediately accepted – and helped. As it turns out rates of ADD, ADHD, and autism are high about the First Nations, who traditionally accepted people like this.
Lessons from First Nations.
Of course, every indigenous North American culture is different. But, by and large, most “first nation” cultures operate on similar principles.
You are no doubt are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which was based on Canadian Blackfoot culture, which Maslow had observed as an anthropologist in the 40s—and misinterpreted.
University of Alberta professor Cindy Blackstock says:
“First of all, the triangle is not a triangle. It’s a tipi,” And the tipis in the Blackfoot (tradition) always went up and reached up to the skies”.
Notice that self actualization is at the base of the Blackfoot tipi.The Blackfoot culture is mirrored by that of the Mohawk which is mirrored by the Navajo
To be fair, Maslow never created the pyramid and in the later years of his life he believed in self-transcendence rather than self-actualization. In the Blackfoot worldview where the “self” is only the beginning with transcendence driving community actualization and cultural continuity above.
Maslow eventually put self-transcendence at the top of his list of needs with self-actualization below. That famous pyramid? Created by a business management . consultant.The First Nations perspective, however, is an open system, with a spiritual rather than a religious core – a different sense of time and reality. Expanding circles, which reflect as we shall see, a certain kind of consciousness.
This graphic is based partly on Professor Blackstock’s inspiring writings on Indian “breath of life” philosophy and also on Terry Cross’s in his wonderful monograph: Through Indigenous Eyes. For most hunters and gatherers and many tribal people, you are born with a ‘self”. To the extent that they are egalitarian (and not all tribal peoples, including Native Americans are!), every person is equal, including children, women, and people who are different in their cognition and way of thinking. The “self” is subsumed by “spirit” which is self-transcendence. This allows love, belonging and relationships, which enable the survival of the group.
Of course, the academic community had to interpret Maslow’s writings their own way. Theirs is a dominance system, with university administrators and the top, then tenured professors, then, adjuncts at the bottom. Students are fodder.Academic thought is structured by the implied somewhat feudal value system. They genuflect to Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
The First Nations perspective is an open system with a spiritual rather than a religious core – a different sense of time and reality. Expanding circles, which reflects, as we shall see a certain kind of consciousness.
In school, I was always an outlier, something of a Freak.
For my Indian friends, I was just "different"--yet, one of them!
Later, I visited a psychiatrist, an older man, who did not believe in “treating” people like me so much as giving me coping skills. He focused on teaching me to organize my thoughts cognitively and communicate in discrete sentences.
I tended to speak continuously in one long, never-ending sentence, as my attention shifted from one thing to another, making connections. My thought processes worked as a matrix. But for “normals”, who expect linear thinking, this is confusing. Oddly enough, the Indians had no trouble understanding me. One aspect of this was my visual sense. Thoughts were also pictures. “Visual thinking” is common among neurologically atypical people.
I learned these skills which allowed me to pass as “Normal”. But “Gifted”, even though each of abilities was also a disability.
As you can see from the large number of pictures in my articles I remain visual.
A good example is presented in the TV program, the Good Doctor.
The Spiritual Aspect
In the modern world, we have institutional religions. Our ancestors had spiritual consciousness.
Among the "disorders" that our society worries about are dissociative disorders.in Buddhism a kind of “satori” or total awareness. Again, this is one of those bins for a wide range of things including a lot of intellectual junk. Schizotypal identify disorder is dumped in with various genuinely spiritual states, including Buddhist ‘enlightenment ” and “eureka moments”. In general, all these mentalities have in common the ability to dissociate one’s self from the Self itself, seeing the world without filters, holistically, all at once. There is no Center. The “Center” is the Circumference of imagination.
Yet, this dissociative capability also enable hyperfocus, which, as we will see later, is essential to genius
As a child, I would often “space out”. Suddenly time disappeared. I, “Julian” disappeared. “Julian” was just another label. I was, in that moment, the World. Outside was Inside. Inside was Outside. It was intensely pleasurable.
Such experiences are particularly common among artists and inventors.
For our ancestors, they were proof of “Spirit”. And spiritual connection, which they tried to induce through song and dance and drugs.
Naturally, I didn’t talk about this to anyone, since I was already regarded as “spacey”.
Neural atypical people often have issues with Social Identity – because their identities tend to be as fluid and dynamic as their perception.
That brings us to “perception”—seeing, feeling, sensing – our direct interaction with the world beyond.
Neuroatypical people often have had degrees of LLI – or “Low Latent Inhibition”. Take a look at his video here. Difference in perception between ADHD and Low Latent Inhibition,
Most people focus only on what the mind has been taught to categorize as relevant – that’s the Green Box Of course this “relevance” is predetermined and varies.
The video gives us the conventional notion of ADD (or ADHD) which is that attention moves quickly including “irrelevant” stimuli without stopping—and distinguishes it from LLI, as though LLI was an ability that ADD people lack-- and they cannot “focus”—nor “hyperfocus”.
The idea here is that people with ADHD do not discriminate relevance and are incapable of sustained focus. Their attention is constantly shifting and moving.
With LLI, a person is (supposedly) able to focus on ALL stimuli simultaneously.
And then, people with LLI however also hyperfocus”.
As I said, this is the conventional concept. And it’s WRONG.
LLI is common to a wide range or people labelled “neuroatypical” or “neurodivergent”. I should know, I am one of them.
In fact, some ADD / ADHD people like me end up as polymaths because we hyperfocus on different subjects--we establish relevance between otherwise disconnected subjects, through intensive, occasionally obsessive autodidactic sutdy.
My book “You’re Never Too Old To Rock ‘N Roll”, which is Book I of the Ageing Series, makes connections between rock music, paleoanthropology and paleontology, social psychology, neurology and neurolinguistics, child development studies, evolutionary psychology, history… a long list that also includes zoology. I study each area in depth.
This is not uncommon among people like me.
Take a look at this video.
This difference in cognition has never been more important today when we are desperately in need of new ideas. With the Internet, we have unprecedented access to information. We need people like Mr. Toni who can scan multiple areas of relevance, zoom in, study, and offer new connections – and ultimately solutions necessary to our survival.
There is considerable interest in corporate HR in hiring people on the autism spectrum because they often work obsessively, without regard for time -- or -- most important of all -- overtime. They are "productive" and they can do detail work that others find boring or tiring.
But too many corporations are interested in work slaves -- not in creative solution-makers. Corporations are top-down hierarchies -- with little room for lateral or cooperative organization -- or the creativity that polymaths offer.
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