Lent and ADHD today

As Lent starts I wax Catholic for a moment. ADHD and Catholicism don’t always work for me. By nature I am not great at redundant schedules and external stimulation is important as a motivator. If the homilist is not reaching me I can’t focus on the message. I am sure I’m not alone and yet sometimes the journey seems lonely. Sometimes my trusted advisors, clergy, are not empathetic to my condition and yet I am compelled to continue as a Christian in the Catholic Church. Simply put, I continue because I believe. I am not alone, the Holy Spirit dwells within me and brings the peace he promises. I am not alone because my Church is alive not dead. I can choose to ask for the intercession of all the Church in communion with the Church past, Church present and Church future. I can engage my active mind by heeding God’s calling to learn about ADHD, as a coach help others, and as a follower help to educate my trusted advisors in faith about how God made my brain. Thank you Lord for your abundant blessings and encouragement as I prepare to celebrate your resurrection.

ADHD Gadgets/Technology

How do you use technology to help with ADHD symptoms? I have read many articles on the subject and have listened to clients as well as my own experience with gadgets and apps. I have always wished there was a fix it all app that was easy to use and would jump up and remind me when I needed. Like everything else with ADHD, once it’s mastered it becomes boring to continually enter the information in to any system. The good news is in all of successful cases of gadget use that I know, there is a common thread. It seems that the most successful people have a combination of technology and old school that work together. This was once again apparent for me this week. I have had an ongoing project that should have taken about an hour. So far it’s been a month. I was trying to digitize my monthly bill calendar on to an app that would cover reminders as well as allow me to budget. Every app was great but lacked one thing or the other. As I discovered each app that would cover the flaw of the other, I had to set up again as well as decide which categories were carryovers and which I had to recreate. In the end I decided to take my own advice. I use Mint.com to analyze my habits and trends and use an old fashioned calendar and pencil to forecast my needs. This is what works for me and would not have lost a month if I would just trust in it. I love gadgets that help and it’s part of my job to experiment with tools that assist those with ADHD. One day a little robot personal assistant will follow me around making note of the important things and reminding me of all that is needed or where my keys are. Until then I have a pen. Where is that pen, I thought I left it right here on the desk…..

ADHD A Short History

     Various impairments that are seen with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, have been noted for most of the twenty first century and perhaps even earlier. According to Dr. Russell Barkley (2006), the first scientists to have given “serious clinical attention” to the behavior associated with ADHD are George Still and Alfred Tredgold.  In 1902 Still wrote a series of papers regarding 43 patients that he had that displayed serious problems with “sustained attention.” (Barkley 2006 Page 4).  In these papers he described behavior and theorized that the behavior demonstrated a “defect in moral control.” (Barkley, 2006 ).  Tredgold used the terms early, mild and undetected to label a set of behavioral and learning deficiencies.  Both believed that there was perhaps a genetic link but more likely a post-natal injury causing this lack of morality.
Later the behavioral issues that are components of ADHD were associated with an outbreak of encephalitis.  This epidemic was most pronounced in 1917 and 1918 (Barkley, 2006).   This is a brain disease and the survivors showed behavior consistent with ADHD.  That is that the children were “impaired in their attention, regulation of activity and impulsivity as well as other cognitive abilities including memory.  They were often noted to be socially disruptive as well.” (Barkley, 2006)  Throughout the decades there were numerous studies done on children displaying the behavioral tendencies noted above.  Many of the studies were born from doctors who were involved with children that had diseases or evidence of brain damage.  However, there were some cases where these behaviors existed where there were no signs of brain damage.  A couple of doctors made the statement that “psychological disturbances alone were de facto evidence of brain injury.” (Strauss and Lehtinen, 1947).  Thus the idea of the brain injured child was born.  So was a new acronym.  Minimal Brain Dysfunction, MBD (Barkley 2006).  During this period prevailing theories existed on causes of MBD that mostly had to do with brain injury.  These injuries occur either pre or post natal or could be linked to some type of disease like encephalitis.  .
A study was done in 1876 with monkeys that had frontal lobe lesions.  These lesions were known to result in excessive restlessness, poor ability to sustain interest in activities, excessive appetite among other behavioral changes. (Barkley 2006).  Over ninety years later continued frontal lobe studies continued to show a path towards a reason for behavioral differences and some meaningful treatment for ADHD.  Early studies were conducted on children that had autism and retardation.  Some theorized that the absence of brain injury must lead to the conclusion that these behaviors were due to “spoiled child syndrome” (Barkley 2007).  It was much later in time that children that had no brain injury but displayed the triad of behavior were segmented out and studied on their own entirely.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s research continued.  By the end of the decade of the seventies over 2000 studies on the subject were published. (Baker 2006).
Until the seventies almost all research of ADHD was concentrated on children.  In the 1970s Hans Hussey and Paul Wender observed that while some children seemed to grow out of ADHD it was not always the case. (Hallowell and Ratey, 2006).  Their observations led to many studies that concluded that anywhere between sixty to seventy percent of children with ADHD continue to have ADHD in to adulthood.
As far back as 1937 stimulants have been used to treat patients that exhibited these behaviors.  A very frustrated doctor was attempting to save some boys from being beaten in reform school.  He had read a study showing stimulant medication having the affect of altering the mood of some adults.  In desperation he thought this might help the boys.  He prescribed the stimulants to the boys and noticed a marked difference in their behavior. (Halowell and Ratey 2006)
     According to Ballard, Burton et al. The neuro-transmitters known as dopamine and serotonin are involved with attentional systems.  These chemicals are catecholamine which are used throughout the neuroanatomical structure (Ballard, Burton et al. 1997).  The neuro-transmitters relay messages across pathways that control behavior associated with ADHD.  These pathways control attentiveness, motor activity, restlessness and responsivity. (Ballard, Burton et al. 1997) ADHD medication, which is primarily stimulant, is used in order to stimulate the release of catecholamine in the brain in order to maintain control over these behaviors (Ballard, Burton et al. 1997).
Ballard, S., Bolan, M., Burton, M., Snyder, S., Pasterczyk-Seabolt, C., & Martin, D. (1997). The neurological basis of attention deficit
      hyperactivity disorder. Adolescence, 32(128),855. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Barkley, Russell Dr. (2006). Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Guilford publicationsHallowell, Edward Dr. and Ratey, John Dr.  (2006) Delivered from Distraction, Ballantine Boston MA

Strauss, A. and Lehtinen, L. (1947)  Psychopathology and education of the brain-injured child,  Grune and Sratton

Existence of God (Ontological discussion)

I am attaching a copy of a paper I wrote for a Philosophy class. I think the subject is interesting.

The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

One important aspect of Philosophy is the study of religion. Mind and Machine is a class at Ashford University that calls for the preparation of this document. The students are asked to construct an essay that includes one of the major themes of Philosophy. This essay will explore the question of an Ontological argument for the existence of God. It will explore the definition of the Ontological argument and then explore positive opinion and negative opinion. This class asks the participants to express personal views. This author will include his views and will present them in a manner that hopefully resembles a well constructed argument. In order to approach the specific idea of the Ontological argument for the existence of God, one must be familiar with its text.
St. Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury during medieval times. He died on April 21, 1109 (Knight., 2009). St. Anselm is not as well known as St. Augustine or St. Aquinas however Pope Clement the XI named him a “doctor or the church” in 1720 A.D. and declared April 21, to be his feast day (Knight, 2009). The feast day is the day in the year that the Catholic Church recognizes a particular saint. This recognition of St. Anselm had very much to do with one of his several theological writings. His writings are recognized by the Church as formative and important. He is regarded as one of the eminent philosophers of the Church and this text is entirely devoted to a portion of one of his writings. Knight calls St. Anselm one of the fathers of theological philosophy (Knight, 2009) The profound text spoken of here was written in a document entitled, Proslogium. The following is taken directly from the Proslogium as it was translated by Jonathan Barnes. It should be noted that Barnes wrote a complete text on the Ontological Argument in 1972. The text is The Ontological Argument (1972).

“From the Proslogium
Therefore, Lord, who grant understanding to faith, grant me that, in so far as you know it beneficial, I understand that you are as we believe and you are that which we believe. Now we believe that you are something than which nothing greater can be imagined.

Then is there no such nature, since the fool has said in his heart: God is not? But certainly this same fool, when he hears this very thing that I am saying – something than which nothing greater can be imagined – understands what he hears; and what he understands is in his understanding, even if he does not understand that it is. For it is one thing for a thing to be in the understanding and another to understand that a thing is.

For when a painter imagines beforehand what he is going to make, he has in his understanding what he has not yet made but he does not yet understand that it is. But when he has already painted it, he both has in his understanding what he has already painted and understands that it is.
Therefore even the fool is bound to agree that there is at least in the understanding something than which nothing greater can be imagined, because when he hears this he understands it, and whatever is understood is in the understanding.

And certainly that than which a greater cannot be imagined cannot be in the understanding alone. For if it is at least in the understanding alone, it can be imagined to be in reality too, which is greater. Therefore if that than which a greater cannot be imagined is in the understanding alone, that very thing than which a greater cannot be imagined is something than which a greater can be imagined. But certainly this cannot be. There exists, therefore, beyond doubt something than which a greater cannot be imagined, both in the understanding and in reality.” (Banach, 2011)

The various documents and writings that are in existence making arguments for and against the statement are voluminous. It is however sufficient to say that the statement itself makes an argument for the existence of God that is a priori proof. Generally philosophers can agree that there exists a difference in, or distinction of, proofs. Simply stated they are priori proof and those that are posteriori (Toner, 1909). One can describe posteriori as being inductive or reasoning from that which can be seen. Priori is deductive which is to say that this argument is not made by considering that which one may ascribe to God and or his works. This author has concluded that this type of argument is a radical departure from the types of proofs that are generally available when pondering the existence of God.
One item worth mentioning is the idea of existence. There does not appear to be a single notion as to what existence is. When considering God one ponders the notion of existence. Is the idea of God existing one that can be reduced to an interpretation that is like Michelangelo’s famous rendering at the Vatican? The Holy Bible, the sacred scriptures of a monotheistic religion known as Christianity, states that we humans were created by God in his likeness so one might consider existence from the standpoint of a man. In a different part of The Bible the reader learns that God in fact is different in that we here on Earth can not think like God and therefore can not necessarily understand God as his mind is sufficiently greater as he was the creator of all things.
Perhaps St. Anselm’s proof would have been forgotten during his time. It was immediately challenged by a monk named Gaunilo (Toner, 1909). However before jumping on to the band wagon of naysayers one would be remise in not mentioning those that upheld St. Anselm’s proof. Namely, the philosophers, Descartes and Liebniz (Toner, 1909). Descartes structured the argument in a slightly different manner. Toner presents it in this way, “Whatever is contained in a clear and distinct idea of a thing must be predicated of that thin; but a clear and distinct idea of an absolutely perfect Being contains the notion of actual existence; therefore since we have the idea of an absolutely perfect Being such a Being must really exist.” (Toner, 1909)
The author of the text used in the class for which this paper is written supports the validity of Anselm’s argument by using an example of the construction of a triangle. He does this due to the fact that many have outright dismissed Anselm’s proof for reasons that will be discussed. Mosser states that if a person thinks of a triangle one thinks of a three sided polygon. That is to say that one can’t think of a triangle that does not have three sides or it is not a triangle (Mosser, 2010). Therefore it is said that the essential property of a triangle is three sides. In the same way if one thinks of God, one thinks of a being that exists, and exists necessarily (Mosser, 2010). A chief objection to the Ontological Argument exists therein.

The basis of Anselm’s proof requires that one know of at least the nature of God. This nature supposes that the being that one would be thinking of would be omniscient, omnipresent, and have moral perfection (Harwood, 1999). Harwood uses the term Maximally Great Being, (MGB) in order to describe this being (Harwood, 1999). In a discussion regarding the ontological argument Harwood points out that the Ontological argument may be sound however it does not exclude the existence of more than one MGB (Harwood, 1999). The writings of Harwood point out that when one considers the nature of God that the immediate next state of existence could mean for several entities. This would naturally lead to polytheism which is exactly the opposite of what St. Anselm was trying to prove (Harwood, 1999). As stated previously, St. Anselm’s argument was attacked in his own time.
The monk Gaunilo presented a document known as Reductio Ad Absurdum (Toner, 1909). This author is no Latin scholar however he recognizes the word absurd to be pejorative in nature. That is to say that one would not consider the absurd to be connected to a statement of truth. Gaunilo uses an argument that takes Anselm’s proof and applies it to Islands. If one can think of the perfect island that surpasses all other Islands than that island must necessarily exist (Toner, 1909). The issue here is that the argument can be applied to an infinite number of perfect things thus creating a never ending chain of perfection. Toner states that the argument itself is not sound (Toner, 1909). His supposition is that Gaunilo’s argument applies Anselm’s to finite matters and that clearly Anselm’s argument is only applicable to infinite concepts. (Toner, 1909) However the point that Gaunilo’s argument brings forth is that actual existence is certainly included in any true concept of the infinite, and the person who admits that he has a concept of an infinite being cannot deny that he conceives it as actually existing (Toner, 1909). “One can see that there is causality from contingency to self-existence and thence by way of deduction to infinity.” (Toner, 1909) This author understands this to mean that ultimately the conclusion of St. Anselm’s argument leads to an argument that can only be supported by a posteriori argument. This author is not alone in this thought.
The writer of this document is an active parishioner in the Catholic Church. He reads the Bible and is familiar with the many scriptures that discuss the existence of God. Many of the scriptures refer to a posteriori argument. In the book of Romans St. Paul reminds the reader that God’s wrath will be upon those that hide the truth through their wickedness. For what is known about God is evident to them because made it evident to them. Paul goes on to say that these things are known from creation to now through God’s works. Rom. 1: 18-20. The deductive thought is that one knows God from the evidence of God created by God. The concept is important. The Holy Roman Church declared St. Anselm a saint and recognized the importance of the form of his argument. However, they in fact reject the argument itself. It is not sufficient to believe in God’s existence based on being able to think of God alone.
Mosser sums up Anselm’s argument thusly;
“If we assume, which seems plausible, that the greatest possible being one can think of would deserve to be called “God,” then the being we refer to using the “God” would have to exist. For if the being we are now calling “God” did not exist, it would be easy to think of a greater being; it would be that same being, only one that actually existed. Since you recognize that the being you are thinking of is the greatest possible conceivable being, that being must include existence as part of its nature, Therefore, God exists.” (Mosser, 2010)

This argument, The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God, is one of human reason. There is no science to the claim. This author understands the difficulty in solely using the Ontological argument as a proof for God’s existence. He agrees that St. Anselm’s argument alone does not lead to the evidence of one true God the creator of all things. Harwood’s argument is persuasive. He accepted the validity of St. Anselm’s argument with no rebuff and proceeded to demonstrate how the argument, on its own, could lead to polytheism. This author concludes with a statement from The Holy Catholic Church. The Church states that human reason is in fact capable of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God (CCC 1960) This is possible because we are made in the image of God. However there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty (CCC 37) This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also “about those religions and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.” (CCC 38) It would seem that God has a plan. Reason would do however God also deemed it necessary that Man knows of him by his revelation.

This paper set forth to summarize and explore the Ontological argument for the existence of God as set forth by St. Anselm. The document has explored the argument as well as opinion in support of and against it. The author has expressed his personal view. As stated, there are many volumes written on the subject matter contained herein. This document serves as a primer for the subject. It would be foolish to draw a conclusion solely based on its content. The philosophy class at Ashford University known as Man and Machine has allowed the author to become more acquainted with the specific arguments and theories regarding deeply held religious beliefs. The document herein is an attempt to demonstrate the type of study received in the class.

Banach, D. (2001) Anselm’s Ontological Argument, St. Anselm University Website, Retrieved
April 11, 2011, http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/anselm.htm
Harwood, R. (Dec. 1999) Polytheism, Pantheism and the Ontological argument, Religious
Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Dec.1999) pp. 477-491, Cambridge University Press, Retrieved 4/16/2011 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2008250
Mosser, K.(2010). Philosophy a concise introduction, Bridgeport publications, San
Diego CA.
Reference (1995) Catechism of the Catholic Church, Double Day Publishing New York, New
Toner, P. (1909) The Existence of God, In the Catholic Encyclopedia, New York, Robert
Appleton Company, Retrieved April 16, 2011 from New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06608b.htm
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (11/2002) New American Bible, USCCB
Washington, DC


One cracked pot to another

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots,

each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.
At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

‘I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.’

The old woman smiled, ‘Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?’

‘That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.’

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.

Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

So, to all of my cracked pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!


Catholic ADHD Coach I was recently in a discussion group that was asked about responsibility for actions. This group happened to be a group of young mental health students. Their responses regarding responsibility were chilling as they seemed to understand that one is responsible for his actions but they could not understand how mental illness impairs the ability to judge. This was my response.

What do you think?

After reading the responses submitted here I am scared. I am a practitioner in the mental health field. I am an ADHD coach. Furthermore I have been diagnosed with ADHD and use a multi-modal approach for treatment. This includes pharmacology, exercise, yoga, prayer, massage and coaching. I am not always responsible for my behavior. What could that mean? If I drink and drive did I choose to get behind the wheel? Of course. However my choice was affected by a lack of filtering through the normal executive functions located in the pre-frontal cortex.

Thank God I have never made that choice but I have clients that have. If there is guilt it’s in not treating the ADHD. As a rule people with ADHD like to take risks. They like to start fights with their spouses. They like to drive fast. All of these are due to a need to increase the amount of hormone in their PFC. When we are super stimulated we feel normal. We can focus and concentrate because our PFC is on. This is what my meds. do for me. I don’t have to chase stimulus all day, every day in order feel like my brain is working.

One client I have has a child with ODD as a co-morbid disorder with his ADHD. He is in the 2nd grade and whenever he is slightly provoked he will lash out. Children or adult it does not matter. When in line with another child he may have his toe stepped on and then bam he will hit the kid. Is he choosing to do this? I don’t believe so. I believe that this very bright child has a neurological disorder that meds and other therapeutic means will help to control. At some point he may have control or not but one can not say that he is choosing the wrath that comes upon him when he reacts.

A very famous study shows that when leaving a child in a room with a marshmallow and giving instructions to leave it alone a child with ADHD will respond differently. When leaving the room the adult states that if you leave the marshmallow alone that you will receive more upon my return. Non ADHD children are very successful at waiting as they grasp the point and can control themselves to wait to receive the bigger prize. Children with ADHD were almost wholly unsuccessful at waiting and immediately ate the marshmallow. They consistently understood the benefit of waiting but they could not.

Finally ADHD is about 40% hereditary. That is to say that about 40% of kids with ADHD have a parent with ADHD. That is much higher than most disorders. To immediately suggest that these children are completely responsible for all of their actions is to not understand the nature of mental illness. None of us volunteer to end up with the negative aspects that befall us based on our maladaptive behavior. However we do look to the mental health community to understandingly assist us in getting to normal. That is helping us to achieve all that we can.