Monday, December 31, 2012

Emotional Sensitivity and ADD

In his book, Scattered, Gabor Mate notes that if we add up all the people in our society who struggle from ADD, depression and other common psychological "problems" in North America, we will discover that more than a third of the population "suffers" from these "conditions." When the numbers are so large, is there really an epidemic "disease" running through our culture? Or could it be possible that we we label as "dis-ease" or a "dis-order," might actually be a positive evolutinary trend, contributing to the transformation of our society in a life-sustaining way? Mate postulates that "what is being transmitted genetically is not ADD, but sensitivity." And sensitivity is actually a very important trait for our evolution and survival as a species. Mate reflects that it is sensitive people who best express "humanity's creative urges and needs," and who can best interpret the world through their "instinctual responses." The word "sensitive" comes from the Latin word "sensir," which means to feel. People who are sensitive can perceive, express and respond to many degrees of feeling. This can be a gift when valued and seen as a source of wisdom and power. When our sensitivity is not only about our own reaction to the world around us and how it effects us, but also to how life circumstances and even our own actions effect others, sensitivity can make a profound difference in the quality of human relationships. When emotionally sensitive people live in a world that is emotionally illiterate, emotionally numb and devaluing of emotionality, their sensitivity allows them to register a higher degree of pain. Mate notes that people with ADD are hypersensitive. This is not a fault or a weakness, simply "an inborn temperament." So, just as in homeopathy, where a small dose of a substance has a systems-wide impact, a physical stimulus or emotional experience that might not touch a non-ADD, less sensitive person, can have a profound impact on the highly sensitive, ADD person. Allergies are more common amongst ADD children than in the larger population. Mate concludes, physical allergies and emotionally hypersensitive reactions are both expressions of the same inborn trait: sensitivity." "Since emotionally hypersensitive reactions are no less physiological than the body's allergic responses to physical substances, we may say truthfully that people with ADD have emotional allergies." When people are emotionally sensitive or "touchy," we often say they are "thin-skinned." Mate reflects that people with ADD may indeed be "thin-skinned," "with the nerve endings that send emotional stiumuli to the brain centers very close to the surface." If we learn to work with and channel the increased sensitivity associated with ADD, many positive and transformational outcomes can result. Mate wisely acknowledges that "sensitivity is transmuted into suffering and disorders only when the world is unable to heed the exquisitely tuned physiological and psychic responses of the sensitive individual." Perhaps our lesson is to more deeply and fully come to our senses, rather than accept the emotional numbness and emotion-less norm in our culture.

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