Dr. Russell Barkley knows what's what

Dr. Russell Barkley knows what’s what

I’ve heard it a hundred times. “Hyperfocus is so great!” And yet, I’ve been having a problem getting on board with that.

You see, focus isn’t just a noun, it’s also a verb. And I think it’s an active verb. I think focus is something we need to do “on purpose” … and I can’t!

Okay, not true, I can. But not easily. And I have extra difficulty making myself focus on what needs to be focused on when my mind is attracted to something … anything else.

So if I can’t focus …

If I can’t focus easily, how could I possibly hyperfocus?

By now you’re saying “What do you call it when you pay attention to the TV or the computer so much that you can’t tear yourself away?” My answer to that is that I don’t call it focus or hyperfocus. I call it being distracted.

If you’re even vaguely familiar with me your next question might be “What do you call it when you pay attention to writing a song or a blog post or some other task that really needs to get done?” Well, I call that damned lucky.

And I’m not alone …

There are professionals in the field who talk about the gifts of ADHD, and I’m down with that. I think my greatest gift is the fertile mind I’ve cultivated.

There’s a “hyper” I can get behind

This conscience of mine goes fast and furious and is never at a loss for new things to think or old things to rethink. My brain, like me, is hyperactive.

But there is at least one professional in this field who is very well versed in ADHD and has something to say about “hyperfocus” … and let me warn you right now, it isn’t a cheery train of thought.

This professional is Dr. Russell Barkley, and he says … there is no such thing as ADHD hyperfocus. He tells us it is a myth.

Don’t take my word for it …

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of Dr. Barkley speaking at the May 30th 2009 CADDAC convention in Toronto, Canada. There’s no such thing as ADHD hyperfocus.

And I have to say I agree with him

I can’t help it. The fact is that I can focus on things that need doing, but not without a great deal of effort and a timer clipped to my shirt and set to go off every ten minutes. And I can’t call that either natural or “hyper.”

Dr. Barkley calls it perseveration. And I suppose that’s what it is, I mean, he’s the doctor, right?

And perseveration may be a lot of things, from depressing to disparaging, but one things for sure, it is never going to look good on a tee-shirt.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


No trackbacks yet to this post.

    Last reviewed: 21 Nov 2013

APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). Hyper What? I Can’t Focus On That. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2013/11/hyper-what-i-cant-focus-on-that/


Top 10 ADHD Blog of 2014

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • Kelly Babcock: Ummm, did you read the end of the article? Kelly
  • Layla A: attention deficit ISN’T the right term is what the title ought to read given the content of the...
  • Stephanie: Kelly, I believe I have read every blog you post. Some have made me laugh and most have made me think. I...
  • Guillem Torras: Yes. As you can see, I approach this ADHD thing from a very different perspective. A more expansive...
  • B: You sound like me – I lease and ride a pony, and have mad computer skillz, work on them ALL THE TIME- i tell...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!