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Violence And ADHD: It’s Not Really In Us

ADHD and violence, is there a connection?
ADHD and violence, is there a connection?

Now that, is a bad title. It suggests that having ADHD precludes being violent. Nothing could be less true. But, having ADHD does not indicate violence either.

Having ADHD means that we’re not strangers to low self esteem, not unused to the companionship of frustration. And while these things could be triggers for violence, the empathetic among us know personal attack will more probably share these burdens, rather than alleviate them.

ADHD is not an excuse, it is a disorder. Violence has no excuse, it is a crime

Again, I’m not saying someone with ADHD can’t be violent. If someone is impacting your life with violence, do not allow ADHD to stand as reason or excuse for their behaviour. ADHD is not an excuse, it is a disorder. Violence has no excuse, it is a crime.

But I am wondering if there is less, or more violence perpetrated by those of us with ADHD. Either way, I would imagine there might be several reasons, several arguments on each side.

On the one hand …

We change our moods when we change our focus. Our minds, moving at a rather quickened pace, dart from focus to focus. And our moods change as rapidly.

While one thing can make us quite upset, the next squirrel to come along might easily make us laugh, or seek knowledge, or cry out in self pitying anguish.

Sticking with the attention thing, I also wonder if our inability to persist with painful tasks might also help us to some extent. Maybe someone who has ADHD is someone who would have violent behavioural issues if they weren’t predisposed to being distracted from things they do not deal well with. The fact that I cannot seem to force myself to go through the papers I require for filing my income tax might mean that I’m not letting my frustration with that here & now task take me to the point of having an outburst.

And is thrill seeking an issue?

I can’t imagine that being violent is a thrill. I might be wrong on that, not being a violent person, but I can imagine that the thrill seeker could be too busy looking out for the next adrenal rush. Though a violent person might get an adrenal high from violence I suppose … I’ll call this a wash.

The flip side

In fairness, I must also talk about what parts of ADHD might be conducive to violent behaviour. Again, ADHD won’t cause violence, but if there is an underlying predisposition towards it, the troubles that go along with ADHD could certainly accelerate and escalate any situation.

I never saw that coming!

ADHDers often find themselves blindsided by situations that go wrong. Even though the problem could have been seen coming for 20 miles, we weren’t looking. Denial is where we hide, and others must help us contrive and maintain that denial. Anger can ensue if that contrivance and maintenance is not there. We blame the others for the catastrophe if they’re not on board with our coverup. If we are prone to violence, here is where it might initiate.

Another point of ignition might be found in our perseverance/transition issue. If we are perseverating, we do not do well when we are interrupted. We will not transfer our attention cheerfully. This is especially true if the focus of our perseverance is something we should not be doing, not a priority, especially if there are priorities we know we should be attending to. We are wrong, and we know it, but the facade we need to maintain will force us to anger if we are forced to look into the mirror that shows the truth.

Does ADHD cause violence?

No, ADHD does not cause violence, nor does ADHD keep us, its victims, from manifesting violent behaviours. ADHD is a cause for frustration and anger, violence is a loss of control. Blaming ADHD for violence is like blaming the match for the fire. You are not to blame for distraction, but you are to blame for any abuse you give. You are not at fault for being hyperactive, but you are responsible for your actions.

Violence And ADHD: It’s Not Really In Us

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live on the traditional lands of the Chippewas of Nawash in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or 7 generations and my First Nations friend's families go back hundreds of generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I am a freelance writer and I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about living with ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). Violence And ADHD: It’s Not Really In Us. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Jan 2013
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