Home » Blogs » ADHD Man of Distraction » Cognitive Dissonance and ADHD Focus Part II: ADHD

Cognitive Dissonance and ADHD Focus Part II: ADHD

Who knew?
Who knew?

On Wednesday I alluded to the possibility of a connection between Cognitive Dissonance and ADHD. Is there? Let’s see.

Some decades before Cognitive Dissonance was postulated, symptoms of ADHD were observed. Names were changed down through the years to confuse the innocent, but the disorder that was described was clearly what we have grown to know, love, and hate, as ADHD.

Observations were also what led Leon Festinger to realize the existence of Cognitive Dissonance, though his were clearly not the same observations.. How does the one connect to the other? The way we, the ADHD community, deal with Cognitive Dissonance is different in some situations from the way it is dealt with by Neuro-typicals.

We tend to come on Cognitive Dissonance suddenly, while in the NT’s world it is a gradual buildup. For example, we don’t notice that we are letting things slide until we are in the soup, so to speak. How many of us have been up against several deadlines at once? And how does that make us feel?

Another example of Cognitive Dissonance in the ADHD world is the hoarding that many of us are guilty of. We feel a sense of potential loss when we go to throw something out. Yet we feel a sense of failure when we look around at the piles of papers, projects, possible projects and potentially useful items.

More dissonance

Resolving this is not so easy either. We initiate a cleanup, but we usually end up just reorganizing things into different piles, unable to discard things. The longer we struggle with the cleanup task, the worse we often feel. More dissonance? Yep.

Is this different from what Neuro-typicals feel?

I don’t know, I’m not a Neuro-typical. I’m guessing it’s different in as much as they have all our symptoms, just not to the extremes that we have them. I’m certain that they feel the same dissonance as well, just not to the same extreme and probably not for as long.

That hoarding thing??!? …

Yes, I’ve been giving some thought to that as well, and may write on that topic in a while. For now, I’d like to just say that I feel it is linked to our wanting not to screw up, wanting not to be the one that threw out the perfect widget that will be needed in a week or two for gizmo repair.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming …

So what I’m thinking about ADHD and Cognitive Dissonance is that we may well have more of it to deal with. If I’m right or wrong, I’d love to hear a plain English explanation of why that is or isn’t from some expert in the field.

On Monday, I think I’m going to look into what we might do about this Cognitive Dissonance thing we seem to be destined to deal with on a daily, and even moment by moment basis … unless something comes up over the weekend that I want to talk to you about.



Cognitive Dissonance and ADHD Focus Part II: ADHD

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 in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more 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 write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having 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

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2013). Cognitive Dissonance and ADHD Focus Part II: ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 8 Sep 2013
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.