Attention Deficit Disorder
A Different Perception
(A Hunter in a Farmer's World)

by Thom Hartmann

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Paperback, 160 pages
Published by Underwood Books
Publication date: October 1997
ISBN: 1887424148

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Table of Contents

About the Author / From the Author

Back Cover

Reader Comments


From the Publisher


Interview w/ Thom Hartmann (#2)

Reviews and Commentary for Attention Deficit Disorder : A Different Perception

Have you read this book? Write an online review and share your thoughts with other readers.

The Learning Disabilities Newsletter, 1993 :

ADDers aren't abnormal, they are uniquely gifted individuals in their own right. Thom Hartmann describes these ideas in a book that belongs in the hands of every educator, counselor, doctor, and parent. It empowers ADDers to look at themselves in a new way. --This text refers to an earlier out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Edward Hallowell, MD and John Ratey, MD, authors of Driven to Distraction :

Innovative and fresh .... Rather than portraying the syndrome as a crippling disease, Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style. --This text refers to an earlier out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Jay C. Fikes, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist :

Thom Hartmann demonstrates that ADD can be associated with creativity, high achievement, and a most successful adaptive style." -- Edward Hallowell, MD and John Ratey, MD, authors of "Driven to Distraction. "This book...indicates that uncritical acceptance of the notion of ADD may conceal the need for basic reforms in our nation's public schools.

Book Description :

As many as 20 million Americans may have Attention Deficit Disorder. In the five years since Thom Hartmann first published his pioneering book, "Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception," new findings support his theory linking ADD to the genetic makeup of men and women who hunted for their food in prehistoric times. Now, Hartmann has revised his groundbreaking book to include the latest research along with surprising information on studies that link second-hand smoke to disruptive behavior. This edition has a new introduction by famed Harvard psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, MD, co-author of the best-selling "Driven to Distraction.:



Attention Deficit Disorder is a disease that stigmatizes millions of Americans and causes many of them to fail--first in school, then later in adult life. It has been estimated that 90% of the prison population has ADD. This book takes a unique look at the disorder, suggesting that it is not really a disease, but rather an evolutionary adaptation to life in a hunting society. Line drawings. --This text refers to an earlier out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


From the Publisher :

In the revised and updated edition of this book, released in August, Hartmann cites several well-researched recent books and studies which bolster his view that the major problem shared by people with ADD today is that they are living in a culture designed for those who are genetically disposed to grow their food rather than to hunt for it. Hartmann takes a positive view of ADD, stressing the successes that those with ADD can have using their talents and skills rather than dwelling on their difficulties. His work marks the first time an author characterized ADD as something other than a disease.



From the Author :
A positive look at ADD and a new theory of its origin...

I wrote this book because when my son was diagnosed with ADD the psychologist told him he had a "damaged brain" and gave him a whole gloom-and-doom scenario. Having been the executive director of a residential treatment facility for kids, many of whom had ADD, I thought this was a pretty miserable way to portray ADD to anybody, particularly a child.

In ADD:ADP, I present a "new view" of the origin of ADD -- that it's an adaptive mechanism passed down to us by our ancient "Hunter/Gatherer" ancestors. At first, I only meant this as a paradigm or metphor, but as you'll find from reading my later books on the topic (particularly ADD Success Stories and "Beyond ADD"), I'm becoming convinced that it's actually good science as well. In any case, it's as good a theory as anybody has. <g>

I hope you enjoy the book and look forward to hearing your responses to it...

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About the Author :

Thom Hartmann is the former executive director of a residential treatment facility for abused and emotional disturbed children, and the author of five books on Attention Deficit Disorder. He authored more than 200 published articles and has spoken at conferences around the world.


From the Back Cover :

Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception answers these important questions:
  1. Can drugs "cure" Attention Deficit Disorder?
  2. Why are some ADD children and adults more successful than their "normal" peers?
  3. What professions are best for ADD people?



Reader Comments

Kenneth Brown ( from Anchorage, Alaska , 12/23/97, rating=9:
A refreshing view of ADD in a realistic positive context.

I was looking for positive books on ADD to use to boost my 11-yr old son's self-esteem after we recently both began treatment for this "disorder". The book gives many examples of successful, creative, and dynamic individuals throughout history who were undoubtedly ADD affected.

Hartmann explains in detail his theory that ADD affected individuals represent the "Hunters" of our society - highly observant, quick in thought and action, seeking excitement unlike the more numerous "Farmers" who represent the agrarian development of our civilization with more plodding ways.

Many of the successful strategies given are from those individuals who have learned to control and focus this "multi-tasking" part of their personality becoming quite successful in the process. Mr. Hartmann balances this view of ADD as a "gift" with ample examples of the pain, tragedy, or mere lack of success which can occur when the ADD individual is put in the wrong circumstance.

This book is refreshing departure from the countless books which rehash the "disorder" with the usual history, diagnostic criteria, and treatment. As a modestly successful ADD individual who has great difficulty finishing a book, I was pleasantly surprised to have finished it in an evening and greatly enjoyed sharing its salient points with my family.

My favorite quote in the book was: "I'm not Attention Deficit, you're just boring!"

 Balance Check 4/98, rating=9:
A real eye-opener!

"A Hunter in a Farmer's World" was Hartmann's original title, now reduced to a subtitle because the publisher was afraid it would end up in either the sports or gardening sections of bookstores. This book is now in its second printing because of its positive view of ADD and its ability to reframe how people think about being ADD. What started out as an anthropological metaphor is starting more and more to look like reality.

Hartmann's thesis is that ADD is a different perceptual and thought style that has its roots in prehistoric life and its future in the twenty-first century. He shows how the characteristics which can make ADD such a problem in our current culture were survival requirements for our species in pre-agricultural history. He goes on to show how these same characteristics are becoming more and more needed as our economy and culture are changing.

When I first read ADD: A Different Perception, I thought that here is a person trying to make me feel good about something that is bad - ADD. A person who would try to "positive think" his way out of falling from an airplane without a parachute! Upon reflection, though, most people who read this book come to realize that ADD is not "good" or "bad" except in the context of a culture. The same characteristics that make a child hard to control in a classroom or at home make the adult that child will become a prime candidate for running his/her own business or taking a Fortune-500 company into the 21st century and beyond. It was in reading this book that I learned how important it is to use those differences as the advantages that they can be. If I start falling from an airplane, I may (1) find a way to make a parachute out of what I do have on hand or (2) find a soft enough place to land, or (3) even learn to fly! I might also, knowing that I am ADD, and that things can go wrong, bring a parachute with me on the trip. from Elko, Nevada , 11/08/97, rating=10:
The entire book was eye-opening and validating.

The Hunter-Farmer Theory made sense, this is not a disease. I am not ill and neither are my children or my father. Now I know why I've always felt like a square peg in a round hole. People have been trying to force me to fit a mold of characterstics I just don't have. Thanks Thom for helping me feel good about my personality and skills. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A Reader from San Francisco, CA , 11/04/97, rating=10:
It fit me so well I laughed out loud.

This is a great book for anyone that doesn't understand why other people don't think about ten things at the same time. When I read the description of a hunter living in the world of a gatherer, I started laughing out loud. It was an exact description of where I fit in the world. After reading this book I was not only comfortable with being an ADD adult, I became proud of it and enjoyed it. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. , 11/14/96, rating=9:
A great start for info on ADD and its meaning to us all

This was the first of Thom Hartmann's ADD books I read, and it immediately took top place on my list of recommendations on the subject. As an ADD adult, it not only gave me solace and (more importantly) significant encouragement, but it also impressed me as a valuable tool for helping others understand what it means to be ADD (both in children and adults). I've just seen today on Amazon his other books (good ADD books can be hard to find in bookstores!), and I've just ordered them all! If you're ADD, order this or his others now. Don't be tempted to wait for them to arrive in your library. If you're ADD, then you probably know you may never get around to it! --This text refers to an earlier out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Excerpted from Attention Deficit Disorder : A Different Perception by Hartmann, Thom. Copyright © 1997. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved :
Excerpted from Attention Deficit Disorder by Thom Hartmann. Copyright(c) 1997. Reprinted by permission, all rights reserved :

Where did ADD come from? If you compare the list of classic ADD symptoms, and the list of the characteristics of a good hunter, you'll see that they match almost perfectly. In other words, an individual with the ADD collection of characteristics would make an extraordinarily good hunter. A failure to have any one of those characteristics might mean death in the forest or jungle.

There are two characteristics of ADD which can seriously challenge a Hunter who is trying to be successful in life and society. They are impulsivity and craving. These two characteristics are, in moderation, what make some Hunters incredibly successful in our society. Under control, these "driving forces" lead to the creation of institutions and businesses, to the writing of books and creation of art, to creative brainstorms that lead countries, companies, and lives in wholly new and wonderful directions. How to Turn a "Disorder" Back into a Skill (A Survival Guide for ADD Adults)

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged." (Thomas Edison)

If you've read this far with an open mind, I hope you've accepted the notion that ADD is neither a deficit nor a disorder. It is, instead, an inherited set of skills, abilities, and personality tendencies which would enable a Hunter or warrior or lookout to be eminently successful and would condemn a Farmer or an accountant to certain disaster. So how did this powerful set of Hunter skills come to be labeled as a disorder? Historically, societies have viewed people whose behaviors they didn't understand, or which weren't "the norm," as inferior.

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Table of Contents
  1. How to Recognize Attention Deficit Disorder
  2. Hunters in Our Schools and Offices: The Origin of ADD
  3. "Normal" People: The Origins of Agriculture
  4. How to Turn a "Disorder" Back into a Skill: A Survival Guide for ADD Adults
  5. The Hunter's Struggle: Impulse and Its Control
  6. How to Work With a Hunter: Practical Advice for Managers, Parents, and Teachers
  7. Creativity and ADD: A Brilliant and Flexible Mind
  8. Hunters on Drugs
  9. Halfway to the Stars: How Unrealized ADD Can Limit an Apparently Successful Life
  10. A Disorganized Collection of "Hunter in a Farmer's World" Anecdotes
  11. The Edison Trait: Hunters Who Have Changed the World
  12. Baseline States of Consciousness
Final Thoughts
About the Author

--This text refers to the earlier out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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You can read an interview with Thom Hartmann.


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