Why can't you pay attention anymore?An interview with Dr. E Hallowell, a psychiatrist who studies Atention Deficit Disorder. He says that he has identified a closely related disorder, Attention Deficit Trait. The disorder is caused by
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disorder caused by our mental focus spread over too many tasks.
All our techno-info-support device thingies are wearing us out.
Hallowell: When people find that they're not working to their full potential; when they know that they could be producing more but in fact they're producing less; when they know they're smarter than their output shows; when they start answering questions in ways that are more superficial, more hurried than they usually would; when their reservoir of new ideas starts to run dry; when they find themselves working ever-longer hours and sleeping less, exercising less, spending free time with friends less and in general putting in more hours but getting less production overall.
Haven't people always had distractions at work? Is this really anything new?
Hallowell: It's new because never before have we been so able to overload the brain circuitry. We've been able to overload manual labor. But never before have we so routinely been able to overload brain labor.
Who gets the disorder?
Hallowell: I'm guessing now, because I haven't done surveys. But I've done informal surveys at seminars I give. If we're talking about the working population as sort of managers and executives in corporations as opposed to people working at Burger King or something, then I think you're talking 30, 35, 40 percent.
What about McD's drive-thru workers? Or drive-thru order-takers?
I think in general, why some people can do well at what they call multitasking is because the effort to do it is so stimulating. You get adrenaline pumping that helps focus your mind. What you're really doing is focusing better at brief spurts on each stimulus. So you don't get bored with either one.
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