8.ADHD: children in need of attention, twice

January 17, 2018 Health & Healing, Sticky Thoughts No Comments

‘Attention’ is a very strange phenomenon. At first sight, and as far as we are normally used to think about it, it’s very easy. One focuses one’s attention on something to some degree or not at all. That’s all there is to it, no?

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No. Pay attention now.

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To make this clear, compare it to human sight. Eyes were once thought of as being nothing more than a kind of camera that captures information and sends it to the brain for processing. But eyes only look simple and passive at first sight. Actually, they are much, much more complex than that. The complexity is no less than bewildering.

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Let alone ‘attention’. ‘Focussing one’s attention’, is an extremely complex action. It cannot be otherwise, since much of a person’s brain is involved in this endeavor. Many books have been written about it and many more are going to be written.

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I make an important distinction between ‘superficial attention’ (like looking at something, but at the same time thinking about many different and unrelated things) and ‘deep attention’, whereby a large part of a person’s mind is involved in the subject. Don’t think too quickly that this difference is obvious. Actually, to see it fully is extremely difficult.

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We live in a society of much superficial attention. A huge amount of information has to be dealt with. Staying focused on something, even for a little while, is more and more difficult for many people. So much has to be done all the time. We live in an ADHD society.

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‘Children need attention.’ You’ve heard it before. Well then, is superficial attention OK, or do children specifically need deep attention? I think the latter. Then do they really need it, like some kind of mental food?

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I think so. Children, even babies, need it very much. And the situation is sad. Children get fewer and fewer examples of what deep attention is about. People in general just don’t know it. So children hardly get it, and therefore it’s logical that many of them have a difficulty giving it in turn. These children get caught in a vicious pattern of attention deficit and ‘hyperactivity’ in a desperate search for it. We speak of ADHD if this impairs their normal functioning and sense of well-being.

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The solution lies in deep attention. We as a society have to relearn what this really is about. One thing is certain. It can never be enforced. You have to let it grow.

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In the rain or in the snow.

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