ADHD – The Impulse Factor

by barbaraluther on May 5, 2012

Author Nick Tasler has some interesting information about ADHD in his 2008 book, The Impulse Factor: An Innovative Approach to Better Decision Making. After discussing some of the science behind the novelty-seeking gene and its connection to ADHD, he makes a distinction between ‘functional impulsivity’ and ‘dysfunctional impulsivity.” The primary distinction he makes is that a ‘functionally impulsive” person is able to remain focused on a goal and discern whether a particular impulse will move the person in the direction of that goal or not. He coined the term “directionally correct” to describe whether an impulse would serve a person or not.

Of course, being able to discern whether an impulse is ‘directionally correct’ or not requires that a person be able to:

1. Pause in the impulsive moment
2. Remember their goal
3. Consider the impulse’s impact on their goal

So much of the impact of ADHD can be managed when we learn to pause in the moment.

Let’s think about an example. You might have a goal of saving to buy your first home. As you are visiting with friends, the conversation turns to your buddy’s new car. Another friend is talking about an upcoming European vacation. Suddenly, you’re thinking about getting that Harley you’ve always wanted.

If you can pause and ask yourself whether getting the Harley right now will help or hinder reaching your goal of buying your first home, you will be able to discern whether the impulse is directionally correct or not. Of course, for those impacted by ADHD, that pause is pivotal.

Tasler’s book is insightful, but it does not take into account the difficulty those impacted by ADHD have in pausing when we have an impulsive idea. Nor does it take into account the challenge we may have even remembering our related goal in the moment. But Tasler’s book does give us a better understanding of how to approach our impulses and what’s possible when we pause, remember our goals, and choose how we want to act based on those goals.

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