Attention: What you are focused on — how long you can maintain that focus — Hey, come back here! And how much control you have over it [see this post with more material on Attention (that stuff is not yet in my own words however)]
Imagine a television set that represents your mind, the current program is your state of focus. If you are concentrating on doing laundry, that’s the channel you’re watching. The picture is vivid, the lines sharp — and you are able to interpret (mostly) without issue the elements of the images before you. Now, you hold in your hand a remote control. Your remote is of normal shape, size, color, and composition. Its face has two buttons; one for channel up, and one for down (and maybe some numbers? Sure, why not! (That way if you’re watching one thing you don’t have to go through all the other channels sequentially)). Even better, you have one button for each channel… This is no ordinary remote control, no siree, this has the latest technology so every time some new “opportunity” for focus enters your radar, up pops a new button. Now your average human being watches one channel, then maybe changes to another channel by pressing a button, and then when that program is over they change to a different channel, or wait to see what’s on next, and so on and so forth.
AD/HD inattentive subtype
The remote is broken. The channel up and down buttons are sticky — sometimes they get stuck. Your TV changes channels indefinitely. Or even better, other times they don’t work at all. You’re sitting there watching a program vital to your social survival such as “What your spouse did today” or even “What cars are coming at you at 70 mph on Soldiers Field Road during Rush Hour”. Suddenly a new program pops up, “Watching a seagull circle overhead” or even “Zone out and think about something else” (always a classic)
So, your TV just freaks out and changes the channel once it sees something it likes. You mash the buttons on the remote desperately; maybe you manage to switch it back– but only briefly, before you notice it’s happened again.
You’re lost in the program forever. Seconds become hours become days… waiting for boredom to breathe life back into your remote, allowing you to seize control once again.
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