by Thomas E Brown, PhD

Yale University Press © 2005

$27.50 384 pp

For years Thomas E. Brown, PhD, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders, has been listening to and treating patients with ADHD. As assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, he knows the science behind the diagnosis. The result is a new book, Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults, an entirely readable education about ADHD.

Dr. Brown takes the stories he’s collected from his clinical experience and pairs them with recent research to draw a picture of ADHD from a slightly different perspective — as “a complex disorder that involves impairment in focus, organization, motivation, emotional modulation, memory and other functions of the brain’s management system.”

He groups significant chronic difficulties which tend to show up together and improve together into six clusters of symptoms which he calls the ADD Syndrome. Check out Dr. Brown’s website for a taste of the information.

I found Dr. Brown’s references to the problem of emotional modulation for people with ADHD while not reflected in the DSM-IV makes sense in my limited experience. I also found some interesting explanations for other problems that I didn’t know were related to ADHD. For example, I learned that while a client may understand all the words her boss used to describe a task, her ability to repeat them – word for word – might be out of scale with her understanding of the concept. An obscure fact? Perhaps. But I believe knowing that’s common for people with ADHD will help her appreciate the need for written instructions, even if she writes them herself immediately after hearing them.

The book is heavily cited for clinicians but never in a way that made me feel inferior. I particularly appreciated Dr. Brown’s gentle humor and compassion in the construction of metaphors to explain complicated concepts and then his further explanation about why they are not quite the full story. In addition, the book includes the clearest explanation I have ever seen of how the brain uses its proteins to move thoughts around and how different medications affect that process.

About the author:

Reviewed by Kerch McConlogue, CPCC, a Baltimore-based coach who works with adults who have too many ideas. She can be found on the web at Contacted by email at or by phone at (410) 233-3274