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  #1  
Old 08-20-04, 11:40 PM
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ADDer has difficulty feeling certain emotions

The thread "ADD and Death" got me thinking about this, but this is not just about grief:

I have trouble feeling/experiencing/recognizing certain emotions? I noticed a while back that I have difficulty experiencing the emotions of SYMPATHY and GRIEF. I also have trouble recognizing some other emotions. (I even talked about this with a therapist who recognized this in me).

When a problem or a tragedy occurs for another, I have a hard time feeling for the person/people involved. I'm very aware of this and feel terribly ashamed of it. I used to see it as selfishness on my part, but I truly want to feel sympathy for others. It's just that I'm practically (if not completely) unable to feel it. I've learned the right words to say so that others will think that I'm being sympathetic, but it's fake.

As mentioned in the other thread, it's the same way when the tragedy applies to me. I don't think I cried at my daughter's funeral. I've been the same way at other funerals of people close to me (like my grandparents). I probably look like I'm being brave, but the truth is, I don't feel the feelings that others seem to in similar circumstances. With my daughter, I hoped it was the initial shock that stopped the tears, but it's been almost 2 years and I honestly haven't had a good cry. I don't feel the sadness that I ought to. It really bothers me too. It isn't that I didn't love her. I did, but I have taken it so lightly. I was talking to my mom on the phone about this just the other day and she said she recognized this in me too. (It's not just me who sees it). A year or so ago I was convinced I had a form of Asperger Syndrome and beside the fact that I have a daughter with autism and my oldest was suspected of having Aspergers, this is one of the reasons why. (It doesn't appear that I do, though, based on some tests that have been done).

I experience emotions like FEAR, ANGER, LONLIENSS, and EMBARASSMENT-- self-emotions, if you will, but I seem to have trouble with some interactive emotions. Do any of you have a similar problem?
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Old 08-21-04, 12:15 AM
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Yeah I think I'm that way. It barely phased me when my dad died when I was a kid. Although when our sweet little kitten got hit by a car it crushed me so maybe just has to do with feeling distant from dad to start with.

I appreciate and am concerned for other people's feelings but no I don't feel them in a direct empathy sort of way. So I don't know, maybe I am like that.
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Old 08-21-04, 12:29 AM
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I have big doses of these traits. I have a heck of a time with empathy. It's something I have to practise. Sad really.
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Old 08-21-04, 02:48 AM
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Same problem. I've found that a good way to compensate is to be good with the mental part of those emotions. I can comfort and counsel people better, I think, because emotions don't get in the way. I feel the personal ones a lot, but the other ones I feel, just less...

...but like I said, I use the objectivity to help counsel and comfort people better, because I don't get myself flustered and sad.
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Old 08-21-04, 09:28 AM
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Thats because people with ADD are very self-focused people. Its not that we are not caring or anything, but we are in our own little worlds and not as, lets say, "connected" to the outside world as we ought to be. Thats why you are experiencing this.
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Old 08-21-04, 01:28 PM
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emotions

I do feel all emotions and I am extremely emphatic, rationally and emotionally. But I have an affective disorder beside ADD, which have made me experience emotions in their most extreme and deepest ways.
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Old 08-21-04, 02:07 PM
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This is the first topic I've found surfing this forum so far that does not describe me. I am a very emotional person. I avoid news programs due to absorbing all the negatives that I cannot fix.

So many conflicting thoughts on this...I project other's attitudes (when negative at least) as being BECAUSE of something I've done or said. "It's always about ME" Why this doesn't work in my mind when folks are exuberantly happy is a mystery.

I try to 'fix' or help other people's problems. In fact when I've been depressed in the past the only reason I would roust out of my own little world of doom was to help someone in need. Go figure.
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Old 08-21-04, 03:17 PM
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Echong Street's post, ADDers focus within themselves more than we do out into the society around us. I feel as though we are fine-tuned to feel even the slightest emotion that affects us, but because of our focus, find it harder to feel what another feels.
However, having said that I only feel negative emotions and not positive emotions.
I have actually said this many times over elsewhere, that I don't know if I feel positive emotions in the same way as others. After a long break from taking stimulant medication, on my first day taking just 1 Dexedrine tablet, I found myself experiencing joy being in the sun and joy seeing my son.
It was kinda' weird - because regarding positive emotions, I know when I'm supposed to have them, and might sometimes kid myself into believing that I am having them - but in actual fact, I think I'm incapable of truly feeling them, unless medicated.
Since dopamine is our 'pleasure' molecule, involved in our reward circuitry, isn't it reasonable that unmedicated we need to achieve a much higher threshold before feeling pleasure, happiness, reward ...... ie the positive emotions.
Since it's often said that we are thrill seekers, because of our relative insensitivity to dopamine's actions, might it not be true that we are also in search of extremes of other activities which are also associated with pleasure.
True story - A few minutes after my first child was born, I headed off to a night class -- On perhaps the most momentous day of my life so far, I was more driven to maintain my 100% attendance record, than stay with my new baby. Anybody with a normal threshold to feeling pleasure would never have even ever considered such ridiculous behaviour.

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Old 08-21-04, 03:34 PM
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SandInMyEars, I realized after posting that I forgot my main point
Which is: I WISH I had fewer emotions or could distance myself more.

I realize my 18-yr-old daughter (who refuses to learn about ADD -she's thinking she doesn't want to hide behind an excuse) is very unemotional except when frustrated then expresses anger.


This trait she has is very helpful when dealing with over-emotional (me & her dad- my X) people

She was actually dreaming of a law career, but just cannot face anymore schooling at this time.

SB, I know a couple of men who have dealt with child birthing issues in a similar manner, not sure if this is just an ADD issue or coping in general (just my opinion, what do I know?).
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Old 08-21-04, 04:20 PM
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Sandinmyears: I don't know if you are on meds for ADD or depression, etc. but that can cause you not to feel these emotions like "everybody else," Also, you shouldn't dwell on your feelings. Feeling can get in the way of being helpfull to someone else and the important thing is that you do want to have these feelings and that says that you are a compassionet person even though you don't feel it. I'm the same way and in my family my daughter said once that at sad times we are the only ones that aren't crying, and my daughter is one of the most caring person I know. But I'm like you, I do want to feel it but can't. For me, I ask the Lord to give me the right feelings and I know He will.
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Old 08-21-04, 08:28 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback. I just found this and thought it interesting:

http://www.aizan.net/families/mh_adhd_abstracts.htm
Self-regulation of affect in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and non-ADHD boys: Differences in empathic responding. Braaten, Ellen B.; Rosen, Lee A., J Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 2000 Apr Vol 68(2) 313-321
This study examined differences in empathy and other emotions between boys with and without attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Empathy was measured by an empathy response task (ERT) and through self- and parent reports of emotion. On the ERT, children responded verbally to 8 fictitious stories. Results from the ERT revealed that boys with ADHD were less empathic than boys without ADHD. Boys with ADHD less frequently matched the emotion they identified in the character with the one identified in themselves and gave fewer character-centered interpretations in their descriptions of the character's emotion. Parent-report data revealed that boys with ADHD exhibited more behavioral manifestations of sadness, anger, and guilt than did boys without ADHD. No differences were found, however, on measures of emotional intensity or emotional reactions to external contingencies. The results are discussed with respect to current theories of ADHD.
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Old 08-21-04, 08:30 PM
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Very interesting, indeed!
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Old 08-21-04, 10:20 PM
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Here's some more information. I believe it may be the same study.
http://www.helpforadd.com/yr2000/sept.htm

It's long but here are a couple paragraphs from it:
Despite the lack of research studies in these important areas, the comprehensive theory of ADHD that was recently proposed by Russell Barkley contains specific predictions about how empathy and emotional responsivity would be affected in individuals with ADHD (Phil – The newsletter had an article on Barkley’s theory that would be good to provide a link to here.) Barkley proposed that because of the deficit in behavioral inhibition that he believes is central to ADHD (e.g. the ability to refrain from immediate responding to stimuli in order to size up the situation and consider alternatives) individuals with ADHD have difficulty regulating their emotions. One consequence of this difficulty in emotional regulation is lower levels of empathy – i.e. reduced awarenenss/appreciation for the needs, feelings, and opinions of others as well as a reduced ability to evaluate social events from another’s perspective.

Because being able to identify what another feels and then put oneself in that person’s shoes can help to regulate one’s behavior, lower levels of empathy could contribute significantly to the behavioral symptoms displayed by individuals with ADHD. For example, if a child knows that a certain act will hurt his mother’s feelings, and is able to really imagine the hurt his mother will feel, he may refrain from engaging in that behavior. If this capacity is less well developed in children with ADHD, however, the same hurtful behavior would be more likely. For this reason, it would be important to know whether children with ADHD are deficient in empathy skills, as these skills may be significant determinants of other behavior.
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Old 08-13-11, 09:22 PM
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Re: ADDer has difficulty feeling certain emotions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
Here's some more information. I believe it may be the same study.
http://www.helpforadd.com/yr2000/sept.htm

It's long but here are a couple paragraphs from it:
Despite the lack of research studies in these important areas, the comprehensive theory of ADHD that was recently proposed by Russell Barkley contains specific predictions about how empathy and emotional responsivity would be affected in individuals with ADHD (Phil – The newsletter had an article on Barkley’s theory that would be good to provide a link to here.) Barkley proposed that because of the deficit in behavioral inhibition that he believes is central to ADHD (e.g. the ability to refrain from immediate responding to stimuli in order to size up the situation and consider alternatives) individuals with ADHD have difficulty regulating their emotions. One consequence of this difficulty in emotional regulation is lower levels of empathy – i.e. reduced awarenenss/appreciation for the needs, feelings, and opinions of others as well as a reduced ability to evaluate social events from another’s perspective.

Because being able to identify what another feels and then put oneself in that person’s shoes can help to regulate one’s behavior, lower levels of empathy could contribute significantly to the behavioral symptoms displayed by individuals with ADHD. For example, if a child knows that a certain act will hurt his mother’s feelings, and is able to really imagine the hurt his mother will feel, he may refrain from engaging in that behavior. If this capacity is less well developed in children with ADHD, however, the same hurtful behavior would be more likely. For this reason, it would be important to know whether children with ADHD are deficient in empathy skills, as these skills may be significant determinants of other behavior.
Quite right. When one's capacity for thinking is impaired, then it will be near impossible to feel empathy (impaired until treatment).

When I was treated with stimulants, I began to feel more positive emotions and understand myself better - CBT began to work.

Funny. I used to be very sensitive and understand people very well as a teenager - just thought I was different. I guess a lot of people with adult ADHD are in a breakdown, without realising.

Furthermore, even if you are given the skills, you probably won't be able to use them with untreated ADHD. In my opinion, it's like having a program on a computer, but not having the right hardware to run it

Peace and take care
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Old 08-13-11, 11:13 PM
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Re: ADDer has difficulty feeling certain emotions

I cant say I have problems with this, maybe before my grandma died which she died when I was 14. But when I hear of someone that I know or even on the news or in the newspaper who have lost someone and especially tragically it kind of really gets to me. I feel really sad and depressed I have no idea why but its like Ive lost someone. I know this probably doesnt have anything to do with ADD/ADHD but I know that sad news can really have an affect on my emotions, I tend to block it out however like I just try not to know what is happening I can only take bad news on the news to a certain extent and then I dont want to know because then it affects me too much.
I never was like this as a child I was quite protected from emotional things like that as a child as I didnt really understand.
I especially feel it with animals and that is the worse and to hear abot animal cruelty really puts a scar on me.
I dont know if Iv just become to over sensitive as an adult or if I just take things too deeply when I really take it in what had happened.
Like I said though I am good at blocking it out so it doesnt make me feel sad and other people might think I am insensitive but I know I am definitely not I just hate feeling really down and depressed.
I wish the world was all sunshine and lollipops because I would love to be happy all day long ans for everyone else to be too I know thats cheesy but hey lol
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