A Parent/Child Relationship

"I got married and then two weeks later, I woke up next to someone whom I didn't know," Roseshel says. "It's been hell every since."

"I was diagnosed with ADD a little more than a year ago," says Roseshel's husband, Kevin. "It's a source of a lot of our fights because it causes me to not get things done that need to be done. I get distracted. I'll go in about 500 different directions all at the same time, and things just pile up and pile up."

"I know my husband thinks I'm a nag, but 95 percent of the things that have to be done, I have to remind him: Put milk into the bottle for the baby, remember that you need to go to the grocery store and get some fruit, you did laundry last night, can you please take it out of the dryer?" Roseshel recounts.

"I feel like Roseshel is nagging and really treats me like a child," Kevin says. "She feels like she has to take on the entire burden for both of us."

"I'm the breadwinner, and I make $300 a week. That's not much to live on. Kevin can't keep a job," Roseshel says. "Kev had let some of our bills go that I thought had been taken care of. We had my car repossessed twice. We're being sued now, and we have to file for bankruptcy. Added on top of a person who forgets to pick up their son at daycare, it becomes pretty overwhelming."

[AD]"Our biggest conflict in our marriage is the finances and the fact that I don't have a job at the moment," Kevin says. "I've made a few large purchases that I probably shouldn't have. I bought us both laptops. It wasn't the best idea. We needed the money for other things. I believe the ADD was kind of an extra bump in the road we really couldn't have foreseen. We're really having to fight to stay together."

"I think about divorce probably every day," Roseshel says with a trembling voice. "There's just so much stress every day in my current situation. I feel like I'm breaking. I feel like I'm stuck in a mess that Kevin created. I want to be able to have a spouse who's there, and it's us against the world, but in this situation, I feel like it's more like me against the world and against the ADD."

Dr. Phil asks Kevin, "Do you think you have ADD? I know you've been diagnosed with ADD but a lot of people get diagnosed with ADD who aren't."

"I absolutely believe it. She's been reading Dr. Hallowell's site, and I've just seen so many examples that are just mirror images of exactly what I do. It's amazing," he says.

"Are you in treatment?"

"I'm currently seeing a psychiatrist. I'm also trying some alternative things," he says. Kevin was on medication for ADD but recently quit taking it. "I ran out about two weeks ago, and we can't afford it, so … I've actually felt better since we've changed our diets."

Dr. Phil says ADD is not an excuse for bad behavior. He asks Dr. Hallowell, "How do you go through the differential diagnosis here? Because there is a possibility that you have ADD," he says to his previous guest, Jason. "There is a possibility that you have ADD," he says to Kevin, "but there's also a possibility that you're just being lazy, that you're being immature, that you're in a parent/child relationship with your wife, where they treat you like children so you act like children. There are lots of other explanations for this." He asks Dr. Hallowell, "How do you decide, as an ADD specialist, what you're dealing with here?"

[AD]"That's why a solid evaluation is so critical, and you're right, people diagnose themselves off the Internet, and that's not adequate. So, you really need to go see a specialist who has experience with adult ADD, and that's not always easy to find. A lot of the work is searching for such a person. But when you do find such a person, then the treatment can be dramatically effective, and that's why I say this is a trait, depending on how you manage it," Dr. Hallowell says. He tells Kevin, "Right now, you're not managing it well. Nobody would argue about that."

Dr. Hallowell continues, "So, he needs help. Assuming he has ADD, assuming the diagnosis was correct, and we have every reason to believe that it is, that he needs more consistent medication management, but beyond that, a real good exercise program. Physical exercise is great when treating ADD."

He also recommends Roseshel work with a coach as well, to stop the parent/child dynamic. He tells her, "You don't want to be his mother, so somebody to help you get organized, someone to coach you " not to do psychotherapy but just to coach you." A coach can also help Kevin get a plan as well, including proper sleep and nutrition. "And then you guys need to break this struggle, what I call the big struggle that develops so often where the ADD is not well-managed, where you just, every day it's just back and forth … and you're tearing each other apart, when you should be each other's best allies. That's where some adjustment in your daily strategies can make a profound difference. Look at you. You're both attractive, intelligent people. There's no reason you should be eeking out a bare existence and fighting with each other over it." 

[AD]Dr. Hallowell was diagnosed with ADD himself at the age of 31. "I'd never even heard of ADD until I was 31. I was doing a fellowship in child psychology, and I heard a lecture on it, and I said, ‘My goodness, there's a name for the way I am?' I also have dyslexia. I grew up in the days of ‘smart,' ‘stupid,' and the treatment was ‘try harder,' and that was about it. So I lucked out. I had wonderful teachers. I was lucky." He tells Dr. Phil's guests, "You don't want to have to rely on luck. Now that we have really excellent professional interventions, that's what you want to take advantage of. What this diagnosis can do is take you from driving on square wheels to driving on round wheels. You guys need some round wheels."

Dr. Phil turns to his previous guest, Jason, who was hesitant to look into whether he has ADD. "As you're hearing us talk about this, and hearing Dr. Hallowell talk about this, is it changing your attitude about ADD at all? A, in terms of whether or not you think it may be something that you're dealing with, and B, that it wouldn't be so bad to deal with it if you are?"

"Yeah, both of those could be true," Jason says.

"So, what do they do? First of all, you say [Jason] needs to get a thorough evaluation," Dr. Phil says to Dr. Hallowell.

"Yeah, it sounds like he's already taken the first step, which is to get past this defensive posture, which is so self-defeating " common, by the way, in men with ADD," he says. "So you get that solid evaluation, and then you start a treatment plan, which typically would include education. It's very important that he understands that he's not crazy, whacko, at all. It means he's got this trait that he has to take care to manage, strengthen his brakes. But if you do that, the chances for success are tremendous, and that's why I say this is hopeful. This carries with it the possibility of real, substantial change and going from underachieving and clunking along on square wheels to achieving at a high level."

[AD]Dr. Phil offers resources for both men, to get evaluated and get coaches to help improve their situations. They both accept the help.


He reminds Jason that he may not even have ADD, but defining the problem is 50 percent of the solution. "If you know what you're dealing with, then you can get a plan to deal with it," he says.