Overfocusing: Cognitive Inflexibility and the Cingulate Gyrus


Stubborn? or Stuck!!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

A bit of Review to Catch You Up

As I said in the previous article entitled ODD & Oppositional Rising: Most of us know somebody who seems to have an argument for just about everything — somebody who almost always has to “go through NO to get to yes.”

I likened those individuals to old television sets with stuck channel changers (way back before the days of remote controls).

Almost ALL of us, I addedADD or not, have a small  – perfectly “normal” — part of our personalities that balks unless a task or idea is totally appealing in the moment we are “supposed” to take it on.

We don’t WANT to change the channel — we want things to keep on being the way we thought they were going to be – NOW!

ADD and Oppositional Rising

A subset of those who qualify for an ADD diagnosis seems, a bit more than average, to struggle with changing that channel. (be sure to click ODD and Oppositional Rising for more on the concept)

A subset of individuals who do NOT qualify for an ADD diagnosis struggle similarly.

  • ADD or NOT, these individuals are not diagnosically Oppositional Defiant [ODD], but it can try your patience mightily to work and live with these guys.
  • In the previous article, I explained why I referred to that change-averse group as being at the effect of ODD Rising.

In THIS article, we’re going to take a look at what being “stuck” looks like, and to begin to look at what has to happen in our brain to be ready-willing-and-ABLE to “change our minds,” which is not too very different (in concept) from changing a channel on an old television set.

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ODD & Oppositional Rising



Part of the ADD/ADHD Cormidities series
(Dark gray links become obvious on mouse-over)

Small Blessings

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Fortunately, most of us with ADD do NOT have full-blown, comorbid, diagnositic ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder – a protracted “terrible twos,” on steroids!  

Almost ALL of us, howeverADD or not, have a small – perfectly “normal” – part of our personalities that balks unless the task is totally appealing in the moment we are “supposed” to take it on.

Part of developmental maturity is learning how to “postpone gratification” and work with what some therapists and self-help gurus call “the self-saboteur.”  (I prefer to think of it as learning how to bribe our Inner Three-Year olds.”)  

In any case, and for whatever reason, those of us who qualify for an ADD diagnosis, even those who aren’t particularly impulsive otherwise, seem to struggle with “postponing gratification” more than the neurotypical population: sort of like having “ODD Rising.”

ABOUT ODD Rising

“ODD Rising” and “Oppositional Rising” are my terms for what I refer to as “a high oppositional piece” in an ADD symptom profile.

In fact, those of us with ANY of what I call thealphabet disorders(any or all of the disorders with Executive Function dysregulations) tend to have “pieces” of other EFD’s — like OCD, ODD, SPD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, TBI, ABI, PTSD, etc. — alphabet disorders!

So don’t be surprised if ODD Rising is on your menu of Challenges, even if ADD is not the primary diagnosis. So let’s take a look at what might be going on — with your own functioning, or that of a loved one.

To be clear, ODD rising is significantly below the diagnostic threshold for ODD, yet severe enough to make us feel a little crazy as we wonder what it is, exactly, that is stopping us from achievement commensurate with our level of intelligence or education.

I keep up with the ODD field, as I keep a keen eye on all of the ADD Comorbid diagnoses, but ODD itself is not my speciality. 

My focus is applying what I learn from related disorders to help those with Attentional Spectrum Disorders work with whatever it is that is going on with them: helping them learn to drive their very own brains.

AFTER I offer a brief introduction to diagnostic ODD, the remainder of this article will introduce the “oppositional piece” concept. I will revisit ODD in future articles exploring ADD comorbidities — conditions that frequently accompany an ADD diagnosis, to a statistically significant degree more often than in the neurotypical population.

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ABOUT ADD Comorbidities


Cormorbid or Co-occuring?

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Wait!  Doesn’t comorbid mean
co-occuring?

Not exactly. Comorbidity refers to a specific KIND of “co-occurance.”

A comorbid disorder refers to additional conditions or syndromes or disorders frequently found in a specific diagnostic population.

In other words, we’re talking about accompanying conditions that are not part of the diagnostic criteria for the “main” condition, but are frequently seen in that particular population of individuals.

From a behavioral standpoint, these additional conditions occur sometimes with similar or overlapping symptoms, and sometimes they show up with additional symptoms – those not necessarily seen in those with the original or “base” diagnosis.

The overlap may reflect a causal relationship between the two diagnoses, and they may relect an underlying vulnerability in common, but the important concept is that they co-occur more frequently in our “target population” than in population norms otherwise, and to a statistically significant degree.

So, even if an entire hotel full of ADDers happens to be diabetic as well, we still would not say their diagnosis was ADD with comorbid diabetes, because the two conditions haven’t been proven to occur in tandem any more frequently than the incidence of diabetes in the general (non-ADD or “vanilla”) population.

So, in this example, the two conditions are co-occuring, NOT comorbid, even though it may not look that way to anyone staying in this particular hotel!

Muddying the waters further, the statistics change depending on which end of the diagnostic telescope you look through. For example, up to 60% percent of children with tic disorders also have ADD, but nowhere near 60% of ADDers have tic disorders.

The high possibility of comorbidities is yet another good reason to make sure you get an excellent differential diagnosis – but the articles in the Comorbidities Series are going to look at some of the diagnoses that frequenly hitch-hike along with ADD through another lens: SUCCESS!

Developing person-specific work-arounds and interventions to help you achieve that blessed state of Optimal Functioning that I believe is our birthright comes through the identifying, understanding, and learning to work with and work around ALL of the “mix-ins” in your particular flavor of ADD:
“Learning to drive the very brain you were born with
- even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime!”™

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