Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything header image 2

Aaargh! Get it out of my head!

May 29th, 2007 · Posted by Who Knows? · 6 Comments

I don’t think much of ADD, it is the subject of too much apparent controversy and disagreement. (Is there such a thing? Is it really a disorder, or is it nothing other than ordinary neurodiversity?) I do not even want to bother thinking whether I might have it or not. The potentially more useful question one might ask though, is: “might Ritalin help me finish my thesis?” That question is much more interesting. And then I read about Hyperfocus, and wonder if some of my (really fun) feats of extreme productivity some time ago, might be described by that? I have for a while wondered how to achieve what I have achieved in the past, and if it is possible to do so for extended periods of time. (Might Ritalin, for example, suppress the wonderful ability that might be described as “Hyperfocus”, when that might just be what I need to use right now? Or is using Ritalin not much different from substance abuse, where all I really need is a good dose of mental self-discipline?)

For one example from 2003: doing 98% of a big whole-semester computer science project in one weekend (and still doing really, really well in it, of course 😛 ). That was very much fun, a very fond memory. And that despite some serious/significant “real-life” distractions at the same time… Naturally, that kind of productivity is unsustainable: sleeping about 6 hours in a 60-hour time period.

Either way, I’m digressing. My mind is still going crazy with thoughts that I seem unable to suppress. One hopeful avenue was to get it flushed out by blogging about it. The past few days (two?) I have been contemplating a post explaining some more about the past three years’ journey, and my current position, with regards to religion. On the one hand, I try to ignore it and shove it aside to get on with my life, on the other hand, my mind keeps milling, and I’m hoping getting it out will somehow clear my thoughts. So every now and then I return to the post and try to figure out how to describe it concisely. And I fail. It simply seems too interwoven and involved to simplify into a few paragraphs. Any way I try to word it, I end up badly misrepresenting a number of aspects of the journey.

Maybe I should give up on the journey/influences idea, and just try expressing my current position.

…Or I should cut myself off from the world again, everything was going rather smoothly until the time I started “getting a life”. Increased social interaction was my downfall? (No, of course not. You get to the point where you realize your walls have got to go. So you destroy the walls, you move on, onto new pastures, where you are faced with new challenges. Don’t go looking back and thinking the previous pastures were greener.)

Categories: Personal

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paul // May 29, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Mmm. Vir wat dit werd is, ek dink nie jy’t ADD nie, en dis nie ‘n goeie idee om Ritalin te neem as jy dit nie het nie. My broer is daarmee gediagnoseer toe hy baie jonk was, en moes ‘n groot deel van sy lewe Ritalin neem. (Ons is omtrent ewe oud.)

    Ek het self ‘n drastiese afname in produktiwiteit en self-dissipline ervaar sedert my 4de jaar van ingenieurswese. Ek dink dis heel normaal – gebeur met baie mense. ‘n Hoofrede is miskien omdat die akademiese goed net minder belangrik raak, of eerder, dit raak onmoontlik om vir lang tydperke te glo dat dit al die opoffering werd is.

    Iets anders om oor te dink (my klip in die bos): Dalk vind jy dit moeilik om op jou tesis te fokus omdat die einde van die tesis sal impliseer dat jou lewe in sekere opsigte gaan verander (ophou swot, begin werk, so iets), en dis iets wat jy eerder wil uitstel of vermy.

  • 2 Gericke // May 29, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    ADD is very real and has a strong biological basis. Interestingly enough ADD is expressed as either hyperactivity (wild animal) or hypoactivity (sleepy sloth). A person with ADD tends to sweat more than a “normal” person (I can’t remember why). Ritalin is poison – a level 3 drug that dopes kids so that parents and teachers can “handle” them. ADD can be handled properly by adjusting your diet to contain higher amounts of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6, except if you are an epileptic), Vitamin C and Calcium/Magnesium. Sugar must be cut out entirely and you should drink lots of water.

    What you are experiencing though is not ADD. The brain is a truly cool machine – if we force it to focus on something that we are not entirely well versed in (like you are doing with your thesis) the brain tends to automatically pick stronger routes to solve problems. The curious thing is that a lot of symbols and meaning has already been attached to these well worn problem solving routes and thus, once the brain picks a route, your thoughts will immediately access those symbols and meaning. In other words, the brain picks the easiest route to solve a problem. In your case your views of religion.

    The trick with mental development lies in understanding the most basic problem solving process your brain uses and attaching new meanings to it. Instead of shunning your thoughts on religion, look for the underlying pattern that you use to solve the problem. Once you identified and mapped it (using concept maps or other graphics) you can attempt new focus in your work by hooking the new concepts to the familiar pattern.

    Keep in mind though that your brain will require rest. So yes, power naps (20 minutes) and food breaks (avoid simple and complex sugars) and rapid walks around the block will give your brain time to process the information you picked up and sort it according to the brain pattern. You can focus for max 30 minutes at a time before the attention curve drops below productive levels.

    Good strength my friend.


  • 3 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Wow, thanks guys!

    Paul: I have spent time thinking of that. I have read about “post-graduation depression” or something like that as well. Hehe. I really don’t think I want to postpone moving on with my life, I have also come to the conclusion that the idea of doing a phd (that would be elsewhere, not in South Africa, definitely) is a bad one. I want to move on. (Of course, I will inevitably continue pondering that possible explanation.)

    Gericke: you’re a veritable wealth of information. What have you been reading? (Everything?) Oh, and yea, I do have one of your business cards at home, I checked. That second last paragraph sounds particularly interesting.

  • 4 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    “So every now and then I return to the post and try to figure out how to describe it concisely. And I fail. It simply seems too interwoven and involved to simplify into a few paragraphs. Any way I try to word it, I end up badly misrepresenting a number of aspects of the journey.”

    That’s my biggest “Argh!” too. If I shorten things it comes out all wrong. In my case I get my husband to read it, he’s rather like Data from Star Trek, very precise and logical. So if what I’ve written makes no sense to him I know I need to start over.

    Ritalin.. hate the stuff. They tried to put my cousin on it, but thankfully it never happened. It has serious side-effects. Google it and you’ll see.

  • 5 Hugo // May 29, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, “they” must be resisted at all costs! “They” have a hidden agenda… I don’t know how serious “their” suggestion was, but I’m not taking it particularly seriously. 😉

  • 6 Michelle // May 29, 2007 at 6:08 pm


    “they” were my dipsy aunt and my cousin’s school teacher. Both of them wanted a fast cure so their lives wouldn’t be complicated by a “problem child”, never mind what it would do to my cousin! I could rant a bit there about useless parents and equally useless teachers, but i’ll be good. 😐

    The doctor refused to prescribe it though. He wasn’t sure it would help.

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