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March 2011



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Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention



David Van Nuys, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 28th 2011


Ms. Ellison, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, and the mother of a son who also is diagnosed with ADHD. She has written a book, Buzz, about her experiences living with and coming to terms with ADHD in herself and her son. Ms. Ellison reports she has always been a restless and easily bored person. She gravitated towards journalism in part because it offered her an opportunity to work in a highly stimulating, rapidly changing environment which fit her need for constant novelty. Though decorated for the quality of her work (for her 1980s era coverage of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines) she was also prone to make mistakes and several times was nearly sued for inaccurate reportage. As a younger person she was skeptical about the validity of ADHD and critical of parents who allowed their children to be medicated for ADHD. However, as she became a parent of a child with ADHD symptoms and grappled with parenting issues made more difficult by her own tendency towards distraction she came around. Her son was medicated for a period of one year and showed dramatic improvement in terms of his ability to concentrate and to make friends and a decrease in oppositional behaviors. After being diagnosed herself she came to understand and appreciate the role this condition has played in the lives of multiple generations of her family.

David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy. My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I’m a clinical psychologist and your host.


On today’s show, we’ll be talking with Pulitzer-Prize winning author Katherine Ellison about ADHD. Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-Prize winning former foreign correspondent, the mother of two boys, and the author of four books. She spent a total of 15 years covering Asia and Latin America for Knight Ridder newspapers. Her books include most recently The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes You Smarter, and the even more recently released Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.

Now, here’s the interview.


Katherine Ellison, welcome to Wise Counsel.

Katherine Ellison: Thank you very much.


David: Well, it’s great to have this opportunity to speak with you. I discovered you as a result of an article that you wrote for The Washington Post that got reprinted in my local paper. And in that article, you wrote about your family’s struggle with ADD or attention deficit disorder, and then I discovered that there was actually a book behind the article: Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.


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