What is interpersonal intuition in adult ADD?

Many adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) have a gift of interpersonal intuition -- a quality with important applications in any arena. This intuitive grasp of what others need, feel, and want can be a great gift.

As an adult with ADD, you probably often blurt out inappropriate comments that get you in trouble. You're often charged with having inappropriate boundaries and engaging in impulsive behavior. You're distracted when you talk to friends, family, and lovers. People complain you never seem to listen. Underlying these problems is a great gift: the ability to read others like a book. While high-level executives, entertainers, therapists, and artists with ADD have figured out how to tap into this great resource, for some adults with ADD, this gift has led to problems.

Because you tune in to other people on a deep level, you often dismiss their words outright. To make matters worse, when you share your impressions with others, you typically receive a swift, harsh denial that what you are saying could be true. Many adults with ADD have gone through their lives having their observations constantly denied. This is because you see things that others either want to hide or don't even see themselves.

In many ways, adults with ADD organically do the work of psychotherapists. Psychoanalytic therapists are trained to "listen with the third ear", meaning to use their own inner experience as a guide to the unconscious of a client. For example, if a therapist becomes distracted by an inner fantasy, she will study that fantasy as a reflection of the client's unconscious. Therapists use their inner worlds as guidance for understanding what a client is not saying.

While therapists use this intuitive ability strategically, many ADD adults tune in to others' inner worlds and unspoken emotions without knowing what they are doing or how to handle it. Psychologists have studied this process of finding deeper meanings in distraction; such work offers useful insights for ADD adults driven batty by this ability.

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