View from the Cliff – A Course in Achieving Daily Focus

  • The following article has been published with kind permission
    Lew Mills,
    PhD, MFT,
    a Bay Area psychotherapist working with Attention Deficit
    in Adults.

    Book Review: View from the Cliff – A Course in Achieving Daily Focus

    by Lynn Weiss, PhD

    Reviewed by Lew Mills,
    PhD, MFT

    Some books are just too hard to tackle when you are an adult with ADHD, even
    if they are intended for an ADHD audience. After a couple of excursions into
    multiple theories and a lengthy examination of the research, we have checked

    There are two styles of books that are more effective for ADHD Adults. The
    more common style is to be very stimulating, with lots of variety, pictures,
    cartoons, sidebars, cute stories and so on. This can work well at engaging and
    keeping your attention. I personally enjoy reading these. A fun example is Time
    Management for Unmanageable People

    The downside of this style is that it can spin you off into more tangential
    thoughts and plans than you are ever going to be able to follow through on.
    While it appeases your ADHD curiosity, it also plays to all of its distractibility.
    You can have a lot of fun reading it, but at the end, you are not sure what
    you are going to do about what you learned.

    The second style for Adult ADHD books is more rare and, I think, more useful.
    This gives you a very simple clear-cut executable plan for addressing problems
    and maximizing the assets of having ADHD. Weiss book falls clearly in this
    second category. On the surface, it may seem relatively dull. But if you pick
    it up and read a page or two, you find yourself instantly engaged in advice
    from someone who knows just what you are struggling with. This kind of book
    is likely to end up being useful over years to come.

    The way the book works is to cover a very wide range of issues that many ADHD
    adults grapple with, all in a simple standardized format. Each dilemma you face
    is first phrased in an assessment question like “Do you procrastinate starting
    projects?” or “Do you regularly burn pots, lose contact lenses, or
    overflow the backyard pond because you dont pay attention to what you are doing?”
    She then proceeds to describe you succinctly in a few paragraphs. OK, now you
    know that she knows you, (even if you dont have a backyard pond).

    Here is where she takes you through what becomes a familiar process to work
    on each problem. It really does feel like a well-structured “course”
    in achieving focus. Each “lesson” is very concise and tightly constructed,
    respecting the effort you are putting into understanding it.

    After describing just what you do, she explains “Why this happens.”
    This is the part that may be familiar from other ADHD books, and it is very
    helpful to understand the “whys” of ADHD. But then she goes to the
    part on “What not to do.” Often this section includes the injunction
    to not get down on yourself about just being the way that you are. Hopefully
    you have already heard this before, but even so, it bears repeating!

    The next step is about what you can and should do. There are some marvelously
    clever tricks here that I have not seen elsewhere. For example, she describes
    a technique of “anchoring” yourself at the point where you are about
    to drift off on a tangent, so that you have a way to get back on track when
    your tangent is completed.

    As you begin to tell yourself that this technique will never work for you,
    you are surprised that the next section acknowledges “What makes this hard
    to do.” Her recommendations dont just leave you with the feeling that
    if it doesn’t work for you, you did it wrong. Instead she tells you how you
    can work more successfully at the toughest parts of the task.

    Throughout the whole process, Weiss acknowledges the three parts of yourself
    that you bring to your struggle with ADHD: the hurt you feel at a world that
    rarely understood you, the ways you can get the world to accommodate you now,
    and the “true you” that you will rediscover. This perspective pulls
    the book far past being just a collection of clever tricks, to where she really
    grasps how and why ADHD adults do what they do, in a way that helps you make
    better choices.

    So here is a book that you will be able to come back to over and over, that
    will teach you very usable strategies, and that acknowledges that you are already
    trying a lot harder than it may look to others. This one is definitely worth
    checking out.


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