Why We Crave the Drama That Sabotages Relationships

ADHD brains crave stimulation, and they just might chase relationship drama to get it. Next time you catch yourself (or your partner) falling into these common traps — outlined here by Dr. Daniel Amen — take a step back and re-evaluate.

7 Types of ADD and Games People Play

When the ADHD brain doesn't have enough stimulation, it looks for ways to increase its activity.

Many people with ADHD unnecessarily create drama in their lives as a way to boost adrenaline and stimulate their frontal lobes. These interpersonal "games" are not engaged in willingly; they are driven by the needs of the ADD brain. Most deny that they engage in such behaviors, but I've heard about them from many patients with all 7 types of ADD.

Let's look at these games, so you can catch yourself when you are "playing" them.

"Let's Have a Problem"

Many people with ADD pick on others to get a rise out of them, to get them upset, to make them crazy. Family members of my patients say, "I'm tired of fighting with my brother (sister, mother, son). He (she) always has to have a problem."

There is a reason why ADDers play this game: When the ADHD brain doesn't have enough stimulation, it looks for ways to increase its activity. Being angry or negative has an immediate stimulating effect on the brain. When you get upset, your body produces increased amounts of adrenaline, raising the heart rate and brain activity.

"I Bet I Can Get You to Yell at Me or Hit Me"

Many ADDers are masters at getting others to scream, yell, and lose control. Such behaviors give an adrenaline rush to the ADDer, but they may lead to serious consequences, such as divorce, fights at school, or being fired from a job. This game is not planned. The ADD person senses vulnerability in others and works on them until he explodes.

When I teach parents, siblings, and spouses to become less reactive, the ADD person may step up the bad behavior. It seems that the ADD person goes through withdrawal as others become more tolerant. When he can no longer get the adrenaline-anger rush, he goes after it full force.

"I Like to Say the First Thing That Comes to Mind"

A number of my patients have said to me, "I am brutally honest." They wear the trait like a badge. I reply that "brutal" honesty is not helpful. Relationships require tact. When you say the first thing that comes to mind, you may hurt someone's feelings or give away secrets that were entrusted to you.

"It's Your Fault"

This may be the most dangerous ADD game of all. Here, the ADD person reasons that he or she is not responsible for the problems in his or her life. Everything is someone else's fault. People who play this game do not perform properly at school, on the job, or at home because of the lousy boss, the ineffective teacher, or the mean brother or sister. Playing this game too much can ruin a life. When you blame someone else for your problems, you become a victim of that other person, and you give up the power to change anything.

NEXT: 'No Way, Never, You Can't Make Me Do It'


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TAGS: ADHD and Relationships, ADHD and Emotions, ADHD Social Skills

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