If we have ADD, we generally have a shortened attention span, although if something has really turned on our focus center we may be able to stick with it for a long time. We're on a roll. We're in hyper-focus. What did you tell yourself about yourself? Were you self-critical? Explain. How much time did you spend thinking about this situation? What was your behavioral response? For instance, did you worry a lot? Did the guilt lead you to behave differently from your usual? If so, in what ways? Did you experience any other emotions besides guilt? Some moral perfectionists become defensive when they think another is suggesting they've done something morally wrong. In general, how do you respond when someone does this? Why do you think you respond in this way? Similar research has shown that the opposite is also true. Unhealthy thoughts, unsupportive and stressful relationships, and negative life choices create a chemical stew that depresses our immune system, increases inflammation throughout the body, damages the skin and other organs of the body, and causes the brain and nervous system to resist both learning and adaptation. The unhealthier our thinking patterns, relationships, and life choices are, the more our body produces chemicals that inhibit the growth of neural connections between different brain regions and prevent the growth of new neurons that make learning and change possible. I'm not saying that the only reasons people coupled were out of economic necessity, political motivation, or social acceptability. It is important to examine history in order to see how you got to be where you are.

History has dictated the tradition to which we all fall prey. Following our time track up to the present...The need for political, religious, and social freedom motivated the pioneers to search and find new worlds. Roles were clearly defined for those who journeyed there. Coupling, was still an economic necessity, as well as the societally acceptable thing to do. The man provided food, shelter, and protection for the family, and the woman provided the homemaking, child raising, and nurturing. On a physical level, this rate of exchange worked as an interdependent system. There was sufficient reason for coupling: to create a complete synergistic unit in which everyone's needs would be met. The strange irony is that we are teaching robots to make eye contact and watch for nonverbal cues because humans communicate ninety percent nonverbally, but meanwhile, we humans are now avoiding eye contact and nonverbal cues, opting instead to communicate through text and then adding smiley faces in order to humanize the message. We are humanizing the robot as we are voluntarily dehumanizing ourselves. "But we are much more connected ..." If we are "much more connected," then why are we becoming less considerate? As I traveled the world over the past seven years, I noticed a fairly rapid decline in public behavior and manners. Increased focus on hand-held devices causes us to decrease our focus on our surroundings and on each other. As virtual social communication becomes commonplace, actual real-time social politeness and consideration seems to be deteriorating. With cell phones now commonplace, we seem to have forgotten that phone booths were partly created so everyone else didn't have to listen to us. People regularly speak on their cell phones in theaters and restaurants or while interacting with (or ignoring) service workers. I've been at workshops where the presentation goes two hours at a time - the second hour is wasted. And if we're studying, or doing other intellectual work, after about an hour our efficiency markedly drops, and it drops more and more as we go on. We will accomplish more in a two hour session if we take a ten minute break in the middle then if we work the whole two hours. The first strategy for dealing with our short attention span is to be aware of it. We need to know our own personal attention span and plan our work around it.

We need strategies to turn on our focus center and we may need extra stimulation while we work. (I'm playing music while I write this.) Plan the work so that so that the small steps fit into our attention span. Plan breaks to fit with our attention span, and strategies for getting ourselves back from the break and refocusing. Moral perfectionists experience debilitating guilt and often depression over perceived past moral misjudgments. Even more, they also experience anxiety about the possibility of future misjudgments. Most moral perfectionists would respond: "I would be a bad person!" Sadly, such conjecture of possible future misjudgment and moral self-condemnation can pile up with other perceived past misdeeds, leading to guilt, depression, and anxiety. The ever-present possibility of faltering in the future is a defining feature of GMA. The anxiety persists, while its objects tend to change. Today it's how to perfectly resolve a perceived moral dilemma at home; tomorrow, it's a problem at work. This should not come as a surprise to any Christian. Christianity has always taught that there can be no meaningful separation between the soul and the body. What affects one automatically affects the other, and vice-versa. Analogous to the fact that God, as Trinity, is an intimate union of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the human person -- made in God's image and likeness -- is an intimate union of body, mind/soul, and relationships. The underlying belief, at least for our ancestors, was that each person is incomplete by himself. This may have been the case with your parents, but somewhere between the generations an emotional as well as a physical and economic need for coupling emerged. On an emotional level, partnering with another person made each person more whole, complete, and provided companionship. Each person looked to the other to fill deficiencies and make each one okay. The giving/getting relationship was motivated by "needing" the other person, much the same way the economic relationship was motivated. The good news is that we now understand that healthy thinking patterns and changing destructive relationships and behaviors can actually reverse the damage done to the brain and inflicted on the body by a less healthy past. Psychotherapy, especially empirically based approaches like CBT, focuses on teaching clients psychological techniques that have been shown to help heal the physical damage that stress and trauma can do to the brain and body.

In his book The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, Pepperdine University psychology professor Louis Cozolino summarizes research showing that most emotional problems, like anxiety, are caused by a failure of the different major regions of the brain to work effectively as a team. Cozolino argues that psychological techniques help facilitate the top-down, left-right functioning of the brain, allowing the brain to better manage stressful situations and emotions. Women experienced pressure to get married so that they would be taken care of and protected. Economic dependence was critical to women, who had no means of supporting themselves and were totally dependent upon men. Women automatically compared themselves with one another because there was real competition for the men, the breadwinners. Men, on the other hand, completed with one another for the most desirable female. If a woman could attract the most suitable bachelor it meant that she was desirable. We have all noticed that people absorbed with their hand-held devices are barely aware of what is going on around them. They run into others or stand in the way on sidewalks and other busy pedestrian areas as if stupefied. Collisions with poles or other objects are increasing, and physicians treat more and more people from these collisions that, while focusing on the virtual, slam into the actual world. A new report shows that in recent years, pedestrian injuries among sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds increased by twenty-five percent. To suspect that the emotional collapse of the industrial world and the acceptance of massive use of pharmaceuticals to cope with life, rather than live it, are being at least partly linked to the technology explosion is not difficult. Our decline in happiness may be connected to our overly complex and ever-changing environment, which causes anxiety and confusion. We generally have a short attention span, unless something really turns on our focus center. Then we can become hyper-focused and time can go by without our noticing it. We need to plan around our own attention span. Our inattentiveness can be misinterpreted and can distress or annoy others. We need to be aware of the problem and takes steps to deal with it; we need strategies. Once in high school, I was feeling pretty high after we won an away football game. Coach let us walk around town a little before we took the bus home.

Mistake. I walked into a store. No one was there. I put my quarter into a shuffle board game and it didn't work. Filled with righteous indignation, I put the shuffle board disc in my pocket and left. I napped on the ride home. The next day Coach showed us the disc that someone had left on the bus. I was in some trouble. A human continually confronted with massive change may withdraw into a more insular life in order to cope. Unfortunately, the commerce of the new technology overwhelmingly, though indirectly, supports this withdrawal by selling us solitary entertainment, such as video games and virtual, semicontrollable relationships through social media. So, it feeds on itself. We are becoming a population of what I call Flat Screeners, people who sit stationary in front of flat screens, engaging in imaginary worlds. Some are riveted to games, racking up meaningless points to claim an imaginary victory. So did I outgrow impulsiveness as I matured? I did not. While I was on faculty at the medical school, I received a complimentary letter about my book on crisis intervention, asking for information. I was very pleased; maybe I got a little high again. I was quite busy, but I responded. I sent a long rambling letter which I didn't bother to edit; I just explained that I was very busy. There was no response.