Why the 'Interest-Based Nervous System' Narrative Falls Short
It’s said that people with ADHD have an interest-based nervous system. In that it responds only (or primarily), to things of particular interest to the individual. And having no interest in the have to’s of society (e.g. chores, homework, and so on).
I see so much more happening here.
I see an all-or-nothing nervous system focusing on pleasure, entertainment and avoiding everything that may cause frustration.
The things that interest us are things we’re good at and can experience with minimal resistance from our executive functioning glitches.
I, and many other adults with ADHD I know, found our way free of this paralyzing dichotomy through emotional regulation. If you can work through the frustration, you can do plenty of things you find boring, uninteresting, you name it.
This is key to navigating the academic and employment environment more easily. You simply can’t expect to make progress when you default to, “I don’t wanna, that’s boring”.
Its a disservice to offer up this assessment of our nervous system in a fixed way. The reality is the brain is more nimble than we give it credit for, and a diagnosis doesn’t equal destiny.
Reaching your potential requires you to build upon the foundation you’re given. Choosing to rest upon it, and little more, is a waste of all the joy, safety, and togetherness that could have been experienced by countless others.
If only you’d chosen to build. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful, it just needs to come from you.