Edward Hallowell (psychiatrist)

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Edward Hallowell
Edward Hallowell.jpg
Hallowell talking about the brain
Medical career
Notable worksThe Distraction Series

Edward McKey Hallowell is an American psychiatrist, speaker, author and podcast host. He specialises in ADHD and is the founder of the Hallowell Centers.[1] He is the author of 20 books, including the Distraction series, co-authored with Dr John Ratey, and is the host of the Distraction podcast.

ADHD career[edit]

Hallowell has been treating people of all ages with ADHD since 1981 (Hallowell himself was diagnosed with ADHD in 1983.[2] His approach to the condition, which uses a "strength-based" model - developed with Driven to Distraction co-author Dr. John Ratey - is based on the tenets of positive psychology, taking a more holistic view of ADHD, rather than seeing it purely as a disorder with negative symptoms. This was new to the field.[3][4] Hallowell has stated that “the biggest problem we face in terms of the perception of ADHD is ignorance and stigma. He has also stated that “contentiousness around ADHD is simply rooted in ignorance.”[5]

Hallowell has written over 20 books on ADHD and other psychological topics, writes a monthly blog about the topic, and is a regular contributor to ADDitude magazine. He also serves on the ADHD Medical Review Panel for ADDitude.[6] In 2018, he was awarded the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Leader of Mental Health Awareness Award.[7] Hallowell hosts the Distraction podcast twice a week and has done so since 2015, and in October 2020, he began posting educational videos on TikTok.[8][9][10]

Hallowell and Ratey created a new term, “VAST”, Variable Attention Stimulus Trait to describe ADHD more effectively, and write about this extensively in their new book, published in January 2021.[11][12][13] ‘VAST’ stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait’, because people with ADHD are drawn to high stimulation situations and their attention varies based on the level of stimulation within the situation.[5]

Hallowell supports the official and updated definition of ADHD developed by the DSM-5 Task Force.[14] ADHD does not always include hyperactivity, (known as ADHD Inattentive Type), and Hallowell says that this type occurs frequently in women.[15] In 2020, Hallowell said that the term ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a horrible term, and that “individuals with ADHD don’t have a deficiency of attention, but an abundance of it.”[5] Hallowell states that ADHD does not always include Hyperactivity but can include having an inability to follow through on assignments at work or at school, misplacing things, avoiding tasks, or getting distracted easily.[16] Hallowell also believes that hyperactivity can be misleading as a symptom, leading to individuals being undiagnosed in some cases.[5] He also created the term ‘sensitive euphoria’: when individuals with ADHD are criticized or rejected, they typically wilt, while forms of encouragement and recognition help them immensely.[5]

Using this treatment model, Hallowell founded the Hallowell Centers to support and treat people with ADHD, which currently have six locations in the United States, including New York City, Seattle, and Boston.[17][18] Hallowell describes the ADHD brain as a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes.[19][20] Hallowell states that there are four key aspects to treatment for ADHD: 1. Learning as much as possible about the condition in order to “know what it is, and what it is not” and to understand the specific symptoms that a person has;[21] 2. Getting a coach to help with the executive functioning type tasks that people with ADHD tend to struggle with;[22] 3. Lifestyle changes including good nutrition, sleep and physical exercise[23] and 4; Medication, if it is beneficial for the individual.[24] On September 15, 2005 Hallowell said "Whenever you get someone with ADHD diagnosed and treated successfully, everyone wins. Along with behavioral therapy, medication is good because it can improve adults' relationships, parenting skills, job performance, even their sex lives".[25]

Hallowell believes that, used properly, stimulant medication is safe and benefits patients with ADHD in 80% of cases. For 20% of people with ADHD, including himself, stimulant medication is not beneficial or has side effects and he does not recommend its use in these cases.[26] In 2012 Hallowell said "The fact is, stimulant medication is safer than aspirin. It has fewer side effects and works better than caffeine, and everybody goes to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. So, not to try it, unless it’s against your religion, makes no sense. People say, ‘Well, shouldn’t I try a year of non-medical approaches first?’ That's like saying shouldn't I try a year of squinting before I try eyeglasses. It just makes no sense. These meds are so well researched. They've been around since 1937. That's 70 years of experience. Nothing lasts that long unless it's safe and it works. Most entrepreneurs have ADHD. I think it should be renamed the entrepreneur's trait".[27][28][29]


Hallowell has authored 20 books. His Distraction series, co-authored with Dr John Ratey, is focused on a strength-based approach to ADHD.

Distraction series[edit]

  • ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction - From Childhood Through Adulthood[30] - January 12, 2021
  • Driven to Distraction (Revised):[31] Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder Paperback - September 13, 2011 with John Ratey
  • Answers to Distraction[32] - January 12, 2010 with John Ratey
  • Delivered from Distraction:[33] Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder - December 27, 2005 with John Ratey
  • Driven to Distraction at Work:[34] How to Focus and Be More Productive - January 1, 2003
  • Married to Distraction:[35] How to Restore Intimacy and Strengthen Your Partnership in an Age of Interruption - February 8, 2011 with Sue Hallowell

Other Books[edit]

  • Finding the Heart of the Child (1993) Essays on Children, Families, and Schools - January 1, 1997
  • When You Worry About The Child You Love (1997) - August 27, 1997
  • Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition - September 14, 1998
  • Connect: 12 Vital Ties That Open Your Heart, Lengthen Your Life, and Deepen Your Soul - April 1, 2001
  • Human Moments: How to Find Meaning and Love in Your Everyday Life  – September 7, 2001
  • Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People  – January 13, 2011
  • The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Creeate and Sustain Lifelong Joy - August 26, 2003
  • A Walk in the Rain With a Brain - Picture Book, September 28, 2004
  • Dare to Forgive: The Power of Letting Go and Moving On  - January 15, 2006
  • Crazy Busy:[36] Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Handling Your Fast-Paced Life  – March 27, 2007
  • Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child  – February 23, 2010
  • Because I Come From A Crazy Family (The Making of a Psychiatrist) - June 12, 2018


Hallowell attended Phillips Exeter Academy. He obtained a first degree in English from Harvard then received a medical degree from Tulane University Medical School.[37][1]In 1999, Hallowell received an honorary Doctor of Human Letters from Landmark College.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Hallowell grew up in Chatham, Massachusetts.[39] His father suffered from bipolar disorder and received psychiatric treatment.[40] He recovered and spent most of his life teaching in public schools. His mother remarried and subsequently divorced an abusive alcoholic.[41] Hallowell had two brothers, John who became a Hollywood reporter and died in 2015, and Ben who graduated from the Naval Academy.[42]

Hallowell lives in the Boston area with his wife, Sue, a social worker, and they have three adult children.[43]

In May 2015, Hallowell was charged for allegedly groping a makeup artist at an interview taping in 2014 which he denied entirely. Hallowell told police the incident was a misunderstanding and any touching was "inadvertent".[44] The accuser later said they "may have misconstrued [his] intention" and that they didn't wish for Hallowell to be prosecuted. In September 2015, a judge ordered charges be dropped.[45]

Television Appearances[edit]

Hallowell has made many Television appearances discussing ADHD. Among them 20/20, 60 Minutes, Oprah, PBS, CNN, The Today Show, Dateline, Good Morning America[46][47] The Revolution where Hallowell made an ADHD diagnosis of an audience member.[48][49] and Dr Oz[50]


  1. ^ a b "Hallowell, Edward M(cKey) | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  2. ^ "Unpacking ADHD". Goop. 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  3. ^ EdwardHallowell, Psychiatrist (2020-03-25). "Getting Help For ADHD". TotallyADD. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  4. ^ Hoffman, Karen. "When Dr. Barkley met Dr. Hallowell" (PDF). ADHD Neither.
  5. ^ a b c d e Joho, Jess. "Everything you thought you knew about ADHD is wrong". Mashable. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  6. ^ "Edward Hallowell, M.D.: Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author". ADDitude. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  7. ^ "NAMI-NYS E-Newsletter 8-16-18". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  8. ^ "Dr Ned Hallowell (@drhallowell) TikTok | Watch Dr Ned Hallowell's Newest TikTok Videos". TikTok. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  9. ^ "Books by Ned". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  10. ^ "Biography". Dr Hallowell.
  11. ^ "The Future of ADHD is VAST (SM)". Dr. Hallowell. 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  12. ^ "Point of View". www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  13. ^ "ADHD 2.0". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  14. ^ "DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria | For Adult ADHD". www.qandadhd.com. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  15. ^ "Women with ADHD". Dr. Hallowell. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  16. ^ Grant, Eva Taylor. "7 Unfairly Stigmatized Health Issues You Should Know More About".
  17. ^ "ADDitude's ADHD Medical Review Panel". ADDitude. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  18. ^ "Contact Us and Directions". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  19. ^ "The Truth about ADHD". TIME.com. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  20. ^ "Your ADHD Brain is a Ferrari". Dr. Hallowell. 2019-04-05. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  21. ^ "The 7 Best Books About ADHD". MindMed. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  22. ^ "What Does An ADHD Doctor Diagnose For The Frustrated, Distracted, Overwhelmed Executive?". EOS Implementer™ - Wayne Kurzen. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  23. ^ Schwan, Henry. "Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert, to deliver talk at Wayland High School". Wicked Local. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  24. ^ Strauss, Valerie. "'If you can pay attention, you do not have ADHD' — and 9 other misperceptions about the disorder". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  25. ^ Pittsburgh Morning Star - September 15, 2005
  26. ^ Cohen, Marisa. "What's the Right ADHD Medication for Your Child?". WebMD. Retrieved 2020-11-18.
  27. ^ http://www.celebritybrandingagency.com/pdf/drhallowell.pdf Archived 2019-08-30 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Orange, Richard (10 November 2016). "ADHD Nation by Alan Schwarz review – investigating a £10bn industry". the Guardian.
  29. ^ "National Survey Reveals Impact of ADHD In Adults - ADDA - Attention Deficit Disorder Association". 24 April 2015.
  30. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (2021). ADHD 2.0: new science and essential strategies for thriving with distraction-from childhood through adulthood (First ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-399-17873-3. OCLC 1151497573.
  31. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (2011). Driven to distraction : recognizing and coping with attention deficit disorder from childhood through adulthood (1st Anchor books revised and updated ed.). New York, NY: Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0-307-74315-2. OCLC 699763760.
  32. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (2010). Answers to distraction (Revised and updated ed.). New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0-307-45639-7. OCLC 642004130.
  33. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Ratey, John J. (2005). Delivered from distraction: getting the most out of life with attention deficit disorder (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-44230-X. OCLC 55596855.
  34. ^ Hallowell, Edward M. (6 January 2015). Driven to distraction at work: how to focus and be more productive. Boston, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-1-4221-8641-1. OCLC 872622416.
  35. ^ Hallowell, Edward M.; Hallowell, Sue; Orlov, Melissa (2011). Married to distraction: how to restore intimacy and strengthen your partnership in an age of interruption (Ballantine books trade paperback ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-50800-3. OCLC 646113441.
  36. ^ Archer, Michelle (16 April 2006). "Too busy to read this book? Then you really need to". USA Today. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  37. ^ ADHD Nation - Alan Schwarz - 2016
  38. ^ "Timeline | Landmark College". www.landmark.edu. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  39. ^ "Dr. Edward Hallowell". Distraction. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  40. ^ ADHD Nation - Schwarz (2016).
  41. ^ "Dr. Dad Gives Thanks for Impossible Families". The New York Times. 25 November 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  42. ^ Axelson, David. "Navy Old Goats And Kids Who Care Combine To Honor Wounded Warriors This Weekend". Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  43. ^ "Meet Dr. Hallowell". Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  44. ^ http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20150521/NEWS/150528592
  45. ^ http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20150908/news/150906905
  46. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VljV5hdAEI
  47. ^ https://drhallowell.com/meet-dr-hallowell/biography/
  48. ^ "How ADHD Was Sold".
  49. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QGUYVMOKzk
  50. ^ https://www.doctoroz.com/episode/deadly-adderall-abuse

External links[edit]