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Edward Hallowell (psychiatrist)

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Edward Hallowell
Hallowell talking about the brain
Born2 December 1949
EducationHarvard University, Tulane University School of Medicine, Phillips Exeter Academy, Fessenden School
Medical career
Notable worksDistraction series

Edward McKey Hallowell (born December 2, 1949)[1] is an American psychiatrist, speaker, New York Times best-selling author and podcast host. He specializes in ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and is the founder of the Hallowell ADHD Centers. Hallowell is the author of 20 books, including the Distraction series, co-authored with Dr. John Ratey.[2][3]


Hallowell is an alumnus of Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard College and Tulane University School of Medicine. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard College[3] and a medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine.[4] Hallowell completed his residency in adult and child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.[5]

ADHD career[edit]

Hallowell has been treating people of all ages with ADHD since 1981, and has stated that he has dyslexia[6] and ADHD,[7] which is self-diagnosed.[8] His approach to the condition uses a strength-based model—developed with Driven to Distraction co-author Dr. John Ratey—that is based on the tenets of positive psychology and takes a more holistic view of ADHD, rather than seeing it purely as a disorder with negative symptoms. This model was new to the field.[9][10]

Using this treatment model, Hallowell founded the ADHD Hallowell Centers to support and treat people with ADHD. There are currently six locations in the United States, including New York City, Seattle and Boston.[11][12] 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;[13] 2) getting a coach to help with the executive functioning type tasks that people with ADHD tend to struggle with;[14] 3) lifestyle changes, including good nutrition, sleep and physical exercise;[15] and 4) medication, if it is beneficial for the individual.[16] 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."[17] Hallowell believes ADHD is due to a "biochemical imbalance in the brain".[18]

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".[19] In a 2013 interview, Hallowell said that, when used properly, stimulant medication is safe and benefits patients with ADHD in 80% of cases. He said children as young as 4 years old can use it and that his oldest patient was 86 years old.[20] Hallowell estimated that 15% of the population have ADHD.[20] The DSM state 5% have it.

Hallowell believes that Adderall and other stimulant drugs are safer than aspirin. He also believes Coffee is more toxic than Adderall.[21] Hallowell has been a paid consultant for McNeil Pediatrics, who make stimulant drugs including Adderall and Concerta.[22]

In 2018, he said, "prisons are full of people with undiagnosed ADHD, as are the lines of the unemployed, the marginalized, the addicted and the depressed. ADHD can ruin a person's life, or hold them back from ever reaching their full potential". A study conducted in 2018 found that 25% of the prison population had undiagnosed ADHD.[23][24]

Hallowell supports the official and updated definition of ADHD developed by the DSM-5 Task Force.[25] ADHD does not always include hyperactivity, and Hallowell says that this type, known as ADHD Inattentive Type, occurs frequently in women.[26] 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." Hallowell claims that ADHD does not always include hyperactivity but can include an inability to follow through on assignments at work or at school, misplacing things, avoiding tasks or getting distracted easily.[27] Hallowell also believes that hyperactivity can be a misleading symptom and can lead to individuals going undiagnosed in some cases.[17] Hallowell has described the ADHD brain as a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes.[28][29]

According to Sophie McBain in a New Statesman article in 2022, Hallowell was part of a small circle of professionals, drug companies and advocacy groups who pushed for a loosening of the diagnostic criteria, fuelling a precipitous rise in ADHD diagnosis rates in the US. Indeed, by 2013, one in five boys in US high schools were considered to have it, with the majority receiving medication.[30]

Hallowell and Ratey created a new term, VAST (Variable Attention Stimulus Trait), to describe ADHD more effectively, and wrote about this extensively in their new book, published in January 2021.[31][32][33] VAST derives from the fact that people with ADHD are drawn to high stimulation situations and their attention varies based on the level of stimulation within the situation.[17] Hallowell 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.[17]

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.[34] In 2018, he was awarded the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Leader of Mental Health Awareness Award.[35] Hallowell has been a podcast host since 2015. In October 2020, he began posting educational videos on TikTok.[36][non-primary source needed][37][2]

In May 2015 Hallowell asserted that "The people who colonized this country were loaded with the ADHD genes, hence our current gene pool is well stocked with ADHD. It has driven our greatest successes–but is also why we are such a violent nation.[38]


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[39] – January 12, 2021
  • Driven to Distraction (Revised):[40] Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder Paperback – September 13, 2011, with John Ratey
  • Answers to Distraction[41] – January 12, 2010, with John Ratey
  • Delivered from Distraction:[42] Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder – December 27, 2005, with John Ratey
  • Driven to Distraction at Work:[43] How to Focus and Be More Productive – January 1, 2003
  • Married to Distraction:[44] 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 Create 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:[45] 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

TV appearances[edit]

Hallowell has appeared on television several times discussing ADHD. He has appeared on 20/20, 60 Minutes, the BBC, CNN, Dateline, Good Morning America, The Jane Pauley Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Dr. Phil Show, PBS, The Today Show, The View, and many local news programs.[46] He also has appeared on the Revolution show with Ty Pennington and Jennifer Ashton.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Hallowell grew up in Chatham, Massachusetts.[48] His father had bipolar disorder and initially received psychiatric treatment for misdiagnosed schizophrenia.[49][50] His mother remarried and subsequently divorced an abusive alcoholic.[51] Hallowell had two brothers: John, who became a Hollywood reporter and died in 2015, and Ben, who graduated from the Naval Academy.[52]

Hallowell lives in the Boston, Massachusetts, area with his wife, Sue, a social worker. They have three adult children.[53]

Legal issue[edit]

In May 2015, Hallowell was charged for allegedly groping a makeup artist at an interview taping in 2014. Hallowell did not dispute the claim and told police the incident was a misunderstanding and any touching was "inadvertent". The accuser later said, "I may have misconstrued Dr. Hallowell's intention, as he did nothing beyond the initial contact", and that she did not wish for Hallowell to be prosecuted. In September 2015, a judge ordered the charges to be dropped.[54][55]


  1. ^ "Edward M Hallowell in Arlington, MA".
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Dr Hallowell.
  3. ^ a b "Hallowell, Edward M(cKey)". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  4. ^ ADHD Nation – Alan Schwarz – 2016
  5. ^ "Edward M. Hallowell". Bloomsbury Publishing (CA). Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  6. ^ "Your FREE eBook..." ADDspark. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  7. ^ "Unpacking ADHD". Goop. August 6, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  8. ^ "I'm a psychiatrist because I come from a crazy family – and I have ADD". October 2018.
  9. ^ EdwardHallowell, Psychiatrist (March 25, 2020). "Getting Help For ADHD". TotallyADD. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  10. ^ Hoffman, Karen. "When Dr. Barkley met Dr. Hallowell" (PDF). ADHD Neither.
  11. ^ "ADDitude's ADHD Medical Review Panel". ADDitude. October 2, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  12. ^ "Contact Us and Directions". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  13. ^ "The 7 Best Books About ADHD". MindMed. May 20, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  14. ^ "What Does An ADHD Doctor Diagnose For The Frustrated, Distracted, Overwhelmed Executive?". EOS Implementer™ – Wayne Kurzen. September 3, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  15. ^ Schwan, Henry. "Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert, to deliver talk at Wayland High School". Wicked Local. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  16. ^ Strauss, Valerie. "'If you can pay attention, you do not have ADHD' — and 9 other misperceptions about the disorder". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  17. ^ a b c d Joho, Jess (August 17, 2020). "Everything you thought you knew about ADHD is wrong". Mashable. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Medication Management – Dr. Hallowell". The Hallowell ADHD Centers.
  19. ^ Pittsburgh Morning Star. September 15, 2005.
  20. ^ a b "It Really is All About the Child: An Interview with Dr. Edward Hallowell" (PDF). Montessori Life (Interview). Winter 2012–2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 14, 2013.
  21. ^ "Dr Hallowell talks about Adderall". YouTube.
  22. ^ Parker-Pope, Tara (October 25, 2008). "Can attention deficit be framed as a gift?". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Young, Susan; Gudjonsson, Gisli; Chitsabesan, Prathiba; Colley, Bill; Farrag, Emad; Forrester, Andrew; Hollingdale, Jack; Kim, Keira; Lewis, Alexandra; Maginn, Sarah; Mason, Peter; Ryan, Sarah; Smith, Jade; Woodhouse, Emma; Asherson, Philip (September 4, 2018). "Identification and treatment of offenders with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the prison population: a practical approach based upon expert consensus". BMC Psychiatry. 18 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC: 281. doi:10.1186/s12888-018-1858-9. ISSN 1471-244X. PMC 6122636. PMID 30180832.
  24. ^ "I'm a psychiatrist because I come from a crazy family – and I have ADD". inews.co.uk. October 1, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  25. ^ "DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria | For Adult ADHD". www.qandadhd.com. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  26. ^ "Women with ADHD". Dr. Hallowell. October 8, 2020. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  27. ^ Grant, Eva Taylor (May 7, 2018). "7 Unfairly Stigmatized Health Issues You Should Know More About".
  28. ^ "The Truth about ADHD". Time. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  29. ^ "Your ADHD Brain is a Ferrari". Dr. Hallowell. April 5, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  30. ^ https://www.newstatesman.com/long-reads/2022/12/rise-adhd-diagnoses-attention-deficit-disorder
  31. ^ "The Future of ADHD is VAST (SM)". Dr. Hallowell. October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  32. ^ "Point of View". Psychotherapy Networker. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  33. ^ "ADHD 2.0". goodreads.com. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  34. ^ "Edward Hallowell, M.D.: Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author". ADDitude. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  35. ^ "NAMI-NYS E-Newsletter 8-16-18". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  36. ^ "Dr Ned Hallowell (@drhallowell) TikTok | Watch Dr Ned Hallowell's Newest TikTok Videos". TikTok. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  37. ^ "Books by Ned". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  38. ^ "Interview with Edward "Ned" Hallowell, MD".
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ 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.
  43. ^ Hallowell, Edward M. (January 6, 2015). Driven to distraction at work: how to focus and be more productive. Boston, Massachusetts. ISBN 978-1-4221-8641-1. OCLC 872622416.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ Archer, Michelle (April 16, 2006). "Too busy to read this book? Then you really need to". USA Today. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
  46. ^ "Media / Press".
  47. ^ "Ned Hallowell/Ty Pennington talk about ADHD" – via YouTube.
  48. ^ "Dr. Edward Hallowell". Distraction. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  49. ^ Rhodes, Giulia (September 22, 2018). "'Mental illness swam in my genes': why I was born to be a psychiatrist". The Guardian. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  50. ^ Hallowell, Edward M. (2018). Because I come from a crazy family : the making of a psychiatrist. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781632868602. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  51. ^ "Dr. Dad Gives Thanks for Impossible Families". The New York Times. November 25, 1999. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  52. ^ Axelson, David (November 10, 2017). "Navy Old Goats And Kids Who Care Combine To Honor Wounded Warriors This Weekend". Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  53. ^ "Meet Dr. Hallowell". Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  54. ^ McNamara, Brittney (May 21, 2015). "Police: Accused Sudbury doctor does not dispute victim's claims". The MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  55. ^ McNamara, Brittney (September 8, 2015). "Groping case against Sudbury doctor to be dismissed after probation". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved July 7, 2021.

External links[edit]