Should Ned Stick to What He Knows?

Should Ned Stick to What He Knows?

Should Dr. H avoid talking about politics, money, religion, sex and other non-ADHD topics on this podcast?

Ned reacts to an email he received from a listener who said he should stick to talking about ADHD in this podcast and reaches out to listeners for feedback.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us at [email protected]

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

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A transcript of this episode can be found below.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to a mini episode of Distraction. As you know, during this period of COVID, each week we release a mini episode that in some way pertains to the experience we’re all sharing as we live through this unique period in our lives. And unique it certainly is. I wanted to reflect on an email that I was sent, but let me preface it by saying when I was growing up, and I grew up in a very Waspy family, where being polite was de rigueur, I was explicitly told and certainly implicitly told to stay away from certain topics in conversation, and those topics included politics, religion, money, and sex.

I can still remember watching my father shave one day. I must have been six years old. And I asked him, because I had just learned this word, “Dad, what is your salary?” And he looked down at me as if I had just uttered the worst curse word you could ever imagine. He said, “Ned, never, ever ask anyone that question.” And I got the strong message that talking about money, certainly in a personal way, like how much do you have, was completely off limits. And there are other instances where I got the same message regarding politics, religion, and as for sex, that was just so out of the question, unless the people in the room had been doing what they usually were doing, which was drinking, in which case sex would come up very easily.

In any case over the years, I’ve turned that advice in my mind over and over, and I’ve really decided it’s terrible advice. It’s good advice if you want to not make any waves, if you want to avoid conflict, if you want to be as bland as you can possibly be. Then yes, don’t bring those up, and for that matter, don’t bring up much of anything. Just talk about the weather and ask the other person to talk about themselves, and you’ll be safe. But of course that’s not my way. Having ADHD, I like to branch out, reach out, inquire, probe and try to find out what’s going on. And that’s what I encourage other people to do.

Well, I must have strayed beyond the boundaries of people expect. In one episode, I opined not overtly politically, but one listener took umbrage to what I said. It was not an opinion as much as it was, I guess, a intimation, but he emailed me and he said, “Dr. Hallowell, I enjoy your podcast, but stick to ADHD. If you go into politics, you’ll offend people, you’ll lose your listenership. We don’t like it. We don’t want it. So just keep that to yourself.” And I’ve been wondering, do all of you feel that way? I’d love to hear from you. Do you all want me to just keep this very G-rated and very conflict free and free of anything that I’m not a licensed professional to talk about?

I mean, I would much rather have an ongoing dialogue with you and it is certainly true, I will never turn this show into a Fox News versus MSNBC contest. I wouldn’t want that. I mean, I think you listen to this to get away from that. So I don’t want to join the haranguing and join the venting, and join the angry discourse that you can hear altogether too easily. And I do try to be a unifier. I do try to be a connector. But to me, that allows there to be availability of all points of view, listening to all points of view, honoring, as we say in my religion, to respect the dignity of every human being. That’s what I’d like to try to do and not to avoid hot topics, but rather cool them down by airing them out. You can cool them down by airing them out in a way that makes each point of view intelligent, responsible, and discussable.

To me, the minute you say something can’t be talked about, you give it power that it ought not to have. When a thing becomes forbidden, it takes on a secret power that tends to distort it and magnify it, intensify it in a radioactive kind of way. I’d like to get guidance from you all on this. So please email me, email us [email protected], and tell me, do you want me just to stick to the G-rated discussions about ADHD, which I certainly love to do, or do you like it if I go off that topic and get into politics, religion, money, and sex, and any other topic you might like me to bring up, like dogs and meatloaf, two of my favorites that are not on the beaten path? Let me know, give me guidance. Let me know if that man who wrote to me speaks for most of you, or if he speaks for a minority of you.

And let me thank that man. I’m not naming you at all and I don’t want to single you out in a negative way. I appreciate your giving me your point of view. You were trying to help me. You said I’ll lose my audience if I don’t stick to what I’m licensed to talk about, and instead if I offer my various thoughts, feelings, and ideas on other topics of human existence. As always, thank you so very much for joining us. We depend upon you. We need you. We want you. Please tell your friends about us, as we’re trying to grow and build a community of interesting and congenial listeners. And if you’re not congenial, that’s okay too. You can be whoever you want to be.

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Remember, if you have a question, comment or show idea, we want to hear from you. Question, comment, show idea, or recipe for meatloaf, we want to hear from you. Send us an email at [email protected]. That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the amazingly talented Sarah Guertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the almost as amazingly talented Scott Persson,  and I’ll catch hell for that. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for listening.

The episode you’ve just heard was sponsored by Omega Brite CBD, formulated by Omega Brite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Omega Brite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at


1 Comment

  • Shari Posted July 13, 2020 5:10 pm

    My opinion is that if you are speaking about something that you are not licensed to speak about, you should be sure to preface the comment with “in my opinion. “ I do have a feeling, and again this is my opinion, that a certain number of people might be offended. You know that there has been close to a 50/50 split in many of elections‘ popular votes. I think that people should be able to have discussions about these topics, but many of them turn people into raving lunatics not capable of rational discussions.

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