Edward Hallowell (psychiatrist)

Edward McKey Hallowell is an American psychiatrist, speaker, New York Times best-selling author and podcast host. He specializes in ADHD 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.[1][2]

Edward Hallowell
Edward Hallowell.jpg
Hallowell talking about the brain
EducationPhillips Exeter Academy
Harvard College (BA)
Tulane University School of Medicine (MD)
Medical career
Notable worksThe Distraction Series


Hallowell is an alumnus of Phillips Exeter Academy, Tulane University School of Medicine, and Harvard College. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard College[2] and a medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine.[3] Hallowell completed his residency in adult and child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.[4]

ADHD careerEdit

Hallowell has been treating people of all ages with ADHD since 1981, and has stated that he has ADHD.[5] 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.[6][7]

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.[8][9] 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;[10] 2) getting a coach to help with the executive functioning type tasks that people with ADHD tend to struggle with;[11] 3) lifestyle changes, including good nutrition, sleep and physical exercise;[12] and 4) medication, if it is beneficial for the individual.[13] 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.”[14] Hallowell believes ADHD is due to a "biochemical imbalance in the brain".[15]

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".[16] 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.[17] Hallowell estimated that 15% of the population have ADHD.[17]

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.[18][19]

Hallowell supports the official and updated definition of ADHD developed by the DSM-5 Task Force.[20] ADHD does not always include hyperactivity, and Hallowell says that this type, known as ADHD Inattentive Type, occurs frequently in women.[21] 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.[22] Hallowell also believes that hyperactivity can be a misleading symptom and can lead to individuals going undiagnosed in some cases.[14] Hallowell has described the ADHD brain as a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes.[23][24]

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.[25][26][27] 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.[14] 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.[14]

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.[28] In 2018, he was awarded the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Leader of Mental Health Awareness Award.[29] Hallowell has been a podcast host since 2015. In October 2020, he began posting educational videos on TikTok.[30][31][1]


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

Distraction seriesEdit

  • ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction - From Childhood Through Adulthood[32] - January 12, 2021
  • Driven to Distraction (Revised):[33] Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder Paperback - September 13, 2011 with John Ratey
  • Answers to Distraction[34] - January 12, 2010 with John Ratey
  • Delivered from Distraction:[35] Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder - December 27, 2005 with John Ratey
  • Driven to Distraction at Work:[36] How to Focus and Be More Productive - January 1, 2003
  • Married to Distraction:[37] How to Restore Intimacy and Strengthen Your Partnership in an Age of Interruption - February 8, 2011 with Sue Hallowell

Other booksEdit

  • 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:[38] 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

Personal lifeEdit

Hallowell grew up in Chatham, Massachusetts.[39] His father suffered from bipolar disorder and initially received psychiatric treatment for misdiagnosed schizophrenia.[40][41] His mother remarried and subsequently divorced an abusive alcoholic.[42] Hallowell had two brothers: John, who became a Hollywood reporter and died in 2015, and Ben, who graduated from the Naval Academy.[43]

Hallowell lives in the Boston, Massachusetts, area with his wife, Sue, a social worker. They have three adult children.[44]

Legal issueEdit

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". The accuser later said she "may have misconstrued [his] intention" and that she did not wish for Hallowell to be prosecuted. In September 2015, a judge ordered the charges to be dropped.[45][46]


  1. ^ a b "Biography". Dr Hallowell.
  2. ^ a b "Hallowell, Edward M(cKey) | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  3. ^ ADHD Nation - Alan Schwarz - 2016
  4. ^ "Edward M. Hallowell". Bloomsbury Publishing (CA). Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Unpacking ADHD". Goop. 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  6. ^ EdwardHallowell, Psychiatrist (2020-03-25). "Getting Help For ADHD". TotallyADD. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Karen. "When Dr. Barkley met Dr. Hallowell" (PDF). ADHD Neither.
  8. ^ "ADDitude's ADHD Medical Review Panel". ADDitude. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  9. ^ "Contact Us and Directions". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  10. ^ "The 7 Best Books About ADHD". MindMed. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  11. ^ "What Does An ADHD Doctor Diagnose For The Frustrated, Distracted, Overwhelmed Executive?". EOS Implementer™ - Wayne Kurzen. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  12. ^ Schwan, Henry. "Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert, to deliver talk at Wayland High School". Wicked Local. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b c d Joho, Jess. "Everything you thought you knew about ADHD is wrong". Mashable. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  15. ^ "Medication Management - Dr. Hallowell". The Hallowell ADHD Centers.
  16. ^ Pittsburgh Morning Star - September 15, 2005
  17. ^ a b "It Really is All About the Child: An Interview with Dr. Edward Hallowell" (PDF). Montessori Life (Interview). Winter 2012–2013.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  18. ^ 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 (2018-09-04). "Identification and treatment of offenders with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the prison population: a practical approach based upon expert consensus". BMC Psychiatry. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 18 (1). doi:10.1186/s12888-018-1858-9. ISSN 1471-244X.
  19. ^ "I'm a psychiatrist because I come from a crazy family - and I have ADD". inews.co.uk. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  20. ^ "DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria | For Adult ADHD". www.qandadhd.com. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  21. ^ "Women with ADHD". Dr. Hallowell. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  22. ^ Grant, Eva Taylor. "7 Unfairly Stigmatized Health Issues You Should Know More About".
  23. ^ "The Truth about ADHD". TIME.com. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  24. ^ "Your ADHD Brain is a Ferrari". Dr. Hallowell. 2019-04-05. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  25. ^ "The Future of ADHD is VAST (SM)". Dr. Hallowell. 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  26. ^ "Point of View". www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  27. ^ "ADHD 2.0". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  28. ^ "Edward Hallowell, M.D.: Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author". ADDitude. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  29. ^ "NAMI-NYS E-Newsletter 8-16-18". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  30. ^ "Dr Ned Hallowell (@drhallowell) TikTok | Watch Dr Ned Hallowell's Newest TikTok Videos". TikTok. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  31. ^ "Books by Ned". Dr. Hallowell. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ Archer, Michelle (16 April 2006). "Too busy to read this book? Then you really need to". USA Today. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  39. ^ "Dr. Edward Hallowell". Distraction. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  40. ^ Rhodes, Giulia (22 September 2018). "'Mental illness swam in my genes': why I was born to be a psychiatrist". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  41. ^ Hallowell, Edward M. (2018). Because I come from a crazy family : the making of a psychiatrist. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781632868602. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  42. ^ "Dr. Dad Gives Thanks for Impossible Families". The New York Times. 25 November 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ "Meet Dr. Hallowell". Dr Hallowell ADHD and mental and cognitive health. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  45. ^ McNamara, Brittney (21 May 2015). "Police: Accused Sudbury doctor does not dispute victim's claims". The MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  46. ^ McNamara, Brittney (8 September 2015). "Groping case against Sudbury doctor to be dismissed after probation". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved 7 July 2021.

External linksEdit